Was I the only weeb that jumped for joy when they heard Scott Pilgrim was getting an anime series? Not just because Scott Pilgrim is finally getting the continuum it deserves (yes, I’m still salty we didn’t get a sequel), but because it’s getting translated to one of my favorite art forms, Japanese animation. With its stunning visuals, over-the-top action sequences, and heart-wrenching storylines, anime has been taking off lately in Western pop culture, from live-action Netflix shows to floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. With the announcement of the Netflix Scott Pilgrim anime series, my mind has been running wild with the endless possibilities of live action movies that would make great animes.
1. Men In Black
Men in Black is about a special agency that hunts down extraterrestrials on Earth. With its stylishness, expansive sci-fi universe, hi-tech gadgets, touch of comedy, and the amazing chemistry between the slick twosome of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, I think Men in Black would fit right in with the supernatural anime genre. With Men In Black, I’d love to see how the cool gadgets, advanced tech, and alien sci-fi elements would look with the chef’s kiss of Japanese animation. I see this being done in one of two ways. We could:
- Make it a stylish, Shinichiro Watanabe buddy-cop sci-fi that combines the cool art style of Watanabe with the hilarious one-liners of Will Smith’s Jay. Or,
- We could make it a dark and gory horror thriller like Netflix’s Gantz-O and really play up the aliens in the Men In Black universe. Like that giant roach alien at the end of the film. (Ugh, I can still hear Vincent D’Onofrio demanding sugar water in his gurgly tone.)
Although the movie did get a cartoon in the 90s, I think Men in Black would look better as an anime.
2. Kill Bill Vol.1
Kill Bill Vol. 1 is a story about a vengeful assassin who, after waking from a 4-year coma, seeks revenge on the team of assassins who betrayed her. The story of a scorned swordsman who seeks revenge is certainly an anime plotline we’ve seen before in shows like Peacemaker Kurogane and Afro Samurai, which coincidentally share the same composer as Kill Bill Vol 1: The Rza. The movie’s emphasis on Japanese culture through setting, fighting styles, characters (Gogo Yubari screams anime school girl), and dialogue would be perfectly translated to a Japanese art style.
Plus, the creative freedom and goriness of mature-rated anime would be perfect for the twisted mind of Quentin Tarantino, who had to shoot some of his fighting scenes in black and white due to the excessive depictions of blood splatter throughout the film. Imagine seeing scenes like the showdown at the house of blue leaves and the sword battle between The Bride and O-ren Ishii in the Japanese winter garden animated!? Ugh. A girl could dream. Clearly, Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 revenge flick would make a great anime series. Just check out the anime featurette they used in the film for O-ren Ishiii’s backstory.
3. Planet Terror
Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror would make an amazing anime series based on its absurd, bizarre universe. The 2007 roadhouse film is a sci-fi action comedy about an unlikely band of heroes who work together to stop the spread of a biochemical weapon that turns people into zombies.
The film is jam-packed with fantastical elements that would look so badass in an anime art style, like the raven-haired beauty with a machine gun for a leg. Planet Terror’s blend of sci-fi fantasy, zombie mayhem, over-the-top action, sensuality, and awkward comedy would undoubtedly be a hit amongst anime fans. The grotesque death scenes and repulsive makeup used to create the film’s zombies would fit right in with gory anime like Highschool of The Dead, Tokyo Ghoul, and Parayste: The Maxim.
4. The Fifth Element
This 90s sci-fi smash already has a huge fan base that would only expand once it reaches the anime market. I have no doubts that Gary Oldman’s Zorg would top many best anime villain lists with his short fuse and cold composure. The Fifth Element is a sci-fi futuristic story set in the 23rd century that delivers on romance, action, comedy, adventure, and fantasy.
