• Anime adaptations can be successful in live-action if treated well, as seen with Alita: Battle Angel, but skepticism still surrounds the intersection of the two mediums.
  • Several captivating anime, such as Your Lie In April and Terror In Resonance, have the potential for brilliant live-action adaptations due to their compelling storylines and themes.
  • Mecha anime like Gurren Lagann and period fantasy dramas like Berserk offer unique worlds and characters that could thrive in the live-action medium, appealing to a wide range of audiences.

With a good deal of anime like One Piece and Cowboy Bebop getting live-action adaptations, it is hard not to speculate which ones deserve to be reimagined in the live-action medium next. The intersection between anime and live-action in recent years has sparked several debates on whether the Japanese audiovisual animated medium of storytelling can leap onto the silver screen in live-action form. While some western adaptations of anime and manga like Alita: Battle Angel have fared well, others like Ghost in the Shell and Netflix's Death Note have raised skepticism surrounding the intersection of the two mediums.

Regardless of how the existing adaptations have performed, there seems to be a treasure trove of captivating anime that could potentially become brilliant live-action movies and TV shows if treated well. These anime offer everything from compelling world building to relatable characters, making them suitable for live-action storytelling. Although many of these anime shows may never actually receive full-fledged live-action adaptations, the mere prospect of their stories traversing to the live-action medium sounds exciting.

RELATED: 10 Live-Action Anime Adaptations That Ruined Their Source Material

Your Lie In April

Kaori and Kosei rehearse in Your Lie In April

Your Lie In April is a musical that dabbles with poignant themes surrounding trauma and grief. The anime focuses on piano prodigy Kousei Arima, who struggles to play the piano again after his mother suddenly passes away. However, a newfound friendship with violinist Kaori Miyazono starts healing him as she helps him find his way back to music and revives his love for playing the piano. With its simple yet heartwarming storyline, Your Lie In April brings new life to classical music pieces from legends like Mozart and Beethoven. Since music is a universal language, Your Lie In April's music-centric narrative has the potential to be an epic live-action series or movie.

Terror In Resonance

Characters from the movie terror in Resonance walking.

Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of the Cowboy Bebop fame, Terror in Resonance uses terrorism as a narrative device to trigger intriguing discussions surrounding identity and justice. It follows the vigilante endeavors of two teenagers, code-named Nine and Twelve, who pull off several terrorist activities in Tokyo to send out a message to the world. What begins as a game of cat-and-mouse between them and a detective later turns into a story of the complex nature of morality, blurring the lines between wrong and right. Owing to the suspenseful atmosphere, slam-bang action, and realism Terror in Resonance brings to the table, it seems to have immense live-action cinematic potential.

Gurren Lagann

Three of Gurren Lagann's most important characters.

The mecha anime genre is notoriously difficult to adapt, owing to its dystopian settings, steampunk aesthetic, and visual scale. However, time and again, movies like Transformers, Pacific Rim, and Edge of Tomorrow have proven that when executed well, live-action mecha adaptations can be incredibly entertaining. Since Gurren Lagann is one of the best anime offerings in the mecha genre, it deserves to be adapted into a full-fledged live-action TV show or movie. Adapting the intricacies of the designs of its central Gunmen and Beastmen may prove challenging, but the recent Transformers movies prove that CGI can effectively bring mecha to life with a high level of realism.

Fruits Basket

Characters from the second season of Fruits Basket.

Fruits Basket presents a unique narrative where a young girl, Tohru, moves in with the mysterious Sohmas after a family tragedy. The longer she lives with them, the more she realizes that there is something strange about them — they transform into animals of the Chinese Zodiac, especially when they are stressed or embraced by someone of the opposite sex. Considering how the live-action romance genre is oversaturated with tales of typical high school narratives, Fruits Basket would bring an intriguing supernatural spin to the existing tropes of the genre. The layers of cultural yarn spun into its feel-good drama could further elevate it above other similar live-action romance shows and films.

Samurai Champloo

Mugen, Fuu, and Jin striking poses in Samurai Champloo key art.

