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Vol.5 - Page 3

From Manga to Live Action


The downsides of live-action TV dramas and films have a lot to do with the worldview of the original story.
It is certainly true that manga shows the most delicate expression, emotions and situations more accurately and easier than do novels, and therefore give similar impressions of the scenes to the audience. However, although there are the worldview settings and characters the artist created that are supposed to appear to different audiences in the same way, the part of growing further imaginations such as the characters’ voices, the way they talk, the atmosphere they let out etc. are all left to individual readers.
Making live-action versions of manga may be entertaining for those the images match perfectly, but for those whose images create an uneasy gap live-actions are not something that they can enjoy. The same thing can probably be said with works based on novels instead of manga, but because manga is clearly visual whilst novels are not, the “gap” becomes even more uncomfortable.

Similarly, manga is also a peculiar thing that draws the reader into its artificially set worldview. If one is only reading it by oneself alone, the world that s/he is drawn into is entirely his/hers. Even if the world is not something the reader has created, the way to interpret it is to his/her freedom. Live-action can shut out the viewers from entering the world him/herself and leave them to view the work completely as a third entity.

How much reality each individual reader/viewer demands is also a big concern. The world created inside the manga is usually half-realistic leaving the other half unrealistic with nonexistent animals or aliens and impossible events as well as unrealistic expressions. These worldviews are most times impossible to 100% reproduce live-action for that would be closer to anime or CG anime, but if you try to make it closer to reality in this realm the work is most likely to lose attraction.
Speaking in terms of realities, live-action versions almost always change parts of settings and storyline in order to enable the story to make more sense in only two hours or 10 episodes, as is the case for many novel-based stories. The more one likes the original work the more uncomfortable the live-action becomes.

Overall, the balances of these several realities that manga creates, plus the particular touches that only manga can express and not even the latest technologies can reproduce like the mood of the entire page or the strength of the touch of the pen, make the filmatization and shooting of dramas complex and difficult at the same time as easier. TV dramas and films made from hit manga can generate news hook, but most times face harsh criticisms.

In any case, manga seems to be continuing to make its way. There are endless demands of manga fans to make live-actions based on manga, and it seems like the wave is spreading across the ocean to Hollywood. The Hollywood-making of 1960s popular anime Speed Racer (Japanese title: Mach Go Go Go) is scheduled to be released in 2008 and the latest news whisper the rumor of a pre-production of Hollywood live action of mega-hit Ghost in the Shell.

In the next volume, I would like to discuss in details about the actual manga that have been made live-action. I would also like to introduce you a few lists of manga Japanese people wish to see live-actions, made in Japan and in Hollywood.

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Made in Japan Contents
  • Green Tea 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
    Spirited Away (2001)
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Yasunari Kawabata
  • Banana Yoshimoto
  • Yukio Mishima
  • Inazo Nitobe
  • Japanese Tea
  • Bonsai
  • VAIO
  • Canon

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