We all know how terrible live-action adaptations of anime and manga can be. Hell, people still get triggered over Dragonball: Evolution. But the truth is that many adaptations are just passable movies, like Assassination Classroom or Parasyte.
Not these adaptations. These movies are actually great and can hold their own without the baggage other adaptations carry.
The Rurouni Kenshin trilogy is widely considered to be the best live action adaptations and they are great action movies in their own right. In fact, most of the praise is due to the fight choreography.
What’s it about: Himura Kenshin was an assassin during the Bakumatsu war. Feeling the weight of the lives he took, Kenshin vowed to never kill again and wanders Japan as atonement for his past sins. However, his vow is tested after meeting Jin-e.
2Ichi the Killer
A sadistic movie that is not for the faint of heart. Ichi the Killer manages to bring the masosadistic violence from the manga and translate it to a chilling effect on film.
What’s it about: Ichi is a psychologically damaged man who gets aroused by violence. His unstable nature makes him the perfect weapon for feuding Yakuza families looking to kill off rival factions.
Oldboy is a Korean movie based on a manga of the same name. The dark tale of a man on a quest for vengeance introduced global audiences to Korean movies, which were rarely exported before Oldboy was made
What’s it about: Oh Dae-Su is imprisoned in a cell for 15 years after a night of drinking. Without knowing who his captures are, Dae-Su vows to break out and find vengeance. However, he is mysteriously released one day and finds himself in a web of conspiracies.
Director Sabu is one of Japan’s more popular indie directors, and you can see his delicate handling in Bunny Drop. And don’t worry about those scenes from the manga, because they have been erased in the movie.
What’s it about: Daikichi learns that his recently deceased grandfather has an illegitimate six-year-old daughter named Rin. Family members refuse to adopt Rin due to her illegitimacy, so Daikichi decides to take her in. Even though Daikichi has no experience with children, he is determined to be a good father towards Rin.
5Lone Wolf & Cub
A total of six Lone Wolf & Cub movies were produced between 1972 to 1974, and have received critical acclaim throughout the decades. It’s amazing to think that for the longest time, the best live action adaptions were from the ’70s.
What’s it about: Itto Ogami was the Shogun’s executioner, but is disgraced by false accusations by the Yagyu Clan. He takes to wandering the countryside with his infant son and helps people he encounters while looking for those responsible for his wife’s death.
Lady Snowblood is a groundbreaking action film from 1973, which was based on an acclaimed manga. Not many movies back then focused on themes of rape and vengeance while having a female lead character.
What’s it about: Yuki was raised from childhood as an assassin, and seeks vengeance for the murders of her father and brother and the rape of her mother.
7I Am a Hero
Japan’s dramatic take on the zombie genre. In fact, I Am a Hero is regarded as one of the best zombie works fans of the genre can find.
What’s it about: After returning home late one evening, Hideo witnesses a traffic accident, which should have killed the pedestrian instantly. Instead, they stand up and walk away. Worried that he is hallucinating, Hideo learns that there is a virus spreading the turns people into zombie-like creatures called ZQN.
What do you think are the best live-action adaptations of anime and manga?