Hello everyone! Today, I’m excited to share with you some great live action movies based on Japanese anime and manga. In this article, I’ll be taking you through a list of some of the most stunning live-action films that you will truly enjoy watching. Although many people associate anime with animation, it’s actually a medium that can inspire incredible real-life adaptations. These films bring cherished characters and stories from popular anime and manga to life, featuring amazing actors, thrilling action, and heartwarming romance. So, without further ado, let’s dive in and discover the best live-action anime adaptations that you simply can’t afford to miss!
24. Strobe Edge (2015)
Strobe Edge is a 2015 romance live-action film directed by Ryuichi Hiroki and based on Io Sakisaka’s romantic manga series. The plot revolves around Ninako Kinoshita, a high school student who falls in love with Ren Ichinose, a popular lad. Despite the fact that Ren has a girlfriend, Ninako confides in him but is rejected. Ren and Ninako agree to remain friends, but Ninako finds it difficult to let go of her affections for Ren. As other guys confess their feelings to her, she finds herself rejecting them all, which makes her wonder if her heart truly belongs to Ren. As Ninako navigates her feelings and relationships, the film explores themes of unrequited love, friendship, and self-discovery.
23. L-DK (2014)
is a touching Japanese romantic comedy film about two young adults who become housemates by chance. Aoi’s parents go to another city, but she chooses to remain and live alone in an apartment. When Shusei, a popular student at her school, moves next door, she accidentally floods his flat. Shusei briefly moves in with Aoi because his room is uninhabitable, and the two become roommates.
The film follows Aoi and Shusei as they deal with the ups and downs of sharing an apartment, including both amusing and heartwarming moments. A charming love story evolves as they get to know one other better, making 8-L-DK a delightful film for fans of Japanese romantic comedies.
22. Speed Racer (2008)
Released in 2008, the live-action adaptation of the classic ’60s anime Speed Racer, directed by the Wachowski siblings, did not perform well at the box office and received mixed reviews. However, over time, it has gained a cult following among fans of the original anime and is often considered an underrated gem.
The film features stunning visuals, exciting action sequences, and a well-crafted storyline that stays true to the spirit of the original anime about car racing. The plot follows Speed Racer, a young and talented race car driver who, along with his family and friends, battles corruption and greed in the high-stakes world of professional racing.
21. Ao Haru Ride (2014)
Ao Haru Ride is a Japanese teen-romance film directed by Takahiro Miki and based on the manga of the same name by Io Sakisaka. The film follows Futaba Yoshioka, a high school student who reunites with her middle school crush, Kou Tanaka, who now goes by the name Kou Mabuchi. Futaba discovers that Kou has changed since they last met, and the two must navigate their feelings for each other while dealing with the complexities of teenage life. With a runtime of 122 minutes, the film was released on December 13, 2014, and is known for its heartfelt portrayal of young love and coming-of-age themes.
20. Bakuman (2015)
“Bakuman” is a film directed by Hitoshi One in 2015 that captures the dynamics and characters that make shonen stories compelling. The story follows two aspiring manga artists who create a manga while navigating the adversities of the highly competitive manga industry in Japan. The film’s meta-narrative of a manga about creating a manga adds an extra layer of intrigue. Takeru Sato and Ryunosuke Kamiki give exceptional performances as the two main characters, while Lily Franky’s addition and creative CGI effects enhance the overall enjoyment of the film. Bakuman is an adaptation with extra gear and a fond tribute to a peculiar aspect of Japanese popular culture, making it a must-watch for fans of the genre.
19. Sukitte ii na yo (2014)
Sukitte ii na yo is a Japanese romance film based on the manga of the same name. The film follows Mei Tachibana, a depressed high school student who has never had a boyfriend. One day, she unintentionally hits Yamato Kurosawa, the most popular boy in school, and the two forms an unexpected relationship.
