Saturday, December 20, 2008
Can America Understand Japanese Source Material?
There is no denying that Japan has had many exports from our childhood and the childhood of others being recreated onto the big screen for another shot at glory. The last example of this was Speed Racer and an upcoming example is the live action adventure, Dragonball Evolution.
These aren't the only things coming as Astro Boy and Gatchaman are also slated for release, among other rumored projects. One of the biggest concerns after the release of Speed Racer and the release of the trailer for Dragonball Evolution is that the American filmmakers are trying to hard to make something magic and mystical as real with digital effects. Needless to say, the Dragonball series is loosely based on the Chinese Story of Journey to the West and changes it up by adding aliens and fireballs.
My point is that I hope American directors don't take the great stories that the Japanese have made that are major building blocks of our childhood and adapt them into the "American Style". The great thing about these stories is how off the wall and original they are. By removing the style in which they are regularly presented, it becomes hokey and average. In the new Dragonball movie, they have removed the anthropomorphic animals to create a sense of realism. If you have an alien that comes from another planet to collect seven magical balls that grant any wish you want and the only way to fight him is by learning how to throw a stronger fireball, I think the idea of realism isn't that much of an issue anymore.
With Astro Boy, it is being animated by Imagi Animation Studios, who did the great TMNT, and thusly keeping it's overall visual style. The movie looks stunning and a teaser was being played with the earlier release of Bolt. The cast is rather stellar and is being led by Freddie Highmore, who is well known for his roles in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland, as Astro as well as Bill Nighy, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Scarlett Johanssen and many more. There haven't been any confirmations of who they are playing, but needless to say, Imagi is treating this fantastic future story with the respect it deserves.
As for Dragonball Evolution, it doesn't look too bad. I'm a big enough fan that I would love to give it a chance. I think you should too, but be open, as it's not going to fulfill any fans wildest desires. Let us look to the future of anime based films and hope that they are CGI or even hand drawn. In Japan, popular anime series' get feature films on a yearly basis. Thanks to the acceptance of anime in our society, those films are slowly being released in our theatres.
The future looks a little bright, let's hope that we're all just wearing sunglasses.