Sunday, April 16, 2017

Live Action adaptations of Anime should be Colorful

I've already made a few posts on the issues of Westernizing and White Washing Anime.  I want to talk about other issues now.

The Anime Man did a video on why he feels adapting Anime into Live Action simply can't work.  I think he's completely wrong.  What's really amusing is when he suggests Western Superheroes Comics are more grounded in reality then Anime and Manga and that is why they can work in Live Action more.  Well as someone who is a Nerd for both, I can tell you that, no, in fact Anime is generally far more grounded in reality then DC or Marvel comics.

For comparing to Western Superhero Comics, I like to remind people it took 40 years to get Superman The Movie, almost that for Spider-Man to get his first good film.  But not till 2008 we got TDK and the MCU.   Anime has arguably been around as long as Superman, but few of the franchises people want to adapt have been just yet.  There were plenty of bad adaptations of all those Superheroes before we got the good ones.

Gigguk did a video where, among other things, he said we should focus on ones that can work in Live Action.  I agree that plenty work better then others, and for the time being I wouldn't bother with Utena or Madoka.  But focus more on ones like Noir, Madlax, Evangelion, Lupin III, Haruhi, Pretty Cure, Gundam or Code Geass.  Or remove the Fantasy/SciFi altogether and just do Lucky Star and Strawberry Panic.

But we can do a lot with Live Action movies now, so there is no reason to inherently leave out the really visionary stuff.  While we've yet to have an exactly great LA Anime adaptation, plenty of Live Action films have been Anime like while being great or at least pretty good.  Pretty much everything from the Wachowscis (see Digi's video on Speed Racer), Edge of Tomorrow, Pacific Rim, The Wolverine, Suicide Squad (I could argue that all Joker's henchmen were Weebs), Sucker Punch, and the Star Wars Prequels.  And on TV Pretty Little Liars.

I agree that it is okay to change certain things to fit the medium.  But the last thing I'm inclined to agree needs to be changed is how Colorful Anime is.  Plenty of Live Action movies have been bright and colorful, yet everyone thinks a Movie version of an Anime or comic means a grittier more monochrome version.  Hence we get an annoying colorless Power Rangers film.  Comic Book fans want our movies to be as colorful as the Comics and that's why many were annoyed by Man of Steel and embraced the MCU, Deadpool and Suicide Squad.

In particular I mean the issue of Hair Colors.  People love to make fun of Anime Hair "Guess who's the main character" memes are endless.  But people in real life do sometimes dye their hair colors like that, so this idea that "no Hair naturally looks like that so you have to abandon it in the LA version" is nonsense to me.

I mentioned Noir first up above as one I'd like to see in Live Action, but I kinda only trust myself to do it. There the main two have plausible hair colors for their ethnicities (Blonds may be rare in Corsica but not unheard of).  But Chloe, Lady Silvana, and the Poisonous Insect all have Anime hair, and for Chloe especially I will not be able to accept anyone claiming to be that character with normal looking hair.

And that sometimes it just being an unusual hair color for Japan causes it's rejection annoys me even more.  I tolerated two Japanese actresses not dying their hair Blonde to play Misa Amane because I assumed the inevitable Western version would give us a blonde Misa.  And now Netflix has spit right in my face with a Misa who looks like Bella Swan.  I've seen lots of pictures of real Asian women with Blonde hair, I'm assuming they're all dyed but that's besides the point, they all look beautiful, there is no reason to assume a Blonde Asian in a movie will inherently look awkward.  Back to Misa, she needs to be Blonde or Japanese, you can change one of those and still work but you can't change both.