Yamato saves Mei from a stalker by kissing her, and their love story starts. The film covers themes of self-esteem, trust, and the transformational power of love, making it a must-see for enthusiasts of Japanese romantic dramas.
18. Bunny Drop (2011)
In Sabu’s 2011 live-action movie adaptation of the manga and anime series Bunny Drop, the story revolves around Daikichi, a 30-year-old bachelor who discovers that his recently deceased grandfather had a six-year-old daughter named Rin. Daikichi takes on the role of being Rin’s caretaker and raises her as his own daughter, facing societal pressures and personal sacrifices along the way. The film masterfully portrays the challenges of single parenting and the delicate balance between professional success and domestic happiness in modern Japan.
17. Chihayafuru (2016)
In 2016, Norihiro Koizumi directed a live-action film adaptation of Chihayafuru, which stands out from other school romantic comedies due to its focus on the traditional Japanese card game Karuta. Chihayafuru follows the story of Chihaya Ayase, a high school girl who becomes passionate about the traditional Japanese card game Karuta after meeting a talented young boy named Arata Wataya. With the help of her childhood friend, Taichi Mashima, Chihaya forms a competitive Karuta club and sets her sights on becoming the best player in Japan. Along the way, they face challenges and obstacles both on and off the Karuta board, including a love triangle that threatens to derail their dreams.
16. Attack On Titan (2015)
Attack on Titan is a 2015 live-action movie adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s popular manga and anime series. The movie follows the story of Eren Yeager and his friends, who live in a walled city to protect themselves from giant humanoid creatures called Titans who have already wiped out most of humanity. When a colossal Titan breaches the wall, Eren vows to join the Survey Corps, a military organization tasked with fighting the Titans, and discovers that he has the ability to transform into a Titan himself.
While the live-action adaptation of Shingeki No Kyojin has received mixed reviews, it retains the basic plot and core elements of the original story. Some changes to the characters and plot have been made, but the movie still delivers thrilling action and special effects that bring the Titans to life. Fans of the franchise may find it enjoyable, but those unfamiliar with the story may want to start with the manga or anime first.
15. Gantz (2010)
Released in 2010, Gantz is a live-action movie based on the popular manga and anime franchise by Hiroya Oku. The story follows two young men, Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, who die in a subway accident and find themselves transported to a strange apartment where they are given the chance to participate in a game by a mysterious black sphere called Gantz. Along with a group of other recently deceased individuals, Kei and Masaru are tasked with hunting and killing aliens that threaten humanity, with the promise of earning points that can be used to resurrect themselves or others.
While the original manga and anime are known for their gritty sci-fi horror and controversial characters, the live-action movie takes a more conventional blockbuster approach, toning down some of the more contentious elements of the source material. However, this also makes the movie and its sequel less memorable, with a lackluster plot and forgettable characters.
14. Bleach (2018)
Shinsuke Sato directed the live-action adaptation of the popular anime series Bleach. Ichigo Kurosaki, a youngster with the capacity to see spirits, gets the powers of a Soul Reaper after meeting Rukia Kuchiki, a member of the Soul Society, in the film. They must work together to protect the world from malicious spirits called Hollows.
While the film only covers a small portion of the anime’s story, it manages to capture the original series’ fun and action-packed nature. Despite shortcomings such as uneven special effects and underdeveloped characters, fans of the genre will find Bleach to be a delightful viewing experience.
13. Ace Attorney (2012)
Ace Attorney is a live-action movie based on the popular video game and anime series of the same name. Directed by Takashi Miike, the film captures both the film and video game attributes of the franchise. The movie covers the second and fourth cases shown in the first game, making it a must-watch for fans of the game.
Despite the challenges of translating a video game into a movie, Ace Attorney exceeded expectations and was hailed as the best video game movie of its time. With a perfect mix of suspense, humor, and action, the movie is a great introduction to the world of Ace Attorney. While it is currently available for streaming, the film is definitely worth seeking out for fans of the game and anime.
