Anime Underground

14 Musical Live-Action Anime Adaptations You Didn't Know Existed  

Anna Lindwasser
212 votes 82 voters 3.6k views 14 items

List Rules Vote up the anime musical adaptations that do justice to the original shows.

When you truly love an anime, it's natural to want to experience it in every medium possible. While many series receive a manga adaptation, some also become books, movies, and even musical stage plays. Live-action anime musicals are a real thing, and they're way more popular than you might have expected. 

Anime musicals exist for wildly popular series like NarutoBleachand Blue Exorcist, but there's also an extensive history of musicals based on older shows like The Prince of Tennis and Saint Seiya. If you're a long-time fan, you'll find it hard not to sing along with your favorite characters. 

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Black Butler is about Ciel, a young aristocrat who strikes a deal with a demon named Sebastian. According to their contract, Sebastian will help Ciel get revenge on the people who murdered his parents in exchange for his soul. It has spawned a total of four musicals, called That Butler, Friendship, Musical Black Butler: The Most Beautiful Death in The World – A Thousand Souls and The Fallen Grim Reaper, Lycoris that Blazes the Earth, and Black Butler: Noah's Ark Circus. 

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In addition to the original anime and manga, Death Note has multiple live-action movies, a TV drama, an American Netflix adaptation, two spin-off novels, and a musical. Death Note: The Musical is scored by Frank Wildhorn, and received generally positive reviews in Japan and Korea.

Despite being written in English, it has only ever been staged in Japanese, though an English soundtrack does exist. The plot of the musical differs from the original story in several key ways, the biggest being that L is the one to uncover Light's identity as Kira.

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Naruto is one of the most popular anime series in the world, and it's been adapted in every possible way, including for the stage. So far, there have been three Naruto musicals. Live Spectacle Naruto: The Akatsuki Investigation, began its run in 2017, and includes a stellar combo of music, dance, and acrobatics. 

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Sailor Moon actually has 31 different musicals, which have collectively been performed over 800 times since 1993. Originally staged by Bandai, the musicals were at first performed three times per year, lining up with the Japanese school schedule, and were held exclusively at the Sunshine Theatre in the Ikebukuro district in Tokyo. Since then, the production has exploded, and the actors tour all over Japan, making occasional appearances in China. 

The musicals tend to expand upon plot elements mentioned in the original manga, but do not follow the original storyline exactly. They often introduce new characters, including a few vampires. 

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