“Can anime/manga be adapted into successful American live-action films?” And, for that matter, “which anime/manga would be good candidates for adaptation into American live-action films? These kinds of questions are too easy – and are asked time and time again. In the mid-2000’s, A.D. Vision, then the leading distributor on anime on VHS and DVD in the U.S. was in the early stages of producing a live-action version of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Several years later, a live-action Speed Racer opened in U.S. theaters, followed by a live-action Dragonball: Evolution. And just a few weeks ago, ICv2, a leading website for news about “pop culture products”, reminded readers in a feature article on “new trends in manga” that:
“There’s another trend coming down the pipe that’s also likely to raise the profile of anime and manga even further. Hollywood is taking notice of the global popularity of Japanese pop culture, and the results of that interest are going to start hitting screens soon. Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, is fairly far along, as is Death Note, which is being cast. At earlier stages of development are Naruto, and Akira.”
So far, however, with the exception of Rayna Denison’s Franchising and failure: Discourses of failure within the Japanese-American Speed Racer franchise, published in 2014’s “Origins” volume of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, there has been very little in the way of English-language commentary on the potential of Hollywood adaptations of anime/manga, or analysis of the adaptations that have appeared so far.
Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood, authored by University of South Carolina School of Visual Art & Design professor Northrop Davis is the first full-length book on the relationship between the film industry in the U.S. and anime/manga creators, producers and distributors in Japan, how this relationship first came about, how how it has evolved since, and where it may be heading – in light of the developments such as those outlined in the ICv2 article. Prior to becoming an educator, Davis himself worked extensively in the entertainment industry as a screenwriter and commercial director. Later, in 2006 and 2007, he led what was then a unique Manga & Anime Explosion: What, Why, How & Wow! University of California Irvine Extension class; the first in the U.S. to examine the business aspects of anime and manga, and in 2010 and 2011, contributed articles about “the growing influence of Japanese manga and anime in Hollywood and the opportunities the global medium presents to creative minds looking to start a career in film or television” to the magazine Script.
When considering Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood, one thing to keep in mind is where exactly it falls on the spectrum of books on anime/manga that have been published so far. It definitely is not a scholarly, theoretical text like The Anime Paradox: Patterns and Practices Through the Lens of Traditional Japanese Theater or The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story, nor a basic introduction to anime’s major thematic elements – as were Anime Explosion!: The What? Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation and Samurai From Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation (or, for that matter, The Rough Guide to Anime). And neither is it a a directory similar to Anime Classics Zettai!: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces and 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Perhaps the kind of book that it is most similar to is Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the U.S. – another title with an emphasis on how different kinds of people are actually interacting, engaging with, and responding to Japanese visual culture products. One feature that these two books definitely share is a significant reliance on interviews – so, in that way, they are both particularly useful. As Lisa Given has noted (although in a different context), in Evidence-based practice and qualitative research: A primer for library and information professionals (Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 2(1), 15-22), qualitative research methods such as interviews “capture meaning (in the form of individuals’ thoughts, feelings, behaviours, etc.)…and describe processes rather than outcomes”. No, Manga & Anime Go to Hollywood does not attempt to present any kind of theory or framework, or predict what may happen when a live-action Ghost in the Shell or Akira or Naruto or Attack on Titan one day opens in U.S. cinemas. Instead, it presents an overview of this kind of interplay between Japanese and America – from the points of view of those who are promoting and fostering it.
Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood is currently available in hardcover, print, and e-book formats from Amazon and other online booksellers. In addition, you can order it directly from the publisher with the below flyer or online at www.bloomsbury.com. Enter the code GLR GT2 for a 20% discount, for a total price for the softcover edition of $28.96 (including shipping and handling).
Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood – 20% Off Cover Price Discount.