Tier lists are still a big thing, right?
Regardless, this is a really fun idea I’ve been toying around with, and I feel like it’s way more interesting than just another bullet list. By putting these in ranks, I hope we can better see why some adaptations work fantastically-
While others, not so much.
For this list, I’ve curated the most popular adaptations only. I will NOT be counting stage plays because Japan has an obsession with colored wigs and stage plays.I literally can’t judge every single play that comes out over there.
Instead, we’ll focus on the big ones. The ones that people either loved or hated. Also, since it’s always fun to start from the bottom, let’s get right down to F Tier.
Everything needs to step on something to stay above the rest, and these fine movies have the honor of being the dirt. At the bottom of F Tier, we have D̷̷̥̲̼̣̟͠r̶̳̜̞̗͚̰̰̭̦̮͎͘͟͟͝ͅa̡̧̨̳͇̣̲͕̭͝ͅg̴̢͙̦̣̞̳̹͍̩͓͇̰̻̳͍̹̻̕͝ͅó͎̜̟̫n̕̕͝͏̸̳̣̘̟̜̤̳̳͉̩̭̘̝̼͔̳̰ͅb̩͔̦͈͙̻͇̰͕̹̠̰̟̦̻̼̻̙̪͡a̶̢̳̲̱l̸̰̻̮͎̙̰̱̺̺̯̜͎̯͈͚̪̕ĺ͏̧̞̱̞̙̹̦͎́͠ ̸̴̶̺͉̪̦̬̻͇̜̯͚ͅͅE̴̢̺͉̣͈͈̮̕͞v̴̖̺͈̭̫̮͚̯̗̜̖͉̺̝̀o̢̧͇̩̻͈̙͈̙͔̣̳͉̪͡l͞҉̡̛̞̙͚̱̥͉̣͔͡u̙̲̳͎̯̖̗̥͙̤͕̫̞͔̻͖̺͚̕͜t̸́҉̣͓̟̳̼̰̱̯̗̙̬i̶̵̛̫̜̬̱͈̜̤̗̠̼͖̙̹͓͎̪̼̰͡ͅo҉͜͝҉͇̳̣̜̣͎ͅn̨͈̗̩̹̘͖̤͖͕̙͎̠͘͟.
Huh, that’s weird. Okay, at the bottom of F Tier, we have Dragonball Evo-
Okay, fine. Constipated American Ninja man fights the Green Goblin.
Constipated American Ninja man fights the Green Goblin (or CANFGG for short) is the baseline of what an anime adaptation should NOT do.
The Bad-aptation Checklist
- “Modernizes” the story for no reason
- Whitewashed actors
- Horrible references to the source material
- Crappy CGI that fails to capture the intensity of 2D animation
- HIGHLY compressing hundreds of episodes of plot into a feature-length film.
The internet has already given it’s opinions on this butchering of a childhood classic, and I’m not giving this movie anymore time than it deserves. Down to hell you go, and not the nice Hell in Dragonball Z either.
A step up the ladder of F Tier, but not by much, was Netflix’s attempt to bring Death Note to life on the home theater screen. How well does it do this?
Well, let’s just say somebody writing the title of this movie onto a Death Note would have been the best result for it. This movie also does the same things CANFGG does, and so they have most of the same shortcomings. You can’t even claim that this movie is a pale imitation of the original, because they barely have anything to do with the original.
Granted, I was excited at first. I can admit that the ONE good thing about this movie, and what tricked me into wanting to watch, was the perfect casting of Willem Dafoe as Ryuk.
His voice, his facial structure and his acting chops ironically brought the death god decently to life. Ryuk is still goofy looking, but also intimidating. Obviously, they butchered his character in the writing department, but at least he got out of this looking pretty good.
I’m convinced the rest of the cast thought they were in some weird supernatural spin-off of 13 reasons why before they shot this movie, because there’s a lot more focus on the relationship between these two edgelord teenagers. In the original, Misa and Light was abusive, but only subtly so. Light was a sociopath who manipulated this poor girl’s attraction to him for his own gain, and is one of the core reasons I hated Light’s moral views.