12. Animal World (2018)
Animal World is a thrilling Chinese movie loosely based on the popular manga and anime series, Kaiji. The film follows its protagonist, Kaiji, as he enters a high-stakes rock-paper-scissors game on a ship. Although the movie takes a few liberties, such as Kaisi’s unusual preoccupation with clowns, it stays true to its Kaiji roots and delivers an edge-of-your-seat experience.
The live-action adaptation of Kaiji’s Espoir arc is particularly impressive, with the movie effectively capturing the intense atmosphere of the gambling anime and manga of the same name. Michael Douglas also makes an appearance as Anderson, a character who serves as a substitute for Yukio Tonegawa and Kazutaka Hyodo.
11. Gintama (2017)
The 2017 live-action adaptation of Gintama, directed by Yûichi Fukuda is another good title to watch. Well, many fans of the anime series were impressed with the film’s ability to capture the essence of the beloved characters and storyline. The cast’s portrayal of the characters’ natural mannerisms was a highlight for many viewers.
The plot follows Gintoki, a samurai living in an alternate version of Edo-period Japan where aliens have invaded and taken over the city. Alongside his friends, Shinpachi and Kagura, Gintoki runs a business doing odd jobs and getting caught up in various misadventures. When the trio stumbles upon a powerful artifact, they become the targets of numerous enemies and must use their wit and fighting skills to protect themselves and their city.
10. The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K. (2017)
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. was adapted into a live-action film in 2017, directed by Yûichi Fukuda. Unlike many live-action adaptations that tend to change aspects of the source material, this film stayed true to the manga and anime’s narrative. However, this led to mixed reception during its premiere stages and left critics divided.
The film’s pacing and aesthetic can be described as erratic and wild, mirroring the main character, Saiki’s, mannerisms. Saiki is a high school student with supernatural abilities, but he just wants to live a normal life. Throughout the film, he tries to hide his powers from his classmates and deals with various comedic situations that arise from his powers. While the live-action adaptation may have been a surprise for those expecting a more realistic depiction of the characters, it captures the eccentricity and humor of the anime.
9. Death Note (2006 & 2007)
Death Note, a beloved anime series that became a successful live-action film adaptation in Japan, showcases the significance of staying true to the essence of the source material. The film’s plot revolves around a high school student named Light Yagami, who discovers a supernatural notebook that can kill anyone whose name is written in it. With the help of a genius detective named L, Light tries to create a world without a crime by using the notebook. The film’s adherence to the original storyline and characters, along with its incorporation of the horror genre, contributed to its high critical acclaim and resonated with fans of the anime series.
8. Blade Of The Immortal (2017)
Blade Of The Immortal, a lesser-known anime, made its way to the live-action arena with a stunning adaptation directed by Takashi Miike. The film is so good and is available to watch on all anime streaming websites. The movie features a well-chosen cast that delivers the mannerisms of the characters perfectly, capturing the original allure of the anime.
Blade Of The Immortal follows the story of Manji, a samurai cursed with immortality who becomes a bodyguard for a young girl named Rin on her quest for revenge against the Itto-ryu, a group of ruthless swordsmen who killed her family. The live-action adaptation successfully translates the anime’s unique style and tone to the big screen, making it a must-watch for any fan of action and Japanese cinema.
7. Assassination Classroom (2015)
Assassination Classroom is a 2015 movie adaptation of the popular manga and anime franchise created by Yusei Matsui. The story revolves around Koro-sensei, an alien teacher who poses a threat to Earth’s future. Koro-sensei takes on the role of homeroom teacher to a group of students who are struggling academically, but the twist is that he assigns them the task of assassinating him before he can carry out his destructive plan.
Despite its seemingly ridiculous premise, the live-action adaptation manages to capture the manga and anime’s unique sense of humor, making it a captivating and entertaining watch. While its 2016 sequel may not quite live up to the original, it still serves as a satisfying continuation for fans of the franchise.
