Look, I´m just as skeptical about manga, anime and pretty much anything related to this niche getting adapted to the big, white Hollywood screen as you are – I´ve seen the Dragon Balls, I´ve seen the Edge Of Tomorrows, I know what they can do wrong, I know what they can do right.
So we can sit here, complain waving our exclusive OG anime–fan stick around and talk about how much Hollywood adaptations suck, how they´re just focused on the big buck and mindless popcorn action, some leather outfits and semi–likeable albeit cliché antagonists that put our little nerdy hobby to shame, but guess what, it won´t matter. Hollywood doesn´t give a fuck about us, and their movies sure as hell aren´t created with us as their number one priority.
Whether this is because we´re just never satisfied, we´re not enough to bring in money or they figure that we´re happy enough with the actual anime or manga in question to care about a Hollywood movie at all is a whole other question, shit, there might be a decline in profit from DC and Marvel adaptations and they´re testing new waters that´s not in a completely different ocean, but more like a nearby lake. Don´t quote me on this, superhero movies might still be thriving and I´m just bullshitting everyone here.
If they see success they´re gonna be adapting more of the stuff anyway no matter what we say; sitting around feeling like hipsters can be fun, but I want to take a step back from my tea–sipping One–Punch–man–watching–Aku–no–Hana–appreciating posture and discuss…well, a few of the more popular complaints about Hollywood finding its potential East Asian goldmine. Because I´m still lowkey excited about this kind of exposure. Because I´m stressed over exams. Because I haven´t written an article in forever. Because I have a massive artist block. Let´s go.
- The creators don´t give a shit about the titles. Okay, this isn´t actually that big of a complaint, but it´s there regardless, and I think that these people honestly thing and believe that Hollywood is one giant machine that tosses out shit every season with nothing but shiny dollar bills in their eyes. Ay, man, these guys all come from a creative background, none of them were birthed from corporate love–making. They´re lucky if they get to do half the things they planned for a project, because in the big scheme of things, yes, it´s the profit that counts; which is why Art and Economy is an actual degree, why there are whole financing teams on movies and anime, why the bigger the budget, the less the director probably has to say if not just for the pressure of loosing millions of dollars investors put in it. Hollywood isn´t a game in the way indie movies are, there´s no doubt in my mind that an indie low budget movie could give us the adaptation we want, but it won´t be the adaptation the masses want. In terms of rights and money, the mainstream clearly wins. They´re not souless robots, it´s just how the mainstream creative industry works.
2. All movies are whitewashed. The characters are Eastern so they should be played by East Asian actors. Visibilty in media is a complex topic in its own right, but it can be pretty much summed up with too much white and too little colour; certain races generally being stuck with certain roles while the white man gets all the opportunities. I get this. You get this. For some context, I am latina and we are usually represented as either drug lords or sexy curvacious strippers. I am not a drug lord or a stripper. But in terms of anime adaptations, generally, I don´t think this is a big deal. But why, Selena, this is racism! this is an East asian story! Sit down. I´m not finished – Of course I don´t think a story about samurai or ninjas or geishas or a black civil right movement or a LGBT POC movement should be played by white people. Boycott that shit, give the people what belongs to them. However, in stories like Ghost in the Shell and Death Note, race isn´t exactly fundemental, it´s not vital to the story, Shinigami aside, Death Note and Ghost in the Shell have Japanese characters just because they´re Japanese. That is it. Hollywood giving all the roles to East Asians would make no sense since it is an American production, they can do it because the story doesn´t require them to be East Asian, Asian, or any race for that matter. Now, some diversity would be nice, of course I´d side–eye Hollywood if all the characters are white, of course I´ll roll my eyes when they inevitably change their original names to shit like “Rebecca and Matthew” but fuck, I get it in a way that the masses don´t want an Asian lead in their friendly cinema movie for some reason. A movie should be as diverse as the population, and PoC are much bigger than white people. At least make L Japanese, y´all.
3.They don´t “get” anime. I can kind off agree with this. Akira, Ghost in the Shell and even Death Note are all titles that work a formula that the West seems to be allergic to; action pushed by the philosophy and story, not action for the sake of ticket sales and explosions. We´re fucked in this sense, it´s not impossible, but I seriously doubt that the Western audience has the time or patience to care about ideas. This is not their fault, necessarily, we just live in a stressful society and people just like to see things explode as much as we like our Shingeki no Kyojins, too bad they´re just taking the titles that are notable for being complex.
4.How to make it work. In an ideal universe, millions of dollars + creative minds could produce true art. Or amazing entertainment. Or just a Hollywood adaptation that´ll please everyone. In an ideal universe, the original creators would work close with Hollywood workers who know their craft (special effects, camerawork) thus balancing out what will be successful for the mainstream while still keeping the base of what it originally was, the element that gave it the initial success that got the creative wheels spinning; I genuinely think this could produce wonders, why they don´t invite Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata to work with them is a mystery to me; maybe they just don´t have the interest or the time, maybe it´s more an “inspired by” rather than “adaptation of”, maybe they intend to make it a completely different entitiy from the source material which is, in the end, just a source material.
And that´s my over 1k 50 cents on this sudden (but not completely unexpected) influx of interest in anime from the big boys; I´ll watch all the movies regardless, just to decide for myself where this is going – because, all in all, The Edge of Tomorrow was pretty cool, nothing special, but cool nonetheless. I don´t think it´s fair to completely sweep everything by Hollywood off the table despite its previous mishaps and struggles, maybe I´m just too optimistic and all these works will really just be nothing more and nothing less than whitewashed million dollar productions with cool effects and CGI to show for it. I´ll be waiting.