In this one, the power balance tips to “Mia”, who is so far from the original character that it actually makes me mad they took out one letter and called it a day. At least give this clearly different character a different name! Mia’s a bitch through and through, but where the Light Yagami would have easily saw through her shallow motivations and manipulated her, Light Turner here is heads over heels. Plus, she’s this movie’s antagonist all along, because apparently the L her stands for loser. Why? Because that’s literally all that happens to him in this movie.
I’m really disappointed with this character the most because the actor seemed like he was really into playing the character. It’s just that the character ended up being written so horribly. L was a cool-headed, almost emotionless weirdo with insane detective skills. Here, he’s pretty much just a vigilante following convenient leads, and loses his temper not once, but thrice throughout the whole movie. Not only that, he doesn’t figure anything out on his own like the original did. Maybe because the original L would have deduced Light Turner’s identity without even taking a second bite of his cake.
And that leaves us with Light Turner.
Now, I’m not even gonna mention how concerning it is that they portrayed Light as an underdog “nerd” who gets bullied in school and comes across a weapon that can kill several people at once.
No, I just want to talk about how he’s the unfortunate compromise of two VERY different visions of Light Yagami.
He’s not a genius, just book-smart!
Until he isn’t.
He’s not evil, he’s just being manipulated!
Until he isn’t.
He’s Kira and wants to change the world!
UNTIL HE ISN’T.
It’s clear that some of the writers wanted Light to be similar to his original character. Manipulative, smooth and handsome. Meanwhile, others wanted to approach the character differently, making him more flawed and relatable. The problem here is that they didn’t go all the way in one character or another. They had a compromise that’s only 50% of the potential of each possible character path, and it sucks.
The most interesting part of the original Death Note anime and manga was watching two brilliant minds outsmart each other. This movie fails that immediately by having a cast of emotionally charged teenagers do the “outsmarting”. Is it a more realistic portrayal of what the Death Note falling into the real world would be like?
See, my only issues with this movie was how much they were forcing the idea that these characters are the same as the original, except different. The names were so distracting, and their arcs being close but not quite even more so. If they had made this movie a spin-off, it would have been an okay film. Not great or even memorable, but a decently shot fanfic for Death Note.
Instead, we get another American anime adaptation that fails to get what made the original so great.
Now, maybe the problem is I’m focusing too much on the Hollywood side of things. Maybe the solution to adapting anime isn’t outsourcing it, but making it in your own country. Nobody knows anime better than Japan, right?
Turns out bad live-action adaptations are a universal problem. A colossal one at that.
Sitting at the top of F tier, we have Japan’s adaptation of the anime phenomenon Attack on Titan.
This one still suffers the exact same problems that the two movies before it suffer from with only a few minor differences. The characters have essentially been “asian-washed”. Attack on Titan has a surprisingly European cast of characters. Eren Jaeger, Armin Artlert, and Sasha Braus are extremely Western names.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of European actors in Japan, so we got an all-Asian cast. However, unlike Hollywood, which DOES have a huge pool of Asian actors to pull from and simply refuse to cast, Japan has slightly better reasons for an all-asian cast. It’s hard to find experienced Western actors to portray these anime characters. Not only that, finding one is hard enough, but a whole ensemble cast of them?
That’s just not gonna happen.
That doesn’t justify how badly they adapted the anime though.
Again, it’s an issue with these adaptations that they try and compress SO MUCH INFORMATION from 25 episodes of the anime into a more or less two hour film. This problem is doubled with Attack on Titan, which dedicates entire arcs to single missions. I could repeat the same problems I had with Death Note and CANFGG here for this movie.
However, the one saving grace it does have over those two movies is they got the villains right. These Titans are terrifying.
It obviously looks fake, but the way they moved these surreal and creepy Titan designs to the big screen is awesome. They’re weird, goofy-looking and downright unsettling to look at. It helps that a bigger budget means more detail is given to the more “human” aspects of these monsters. Honestly, seeing the muscles tear and contort to fit their grizzly expressions is one of the best parts of this movie.
Other than that though, it fails remarkably at capturing the spirit of the original source material. If the only thing worth praising in your movie is flesh-eating Titans, there’s a big problem.
That’s it for F tier. Tune in this Friday for the bad, but not AS bad anime adaptations in E tier.
Still pretty bad though.