8 Fantastic Anime Hollywood Could Adapt Without Whitewashing the Lead

What anime could American studios develop into a live-action adaptation? 'One Piece' ? 'Fullmetal Alchemist'?

Paramount Pictures

Despite the recent controversies surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s casting in the Hollywood film adaptation of the Japanese anime, Ghost in the Shell, more American production companies are looking to capitalize on adaptations of Japanese properties. Horror director Adam Winged, for one, is currently developing an American project based on the Japanese horror manga, Death Note. Despite their production in Japan, there are a lot of popular and famous manga that are very well-suited to Hollywood film adaptations — and best of all, can avoid the same whitewashing controversies hounding some current films in-production.

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal AlchemistFunimation, Bones

Taking place in an alternate — but decidedly European — setting, Fullmetal Alchemist marries magical elements, political strife, and steampunk to make for one amazing story about two alchemist brothers trying to find the fabled philosopher’s stone.

Fullmetal Alchemist was a huge phenomenon in the early wave of anime in the United States, but has demonstrated to be a truly timeless piece of entertainment. Fullmetal Alchemist is still as exciting as when it first debuted, and is ripe for an expansive Hollywood adaptation.

One Piece

One PieceToei Animation, Funimation

Currently one of the longest-running mangas being published today, as well as the best selling manga in Japan, One Piece follows a band of pirates in search of a mythical treasure. Taking place in an abstract world of superpowered pirates and strange and exotic locales, the fictional world in which One Piece is set lends itself to a diverse cast of characters. Imaginative and varied, One Piece is perfect for a gonzo-film adaptation.

One-Punch Man

One-Punch ManMadhouse, Viz Media

Possibly the most talked-about anime to have recently aired, One-Punch Man is a Japanese take on the superhero comics of Marvel and DC. Saitama is a hero who trained on a regiment of push-ups for so long that he can now defeat literally any enemy with a single punch. Unfortunately, due to his comical appearance, he is often underestimated by his fellow superheroes. The lead is a Japanese man, and Hollywood would be foolish to try and recast this humorous take on modern superheroes in Tokyo.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

JoJo's Bizarre AventureShueisha, Viz Media

A strangely baroque work centered around the Japanese-British Joestar family, JoJo’s is a cultural favorite in its native Japan, and quickly gaining a cult reputation in the west. Combining supernatural kung-fu action and Indiana Jones-style globe trotting into a truly strange mashups of genres, JoJo might just do well in the hands of a truly ambitious Hollywood auteur.


Baccano!Brain's Base, Funimation, Animplex of America

A bit of cult-favorite in Japan, Baccano! features 1920s American gangsters who also happen to be immortal due to a run in with a 17th century cult. Frankly, the chance to reinterpret the roaring 20s as a supernatural gangster-flick should have Hollywood salivating for the opportunity. It also helps that the cast is all-American, with maybe a few Italian immigrants thrown in for authenticity. The real-life Cammora crime family actually make appearances as characters in this anime.

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy BebopSunrise, Funimation

There were rumors that Cowboy Bebop was being developed into a film, but those never seemed to lead to any actual production. Still, with Ghost in the Shell and Akira coming to Hollywood, what better time than now to adapt one of the most universally beloved animes in both Japan and America?

Following the escapades of a rogue band of misfit, space bounty hunters, Cowboy Bebop is a genre-defining work in science-fiction. The anime lends itself to a whole range of possibilities in terms of casting its main crew, while filling its space western universe with diverse actors and actresses.

The Big O

The Big OSunrise, Sentai Filmworks

If Pacific Rim can get a sequel, then surely Hollywood can turn The Big O into a film. Combining film noir, James Bond, a little bit of Batman, and giant robots, The Big O stars a wealthy private negotiator (sort of like a notary public, but noir-ish) named Roger Smith.

While his actual job makes little sense even in context, he mostly acts like a private investigator in a steampunk New York-type city. Any crime he can’t solve with his deductive reasoning skills and robot assistant, he pummels into a pulp with his giant robot. Guillermo del Toro can eat his heart with this one.

Black Lagoon

Black LagoonMadhouse, Funimation Entertainment

A gangster film in anime form taking place in a fictional Southeast Asian city, Black Lagoon centers around a crew of lawless mercenaries. Eking out a living running guns and acting as bodyguards in a city that hosts the Russian mob, South American drug cartel, and the Italian mafia, Black Lagoon imagines a gangster’s paradise where gunfights and John Woo style action occurs on a daily basis. While the protagonist is a Japanese businessman who falls into a life of crime, the rest of the mercenaries is rounded out with an American Vietnam war vet, a hacker on the run from the FBI, and a Chinese-American gunfighter.

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