It doesn't take long to think of some truly terrible live-action anime adaptations.
Anime has been hugely popular for decades now. The beloved medium continues to grow all over the globe, converting casual cartoon fans into die-hard anime enthusiasts - but that popularity has come at a price. For years, fans have watched their favorite anime series get butchered by unspeakably cringe-worthy live-action adaptations.
If you've never heard of Dragonball Evolution, then you should count yourself lucky. From Black Butler to City Hunter, some of Japan's most popular anime series have been adapted into laughable trainwrecks that not even Son Goku could save.
Here at ComicBook.com, we've slogged through the worst out there and found ten terrible live-action anime adaptations. Complete with cheesy CGI and over-the-top gore, these series will have you wondering if we'll ever do live-action anime right.
If you've seen the original Kite anime, then you have an iron stomach.
The controversial series OVA was released in 1999 and shocked plenty of viewers. Kite follows an orphaned girl named Sawa who becomes a child assassin following the horrific murder of her parents. Raised by two detectives, Sawa is embroiled in a complicated life that embraces gore, violence, and nonconsensual sex.
So, maybe it's a good thing that the live-action adaptation of Kite failed to live up to its predecessor. Kite (2014) was directed by Ralph Ziman and starred talent like India Eisley and Samuel L. Jackson. While the film received some praise for its action sequences, most critics panned the film's predictable plot and stale pacing. Unable to embrace the original anime's shocking content, Kite floundered to excite audience and instead came off as a Kick-Ass wannabe.prevnext
If you're looking for espionage thrillers, then do watch the 2011 live-action remake of City Hunter that comes courtesy of South Korea. Just, don't waste your time watching the franchise's 1993 live-action film.
City Hunter originally tells the story of Ryo Saeba, a highly trained head-hunter who goes after Tokyo's most corrupt criminals. The anime centers on Ryo's relationships with his partner Hideyuki Makimura and lover Kaori. However, none of the series' intrigue is captured in its live-action film. Not even Jackie Chan could save the disjointed project.
The film foregoes city life for a cruise ship, forcing Ryo to become a so-called Ship Hunter. Weighed down by awkward humor and unnecessarily campy comedy, City Hunter's only redeeming quality is its fight scenes with Jackie Chan.prevnext
Fist of the North Star
Set in an apocalyptic wasteland, one might think the ultra-macho anime Fist of the North Star would make for an exemplary live-action film. However, you'd be wrong.
Hollywood got a hold of Fist of the North Star in 1995 and somehow turned it into a snooze-fest. The live-action film stars Gary Daneisl as Kenshiro, the story's martial arts hero who can literally explode people with a single punch. With those kind of powers, Kenshiro easily fit into the world of anime as the medium can make mere mortals do just about anything. However, when it came to live-action adaptation, the hero lost all his fight.
The hilariously gaudy story failed to find footing in a real-world setting. The special effects used to show Kenshiro's exploding enemies made moviegoers laugh rather than cower in fear. Beyond its white-washing controversy, fans mocked the film's stale acting, uneven pacing, and noticeably shoddy set pieces.prevnext
Despite his best efforts, Mark Hamill could not save the travesty that is The Guyver.
When Yoshiki Takaya created Bio Booster Armor Guyver in 1985, he didn't know what fate had in store for the fan-favorite mecha manga. The franchise was ultimately brought to Hollywood when New Line Cinema turned it into a live-action film. The Guyver followed a young boy named Sean Barker who accidentally merges with an extraterrestrial suit of armor. The alien tech gives the teen all kinds of powers, but when a mysterious organization called Chronos tries to retrieve the suit, Sean discovers how dangerous the device really is.
Unsurprisingly, The Guyver was doomed to fail with anime enthusiasts. The half-baked adaptation contains canned fight sequences which are better left forgotten, and its script is the definition of embarrassing. And, what's more, the film tried to play up Mark Hamill's involvement in the project despite his co-star status. The most interesting thing that happens Hamill is when he's turned into a cockroach, but even that's not worth suffering through the movie for.prevnext
Nana is known as one of Japan's most success shojo series. Created by Ai Yazawa, the series follows two girls who share the name. Nana Komatsu comes from a small town and moves to Tokyo in hopes of living a perfect homely life. On the other hand, Nana Osaki is a well-known punk with big dreams of becoming a rockstar. The two girls meet and ultimately decided to become roommates, leaving the series to chronicle the pair's friendship over the years.
