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Vol.5 - Page 1

From Manga to Live Action


Until only a few years ago, the royal road or the mainstream for popular manga to follow was the making of the works into anime and hopefully to air it during the golden hours. The so-called golden hours for anime is first the hours between six to eight in the evening, and then a quite long range of the morning hours (say five through nine or ten in the morning) on the weekends. The evening hours are because it is when many families sit down at the dining table with the TV turned on, and the morning hours because children get up early.
And then, the ones that proved their popularity on TV go to the theater screens as anime films with special stories that are usually not in the original manga. Some of them, depending on the character and theme, are made into video-game products. This golden rule is still alive, yet a new kind of trend is becoming increasingly popular in the past few years.

The spread of manga to a wide generation created this Japan-unique stream of making live-action TV dramas or films straight from the original manga, sometimes but not always accompanied with the making of anime. Needless to say, this is not an entirely new project as there had been works in the past that were made into live-action films, and is also not so Japan-unique because quite obviously Hollywood films based on American comics have been continuing to be made over decades.

What makes the phenomenon of live-action making of Japanese manga in the 21st century so characteristic is the unusual amount of works being made and extraordinary demand of the audience for the three (or four)-dimensioning of their favorite works with more reality than manga or anime.
A remarkable number of Japan-made TV dramas aired and live-action films shown in theaters in the past year are based on stories originating in manga of all kinds of genre. Moreover, they mark big numbers in viewership and attendance. This tendency continues today picking up momentum and expanding beyond the borders of Japan.

Some examples of the most recent mammoth live-action works based on manga include [films, random order:] DEATH NOTE (2006), NANA (2005&2006), ALWAYS Sancho-me no Yuhi(2005), Honey and Clover (2006), Brave Story (2006), etc. and TV dramas Black Jack ni Yoroshiku (2003: Say Hello to Black Jack), Dr.Koto Shinryojo (2003&2006: Dr.Koto’s Clinic), Nodame Cantabile (2006), Hanayori Dango (2005&2007; film 1995; aka Meteor Garden in Taiwan), Ns’ Aoi (2006) and so on. Some of these films are going under serious consideration of overseas remake as well as distribution, if not already shown.

Major works coming up in the next couple of years include DORORO (2007) a Tezuka masterpiece going to be shown in 20 countries around the world, Bokkou (2007) a Chinese history spectacle with international (Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong) production board, Sakuran  (2007) which its participation in the Berlin International Film Festival has been announced just recently, Mushishi (2007: Bug Master) directed by film master Otomo Katsuhiro which is also receiving several offers for overseas distribution, Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro (2007) to many people’s great surprise, Twentieth Century Boys (2008) an SF thriller by Urasawa Naoki, and a spin-off of DEATH NOTE with detective L as the protagonist (2008).
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Made in Japan Contents
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    Spirited Away (2001)
  • Haruki Murakami
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  • Banana Yoshimoto
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  • Japanese Tea
  • Bonsai
  • VAIO
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