6. 20th Century Boys Trilogy (2008-2009)
The 20th Century Boys Trilogy, directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, is a highly successful adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s manga series. With a big budget and hundreds of actors involved, it is a prime example of how a live-action film is done right. The films are a perfect mix of humor, action, and mystery, with outstanding production values and an exceptional cast. The story revolves around Kenji, a man who discovers that his childhood fantasies about saving the world are coming true. He is forced to confront a cult leader, known as “Friend,” who is using his plans to destroy the world. The films follow Kenji and his friends as they try to save humanity and uncover the identity of “Friend” before it’s too late. With engaging characters, a thrilling storyline, and stunning visuals, the 20th Century Boys Trilogy is a must-see for fans of manga and cinematic storytelling alike.
5. Kingdom (2019)
Shinsuke Sato directed the live-action version of Yasuhisa Hara’s manga “Kingdom” in 2019. Despite being rushed at times, the historical film received positive reviews and served as an excellent introduction to the world of anime and manga.
The story follows two orphans who want to be generals, and their journey through war is filled with amazing action and character development. While the live-action version does not compare to the anime or manga, it is still a good film that showcases the talent of its director and actors.
4. Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel is a live-action adaptation of the anime series, which follows a cyborg named Alita who is discovered in a junkyard and is repaired by Dr. Dyson Ido, a cybernetics expert. As she navigates through the post-apocalyptic world of Iron City, Alita discovers her past and true identity, while also facing challenges and enemies along the way.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, who stayed loyal to the plot adaptation and faithful portrayal of the characters, Alita: Battle Angel stands out as one of the few successful live-action anime adaptations. The film’s use of stunning effects and 3D eyes added to Alita’s character also received positive feedback from fans and critics alike, making it a must-watch for any anime or sci-fi fan.
3. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable Chapter 1 (2017)
Fans of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure were treated to a live-action adaption of Diamond Is Unbreakable Chapter 1 in 2017. Takashi Miike directed the film, which starred Jotaro Jostar and Platinum Star, bringing the popular characters to life in a fresh way. Despite harsh criticism, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable Chapter 1 impressed both spectators and critics with its breathtaking effects and distinct aesthetic. The film stays close to the source material, with vibrant landscapes and costumes reminiscent of manga and anime. It’s no surprise that the live-action adaptation is frequently regarded as one of the best anime films available.
2. Inuyashiki (2018)
2018’s Inuyashiki is a movie adaptation of Hiroya Oku’s manga series, which takes a unique approach to the superhero genre. The story follows two people, a teenager and an older man, who gain cybernetic abilities after an alien meteor crash-lands in Japan. Ichiro Inuyashiki, the older man, embraces his new role as a hero, while the teenager, Hiro Shishigami, uses his powers for evil.
Director Shinsuke Sato does an impressive job of staying true to the source material, focusing on Ichiro’s character development rather than just action scenes. The movie highlights the humanity of its characters, especially Ichiro, who is portrayed as a down-on-his-luck man who finds purpose through his new powers. With a perfect score on multiple ranking websites, Inuyashiki proves that a live-action anime adaptation can stay true to its source material and still be a compelling and well-received movie.
1. Rurouni Kenshin Movies (2012-2021)
Rurouni Kenshin live-action movie series include: “Rurouni Kenshin Origins” (2012), “Kyoto Inferno” (2014), “The Legend Ends” (2014), “The Beginning” (2021), and “The Final” (2021). It follows the story of Kenshin Himura, a skilled swordsman who becomes a wanderer and takes a vow to never kill again. However, his peaceful life is disrupted when he crosses paths with an old enemy who threatens to destroy everything he holds dear. The film’s positive reviews led to a sequel being created in 2014, with the hope of more in the near future. The series not only highly respects the original anime and manga but also manages to compete with the high expectations set out by both formats.