Many manga series get adapted into anime. It’s a great way to draw in new fans from all over the world. Sometimes, though, our favorite series get adapted into live action anime films! Isn’t that awesome? It’s not often fans have the chance to see illustrated characters come to life.
Prison School live action
Prison School’s upcoming live action adaptation
In some cases, these live action anime movies win critical acclaim from fans and new viewers alike. Other times, they become infamous examples of how movie makers may need to leave things alone. And in a few rare instances, the live action anime adaptation films become even more famous than the source material – to the point that many fans aren’t even aware that their favorite film is based on an anime or manga.
The sheer number of live action anime adaptation films can be pretty intimidating. After all, there’s a lot of anime and manga out there. It only makes sense that there’d be lots of live action adaptations, too. But to get you started, here’s a list of 50 live action anime adaptation movies in a variety of genres from all over the world. There’s something for everyone, from realistic dramas to fantastical visual spectacles and from box office blockbusters to cult classics. Hopefully, you’ll find something you like.
Crime Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
In addition to this Hong Kong film starring none other than international superstar Jackie Chan, City Hunter was also adapted into a Korean TV series.
A joint collaboration between French and Canadian studios, the movie adapts the “Portrait of a Killer” story arc of the Crying Freeman manga.
Female Convict 701: Scorpion (Sasori)
Based on Sasori, it was followed up by three more films: Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable, and Female Convict Scorpion: Grudge Song. The entire series is a prime example of the “women in prison” genre of 1970s exploitation films.
Known as the oldest manga still in publication, Golgo 13 spawned two live action anime adaptation films about the titular assassin for hire. The second is Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon.
Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1)
Infamous for its graphic violence and depictions of extreme cruelty, the live action movie adaptation of Ichi the Killer was directed by none other than the controversial Takashi Miike.
Lupin III Strange Psychokinetic Strategy
Other live action adaptations of Lupin III include a film simply titled Lupin III which premiered in 2014, forty years after Strange Psychokinetic Strategy. Talk about longevity!
Most people probably don’t even realize that the second installment of South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy is based on Old Boy, a manga. It won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and was later remade into a US live action anime adaptation film by Spike Lee.
Who knew yo-yos could be so deadly? Sukeban Deka inspired two more live action anime adaptation films in the series: Sukeban Deka 2: Counter-Attack from the Kazama Sisters and Sukeban Deka III: Asamiya Saki.
Drama Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
Antique (Antique Bakery)
Based on the manga Antique Bakery, the film modifies the story so that it takes place in Korea, but the plot otherwise remains unchanged. It is one of the most successful Korean movies ever made.
The popularity of Bakuman made it inevitable that a live action anime adaptation movie would be released. Who knew a story about aspiring mangaka could be so interesting?
Honey and Clover (Hachimitsu to Clover)
In addition to a live action anime adaptation movie, Honey and Clover has been made into two live action TV dramas, with one in Japan and the other in Taiwan.
Kimi Wa Pet
The premise of Kimi Wa Pet sounds like something out of a Korean drama: a professional woman who takes in a younger man as her pet. No wonder they made it into a South Korean movie!
The plot of Maison Ikkoku deviates a bit from Rumiko Takashi’s other, more famous comedic works: a bittersweet romance set in a Tokyo boarding house.
Due to its popularity at the time, Nana also spawned a film sequel, Nana 2.
Nodame Cantabile: The Final Score Part 1
Nodame Cantabile originally inspired an award-winning television series. This live action anime adaptation film and its sequel, Nodame Cantabile: The Final Score Part 2, pick up where the drama ends.
This live action adaptation of Paradise Kiss is infamous among fans of the original manga for its decision to change the ending and the resolution of one of the key relationships.
Fantasy Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
Based on Dororo by legendary manga creator Osamu Tezuka, the live action film makes a few major changes, such as making the titular character a young woman.
Dragonball Evolution (Dragon Ball)
A decent cast could not save this live action rendition of Dragon Ball, which was universally panned by critics, movie audiences, and even the original creator himself. Ouch!
Although Kuroshitsuji is set in Victorian England, the live action anime adaptation film inexplicably changes the setting to the year 2020.
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, the live action anime adaptation of Mushishi screened at several film festivals.
Historical Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
Known for its beautifully choreographed violence, the live action adaptation of Azumi also has a sequel, Azumi 2: Death or Love.
Lady Oscar (Rose of Versailles)
Based on the classic series, Rose of Versailles, the live action film was a commercial failure. In particular, critics disliked the lead actress’s portrayal of the androgynous Oscar.
