When it comes to adaptations, creative changes aren’t only inevitable, but at times necessary. While these alterations aren’t too obvious in most anime adaptations, the same can’t be said for these particular series and movies.
Whether it’s the animated adaptation of another source material or a translation of an anime to another medium, these adaptations changed the original’s tone so much that they arguably became an entirely new thing.
10 Blade Of The Immortal (2017) Was A Deathless Samurai’s Pulpy Warpath
While not averse to bloody fights and over-the-top characters, Blade Of The Immortal was rather blunt with its violence as it took its themes of revenge and its futility seriously. Both of the manga’s animated adaptations from 2008 and 2019 followed this tone, but the 2017 live-action movie went in the opposite direction.
In the movie, Rin Asano’s revenge and Manji’s death wish were really just excuses to string gruesomely cool duels and Manji’s 300-man massacre into the almost-3-hour runtime. If the anime and manga ended somberly, the movie closed with an epic all-out clash between Manji and two warring factions that lasted for most of the third act.
9 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable – Chapter 1 Was More Horror Than Anything Else
The entire JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure franchise is well-known and beloved among fans for being one of the most energetic anime ever created. Not only are the fights between Stand Users just that cool to watch, but David Production’s expert combination of frame rate, music cues, sound effects, and more perfect the JoJo’s experience.
However, the same can’t be said for its first live-action movie, Diamond Is Unbreakable – Chapter 1. Based on the wild fourth series, the movie retold Josuke Higashikata’s adventures in a serious way. Here, Stands were ominous spirits, the characters were less eccentric, the fights were grueling instead of over-the-top, and the overall experience wasn’t that fun.
8 Hellsing (2003) Toned Down The Manga’s Schlock
When Hellsing was adapted in the 2000s, the manga wasn’t even near its halfway point. This forced studio Gonzo to create a new story while only retaining the base premise and main characters. The end result was the 13-episode Hellsing, which slowed things down and emphasized humanity over the manga’s signature gore.
Originally, Alucard and the Hellsing Organization’s fight against Millennium had more over-the-top violence and gore than reflections on mortality. The 2003 anime flipped this equation by making Alucard less violent, upgrading Seras Victoria from sidekick to deuteragonist, and dragging out a conspiracy instead of indulging in a bloody war.
7 Devil May Cry: The Animated Series Gave Dante A Break
In the hit Devil May Cry games, Dante is the coolest badass around. When he’s not murdering demons and hellspawn for the fun of it, he’s spending his free time lazing about. In the anime set between the first two games, however, Dante is slightly more responsible and restrained since he has a young girl (namely Patty Lowell) to look out for.
Devil May Cry: The Animated Series is more of a laidback slice-of-life show about Dante’s broke daily life than it was about his one-man war against Hell. Unsurprisingly, fans expecting accuracy and lore were disappointed. While the in-game Dante always had a soft spot, the anime put more focus on it, thus rewriting his character and motives.
6 Cowboy Bebop Was More Relaxed Than The Anime
One of the most contentious changes that Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop made when adapting the anime was lightening the mood. Simply put, the anime was the bitter story of jaded bounty hunters who were struggling and failing to escape their dark pasts. Meanwhile, their live-action counterparts were eccentric space adventurers who formed a found family.
The Netflix show’s first and (currently) only season had its share of downtime and drama, but these were sporadic compared to its action scenes and pulpy banter. Meanwhile, the original Cowboy Bebop put more emphasis on examining Spike, Jet, and Faye’s mistakes and regrets despite featuring an all-out brawl and/or gunfight once per episode.
5 Vampire+Rosario Became An Extreme Ecchi Anime No One Asked For
Vampire+Rosario was always an ecchi harem story with some cheeky fanserivce, but the manga’s fans took offense at how far the anime pushed the raunchy envelope. In brief, the anime skipped entire arcs and swathes of character development in lieu of dialing the fanservice up to outrageous extremes.
As a result, Vampire+Rosario was saddled with the reputation of being a brainless fanservice anime, even if this wasn’t the case in the manga. Here, the romance between the human Tsukune Aono and the vampire Moka Akashiya accidentally worsened the tension between mankind and youkai, and it wasn’t just a cheap excuse for harem hijinks and nudity.
4 Death Note (2017) Became An Edgy High School Drama
Like many anime before and after it, Death Note‘s teenage prodigies acted like adults. For all intents and purposes, Light Yagami and L Lawliet were practically grown-ups waging a chess duel in their mindscapes for the fate of the world. For better and worse, Netflix’s live-action remake emphasized Light and L’s youths and real ages.
Instead of two charismatic geniuses, Light and L were now two awkward teenagers with too much power. The movie also played out more like a lighthearted yet edgy high school drama than an intense crime thriller. In fact, it even featured a climactic school dance plus Light’s genuine romance with Mia Sutton – neither of which occurred in the anime.
3 Dragonball: Evolution Grounded Son Goku’s Epic To High School
Dragonball Evolution has earned its reputation as the all-time worst live-action anime adaptation, and one of the reasons for this was the fact that it barely resembled the classic anime. Instead of a galaxy-spanning retelling of Journey To The West, the movie was a young adult coming-of-age story set in a generic high school.
Not only was the scope shrunk, but so were the characters’ stakes. Instead of being a playful Saiyan, Goku was an awkward teen who wanted to impress his crush, Chi-Chi, and dunk on bullies. This was only done because 20th Century Fox had no idea what to do with the Dragon Ball license, and they rushed Evolution out before the rights expired.
2 Ghost In The Shell (1995) Took Transhumanism More Seriously Than The Manga Did
Fans of Ghost In The Shell‘s anime or live-action movie who decided to read the original manga would be forgiven for being shocked by what awaited them in print. If Major Motoko Kusanagi’s many missions (especially the 1995 movie) were brooding introspections about the loss of humanity in a cyberpunk world, her manga was basically hentai.
Shirow Masamune’s manga was more of an adult comedy, and it was the 1995 movie’s director Mamuro Oshii who retooled the characters and concept for a philosophically and politically charged story. This tonal shift was so well-received and successful that it redefined the franchise, so much so that few remember Ghost In The Shell‘s raunchy beginnings.
1 Daily Lives Of Highschool Boys (2013) Needlessly Deconstructed A Gag Anime
Daily Lives Of Highschool Boys was one of the biggest gag anime of the 2010s, which is why its live-action movie being as dour as it was came as a mean-spirited shock to fans. The movie faithfully recreated many of the anime’s well-known sketches but replaced the slapstick and punchlines with brutal deconstructions and harsh reality checks.
For example, the popular skit where Tadakuni wore his sister’s skirt ended with him getting slapped in the face. The reason for this was that director Daigo Matsui felt second-hand embarrassment when reading the manga, which drove him to show a more realistic outcome to the trio’s shenanigans. The end result was a joyless slog based on a zany sitcom.
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