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The 10 Worst Western Adaptations of Anime And Manga

Updated June 29, 2018 3.1k votes 791 voters 10.6k views10 items

List RulesVote up the most misguided adaptations.

Hollywood has proven, time and time again, that they will constantly drop the ball when it comes to adapting anime into live action films. In fact, there are very few adaptations that are even considered passable entertainment.

There are many awful American anime adaptations, and a few Canadian ones as well. Oldboy, a Spike Lee movie based on a manga that was already successfully adapted by a South Korean director Park Chan-wook, was an utterly unnecessary addition to cinema. Ghost in the Shell and Death Note crammed intricately detailed anime into a short amount of time by cutting out too much and killing the narrative – and insulted Asian audiences by casting white people to play the Japanese protagonists. Kite was so bad that it received a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Hopefully Hollywood will learn soon enough that it's best to just leave incredible source material alone, and create original work.

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    Dragonball Evolution

    Dragonball Evolution (2009) is probably one of the worst American anime adaptations of all time. Considering how bad most of them are, that's saying something. This movie inexplicably transforms Goku, one of the most beloved characters in anime history, into a whiny high school student with no connection to his Saiyan roots. Not only does it fail to do Goku or any of the other characters justice, it also features bad CGI, terrible fight scenes, and awful dialogue involving bad puns about balls. 

    Screenwriter Ben Ramsey admitted he wasn't a Dragon Ball fan, which explains a lot. He later apologized for doing such an offensively terrible job.

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    'Dragonball Evolution' Might Be The Worst Anime Adaptation Ever Made#7 of 97 The Worst Superhero Movies Ever Made#1 of 22 The Worst Live-Action Movies Based on Cartoons

  • Death Note
    Photo: Netflix

    The 2017 Netflix version of Death Note is an absolutely terrible movie. First of all, it's guilty of whitewashing. This is especially absurd given that the film is set in Seattle, a city with a robust Asian population. What's more, it tries to compress a 12-volume manga into a two-hour movie, cutting most of the storyline away and replacing it with a plot that makes very little sense.

    Even worse, the intelligent and nuanced Light Yagami is replaced with Light Turner, who complains that the Death Note has "too many rules" and is more concerned with makeout sessions with his girlfriend than actually accomplishing anything meaningful. It's an exhausting movie to watch, and a major disappointment to fans of the original. 

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  • Fist of the North Star is a classic martial arts anime that mixes exciting fight scenes with genuine character development. One would hope a live-action adaptation would be similar, but the 1995 remake features none of those things. The fight scenes are lackluster and poorly choreographed, while the characters seem more like cardboard cutouts than actual people. When animated characters seem more authentic than real humans, you know you have a problem.

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    The 2014 film Kite received an astonishing 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, which means fans of this movie are definitely the exception to the rule. This film, which stars India Eisley, Callan McAuliffe, and Samuel L. Jackson, is loosely based on a 1998 anime OVA directed by Yasuomi Umetsu. Both the anime and the film revolve around a teenage girl named Sawa, a renowned assassin who goes after rapists and other criminals.

    One of the most routinely criticized aspects of the movie is the aggressively sexualized depiction of Sawa, something that's deeply out of place for a protagonist who supposedly fights against sexualization. 

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