The live action anime films of Lady Snowblood are famously known as the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. In addition to the original movie, there’s a sequel, Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (Kozure Ookami)
Lone Wolf and Cub has inspired many live action anime adaptations for movie theaters and television. The original movie series that began with Sword of Vengeance was then followed up by Baby Cart at the River Styx, Baby Cart to Hades, Baby Cart in Peril, Baby Cart in the Land of Demons, and White Heaven in Hell.
Based on the alternate history title Oooku, the live action film adapts the Yoshimune and Mizuno story arc from the original manga.
Rurouni Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan)
Other live action anime adaptation films of Rurouni Kenshin include Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, which are sequels to the original movie. All three films received relatively positive reviews from critics and fans of the original manga.
Post-Apocalyptic Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
The live action film adaptation of Attack on Titan also has a sequel, Attack on Titan: End of the World. It was heavily criticized by fans for deviating from the original manga’s storyline and the absence of the franchise’s most popular character.
Loosely based on Shinzou Ningen Casshern, this live action anime adaptation film is acknowledged by critics as being visually stunning even though it is also a bit confusing.
Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken)
Based on Fist of the North Star, this US live action film adaptation went straight to video, bypassing theaters entirely.
Romance Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
Ao Haru Ride
This live action film is based on the series, Ao Haru Ride, in which a high school girl reunites with the boy she once loved.
High School Debut (Koukou Debut)
The movie is based on High School Debut, about a former star athlete who recruits the most popular guy in school to coach her in romance and love.
Kimi ni Todoke
The live action anime adaptation of Kimi ni Todoke also screened at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas in 2011.
The movie is based on Lovely★Complex, about the romance between a tall girl and short boy.
Nana to Kaoru
The live action adaptation of Nana to Kaoru tells the story of two childhood friends who explore BDSM together. It also has a sequel, Nana to Kaoru 2.
Ore Monogatari is about a high school boy whose crushes always fall for his best friend – until one day, his luck changes. The live action anime adaptation film follows the story of the source material closely, with a few changes here and there.
Ouran High School Host Club (Ouran Koukou Host Club)
Based on the popular manga, Ouran High School Host Club, this live action film is about a girl who joins her high school’s all-male host club and must hide her true gender from their clientele.
Sukitte ii na yo (Say I Love You)
Based on Sukitte ii na yo, this live action movie’s theme song was performed by the famous boy band One Direction!
Science Fiction Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
20th Century Boys: Beginning of the End
Other adaptions of 20th Century Boys include the sequels, 20th Century Boys 2: The Last Hope and 20th Century Boys 3: Redemption.
Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu)
The film adaptation of Assassination Classroom debuted at #1 at the Japanese box office when it premiered. A sequel is slated for release later this year.
A remake of Cutie Honey, this live action film has been criticized for being a tamer version of the original manga and having poor CGI effects.
In addition to this live action anime adaptation film, Gantz also spawned a sequel film, Gantz: Perfect Answer.
Despite how long Kagaku Ninja-tai Gatchaman has been around, the live action anime adaptation film wasn’t made until 2013.
Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu (Parasyte)
Parasyte inspired a two-part live action film series with the second half simply titled, Parasyte Part 2.
Sports Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
A Hong Kong film based on Initial D, the live action movie features Taiwanese singer Jay Chou as the protagonist.
Prince of Tennis
The live action anime adaptation film condensed the original plot of Prince of Tennis, which led to several changes in events and characters.
Speed Racer (Mach GoGoGo)
The live action adaptation of Speed Racer was directed by none other than the Wachowski siblings. While it was panned during its time of release, the movie has since become a cult classic.
Supernatural & Horror Live Action Anime Adaptation Films
Blood: The Last Vampire
A collaboration between French and Hong Kong studios, this live action film remakes the original Blood: The Last Vampire anime.
Other live action anime films of Death Note include Death Note: The Last Note and L: Change the World.
Tomie has inspired a live action film series consisting of 8 installments to date, with the other 7 being: Tomie: Replay, Tomie: Re-birth, Tomie: Forbidden Fruit, Tomie: Beginning, Tomie: Revenge, Tomie vs Tomie, and Tomie: Unlimited.
Based on Uzumaki, this live action anime adaptation film features a different ending from the manga due to it being created before the series had ended.
Whew! What a list! Some of those trailers were wild, weren’t they? What about the movies themselves? Did any of them pique your interest? Were there movies that surprised you because you didn’t know they were originally an anime or manga? Are you a movie fan now thinking of checking out the original source material? Or are you an anime fan who now wants to watch the live action movie? There’s no doubt that you’re probably in good company! And with more big-name live action anime adaptation films set to come out over the next few years, the number of choices is only bound to get bigger.