Live action shows and Japanese film in general can often be a very overlooked part of Japanese media, especially with the soaring popularity of manga and anime in comparison. Anime and manga fans can be hesitant to delve into live action adaptations, due to the medium straying so far from what the community is used to.

One of the best ways to bridge this gap is by watching adaptations of popular manga. When handled correctly, these adaptations can live up to expectations set by the source material, one example being the success of the Rorouni Kenshin movie trilogy which received worldwide acclaim.


Popular Manga You Didn’t Know Had Live Action Adaptations _0

When Naho Nakamiya receives a letter from alleged her future self, she is naturally doubtful. But, when transfer student Kakeru Naruse appears in her class like the letter predicted, Naho is forced to believe its contents. As she continues to read through the poignant letter filled with stories of regrets, Naho comes to learn that ten years in the future, their new friend Kakeru is no longer with them. Naho onset's out on a journey to fight fate and save Kakeru's life.

The manga and anime series are relatively well known and have received ample praise in the anime community. It is often heralded as a realistic attempt to tackle the complicated problems of mental health and suicide. What many fans of Orange may not realize is that the series has a live action movie adaptation with the same name released in 2015. It also won an award for the 39th Japan Academy Prize in 2016.

Your Lie In April

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Kousei Arima is hailed as a child prodigy in piano, sweeping competitions with ease and playing so perfectly that he is known as the “Human Metronome”. But, when his sick mother who had been his strict piano teacher up until this point passes away, Kousei becomes unable to hear the sound of his own piano. Two years pass as Kousei continues to go about his life in monotone, unable to play the piano, out of nowhere, he has a chance encounter with the free-spirited violinist, Kaori Miyazaki, bringing color into his world once again.

This poetic, bittersweet tale of youth explored through music is only made better when the music is performed. That is also why the anime adaptation of this series has become just as, if not more popular than the original manga. The live action adaptation was released in 2016 and placed 3rd on its opening weekend.

Assassination Classroom

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At the elite and hierarchical Kunugigaoka Middle School, there is a certain classroom tucked away in the depths of the mountains home to Class 3-E, a class of delinquents and dropouts devoid of any hope of advancing academically. That is until they are tasked with killing their teacher, dubbed Koro-sensei, an octopus-like monster that created a giant hole in the moon and plans to do the same to earth in a years time. Interestingly, Koro-sensei also turns out to be the best teacher Class 3-E has ever had.

It’s not often that a supernatural, action-driven series is given an opportunity to be adapted into a live action film due to potential limitations and difficulties in achieving the same supernatural effect with CGI as opposed to art or animation. The appeal of the original manga was in its bizarre concept and the depth and stories of the characters that inhabited it. Assassination Classroom (2015) really took up that challenge and produced a film that worked with the bizarre premise of the story, while adhering to the charm of the manga.


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Mashiro Moritaka is a talented artist, but has never had the courage to pursue a career in drawing after seeing his uncle, a mangaka, passed away from overworking a few years earlier. One day, Takagi Akito, an aspiring writer, sees one of Mashiro’s drawings and insists they work together to create a manga. Mashiro is still hesitant until he finds out that his crush, Azuki Miho is aspiring to be a voice actor. Their feelings for each other are mutual, so they make a promise that when they both achieve their dreams, they shall be married.

Bakuman is arguably one of the few manga that address the struggles and hard work that goes into becoming a mangaka and succeeding. Both the manga and anime adaptation are relatively popular, but the live action adaptation is not as well known. It has won awards from the Japanese Academy in 2016 for Best Editing, Best Music Score, and Most Popular Film and was nominated in many other categories.

Death Note

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When 17-year-old high school student Light Yagami stumbles upon the Death Note, a book that kills whoever’s name is written in it, he discovers that it’d been dropped on purpose into the human world by a sadistic god of death named Ryuk. Understanding the dangerous power that had fallen into his hands, Light begins to enact his own twisted sense of justice with the ultimate goal to rid the world of all evil. The mastermind detective L, is already on his trail, but it will be a battle of wits to see who will come out on top.

Death Note is an iconic name in the anime community. Despite being outside what is considered the "Big 3" in shonen anime -- One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto -- the series has a devoted fanbase across the world.

The unique premise of the series has made a permanent mark in the world of anime and its no wonder that no anime since can ever achieve the same effect Death Note has delivered. It comes as no surprise that a two-part live-action adaptation would do just as well, the first film topping the Japanese box office for two weeks after its release and the second topping the charts for four weeks after release.

These live-action adaptations have proven it is possible to replicate the same degree of success as its manga counterpart through a different medium. Although relatively unknown in the wider anime community, its high time these live actions receive the recognition they deserve.