Set in an alternate Edo Period of Japan, Samurai Champloo ingeniously combines contemporary lo-fi hip-hop music from Nujabes and modern pop-culture references with real historical events. The anime unfolds as a journey, highlighting how three misfits, Mugen, Jin, and Fuu, somehow join forces and set out on an adventure across Japan. Kelly McCormick, the producer of Bullet Train, Deadpool 2, and Atomic Blonde, previously confirmed that a Samurai Champloo live-action adaptation is in the works.

However, since no updates have been made surrounding its release since then, one can only hope that Mugen's unorthodox breakdance fighting style, Jin's Kenjutsu mastery, and Fuu's bubbly personality will someday get depicted in a live-action adaptation. Given how Shinichiro Watanabe masterfully fuses cultures in Samurai Champloo through visual aesthetic and music, creating a live-action adaption that does justice to the original anime may be a little challenging. However, if its creators learn from the pitfalls of Netflix's Cowboy Bebop live-action and try staying close to key story elements of the original anime, they can certainly pull it off.


Joe on his bike.

Megalobox is Rocky Balboa meets Real Steel. The anime revolves around the struggles of an underdog fighter, Gearless Joe, who competes in a boxing variant involving the use of mechanical limb enhancements. Like Rocky Balboa, Joe is initially a nobody who competes in previously fixed underground tournaments for a daily wage. However, everything changes when he crosses paths with a Megalo Box champion and gets the opportunity to fight in an international tournament called Megalonia. From high-takes drama and action to a compelling tale of an underdog fighter, Megalo Box has it all, making it perfect for a live-action adaptation.


Kenzo Tenma being surprised by a bird in Monster anime

From Park Chan-wook to Guillermo del Toro, many renowned directors have previously shown interest in creating a live-action adaptation of Monster. This alone proves how the anime series and its original manga have immense potential. Unfortunately, since none of these previously planned adaptations have seen the light of day, live-action remains an untapped avenue that Monster must explore someday. If a live-action adaptation of the anime captures the psychological and philosophical undertones that Mangaka Urasawa brings with his perfectly-written characters, Monster could easily rank among some of the best suspense thrillers like Se7en and Zodiac.

Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden The Movie's poster featuring Violet and Gilbert.

The titular character in Violet Evergarden is portrayed as a former war weapon who starts working as a ghostwriter after the war. As she heals from her wounds and helps people transcribe their thoughts on paper, she understands what it means to be human. Since Violet Evergarden is primarily driven by its character beats, a talented live-action roster could convey the emotional subtleties and interpersonal relationships that gradually change Evergarden's perception of the world around her. Translating its uniquely positive take on war and its aftermath would also expose it to a wider range of viewers, especially audiences that do not engage with anime.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon-Genesis-Evangelion cast

Like many other popular anime live-action adaptations, a version of Neon Genesis Evagelion was perpetually in development with big names like Daniel Radcliffe and the late Robin Williams associated with it. Unfortunately, it got caught in development hell, while the likes of the Pacific Rim movies took the center stage with their borrowed ideas from Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, the fact that the Pacific Rim movies do not even the scratch the surface of the existential themes Neon Genesis Evagelion brings to the table suggests that there is still room for a loyal adaptation of the anime.

For obvious reasons, translating the visually scintillating and meticulous designs of the Evas and Angels into live-action could be challenging. Even making alterations to certain Japan-specific cultural references and social commentary for a Hollywood live-action could diminish the impact of the original anime's storyline. However, if executed with careful consideration and planning, Neon Genesis Evangelion's live-action adaptation could honor the original anime's legacy while etching its own path.


Guts and Griffith in Berserk (1997) anime series.

Given the popularity of period fantasy dramas like The Witcher and Lord of the Rings in live-action television, it is hard not to wonder how a Berserk live-action adaptation would perform. The anime offers a rich world, epic medievalist battles, a gritty atmosphere, and a complex anti-hero protagonist, all of which are important pillars of fantasy storytelling. In its latter story arcs, Berserk also has elements of horror that delve into mature and thought-provoking themes surrounding power play, corruption, morality, and loneliness, making its live-action version suitable for a wide range of audiences.