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    June 20, 2009


    I'm clearly crazy, I'd rather the studios invest in original productions, with interesting characters doing something unexpected and thrilling then do more 'we really like this so we're not using anything we liked except the name' movies, be they comic book, vidgame, anime or just plain remakes of existing films.

    I know, I know, fat chance.

    The problem with American live-action anime movies isn't necessarily the Americanization OR the live-action components. It's not at all hard to imagine scenarios where talented writers, directors, actors, and production teams can be paired with strong anime properties to produce unique but respectful takes on the source material.

    No, the problem with live-action anime movies is the same problem that afflicts all major movie industries -- that being the silly political and commercial games that are played to determine who commands how much money to make what kind of movie. Meddling studio executives, corporate sponsorship, backfiring power plays by ambitious producers, celebrity egos clashing like yak craniums on the Russian steppes, that kind of thing. In this respect Hollywood is little different from the movie industry of Glorious Nippon -- in fact, Hollywood may even be better off, with a much higher representation of real talent relative to Japan's ocean of J-drama tripe and terrible C-grade action flicks. But of course, when you try to make a movie based on a Japanese property, you're faced not only with the standard song-and-dance of defying a highly commercialized medium to produce a transcendent (or at least noteworthy) film, but also with the problem of figurative and literal translation. Even if you have a saavy director or cast that gets the cultural/linguistic idiosyncracies at work in the source material, you have the added burden of explaining those quirks to the people bankrolling your movie, who may well demand questionable changes to better appeal to real or imagined domestic audience pettiness.

    This, too, is a real shame, because I think when anime's really creatively explored (mostly in films, obviously), it comes up with some real gems. (mostly via directors like Otomo, Kon, and particularly Oshii) I would love to see how talented Western directors would approach a story like Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (silly high-school farce meets musing-on-reality-and-temporality a la Groundhog Day), but due to the very infrastructure of the Hollywood film industry, there's almost no chance of ever seeing such a film.

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