Space Battleship Yamato

After seeing the Japanese live action production of Space Battleship Yamato, based on the 1974 anime TV series marketed in the west under the title Star Blazers, I hope to never again see a Hollywood remake of any anime show. I know there are a few either in the works or rumored. The previous efforts by Hollywood to turn anime into big screen western entertainment, such as Dragonball Evolution were dismal failures on so many levels. Recent Japanese efforts, though, have more than proven that they have the technology to do their own projects as live action, and do them very well.

Casshern Live Action FilmA
lthough I just watched the new Space Battleship Yamato, which brought this topic to mind, it was not the first film I saw from Japan to get me thinking in this direction. I believe that film was Casshern. That film proved to me that CG technology had finally leveled the playing field and made it possible for Japanese studios to turn their popular anime into live action properties, and not only do so with great quality, but without the whitewashing and westernization that is bound to crop up in a Hollywood version.

Gantz Live Action film
Other films that showed me the potential in Japan were the live action Death Note films and the two Gantz live action movies. The latter in particular really blew me away since I am huge fan of the manga and continue to follow it to this day. Certain sequences in the manga I though could not be brought to the screen without the kind of huge budgets only Hollywood is known to spend on a film. I was wrong. While Death Note is not nearly as VFX heavy, the fact that they were able to put in the "Shinigami" characters, without feeling the need to redesign them for the big screen as I am sure would have been done in Hollywood, made it clear to me that a new era for Japanese film was here.

I just watched the Space Battleship Yamato film earlier today. This film is of great importance to me because I was really sucked into the original 1974 series, though I saw the heavily edited english dubbed version Star Blazers. It wasn't until many years later, around university time that I saw the second animated film. You can imagine what it was like to see the sequence of the Yamato launching from the water, while that original theme song played, after not having seen the show in over a decade. Now, still many years later, I see this live action version, and again hear that amazing theme song and watch a realistic, live action Yamato launch from the scorched earth and fire the wave motion gun. It felt like I was a kid again!

Mushishi Live Action
Some things just shouldn't be transferred into live action. The Last Airbender live action movie proved that. Those things which can be transferred should be done by people who know and understand the material. I saw what Katsuhiro Otomo did with a live action Mushishi, and I loved that film. I hate to imagine what Hollywood will do with his magnum opus Akira, when they turn it into a westernized production, likely taking place in a future New York with mostly white characters. I equally fear for the live action Cowboy Bebop. I think I am relieved that the live action Ninja Scroll never got off the ground. I mean, how could Hollywood do it? Would they have an American or European hero wash up on the Japanese shore to take part in the story?


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