Are you an avid manga reader that enjoys watching adaptations come to the big screen? Sometimes these adaptations can be a hit or miss depending on how it translates to film, but every now and then I like to give these movies a try. Here are five picks for live-action originally based on manga series or standalone works.
Our Little Sister
Recommended if you like: Family Drama, Slice of Life
Based on the manga, Umimachi Diary, this film This movie tells the story of three sisters in their 20s who live together in Kamakura and are joined by their 14-year-old half-sister after their father dies.
The story of these four sisters was touching, heartwarming, and deep. I love movies that explore family relationships and I liked how the movie was a coming-of-age story and the ties that band family together. It was a very meaningful story about what the definition of family is. I could tell that the starring actresses of this film put their all into the roles. The cinematography was also beautiful!
Recommended if you like: Period Dramas, Action
Also known as Samurai X, this story begins during the 11th year of the Meiji period in Japan (1878) and follows a former assassin from the Bakumatsu, known as Hitokiri Battosai. After his work against the bakufu, Hitokiri Battosai disappears to become Himura Kenshin: a wandering swordsman who protects the people of Japan with a vow to never take another life.
This manga adaptation covers a total of five films total. This has been one of my top favorite adaptations that successfully brings in new audiences while pleasing fans of the series. I think that it successfully covers the multiple arcs in the manga without it feeling like the movie is trying to do too much. The attention to detail of the costumes and sets makes this an immersive viewing experience for the viewer. Plus, the casting and action are top-notch!
Recommended if you like: Romantic Comedies
In this shojo-esque story, Risa Koizumi is the tallest girl in class, and the last thing she wants is the humiliation of standing next to Atsushi Otoni, the shortest guy. As a result, the two find themselves cast as the unwilling stars of a bizarre romantic comedy and end up joining forces to pursue their true objects of affection. But in the quest for love, will their budding friendship become something more complex?
Lovely Complex is an adaptation I can watch over and over again. The movie manages to perfectly encapsulate the wackiness of the series and all of its silliness. It’s a cute story where opposites attract and there are many over-the-top humorous antics to keep the viewer laughing the whole film. Even though the story is a bit formulaic, this movie will make you smile as the two leads grow into a romantic relationship.
Prince of Tennis
Recommended if you like: Sports, Action
13 years old tennis genius Ryoma Echizen returns from America after winning Junior Championships. He returns to his home country of Japan and attends the Seigaku High School, which is famous for its tennis club. Being a freshman and being able to beat even the 2nd and 3rd years at tennis, Ryoma gets in trouble with bullies. However, Ryoma’s skill is rewarded when Team Captain Tezuka allows him to join the team and enter national tournaments.
I’m not the biggest Sports fan, but one of my favorite games to watch and play is tennis so I loved this series to pieces. Because the manga series is so long, the film portrays the storyline arc from when Ryoma arrives in Japan to the match against Hyotei Academy. Viewers will root for the main character, Ryoma, to win each game. The matches are so intense and even though it’s an older live-action adaptation (2007) you should definitely check out this film and its more recent TV adaptations on streaming services.
Recommended if you like: Music, Coming of Age Stories
Nana is about the relationship between two young women who are both named Nana. Nana Osaki is an ambitious punk who is looking to break into the world of rock and roll, while the other, Nana “Hachi” Komatsu simply wants a new life with her boyfriend, Shoji Endo. After moving to Tokyo while chasing their hopes and dreams, their lives greatly change after meeting each other.
Nana was probably the first Josei manga series I read and I love how the series shows the beauty of friendships as well as how friendships evolve over time. Viewers see how Tokyo forces each Nana out of their comfort zone and how they grow up in their careers and even themselves. This is a top-notch adaptation with a killer OST including music from Mika Nakashima (who plays Nana Osaki) and Yuna Ito.