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Big screen dreams: Manga we’d love to see as films

We reflect on what manga we’d love to see hit the big screen.

Look at any comic book news website and you’re almost guaranteed to find gossip about upcoming film adaptations. We comic fans love seeing our beloved series hit the big screen. Just take the immense Avengers: Endgame hype for example– it hasn’t even hit theaters yet and it’s already breaking records. What of manga, however? There’s a lot of discussion about the future of the MCU and the DCEU, but not as much about what Japanese comics should hit the big screen next. We asked our manga section staff what series they’d like to see get the film treatment. Here are their choices:

Eric’s Picks:

Kodansha Comics

One of the main manga I’d love to see adapted to film is No. 6. The franchise started with light novels before getting manga and anime adaptations, so film is the main form the story has yet to take. Rat and Shion’s relationship is one of the most complex I’ve ever seen in fiction, and I’d love to see live action actors portray their tension and tenderness. The series is such a unique blend of sci-fi, romance, and dystopia that I think a film iteration could easily reach cult classic status. My only concern would be how well you could condense the whole story into one movie, but with a long runtime and creative direction I think it’d be doable.

Another light novel turned manga that I’d love to see cross over into film is Juni Taisen: Zodiac War. I thought that the manga version had a lot of great character designs and concepts that weren’t necessarily executed to their full potential. Said characters and concepts would be great material for an R-rated, balls-to-the-wall action movie. From Boar’s barrages of gunfire to Ox’s elegant swordsmanship, so many details would be perfect on the big screen with some intense music and creative cinematography. All in all, I think Juni Taisen has the makings of a great blockbuster.

Dave’s Picks:

Vertical Comics

Since manga is only one step away from motion picture goodness Aposimz Vol. 1 would be something I’d love to see translated to the big screen. The dystopian world mixed with mysterious super-powered villains would be a great mix of The Matrix in the real world with Guyver sensibilities. It might require a big budget, but aside from the superpowers the world could easily be rendered with low-budget sensibilities.

Real Account is a great horror story idea waiting for a film adaptation. It’s like Saw, but with social media as the center of it all. There have been a few social media horror movies already like the films Like Me, The Den, and Unfriended, but this would take the social media element up a notch since the characters are literally transported into the social media app. The message behind Real Account is also strong, reminding us all this social media stuff is fake and what we truly desire is not attainable via software.

James’s Pick:

Viz Media

There’s a lot of thought that needs to be put into making a Hollywood movie based on a manga property. It’s been done poorly in the past, and not every great manga will translate into a great movie. And some properties that would translate really well into film, like Nana, already have Japanese live-action movies that Hollywood probably can’t compete with. I think the best live action adaptations would be properties along the lines of Alita: Battle Angel, meaning an action series with the potential for impressive visual effects and an exciting storyline to bring to life on the big screen.

I think the clear answer here is One Piece. Eiichiro Oda’s masterpiece didn’t become the world’s most popular comic book by mistake, after all. One Piece is full of compelling characters placed into situations that lead to pulse-pounding action. I think a great stand-alone film could be made from the Arlong Park arc. Beginning the movie in media res during a fight with early antagonist Buggy that introduces the heroes and pushes them on their way to Arlong Park and adapts all the action, humor and drama of that story would be a film that could compete with any popcorn flick. It’s got everything that a Marvel movie has and it could finally show them how to properly utilize Mister Fantastic since Luffy has basically the same powers.

Trevor’s Pick:

Seven Seas Entertainment

We should keep up the momentum set by Love, Simon with another young adult, queer, slice of life romantic comedy: Go For It, Nakamura! Syundei’s super cute story of a young gay high-schooler with a crush on a boy in his class and an affinity towards octopi is funny, compact, and would be easy to translate to the big screen. The school setting and lack of supernatural or fantasy elements would keep the budget low, though some funds would need to be allocated towards a good CGI octopus. The tight cast makes for a focused story of unrequited affection, though you could arguably even add another friend into the mix to externalize a lot of Nakamura’s inner narration. What alleviates films like Love, Simon from the weight of representing all kinds of queerness for every queer person is for more queer stories to exist and Go For It, Nakamura! is the kind of story I would’ve loved to see at the movies when I was in high school.


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