Top 10 Live Action’s Adapted From Anime And Manga

Only a handful of live-action films/series have been able to capture the essence of manga and anime.

Let’s face it: anime adaptation is challenging, whether for execution in the real world, injecting emotions in characters, replicating the plot, or simply satisfying fans’ anticipation.

Many adaptations have cringed fans, bombed the box office, and been total disasters; Dragonball Evolution, Cowboy Bebop, and Fullmetal Alchemist are a few examples.

Speed Racer Speed Racer
Yu-Yu Yu-Yu
Erased Erased
Alice In Borderland Alice In Borderland
Nana Nana
Boys Over Flower Boys Over Flower
Death Note Death Note
Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
One Piece (2023) One Piece (2023)
Rurouni Kenshin (2012) Rurouni Kenshin (2012)

This has even made fans question if there could actually be a live-action that could meet the expectations.

Nonetheless, only a handful of live-action films/series have been able to capture the essence of manga and anime, and today, I’ll discuss my top 10 list.

10) Speed Racer (2008)

Release DateApril 26, 2008
CastEmile Hirsch, Matthew Fox, Christina Ricci
DirectorLana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
GenreActionAdventure, Comedy

The list starts with the one manga/anime adaptation that can excite any fan with its flashy cartoonish visuals and shocking special effects.

“Speed Racer” was adapted from a Japanese manga about automobile racing created by Tatsuo Yoshida, and it doesn’t disappoint.

It revolves around a young driver who aspires to be the racing world’s champion, helped by his family and his high-tech Mach 5 automobile.

Although it wasn’t an initial success, the film slowly gained a cult following, and now many even claim that “the movie brought anime to life.”

9) Nana (2005)

Release DateSeptember 3, 2005
CastMika Nakashima, Aoi Miyazaki, Hiroki Narimiya
DirectorKentarô Ohtani
GenreDrama, Music, Romance

Nana is a perfect example that illustrates manga based on real life is far easier to adapt into live-action than animated stories.

The beautiful movie is authentic and emotional, based on the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Ai Yazawa.

It is a tale of Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu, two women of the same name but polar opposite personalities, as they battle adulthood life while maintaining their friendship.

Due to its success, a sequel, Nana 2, was released the following year. Although it doesn’t provide the essence of the first one, it is still enjoyable.

8) Erased (2017)

Release DateDecember 15, 2017
CastYûki Furukawa, Tomoka Kurotani, Reo Uchikawa
DirectorTen Shimoyama
GenreDrama, Fantasy, Mystery

Often titled one of the best live-action anime series, “Erased” is slow-paced but very intriguing from the get-go.

The movie is based on the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kei Sanbe.

Although the reaction and expression have been toned down in the adaptation, unlike in the anime, they do indeed complement the series.

The spirit of the anime is still there, with some scenes added and some omitted, but it adapts the entire story faithfully and accurately.

7) YuYu Hakusho (2023)

Release DateDecember 14, 2023
CastTakumi Kitamura, Jun Shison, Kanata Hongô
DirectorShô Tsukikawa
GenreAction, Adventure, Comedy

YuYu Hakusho is just the proper anime adaptation for you regarding costumes and fight scenes!

Being one of the most influential and popular anime of its era, based on the manga by Yoshihiro Togashi, there was a lot of expectation surrounding its live-action.

And let me tell you, it was delivered!

The only issue was its pacing, as more than 100 chapters are compiled into 5 episodes, which takes away the minor detailing and plot.

6) Alice In Borderland

Release DateDecember 10, 2020
CastKento Yamazaki, Tao Tsuchiya, Nijirô Murakami
DirectorShinsuke Sato
GenreAction, Drama, Mystery

Most live-action adaptations feel lackluster and inferior to the original anime, which is debatable for this series.

Based on the manga by Haro Aso, the Netflix show is praised for its action sequences, direction, and acting.

It has thus received positive reviews from the audience as well as critics and has established itself as the gateway for the franchise.

5) Boys Over Flower (2009)

Release DateJanuary 5, 2009
CastKu Hye-Sun, Lee Min-ho, Kim Hyun-joong
DirectorGi-Sang Jeon
GenreComedy, Drama, Romance

Did you know the popular Korean series “Boys Over Flowers” was based on Japanese manga with the same name?

I, for sure, wasn’t aware of it until recently, and it shocked me.

The drama is based on manga written and illustrated by Yoko Kamio and is often considered a pioneer in Korean high school series.

It even became a cultural phenomenon throughout Asia, which brought a certain “Korean Wave.”

4) Death Note (2006)

Release DateJune 17, 2006
CastTatsuya Fujiwara, Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Asaka Seto
DirectorShûsuke Kaneko
GenreCrime, Drama, Fantasy

The cruelest thing Netflix did was green-lit the 2017 “Death Note” movie, which was a disaster.

If you’re still traumatized watching the disappointment, you can give the 2006 adaptation a try.

Japan had already created a live-action version of the famous anime series based on the manga by Tsugumi Ohba.

Justice was served! It stood alongside the original plot and illustrated the characters with emotions that they lacked in the Netflix movie.

3) Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Release DateFebruary 14, 2019
CastRosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly
DirectorRobert Rodriguez
GenreAction, Adventure, Sci-Fi

The 2019 action/sci-fi film Battle Angel Alita, based on the manga created by Yukito Kishiro, pushes the boundaries of adaptation.

Every fan doubted this live-action movie, but it turned out great. The movie used the best and most groundbreaking special effects technology ever.

Backed by a large Hollywood budget, its visuals are as close to the manga as possible.

2) One Piece (2023)

Release DateAugust 31, 2023
CastIñaki Godoy, Emily Rudd, Mackenyu
DirectorMarc Jobst, Tim Southam, Emma Sullivan, Josef Kubota Wladyka
GenreAction, Adventure, Comedy

Who would have thought that the anime predicted to be the most difficult to adapt would be such a masterpiece that we would place it this high?

Nobody expected “One Piece” live-action to stand out, but man-oh-man, it blew my mind.

The series, based on Eiichiro Oda’s manga, has a perfect live-action adaptation.

Each actor brought out the best in their characters, and the film was adapted and condensed as much as possible.

This show has the potential to be the best live-action of all time, but it still is in season one, so we have to wait for more materials before declaring it the best.

1) Rurouni Kenshin (2012)

Release DateAugust 25, 2012
CastTakeru Satoh, Emi Takei, Yû Aoi
DirectorKeishi Otomo
GenreAction, Adventure, Drama

The intense and lightning-fast sword-fighting scenes keep you on the edge of your seat, but the elegant choreography and ties to the original material make this live adaptation great.

The five-movie series captures the essence and enhances the story to the point that you don’t have to be a franchise fan to enjoy the movie.

It is based on the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki and has consistently received positive reviews from fans and critics.

If you’re into sword fight and historical anime, give it a try; it won’t disappoint!


S.NLive Action AdaptationRelease Date
1Rurouni Kenshin 2012
2One Piece 2003
3Alita: Battle Angel 2019
4Death Note 2006
5Boys Over Flower 2009
6Alice In Borderland 2020
7YuYu Hakusho 2023
8Erased 2017
9Nana 2005
10Speed Racer 2008


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