I can’t help but share my disappointment after witnessing the recent debacle that was Knights of the Zodiac at the theaters last weekend. To put it bluntly, the movie was soulless, bland, and devoid of color. But above all, it was simply boring.
Knights of the Zodiac, for those unaware, is the Western adaptation of the beloved anime classic Saint Seiya. The source material is a melodramatic, vibrant, and action-packed masterpiece. Yet, this movie adaptation fell into the all-too-common trap of attempting to cater to Western tastes and those unfamiliar with the source material or anime in general.
There is, however, a silver lining amidst this mess—casting the dashing Mackenyu Arata as the tragic hero Seiya. With his impressive track record in Japanese media (check out his IMDb), Arata managed to do justice to his role, despite being given very little to work with. Additionally, a few of the action sequences and fight choreography did manage to shine, showcasing the filmmakers’ effort to incorporate some commendable visual effects, particularly with the Cosmo attacks.
Regrettably, Knights of the Zodiac is just one of the countless abominable anime adaptations churned out by Hollywood. The recurring issue lies in their failure to embrace the absurdity and extravagance of the source material. Hollywood seems intent on molding these movies into something “realistic” and “grounded,” completely missing the mark. Let me make it clear—no one attending a live-action anime adaptation desires or craves such a departure. Fans and newcomers alike yearn for a faithful recreation, as close to a 1:1 representation as possible. By straying from this, Hollywood alienates the core fanbase while failing to attract those unacquainted with the IP. It’s a double failure, plain and simple.
When Hollywood does manage to embrace the madness and nonsensical aspects of the source material, magic happens. Look no further than the cult classic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a film that flawlessly translated a fun and absurd premise to the big screen. Not only did it satisfy the existing fandom, but it also captivated an entirely new audience, previously unaware of the source material, who were then converted into fans themselves. This, my friends, is the key—the key that Hollywood needs to unlock, instead of persisting in whatever misguided approach they have employed over the past three decades.
It’s high time for Hollywood to reevaluate their approach to live-action anime adaptations. They must acknowledge the desires of the fans and the essence of the source material, rather than diluting it with misguided attempts at Westernization. By embracing the vibrant and fantastical worlds anime presents, Hollywood can finally deliver the adaptations that both the devoted fandom and potential newcomers crave. Only then will they witness the true potential of this genre and the overwhelming success that awaits them.