Anyone who knows me well enough knows I’m big into Anime, and that a good chunk of my videotapes and DVD’s are of that. (For those who want to sweat me, don’t: I may not have seen every Miyazaki film, but I’ve been watching this stuff since I first watched “Vampire Hunter D.” that was before the Bebop-Evangelion craze.) With Transformers a year away and a lot of hot projects (including “Akira”) coming to light, here are my five picks for what I could – and would like to – see be made into an American Production…
- 5.) Both Makoto Shinkao Films: “Voices of a Distant Star” and “The Place Promised in our Early Days.” The assumption I have always heard about Japanese Anime is that it’s animated porn with a lot of weird stuff. These two movies, however, are both as far away from this stereotype as any American-made film, and have a lot of depth and story crammed into a small space. (“Voices” alone, about 2 lovers trapped far away from each other by time and space, is only 30 minutes long.) Both hit him with stories of love and friendship and how they traverse amongst many obstacles, be they space or realms. Neither has that much violence, and the artwork done in these films could match some of the better Disney films. (I’m surprised Ghibli hasn’t tried to get him, as the stuff he was doing would go great with what they do.) Biggest Obstacle: His name and reputation, which is very new. He hasn’t established himself in the same ways that Miyazaki, Masamune or Kon has. This might be the best reason to do a project of his, however: not as many will know of him as they will the bigger producers of Anime work, which would give both space to mess up and chance to grow at the same time, while remaining under radar and with a modest budget. Biggest Advantage: The focal points of the stories have more to do with character and not special effects. Paired with a great effects company, such as Lucasfilm or Weta Workshop, and a great team, either of this – or a unique and new project – could easily sneak by and be a big hit.
- 4.) Ghost in the Shell. Although this was one of the first Animes that I had seen, it’s futuristic story has become the stuff of legend, inspiring a whole crop of new films, ranging from other Anime that has come since then to “The Matrix.” Biggest Obstacle: It has already earned a “classic” Status amongst Anime fans, meaning if it was redone in the US or as Live-Action, it would have to include three things: a big budget, a true link to the stories that have already been told in both movies, TV series and mangas(oriental graphic novels), and something the fans have never seen before. It’d also have to lose some of its heavier stuff to tone itself down for more acceptance amongst the non-geeks. Biggest Advantage: It’s a classic, meaning that, if they do it right, it could open the doors for many more projects like it.
- 3.) Cowboy Bebop. This is also a no-brainer: A sci-fi about a group of bounty hunters on one ship set to American-styled music. Anyone who has seen the show or the movie knows exactly what I am talking about, but if you’re like me and still catching up, here’s another good reason why: Yoko Kanno. Her soundtrack to the TV series and movies – which has a good number of CDs out there – span a wide range of american-styled music, from Jazz and blues to Hip-hop, hardrock/heavy metal, electronic, and even a bit of classical. Throw in 5 unique characters, unique landscapes from places as close as Venus and Mars to as far away as Ganymede and Callisto, and an attitude and style that’s all its own, and it’s hard not to do this one. Biggest Obstacle: Capturing everything that made the TV Show and movie great. There are a lot of different places for someone to bung it up, from going only one style (or worse, family-oriented) in the soundtrack or settings, to screwing up or (worse) cutting a character from the line-up. Hell, even assuming Ein the datadog ain’t a major character is an easy place to screw up. Biggest advantage: Fan base. If someone were to announce tomorrow that a live-action American film was being made on Cowboy Bebop, the blogs and internet websites, chatrooms, and even real life magazines and TV shows would be abuzz by all of the fans of this show. Plus, it’d be a lot easier to find people who would love to play the parts of those characters amongst major celebs and minor actors, and probably a lot of people who’d love to take a shot in that world.
- 2.) Vampire Hunter D. Call it a love of the vampire, but of all of the Vampire hunters, D is my favorite. Born a vampele (half-human, half-vampire) in the distant future, D is on a hunt to take out as many vampires as possible. He knows he’s a monster, yet has an undeniable compassion for humans, with whom he wishes he was. Biggest Obstacle: Blade. The two characters are similar enough that people could potentially confuse the two, or avoid it because they hated the one. Biggest Advantage: Even with the fan base, this character – and the stories about him – is the hardest to screw up. Of all of the stuff listed today, there’d be very little to which you could do to the character that would make any fanboy cry “That’s not D!”
(Of course, major companies are known for screwing up greatly…)
And what do I think is number one?
1.) Any film by Hayao Miyazaki. Even with the imagination he has, there’s very little in his films that couldn’t be replicated in live action or done right in an American translation. Biggest Obstacle: Choosing one film of his to do, and then not screwing it up. You couldn’t choose to re-do Princess Mononoke and choose to forget the forest gods or the Kodaba, let alone Ashitaka or Iron Town. Likewise with Kiki’s Delivery Service and forgetting – or screwing up – Jiji’s character. Any of his classics would be great to do but so easy to mess up it wouldn’t be funny. Biggest Advantage: Disney, which has distribution rights to Studio Ghibli’s work, could easily pull off the deal of the century, by either announcing a joint-venture or asking to redo any of his projects for a live-action version. If any Japanese director has a shot at making an American film, Miyazaki has both the wisdom and skill to pull it off, and the biggest backers to do it with.