Anime fans who make the effort to follow industry news know how difficult it is to transition a successful anime series to a live action series or film. It is not done very often. And when it is, the results can be dreadful. Going in the other direction doesn't seem as difficult. If you need proof, just do a little digging around the internet. Some of the most demanded new anime series are adaptations of live action films.
There has to be some underlying reason explaining why going from live action to anime can be viable while going from anime to live action is riskier. Let us explore that idea, shall we?
Anime Fans Are Loyal
Here at Umai, we know a thing or two about adapting. Our anime clothing and accessories technically aren't anime at all. Why? Because all our images are still images. Nonetheless, we have adapted all the basic elements of anime illustration and applied them to making our products. Needless to say, our customers love our original artwork.
It is obvious that anime fans are loyal. If they find something they like, they will stick to it come hell or high water. That's why going from anime to live action is so dicey. Fans of a successful anime series love it just the way it is. They are loyal to that series in the anime realm. They may not necessarily appreciate the live action version because too much needs to be changed.
On the other hand, going from live action to anime opens a successful franchise to an entirely new audience. Netflix has found that out first-hand. Apparently, the most demanded anime series on Netflix recently have been anime adaptations of popular sci-fi films.
Give Them a Good Story
The thing about us anime fans is that we are not dead set against live action. We appreciate a good live action film or TV series as much as the next person. So if a creator takes an already popular live action franchise and converts it to anime, there will at least be an audience curious enough to take a look.
Obviously, the actual animation needs to be up to standards. Giving anime fans a subpar product virtually guarantees failure. But assuming the animation is spot on, creators can command viewer attention by giving them a good story. Therein lies the secret.
By default, anime fans are a curious bunch. They are always looking for new series to try out. So even if they haven't seen the hottest live action sci-fi film to hit the screen in the last 20 years, name recognition could be enough to prompt them to check out an anime adaptation. Give them good art and a good story and you have their attention.
Not Every Try Works
It is true that not every attempt to adapt live action to anime works out well. Some adaptations fall flat on their faces. But that's true in all sorts of media. Imagine taking an old Jane Austen novel and adapting it to the online serial model where readers bring up an app and read a small snippet daily. It probably wouldn't work for the simple fact that you are dealing with two separate audiences.
Adapting live action to anime can be viable if it is done right. An audience desperate for new anime content will at least take a look if you give them a good story and quality art. Netflix is proving that right now. They have been so successful that one needs to wonder what the next adaptation will be.