The Fifth Element already has the perfect components to create a world-class anime: stunning space visuals, loveable characters, a hot android, a complex storyline, and elaborate costume designs that would make a cosplayer’s jaw drop. The Fifth Element’s expansive space voyaging universe would blend right in with shows like Outlaw Star and Space Dandy. The film’s down and out, nonchalant hero Korben Dallas is a character type we see reflected in anime protagonists like Cowboy Bebop’s Spike Spiegel. I’d love to see characters like the vivacious Ruby Rhodd and the glamorous opera Diva translated to Japanese animation.
5. Harry Potter
Harry Potter has such an expansive universe and lore that spin-offs of all kinds have emerged since the original movie saga ended in 2011, including movies, books, video games, and broadway plays. Why not expand on that idea and make an anime, too? Harry Potter has a magical, youthful story that could captivate fans of animes like Little Witch Academia, Fairytale, and Black Clover.
Harry Potter’s concoction of tragedy and heartbreak, child-like playfulness, darkness and horror, mysticality, and magic put me in the mind of an already famous anime studio known for a similar formula: Studio Ghibli. Imagine seeing the whimsical Harry Potter universe with the Studio Ghibli aesthetic!? The creators of My Neighbor Totoro are already known for their beautiful landscapes and loveable mythical creatures; I’d love to see Harry and the gang’s antics at Hogwarts under the direction of Hayao Miyazaki.
6. Army Of The Dead
Zack Snyder’s Netflix original zombie flick is another live action movie that would make a great anime not just because of its plotlines (which at times tug at your heartstrings), but especially for its memorable ensemble. The Army of The Dead cast delivered scene-stealing performances, some of which went on to inspire their own spin-offs (I’m looking at you Army of Thieves). A few characters that come to mind are the alpha zombies, the badass Lily the Coyote, the slick helicopter pilot Marianne Peters, and the buff Vanderohe, whose muscle is only surpassed by his philosophy (the quirky master thief Dieter would be a fan fave, for sure).
Not only is Army of the Dead dark, violent, and gory, but it also leaves room for humor with sprinkles of comedy and outrageousness (zombie tiger!?) that makes it wildly entertaining. This one has anime written all over it.
Coincidentally, we may be treated to something similar from Snyder soon. According to Menshealth.com, during an Army of the Dead Q&A, Snyder spoke about a sequel called Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas that would be anime-inspired. Maybe it’s not too late to get him to make it the real deal. Someone get a petition going!
This trippy Christopher Nolan film has an ending that leaves the door open for further investigation (an ending that fans still debate about to this day) and anime is the perfect way to open up and explore this universe beyond its 2 hours 28-minute runtime. Inception is a stylish and innovative sci-fi adventure full of never-before-seen visuals and camera tricks that’ll have you screaming “WTF?!”.
Its intelligence, originality, and complexity would develop a huge anime following like Psycho-Pass, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, which are considered some of the most intelligent anime of all time. Plus, the movie’s protagonist Cobb is a hero you really want to see win and overcome his demons, like many great anime heroes of our time who are plagued by some sort of dark past (you are not your past Kenshin Himura!!)
8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
You squealed a little when you saw this entry, didn’t you? I know, this movie is the coolest. Who Framed Roger Rabbit would make a great anime, not just because it’s already half animated, but because its story is so original and the characters are so memorable, I know it’d be brilliant with the anime aesthetic. Realistically, we probably wouldn’t see all of the Disney and Warner Bros licensed characters that appear in the original film, so what if we used a famous anime production company instead? Like Studio Bones or Toei Animation.
It would be awesome to see anime characters from different shows collide in one universe and see the different dynamics and character relationships that would develop. I’d be curious to see how the animators would pull off the half-live-action half anime formula. Who Framed Roger Rabbit has a colorful, playful universe with just the right touch of innuendo and darkness that really makes you question its child appropriateness, aka every anime I’ve ever watched. Please, let’s get a Who Framed Roger Rabbit anime stat.
The Scott Pilgrim anime series is still in negotiations at Netflix, with no projected release date at this time. However, if the Scott Pilgrim anime series is a hit amongst fans, who knows what live-action movie could be next. Are you excited about the upcoming Scott Pilgrim anime? What other live-action movies would you like to see translated to anime? Let us know in the comments.