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Producer talks live-action Bleach

It’s an understatement to say that many fans weren’t happy with the news that Warner Bros. was moving forward with their live-action take on the popular anime/manga Bleach (here). After all, Hollywood has had no luck in winning fans over with their adaptations, and films like Dragonball Evolution and Speed Racer have been notorious. However, Head of Productions at VIZ Media Jason Hoffs was interviewed with About.com to address those very concerns:

“Every creator, and every fan, has a picture of the property or a relationship with the property that is formed with the original medium. Creators and fans of manga are not alone in that regard. Any adaptation requires a change of format and of style.

In the case of manga, so much has to be condensed to squeeze the story into a feature film format. So even in the best of circumstances, it’s a big challenge. Fans have been disappointed with recent manga and anime-based features. We have to learn from these examples, and keep working to do better.

We build a relationship between the creator, his/her team in Japan and the Hollywood creative team to create a basic common vision from the beginning of the process. There is an essence or quality in the original material that makes it attractive as a feature film, and the team tries to preserve and translate this essence into the film version.

Our greatest goal, and certainly the goal of the creator, is that the film should delight the fans. At the same time, the intention of the film version is to introduce a larger global audience to the property. It will always be a challenge to balance fidelity to the original work, while supporting the creativity and originality of the filmmakers in bringing their vision to the film.”

Hoff does bring up a good point in that fanboys are in the minority when it comes to adapting a film. If Hollywood made films simply for the fans, then it would certainly fail. As much as they try to deny it, the community that reads manga isn’t that big, and a film can’t be successful if it was only catered towards that group. And this goes for not just anime adaptations, but comic book and video games. My initial concern when I first heard about a live-action Bleach was that some of the material probably wouldn’t translate very well to a live-action film. However, fans have shown they would get upset with only the slightest change to the material. All the controversy over the live-action Akira is proof of this.

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Matt Keith

I’m just your everday movie nerd.

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3 Comments

  1. I have doubts that they’ll even adapt it well. I mean, hell, Bleach is one of the easiest to adapt, but as I said, i have doubts.

  2. It is true that there is a lot to this story and some changes will need to be made to get the Bleach films up to speed. But also remember, the reason why the producers/directors want to make this a movie adaptation in the first place. It is because of the story. Where many films have failed in the past is that too many changes were made and original characters were discarded. When this happens the story changes entirely and the audience will not be able to follow closely, especially the audience that has not read the manga, seen the anime or played the game pertaining to that film (fanboys).

    It is not to say that a director cannot bring his/her style to the story. One of the best adaptations made from a video game today I would have to say would be Silent Hill directed by Christophe Gans. The movie did incorporate some changes from the game’s (Silent Hill 1) story, but the movie still incorporated the main story that non-fanboys would not have known. The same can be done with a live action Bleach movie.

    What the producers and the director(s) must be aware of is how much of the story to portray in the film. The anime Bleach is based off of a manga that was released in 2001 and is still ongoing. There is a lot to include when it comes to making a live action film. There will be more than one movie, so please do not squeeze so much into the first film. The other reason I say this is because of the non-fanboys. The non-fanboys will not be able to understand a movie adaptation if there is TOO much material. This is why some squeals are successful; because there is more of the story to portray (Ex: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter & Star Wars) and it brings the audience back.

    Matt Keith Reply:

    This is very true.