When I first heard the news that Hollywood was adapting the hit anime movie Your Name, my first response was to shrug it off. Then I made the mistake of opening Twitter…
So let’s get right to it: A Hollywood adaptation of Your Name is not a big deal.
An adaptation is the retelling of a story in a different form. It’s not meant to be a remake or to replace the original work. If you don’t like the adaptation, I have good news for you: the original work will still exist in its pure, unadulterated form. And best of all, nobody will force you to watch the adaptation.
It’s not an issue in Japan
So here’s the thing. Japan makes live-action adaptations of anime and manga all the time. And most of the time, they suck. So why do so many anime fans feel so insulted by a Hollywood version of Your Name? If anything, it’s surprising that Japan hasn’t announced its own live action adaptation of the movie yet.
Popular franchises such as Devilman, Attack on Titan, Gantz, Death Note and even Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni (When They Cry) all received live action adaptations in Japan.
These live action adaptations are just a part of life for Japanese fans. Some people go see them, some people don’t. They don’t change or replace the original source material any more than the recent Scarlett Johansson Ghost in the Shell replaced the existing GITS franchise.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Scenario 1: They make yet another crappy anime adaptation. Nobody knows about it, nobody goes to see it, and they lose money.
Scenario 2: The movie is a moderate success and some people go to see it. Some people might even discover the original.
Scenario 3: The movie is a success. Your Name becomes a household name.
Movie production is a business. Your name was produced with the goal of making money first and foremost. They struck a deal with a buyer who believes there is value in adapting the story. There is no gross injustice to see here; just another business deal. If anything, it’s probably a net positive since the creators will get paid for their hard work.
If successful, the original might find a new audience
Do you remember when the Lord of the Rings movies came out? Before and during its successful run at theaters, you could find paperback editions of the novels on display at almost every supermarket and shopping center. The movie adaptations brought exposure to the franchise and made it easy for a new generation to discover and enjoy the books (myself included). The Lord of the Rings movies didn’t replace the books; they provided another way to experience the story.
If you’re reading this post, you’re likely not the target market for a Your Name adaptation. Anime fans already know about the movie and many have already seen it. Most of the fans who are going to find it have probably already found it. As I write this, it’s even the best selling anime on Amazon.
Sure, the JJ Abrams Your Name adaptation is probably going to suck just like every other anime live action adaptation. And yes, Hollywood probably could do with some more original ideas. But so what? The creators of Your Name will get a paycheck from Paramount. The original will continue to exist. And if they keep making bad adaptations, one can only assume that they’ll eventually give up.