Whether it is a belated recognition of its relevance as an art form or a sign of stagnation in the western film market, Hollywood are finally opening their eyes to the world of anime. Tinseltown's relationship with the Japanese film industry has traditionally been a one-way affair, with American movies dominating Japan's box office from the 1970s until the turn of the millennium, when local films were accounting for a record-low 27% of the domestic market.
Things have changed in the 16 years since. Japanese audiences began to grow tired of imported blockbusters and began paying more attention to home-grown filmmakers. Hollywood took notice and soon started remaking popular Japanese horrors in their own image with varying degrees of success, though anime is a different beast entirely.
The hope is that the studios leading the anime drive take a look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the main reason it became so successful - faithfulness to the source material. MCU head honcho Kevin Feige admitted his "secret" in a recent interview, claiming that "any adaptation you make from the source material should be done only to enhance whatever the original pure spirit of the source material was.”
It took decades before movie execs realised that to make a good comic book adaptation they needed the input of comic book people, and they can't afford to make the same mistake with anime. Past attempts at live-action adaptations such as Kite and Fist of the North Star failed because they were watered down so much that they simply became bland and boring versions of the anime.
Will the following films fall into the same trap? Or is Hollywood finally ready to do anime justice? Let's take a look...
Initially produced as a joint venture between World Event Productions and Toei Animation, Voltron aired from September 1984 to November 1985. The English language series (known as Voltron: Defender of the Universe) was actually put together using two different Japanese anime series - Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. Having no available means to translate the show, the producers surmised the plots, created all-new dialogue and edited out the bulk of the violence.
What We Know:
Relativity Media’s President of Worldwide Production Tucker Tooley announced back in 2011 that the studio had optioned the feature film rights for Voltron and would adapt the live-action version from the 1984 series Defender of the Universe. Production appears to have hit a snag, however, and the latest news is that DreamWorks are looking to adapt Voltron in its orignal serial format with Netflix as the distributor.
Will It Work?
The success of a live-action Voltron depends entirely on the eventual format - taken to the big screen, there is every chance it will become a carbon copy of Transformers, which, while potentially profitable, will likely result in another boring and entirely unnecessary blockbuster franchise. If given the TV treatment, however, there is no reason that Voltron can't become the next binge-worthy Netflix Original series.