Anime Discussions Film List Live Action

Anime Live-Action Movies That Were Absolute Trash

Where there is a popular intellectual property there will be greed and anime is absolutely no exception to this rule. There have been many live-action adaptations of popular anime series that have fallen flat, and today we are going to dive into a few of the most notorious of them.

The source material for most anime are either manga or light novels, but for the sake of brevity the terms "series", "anime", and "manga" will be used interchangeably. And yes, most of these critiques will be based off comparisons to the source material. Usually it's best to try not to compare an adaptation to the original, but most of the movies below couldn't hold well on their own anyway.

Dragonball: Evolution (2009)

Alright let's just get this one out of the way.

So a little background on this one; this was actually supposed to be the first film in a planned series with several sequels, but the backlash from it was so great that the producers completely canned the very thought of that. Even Dragon Ball series creator Akira Toriyama hated the film and couldn't even call it a "Dragon Ball" film, going as far as to say it ticked him off . Ouch.

Honestly the very idea of Goku going to high school and being all flirty with a girl is so gut wrenching hilarious that if you told someone who didn't know better they'd swear you were joking. And don't even get me started with bootleg Demon King Piccolo, who looks like something straight out of Chuck Russell's The Mask.

Goku and Piccolo
You can't convince me that's not Jim Carrey

On the bright side I did enjoy Emmy Rossum and Chow Yun-fat's portrayal as Bulma and Master Roshi, respectively. Randall Duk Kim naturally did a decent job as Grandpa Gohan too, considering he only had like, 20 seconds of screentime since his character is basically the Uncle Ben of the franchise.

But Yamcha. Really. Really? Why'd they have to do Yamcha dirty like that. Smh.

Dead Yamcha
An accurate representation of Yamcha in Dragonball: Evolution

Attack on Titan (2015)

If you're looking for a serious action horror thriller with a decent plot, intense moments galore, and has a kill count of important characters that can only match that of Game of Thrones, then please check out Hajime Isayama's Attack on Titan. Either the anime or the manga.

Now, if you're looking for a hilarious comedy perfect for a family movie night, I encourage you to check out the live-action film adaptation by director Shinji Higuchi. Matter of fact, take it a step further and watch the sequel to it. It only get better, I promise! 🤣

I really did try to give this one a chance to be the serious film it tried to be, but when the infamous scene of the soldier who literally picked up a giant titan several times his size and flung it like a frisbee came, I just had to call it quits as I burst out in laughter.

Suffice to say the possibility of accomplishing such a feat in the world of AoT isn't completely far-fetched based on the series' science as titans are lightweight creatures but come on, if it were that easy then why go through the trouble of inventing complex tools such as the 3D maneuver gear in the first place? It would be far easier for all the Survey Corps to go titan flinging instead. Maybe even invent a game from it. Titan toss anyone?

Beast titan throwing a horse
Meh, close enough

I think the most amazing thing about the criticism the movie has received due to all of the changes from the source material is that most of the changes come from the series creator Isayama himself. Personally I find it interesting how elements of the second movie made its way into later chapters of the manga's plot, almost like a sneak peek of what was to come.

With all that said, just a heads up that I don't mean any disrespect to any of the actors in the movies on this list. They all played their given roles really well, especially Satomi Ishihara who played Hange (and oh my God did I enjoy her performance). Unfortunately, the actor who played the lead role as Eren Yeager passed away this year. May he rest in peace.

Death Note (2017)

Not gonna lie, I have completely mixed feelings for this one.

Now there have been several Japanese live-action films of Death Note but I'm talking specifically about the 2017 American Netflix adaption of the series.

For starters, when it was announced that Nat Wolff would be starring as Light I instantly thought, "Isn't that the kid from The Naked Brothers Band? Man I forgot all about them haha."

Now for when the movie actually came out I must say, I was highly disappointed. Not because I had high expectations going in, but moreso that the movie hit well in certain places only to fall short in the end. It was really disheartening.

Light Turner (not going to bother commenting on the name change) starts off in the movie as being literally everything Light in the original series isn't; fearful, unpopular, careless, and most importantly, a simp. You can argue that this was to make him more relatable as a character, but the difference is so jarring that you can't help but rag on it.


Literally everything this guy does, you know, just casually ending the lives of others, is 99% of the time all to impress the girl that he likes. Realistic maybe, but highly un-Light like.

Speaking of this girl, who's named Mia Sutton, is basically a stand in for Misa, however with an interesting twist. She actually shares Light's ambition, and together they form a joint Kira. Already a much more fleshed out character than Misa.

But the best part? She actually makes for a better Light, than Light! Literally has all the traits; wise, cautious, and most importantly, cunning. I honestly would have taken a gender bent movie starring her in the lead role over this hot mess. Props to Margaret Qualley for her portrayal.

As for L I honestly think Lakeith Stanfield was straight up perfect in the beginning. Granted, L never would have publicized himself like that in the original series but the fact that he openly taunted Kira like that made things so much more interesting. That aside, he did great in portraying all of L's quirky NEET like first.

Suddenly that all takes a nosedive once Watari disappears and L has a literal meltdown. Now he's turned into a emotional, fearful nervous gangster with a gun, hijacking cars for revenge and his own safety. L DRIVING A CAR AND CARRYING A GUN WITH THE INTENT TO MURDER!

As for Ryuk, wouldn't change him. He's perfect. Willem Dafoe totally owned that role. 

Ryuk was mainly the comedic relief (ironically) in the original series, which worked well as it contrasted his gothic sinister looking design with his laid back attitude. The movie takes that concept and flips it around, matching Ryuk's looks to his personality. I have to say it comes off great, and who else better to voice him than the Green Goblin himself.

Oh and that "4 letters" line? Superb.

*Bonus* The Last Airbender (2010)

Just don't watch this. The trailer is deceiving. Don't be a masochist.