Have you seen Thor: Ragnarok? If you haven’t, you should, it’s excellent and is out on Blu-ray now. The latest offering from the Norse hero’s series is brought to us by one of Hollywood’s hottest directors, Taika Waititi. Coincidentally, this is the gentleman who is also currently attached to the live-action Akira remake, and this got me thinking. Hollywood is all in on anime right now, we had Ghost in the Shell last year, Battle Angel Alita is being remade by James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez with real people (and some real creepy big eyes), and Your Name is getting a Western live-action treatment courtesy of J.J Abrams. But what if the shoe was on the other foot? The anime industry has flirted with Hollywood adaptations before. The Blade Runner Blackout 2022 short is a thing of beauty, and 2003’s The Animatrix is one of my personal favourite anime. Clearly, it’s possible. So we’ve put together a list of Hollywood movies that would work well as anime.
Ryan Reynolds seems like he was born to play Deadpool, he’s perfect for that role, but Marvel’s merc with a mouth is also the perfect candidate for an anime adaptation. Anime is no stranger to over-the-top action and neither is this comic book legend. The gunplay, the sword fights, the acrobatics, everything would look incredible crafted by someone like Studio 4°C (who worked on both The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight so are no strangers to taking on Western content). Plus, in animated form his 4th wall breaking antics would know no bounds, he’d be unstoppable, and with this being anime, he would have a whole new set of tropes to play with and riff on. You could even get Reynolds back for the English dub. Throw some of the other X-Men into the mix, a bit of Spidey, and you’ve got the recipe for what could be one of the greatest action anime ever.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining still stands tall as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Despite its age, the Stephen King adaptation is undeniably creepy and with stellar performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, this 1980 movie will likely stay forever young (unlike that bathtub lady; if you’ve seen The Shining, you know exactly who I mean). Now imagine what you could do with the Overlook Hotel if it was animated. There would be no limit to the way you could warp reality. In an ideal world, not only would we get an anime version of this, but it would be directed by the late Satoshi Kon. He was the master of brain-bending, Perfect Blue was mind-f*cking at its finest, and the way he blended dreams and reality in Paprika was sheer beauty. What’s even better is that would no doubt have meant it was produced by Madhouse. I mean, it practically writes itself.
Also, while we’re talking King, we’d also take an IT anime anytime. Artist Mike “Mikuloctopus” Anderson put a picture up on Instagram of how Pennywise would look in an anime, and it’s almost too good. I can’t help but imagine how amazing/horrifying the worst fears of Maine’s whippersnappers would be in anime form.
Pennywise isn’t the only one to receive anime fanart treatment. Back in March 2015, artist Paul “Otaking” Johnson unveiled his 7-minute TIE Fighter short, inspired by Macross and Venus Wars, as well as (obviously) Star Wars. Since its debut, it has amassed over 8 million views and that tells us one thing, we aren’t the only ones who want a Star Wars anime. I recommend if you’ve not already that you check it out for yourself. The production company is an easy pick for me, Cowboy Bebop had some gorgeous space scenes, Gundam has visceral aerial combat; imagine that same studio, Sunrise, producing a Star Wars story. If you need more than Otaking’s short to convince you, go back and watch the original Clone Wars. Not the CGI one, the first series by Genndy Tartakovsky (creator of Samurai Jack, which isn’t anime but is inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa). Binging all the episodes back to back takes about two hours, it feels like a movie and is just as rewatchable as any entry in the saga (arguably more so than any of the prequels). There’s plenty of space to expand in to in that universe, so many stories to be told, so many legends that could be revived, just give Sunrise the license and let them go to town.
The Fast and The Furious
We don’t have enough good car anime these days. Yeah Initial D is still motoring along at a steady pace but other than that, Redline back in 2009 is the last great racer we got. That’s why now is the perfect time to animate Toretto and Co. The Fast and The Furious franchise, known as Wild Speed in Japan, in recent years has become known for its ever more ridiculous stunts and set pieces. Just think what kind of mental motoring mischief they could get up to if there were no budget constraints. Also, Dom loves a monologue. Picture that scene in the Android Saga of DBZ, Vegeta stood upon that rocky hill, raindrops cascading down his proud Saiyan cheeks as he bares his soul, except rather than Vegeta, he looks more like Nappa, and in place of the Saiyan armour is a white tank top. Hell, I’d even just take a slice of life show set around “la Familia” and their various Corona-sponsored barbeques.
As I went to finish the above paragraph another point occurred to me, one that takes this idea from kinda cool to absolutely necessary. Since its fifth instalment, The Rock has been a core part of this franchise, and The Rock in anime form might just be the greatest idea ever. As soon as Madhouse are done with my Shining idea I want them on this.
Back on 22nd November, in the year 1990, the third and final episode of A.D Police was released. Titled “The Man Who Bites His Tongue”, it was the best version of RoboCop I have ever seen. If you’ve never seen it, track down a copy of A.D Police on DVD, watch that episode and try and tell me I’m wrong. RoboCop is dark as it is, but A.D Police’s macabre style really brings home the idea of lost humanity, all in a short 26-minute runtime. I’d love to see this expanded into a full feature, or even a series, with the RoboCop license. The 80s movie doesn’t really hold up visually now and the recent reboot felt lacklustre, but if there’s one thing anime does well it’s dystopian futures, RoboCop has cyborgs, mechs, and gore abound, it’s almost a crime that this wasn’t an anime, to begin with. I’d gladly see AIC, the studio behind A.D Police take this on, although my preferred choice would be seeing Ghost in the Shell and Psycho-Pass artisans Production I.G. fill in on production duties. They feel like the perfect fit not only for the cyberpunk style but because both of the aforementioned series deal with a lot of the same issues.
Kill Bill (or any Tarantino movie)
In Kill Bill Vol. 1 we see the backstory of villain O-Ren in an animated sequence directed by Kazuto Nakazawa. It’s almost unthinkable that a moment in a Tarantino movie not actually directed by Tarantino would be one of the best parts, but here we have it. Obviously, the segment is still written by Tarantino, and the affair with animation only lasts around 7 minutes, but what a 7 minutes it is. Tarantino’s works are set within our world but often contain exaggerated, even surrealist moments, and while Kill Bill would probably work best because of the action orientation, I’d actually take an anime adaptation of any Tarantino work, or better yet, an original piece written by him and directed by Nakazawa. Nakazawa’s sketchy yet fluid, almost haphazard style works perfectly with Tarantino’s somewhat twisted view of our world. For more reference to Nakazawa’s work check out Netflix’s B: The Beginning or the stunning video to Linkin Park’s Breaking The Habit, on which he did the character designs in collaboration with the band’s turntablist Joe Hahn and Studio Gonzo (they produced Afro Samurai and Welcome to the NHK). Give me Nakazawa, Tarantino, Gonzo, and a Samuel L. Jackson cameo, I die happy.
Will any of these ever happen? I doubt it, but we can dream. If you could take give any movie an anime remake/spin-off/sequel, what would you choose? Let us know in the comments below, or shoot us your answer on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.