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8 Recent Japanese Live-action Adaptations

By Yian Lu  /  02 Aug 2016 (Tuesday)
The past two years we have seen quite a number of movies adapted from Japanese manga. As much as this Japanese pop culture seems all the same to us, manga/anime is actually sub-divided into categories such as shounen (少年), shoujo (少女) and seinen (青年).

The more commonly seen type of manga/anime is shounen, which literally means male youngsters. Popular manga and anime like One Piece, Bleach and Naruto all fall under this category! Shoujo manga are generally crafted to target female youngsters, and revolve mostly around romance, magic and school life genres. If you recall, Cardcaptor Sakura was quite the hit back in the days… Lastly, it is seinen manga/anime, which is the least common of the three. With relatively more mature target audience in general, this category’s plot leans towards more in-depth themes and topics. Some more well-known manga/anime are Tokyo Ghoul, One-Punch Man and Erased a.k.a. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi.

Now that we have some background knowledge about the different categories of manga/anime, let’s take a look at some recent live-action adaptations that have come to our shores!

1. Parasyte

Under the seinen category, this science-fiction talks about Parasytes taking over human bodies and preying on mankind. Hinting that humans are the reason why the Earth’s environment is deteriorating, Parasytes are here to wipe us out to restore nature. It is a head-on war between the two species. However, among the Parasytes, various factions with different viewpoints develop — to live in peace together or to dominate mankind?

2. Attack On Titan

Known for its violence and gore, this shounen live-action adaptation speaks of mankind under the terror of titans which feed on human flesh. 100 years ago, a giant wall was built to protect them from the titans. But 100 years later, the giant wall breaks and unleashes fear. Panic spread like wild fire as the titans return, feasting away. Eren, who is able to transform into a Titan, is humanity’s last hope.

3. Bakuman

This shounen comedy stars Takeru Satoh, who also played the lead role in another well-known live-action adaptation Rurouni Kenshin, as a gifted illustrator named Moritaka Mashiro. In order to realise their dream of creating a manga series for Shonen Jump Weekly — the most popular manga magazine in Japan, Moritaka and his aspiring manga writer partner Akito work day and night. But just as they begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, a formidable rival, Eiji Niizuma, appears and instantly launches a Jump manga series, catapulting ahead of the duo.

Check out our interview with Takeru Satoh on Playing Characters from Popular Manga Series!

4. No Longer Heroine

Adapted from shoujo manga, No Longer Heroine is about Hatori Matsuzaki, played by Mirei Kiritani, a female high school student who has a crush on her childhood friend Rita Terasaka, played by Kento Yamazaki. She believes he will eventually choose her as his heroine but Rita Terasaka begins dating Miho Adachi. Meanwhile, the most popular male student, Kosuke Hiromitsu played by Kentaro Sakaguchi, takes an interest in Hatori Matsuzaki.

5. My Love Story!!

Another shoujo live-action adaptation, My Love Story!! revolves around Takeo Goda who is a righteous high school student 2m tall and weighing more than 100kg. All of the girls Takeo likes prefer his handsome friend Makoto Sunakawa. Takeo falls in love with a female high school student Rinko Yamato, whom he saved from a pervert on the train. He feels Rinko likes Makoto but Makoto is actually not the one she likes.

6. Assassination Classroom

Also one of the more anticipated shounen live-action adaptation, this two-part series illustrates the story about an enigmatic octopus-shaped creature, who is the homeroom teacher of Class 3-E, the worst class in the prestigious Kunugigaoka Junior High School. The students of Class 3-E are tasked by the government with a secret mission to assassinate this mystery creature, named by the students as Korosensei, who is threatening to destroy Earth.

7. Terraformars

Just released InCinemas mid of last month, Terraformars is based on a seinen manga/anime. Set in a dystopian future with depleting natural resources and overpopulation, humans look to Mars as their next habitat. Terraforming is the project to change Mars' environment to accommodate humans. For this project, cockroaches and mold are sent to Mars to purify the atmosphere. In the year 2599, 15 poor Japanese are sent to Mars to take out the cockroaches but they had no clue what they are up against.

8. Erased 

Erased is a seinen science-fiction thriller, based on bestselling award-winning manga and anime, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. Satoru Fujinuma, played by Tatsuya Fujiwara who is also the lead actor in other live-action adaptations like Death Note and Kaiji, experiences a strange phenomenon called “Revival”. When he is about to come to harm, he finds himself sent back several minutes in time before the fateful incident actually occurs.

A few days later, Satoru's mother, who witnessed an attempted abduction, is murdered. The police suspects Satoru, but he experiences “Revival” again when he is about to get arrested. This time, he is brought back to his childhood 18 years ago — days before the abduction-murder case of his classmate Kayo Hinazuki. A 29-year-old trapped in a 10-year-old’s body, Satoru is convinced that the two murders are linked to the same perpetrator, and begins his investigation. With his inexplicable ability, he again travels back and forth between present and past, gathering clues each time. Will Satoru be able to stop the murders and save the people he loves?

Check out our movie review!

While live-action adaptations generally garner reviews that prefer the original work, it is undeniable that it is still interesting to see how scenes in the original work unfold in the live-action! And lucky us, Erased will be opening InCinemas this Thursday, 4 August 2016! Do you have any live-action adaptations that you are hoping will reach our shores? Voice them out in the comments!

Side note: editor’s choices are Wolf Girl and Black Prince (オオカミ少女と黒王子), Your Lie in April (四月君の嘘) and One Week Friends (一週間フレンズ).
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