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Movie Odds: Is Anime Hollywood’s New Source Material?

Trevor Dueck

by Trevor Dueck in Entertainment

Mar 1, 2017 · 5:55 AM PST

Robotech Cartoon Series
Photo Credit: Harmony Gold USA

This year Hollywood has two live adaptations that will be subjected to the scrutiny of of classic anime fans everywhere.

Both Ghost in the Shell and Death Note are about to get the live-adaption treatment and will bring not only a high price tag in production design, but will also be a roll of the dice for the studios that are banking on a large worldwide audience.

There is a lot of money that can be earned when you make a film that has staying power not only domestically but internationally as well.  So, what better way to cash in than by adapting classic anime from our childhoods and throwing in a white actor as the lead to make sure white people in ‘Murica also appreciate it.

You can fully expect this to be a trend that’s only getting started.

Hollywood leaves no stone unturned when it comes to finding creative ideas that will play with nostalgic heart strings and give them the opportunity to find the next big cinematic franchise. There’s gold in dem manga hills, and now Hollywood is ready to exploit it.


Studios have already bought the rights to a lot of anime but so many scripts and ideas have been sitting in development for years. With numerous rumors out there, below are a few films I believe will be next to get the live actor reboot. We have updated our previous list, and have given these odds some new life.

Odds to be made into a live-action production

Robotech: 2/3

Director James Wan has been connected to this possible live action version of this mecha classic for well over two years now. Although there’s been no formal announcement, apparently there is a script that is being shined up and the project could be move into the pre-production stages.

Sony appears to be the studio that is prepared to bankroll the live version of this anime series and Harmony Gold, the people behind the original, seem to be pleased with this.

With how popular Pacific Rim was and people wanting to see something better than Micahel Bay’s Transformers, I could see this Robotech coming to fruition.

Astro Boy: 3/2

Back in 2003, producers tried to reboot this classic 80s franchise and in 2009 they tried a feature animated film, but neither took off. Now there are reports a live-action film could be made. New Line Cinema is interested in the rights and would like to have San Andreas writers Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore pen the script.

This is all just a lot of talk at this point, but if this does take off, it would be interesting to see who plays the robotic Toby Tenma.

Voltron: 2/1

A live-action version about a group of astronauts piloting a giant robot may have seemed unlikely a few years ago, but with advances in CGI technology, there might be a way to bring this classic anime to the big screen. Although many of us loved the show back in the 80s, it has found a resurgence on Netflix with rebooted anime Voltron: Legendary Defender.  

Is it time for a live-action version? According to Deadline, Universal Studios is interested in bringing giant robots to screen. With rumors of a Robotech film moving into pre-production, a sequel to Pacific Rim in 2018, and a few more Transformer films on the way, we could be seeing movies about giant robots enter the oversaturation zone.

Cowboy Bebop: 3/1

This is another adaptation that has been sitting in development purgatory for years. Back in 2008, 20th Century Fox had some interest in making a movie about a bunch of ragtag space cowboys who help police the solar system in a spaceship called BeBop. This would be the perfect space opera that originally had Keanu Reeves interested in the leading role of Spike.

If Death Note and Ghost in the Shell are successful, you can bet this project will get fast tracked.

Cobra The Space Pirate: 4/1

This live adaptation of the Buichi Terasawa’s sci-fi anime has also been sitting in development hell since it was announced in 2008. The story about a space pirate named Cobra fighting bounty hunters, pirates and scantily clad alien women with a laser gun arm is unapologetically pulpy. If done right, a rated R franchise that doesn’t take itself too seriously would be welcomed. I say keep it in the same campy vein as the original manga.

There was some buzz that Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3DThe Hills Have EyesHigh Tension) talked about taking this on, but that seems to be on the shelf. Time to take the dust off and make this happen.

Ninja Scroll: 17/3

There was a time Warner Brothers wanted to bring this classic anime to the screen. But that was in 2008 and nine years later there still isn’t any news on our favorite journeyman ninja Jubei. This classic manga about samurais, ninjas and demons became such a popular animated film that it’s just a matter of time before we see the live version. Check out this proof-of-concept video that has been kicking around for a few years.

Black Lagoon: 50/1

Finally, I’m still pushing to have this one made because it plays on the whole popularity of John Wick but with a kickass female lead. It’s inspired by some of Hong Kong and Hollywood’s best shoot-’em-ups.

The story takes place in Thailand and is about a group of pirate mercenaries called Black Lagoon who fight and work with a variety of organized crime syndicates in the region. With the right casting, this could be an amazing film that spawns a franchise.

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