‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is Hollywood’s last chance

Jordan Boyer, Photo Editor

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Time and time again western moviemakers try to bring anime and manga into the mainstream here in the west by making live-action adaptations in a film or TV format.

There have also been numerous examples of failures to achieve this goal by Hollywood.

For those who are unaware, the upcoming film “Alita: Battle Angel” set to premiere on Feb. 14 is a live-action adaptation of the manga Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita) by Yukito Kishiro.

The manga originally ran in the mid-1990s and James Cameron would buy the rights to this story not to long after. 

Live-action anime adaptations in the west and even in the east, usually do not work out in the end. A recent example being Netflix’s Death Note, which was an adaptation of the manga by the same name. The original story of Death Note is commonly looked at as one of the best manga/anime of all time (even in the west), and Netflix took a huge risk adapting this story.

Just like the sad predecessors before it, it failed according to the critics, viewers and fans. 

Not just this adaptation, there is now the infamous (for how terrible of a film it is) Dragonball Evolution. There was also a more recent example in the live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. 

Now, I have not read the Battle Angel Alita manga, but telling from the synopsis of the story, it is a cyberpunk post-apocalyptic action series. I have never been the biggest cyberpunk fan, but this is a very common genre in manga and anime.

I am writing this because there is a dispute among critics and viewers about this upcoming film.

Some believe that this is finally the film that will be an enjoyable western adaptation of anime/manga, while others think it will fail like all the other past attempts.

I am torn when it comes to all these new western adaptations of anime and manga. As a fan of the medium myself, I would like to see these stories gain recognition in the west.

Not all anime are battle series like Dragonball and Nartuto, the most popular animes here in the west. There is amazing storytelling from this medium using dialogue and images that Americans are not really use to enjoying.

However, after seeing how many times filmmakers have failed at this, I feel they should probably just leave the ambition alone.

There are elements that are present in anime/manga outside of culture differences that are hard to adapt in a live-action format. The fantasy/action anime/manga are the hardest because some things translate well in animation and drawings but do not translate well in this format.

“Alita: Battle Angel” may be the answer we need to solve this overarching dilemma.

There seems to be a solid cast of actors including Academy Award Winner Christoph Waltz.

The trailer displays some excellent CGI and interesting action scenes.

When this film premieres, I will certainly review it, and I will be going into the story totally blind. This eliminates any biases I can have knowing the original source material. 

As of right now I am hopeful for this movie, but I am terribly worried at the same time.

No matter what happens, I will always remain a proud anime nerd until the day I die.

Jordan Boyer is a senior history major, he can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]