In this article, I’ll be listing the biggest live-action anime adaptations that are currently in the works from both Japan and the US.
Now more than ever, anime is getting adapted into movies and TV series.
Series are being adapted into TV dramas and movies and the loose and low budget nature of a lot of Japanese cinema can lead to some incredible results like 2018’s insane live action Kakegurui.
Live-action anime has been pretty common in Japan for years, but the folks in Hollywood are only just beginning to really tap into the anime live-action market.
It just goes to show how big anime has gotten in the west.
It’s a thing worth celebrating for sure, though with a track record of Netflix’s Death Note, Ghost in the Shell and the modern classic Dragon Ball Evolution, maybe keep your expectations in check.
Then again, you have Edge of Tomorrow (an adaptation of All You Need is Kill) and Battle Angel Alita, I mean, those were… good?
Let’s dive in:
Ruroni Kenshin Saishūshō The Final / The Beginning
Ruroni Kenshin’s live action movie series has been going all the way back since 2012, though it’s been a full six years since the third movie.
The series is ending in 2020 as a pentalogy, with two new films covering the final Jinchu arc of the original manga and completing the story with the mystery of Kenshin’s scar in The Final, along with Kenshin’s final battle against Enishi in The Beginning. Yes, the titles are weird.
After the long break between films, Otomo Keishi is returning to direct the last installments of the series, and Satou Takeru will of course be back reprise his role as Himura Kenshin.
Release Dates: The Final: July 3, 2020 / The Beginning: August 7, 2020
The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku No Neverland)
Still fresh off its anime adaptation, The Promised Neverland is getting a Japanese live action movie.
With its entire early setting taking place in the orphanage and its surrounding forest, with its one really good set-piece, you really couldn’t find better source material for a nice-looking lower budget movie, and it shows!
With what footage we have so far, the simultaneously comforting and unsettling atmosphere of the orphanage grounds is captured perfectly with all the benefits of live-action lighting and real environments. I’m looking forward to this one.
Also, an interesting detail is that the rules of the orphanage are being changed to accommodate older leads. The kids’ expiration date of 12 years old is being changed to 16 in the movie.
Release date: Winter 2020
It was announced just recently in January 2020 for its 10th anniversary, that the iconic time travel series Steins;Gate is getting an American live-action series, produced by Skydance Television.
All we have so far is the news that it’s happening, so we can only hope that the adaptation is in capable hands and they don’t do our future gadget lab members dirty like they did with our boy Light Yagami.
I look forward to the science adventures of Richard Okra Bay, Christina Mackenzie, Daryl, and Mary Sheena in the not so far future!
Release date: TBA
Sword Art Online
Another US adaptation coming to Netflix is the long talked about live-action Sword Art Online.
As far as anime premises go, SAO has one of the strongest and simplest hooks in the past decade. You’re thrown into a virtual world, you die in the game you die in real life.
Now add pretty A-1 pictures animation, a catchy earworm OP from LiSA, and one of the best female character designs as the love interest, and you have an instant hit, weird moments and some messy writing forgiven.
Now without those anime-only elements, can Netflix’s SAO succeed on its premise alone with a western spin? We’ll just have to see.
Release date: TBA
Announced all the way back in 2015, the Naruto movie by Lionsgate seems to be stalling its production, with Michael Gracey (Greatest Showman, Rocketman) being negotiated with to direct as of 2018, though it likely fell through- you can tell he’s been busy the past few years.
Gracey has said in interviews that he isn’t very familiar with the series and he’d rather not direct the movie over the risk of taking the reins and not doing it justice.
Whether it turns out to be a genuinely good flick or just gets memed to hell, it’s one that’ll be entertaining either way if and when it actually sees the light of day.
Well this one’s a no brainer. Cowboy Bebop is getting a 10 episode live action series produced by Netflix, directed by Alex Garcia Lopez with a confirmed cast starring John Cho as Spike, Mustafa Shakir as Jet, Daniela Pineda as Faye, and Alex Hassel as Viscious. ç
Ein will be a Welsh Corgi, and looks very faithful to his anime counterpart.
The exclusion of Radical Edward from the cast definitely sets off some alarm bells, but she could just as well be a “season 2” kind of character. No biggie.
Some people are saying Ed’s being left out to make the adaptation needlessly darker, but the promotional material so far is lighthearted enough that I have faith in it.
On the other hand, very weird call to have a man named Spike Spiegel played by a Korean actor but whatever. Also, 12 writers? Whew, let’s not have too many cooks in the kitchen you know?
Unfortunately, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop looks like it’ll be taking a bit longer than planned. John Cho suffered a bad knee injury on set that’ll halt production for 7 to 9 months.
It’s been confirmed that the team is working around the accident to keep Cho in the lead despite recasting being very much possible this early in filming. Good on them for sticking to their guns. While it might take a bit longer, it’ll be fun to see the Toonami aired grungy sci-fi classic done in live action. What’ll be next? Big O? It’s showtime.
Release date: TBA
Another live action adaptation for Netflix from the same ITV Studios, One Piece is also getting the Netflix bux for its own transition into live action.
Now this one’s iffy. I really have to wonder if you could capture the pure adventurous spirit of One Piece in not just live action but Hollywood live action. It just doesn’t seem right, you know?
With 10 episodes covering at least part of the East Blue Saga, the series has been said to potentially be the highest budget TV drama in history.
Eichiro Oda has also said that he has a condition for the production of the live action series, that it has to be faithful to the series’ fans that have supported One Piece for 20 years,
Release date: TBA
Mobile Suit Gundam
While giant robots aren’t so big in the west, as early as 1983, Gundam has been a candidate for hitting Hollywood, and this time, it looks like it’s really happening.
With a new logo dropped just recently and comic book writer Brian K. Vaughn on board for the script, we’re getting our first live action Gundam since the cinematic masterpiece G-Savior.
Like it’s always been, there isn’t much info yet, but one thing’s for certain. Whether it’s an adaptation of 0079 or it does its own thing, it just won’t be the same without Tomino there to make all the characters completely incomprehensible.
Release date: TBA
Are you looking forward to any of these live action anime, or with the Hollywood ones do you think we’re just getting more of the Death Note dumpster fire?
What series do you think would work well in live action?
Tell me in the comments below!