Monday, October 2, 2017

You can Westernize Anime adaptations without actually Westernizing them.

What I mean by that is, you can change the setting of one that was originally set in Japan to America or Canada or Europe or wherever, without changing the storytelling sensibilities from Japanese ones to American ones.

For one thing lots of Anime are set outside Japan, or at least include lots of Non-Japanese characters, to begin with.  As I've said before I wish those would get the priority in terms of making Hollywood or other Western adaptations of Anime.

But I am also all for re-imagining stories, and retelling them in different settings.  I like when Anime gives a distinctly Japanese twist on a popular story of the Western Tradition.  And so I think it's valid to also do the reverse.

The basic themes and questions dealt with by Death Note were perfectly universal in my opinion, so I felt you could retell that story in America without needing to change it's social commentary to something more American.  Mother's Basement in his video on the Netflix Death Note movie says the original Death Note Manga and Anime was a commentary on "Japan's harsh stance on Crime".  As if the attitude of being harsh on crime is somehow uniquely Japanese.  Even California still has the Death Penalty.

Death Note is a story that had a pretty broad reach in America because it is frankly an ideological critique of the very impulses that Death Wish appeals to, and that makes my parents cheer on Rorschach when he says "you're trapped in here with me".

If they wanted to use an Anime adaptation to talk about American interventionism, plenty of Anime is already at least partly about that.  They could have done Canaan for example.

Basically I'm saying a lot of Anime is as naturally adaptable and culturally universal as Shakespeare, where many adaptations change the period and setting often without even changing the script or dialogue at all.  But even an adaptation that isn't going to be retelling the exact same story, even more so needs to keep in mind why people like Anime to start with.  Taking that away won't make it more appealing to broader audiences, what we've seen with Comic Book Superhero movies is that if the target audience doesn't like an adaptation, the general public won't even care.

And even plenty of Otaku Centric Anime are among those in my view.  American Otaku call themselves that because of how much they identify with that Japanese subculture.  Because we feel just as out of place in our society as they do in Japan.  The American version of Lucky Star has been in my head for awhile now, I just need to get myself in a position to pitch it.

The Wachoskis are the most notable when it comes to being Hollywood directors influenced by Anime.  The specific Anime they draw on is rather out of date compared to what the current generation of Otaku would like to see brought to American Cinemas.  But still they are an example of making things thought to only work in Anime work in Hollywood.

I think their best movie is Speed Racer, the only one adapted from a specific Anime.  Speed Racer keeps getting overlooked when people act like there are no good Live Action Anime adaptations.  The movie flopped when it came out but has become the very definition of vindicated by History.  But it was also an adaptation of Speed Racer's Dub.  But even that Dub was still distinctly Anime, and this movie arguably is even more Anime.  The way it's non-linear at times, the way the tone shifts, the way the visuals go all out.  The way it'd bold and unapologetic about what it is.

It failed at the time it came out because it was ahead of it's time.  If it came out now when the MCU rather then Nolan is dominating the Superhero film market, the story may have been different.

Digibro has expressed support for Abrams doing Your Name. I haven't seen Your Name, and my opinions on Abrams films are complicated.  His main argument is Abrams is a more accomplished director then most making Anime adaptations.  That reminds me of my suggesting Zach Snyder for making some Anime adaptations.  Digi had also compared Zach Snyder to the director of Death Note and Attack on Titan, I think Attack on Titan would be more Snyder's style.

Now for objections to Westernizing Your Name, I can understand being concerned with the Shintoism in it, though plenty of similar ideas exist in other religious traditions.  However what annoys me is when people say you can't westernize Your Name because Your Name is about "the cultural divide between Rural and Urban Japan".  That is literally the most universal cultural divide there is, it's certainly here in America, it's a divide that pops up in my life constantly.  And it sure as hell effects our elections every four years.

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