Often the hair color has symbolic meaning.  I was actually quite annoyed in JesuOtaku's video with KyleKallgrenBHH about the Utena movie when Kyle attempts to speculate on what the Pink hair means and JesuOtaku just shoots Kyle down with "that's just Anime".  In Utena the use of Color everywhere including in hair is meaningful.  VraiKassier broke it down in their Anyalsis series on the first ReCap episode (you shouldn't skip the ReCaps in Utena).
Color Coding: You may have noticed that the students of Ohtori are a veritable rainbow of the color palette, and that I’ve been alluding to that fact quite frequently over the past few weeks. Well, it’s not (just) because ridiculous rainbow hair is a hallmark of shoujo. Our common thematic color palette:
Green: Envy and loyalty (a great many of the colors have dual meanings or applications throughout the series). Saionji’s color, tied to the young man fixated on his own weak inadequacies and desperate to possess that which others consider important – but also almost blindly devoted to those he’s considered ‘essential’ (this latter reading also ties into Akio’s fiancée).
Blue: Intellect and distance. Miki and Kozue’s color, the characters who might be at once called the most clear headed and rational and yet also the most divorced from their true desires by the complexity of their schemes.
Orange: Miracles and delusion. Flip sides of the same coin, reflected by inner strength of conviction versus fear and an inability to acknowledge one’s own desires.
Yellow: Innocence and childishness. Through both Tsuwabuki and Nanami, strong emotions for others can be either selfish or selfless (and are always heartfelt but rarely circumspect or self aware)
Red: Power, used either to aid or subjugate others. A color Touga possesses but Akio clothes himself in, revealing his far more advanced ability to manipulate power to suit his image and his ends (also the color of the Rose Bride, nodding to Anthy’s immense power even if control of it has been taken from her)
Brown: The mundane – the most frequent hair color of the ‘normal’ students, from Wakaba’s grounded support to the overshadowed members of Nanami’s gang.
White: Purity and potential. The prince’s color, which also dominates the color scheme of Ohtori’s uniforms – while other colors might make their way in, beginning to have sway, we mustn’t forget that our cast is still very young, and that they have the potential to learn and change even still. You’ll notice that Mikage and Utena, the two closest to ‘graduating,’ have almost no white on their outfits).
Purple: Corruption and loss. Anthy’s signature color, signifying the pain she’s suffered through her sacrifice. Purple also figures heavily into moments that’ve been influenced by the siblings in the name of the dueling game, and Mikage sees Ohtori through purple-tinted glasses.
Pink: Harmony between power and ideals, a self-conviction mixed with compassion for others (Utena and Mikage both have pink hair, and Anthy’s final outfit is predominantly pink).
So no, the Color isn't meaningless.  Other Anime may use the same Colors differently.  But I suspect only the most bottom of the barrel are being completely meaningless.

Speaking of KyleKallgrenBHH, after watching his video on Kurosawa's RAN.  I thought about what he said on Kurosawa's use of Color in his later films, and wondered if that might have influenced the way Anime would go on to use Color?  And I was reminded of this recently in The Last Jedi's teaser trailer, where we had the weird contrast between the barren desert like planet but the bright Red Smoke/Sand/Dust whatever it is behind the ships.  It's a good sign if this means Star Wars directors are still drawing on Kurosawa.

P.S./Postscript:  Evangelion.

I mentioned Eva as one that could work in Live Action better then others and that might be the most controversial claim in that list.  People have come to remember Eva for how confusing and existential it got.  But the original appeal was that it was a more grounded and gritty approach to the Mecha vs Kaiju genre.  Pacific Rim drew on Eva specifically, but is ultimately far more cartoony.  And much of the trippy stuff in later episodes happened because the Budget ran low.

I know Anno himself has said Eva inherently only works in Animation.  But Anno himself seems to have forgotten what Eva's original appeal was from looking at the history of Eva movies, both old and ReBuild.  The more they become something harder to conceivably do in Live Action, the more the fans think they suck.

But the first ReBuild could just as easily have been a Live Action film.  Though more directly remaking those episodes would be better.  First change I'd make is not shortening it. The idea that he had to cut stuff to make it fit a film length when it's only based on 6 episodes is insulting to me.  To me a film that has less run-time then 6 episodes of an Anime series is inherently not worth the price of admission, even without the issue of comparing to source material.  That's a topic I already covered.

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