The series is heralded for its long, complex storylines - so it's not surprising to learn that its live-action adaptation struggled to consolidate those stories. Nana was a commercial success in Japan, but critics did bemoan the film's inability to flesh out its main characters. Rather than letting the film breathe, Nana rushed through major story arcs and fan-favorite scenes from the original manga.prevnext
Created in 1972, Devilman originated as a thrilling manga that received its own anime by Toei. However, the company couldn't let the franchise lie and green-lit what's now considered one of the worst live-action anime adaptations ever.
The 2004 film follows a timid teenager named Akira Fudo. Following his parents death, the protagonist moves in with the Makimura family. Akira lives a normal life until his best friend's father accidently opens a gate to hell, unleashing demons who liked to merge with human hosts. So, naturally, Akira decides to man up and give himself to a powerful demon in hopes of becoming a hero.
While the premise of Devilman sounds like a badass origin story for any superhero, the live-action film fails to make fans feel anything really. The adaptation is plagued by erratic plotting and pacing, leaving moviegoers unfamiliar with Devilman to wonder what is happening. And, unsurprisingly, the film's small budget couldn't handle the large-scale CGI effects needed to create a massive hoarde of bloodthirsty demons.prevnext
While some consider Speed Racer (2008) a cult classic, the live-action film is known as an embarassment to anime fans. The adaptation, which is based off a classic racing manga called Mach GoGoGo, was a car crash moviegoers tried desperately to look away from.
Directed by the Wachowski Brothers, Speed Racer follows its titular character as he continued to race after the tragic death of his brother, Rex. Dedicated to his family's sports company, Speed Racer causes tensions in the world of racing after he declines a lucrative contract by E.P. Arnold Royalton, the rival owner of Royalton Industries.
Overloaded with dizzying CGI effects, Speed Racer favors hi-tech racing sequences over compelling characterization. The film's choppy plot staggered worse than bumper-to-bumper traffic, and fans were left blind-sided by the film's piled up narratives.prevnext
In the world of anime, there are few period series that can live up to Black Butler. The popular franchise follows a young boy named Ciel Phantomhive who is the head of his aristocratic family. Tasked with solving the unspeakable crimes of London's seedy underbelly, Ciel contracts a demon named Sebastian to help him find the crooks who killed his parents. But, to do so, Ciel must give up his soul in exchange for Sebastian's services.
The live-action adaptation of Black Butler did a disservice to fans as it changed the dynamic between Ciel and Sebastian. The film replaced Ciel with Kiyohara Genpu, a female disguised as the male heir to the Genpu family. The stilted character soon finds herself embroiled in a predictable terrorist plot. As for Sebastian, the once charming character comes off boring and bland in person. And, what's more, the film's overly complicated plot all but assured its descent into obscurity - something which many fans are grateful for.prevnext
Attack on Titan - Parts 1 & 2
When fans learned that Attack on Titan was being adapted into a live-action film series, they resigned themselves to the worst. And, as feared, the two-part saga failed to deliver.
Based on a highly successful manga, Attack on Titan should be a no-brainer blockbuster. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is forced to defend itself against giant, man-eating titans. Sequestered behind enormous walls, humans live in relative peace until a Colossal Titan suddenly attacks humanity's fortress and infiltrates the safe haven. The ambush forces a military team called the Scouting Regiment to go on the offensive against the beats, leaving protagonist Eren Yaeger to fight these titan head on.
The live-action film did its best to encompass the epic story, but there was only so much it could do. The anachronistic setting conflicted with original story, making fans wonder why the Scouts were using wire harnesses to slash at the titans when they had tanks at hand. The film also suffered from a lackluster cast who struggled to embrace the story's dark tone.
Ultimately, the live-action adaptation would have faired better if a wayward titan had gobbled it up before it even reached theaters.prevnext
Of course, this wouldn't be a list of truly awful live-action anime adaptations without Dragonball Evolution. The legendarily terrible film nearly destroyed the popular shonen series for good and has spawned off hundreds - if not thousands - of memes.0comments
Honestly, history should remember Dragonball Evolution as one of the biggest screw-ups ever. The 2009 live-action film was based on the hugely successful Dragon Ball manga created in the 1980s. The series follows a hero named Son Goku as he trains in martial arts and searches for seven wish-granting orbs known as Dragon Balls. Praised for its innovative characters and storylines, Dragon Ball gained millions of fans all over the world, so it's too bad that the live-action adaptation chose to ignore its source material .
Dragonball Evolution makes zero sense, and it would have been better if Vegeta had put the film out of its misery prior to its launch. Hollywood's attempt to 'Americanize' the series was half-hearted, and the post-production crew behind Dragonball Evolution cared little about its CGI effects. The now-disowned film is the best example of how not to do a live-action adaptation as its repugnant reputation still shadows the series today..prev