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Why So Many Movies in Japan Are Based on Manga and Anime

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Surely, you’ve noticed? Recently, in Japan, there’s a glut of movies based on manga and anime. There must be a reason for this. There most certainly is.

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It is a rather simple and somewhat obvious reason. But here, let Beat Takeshi tell it. Beat Takeshi, of course, is a famed comedian, actor, and filmmaker—among many other things. He’s a man of multiple talents! His movies, such as Sonatine, Hana-bi, and Beyond Outrage, are fantastic.

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As noted recently on Yahoo! News Japan, during the Tokyo Film Festival, Takeshi was asked why there are now so many movies based on manga and anime.

“It’s because if you make a manga into a movie, people will go see it,” Takeshi explained bluntly. “That’s it. Movie companies don’t have the courage to spend money on unknown scripts.”

They have a built-in audience, and comparatively, they’re low risk—or rather, lower risk. Even if that risk can be alienating fans. The odds of making your money back are greater than finding the next big thing. This dynamic explains the glut of live-action anime and manga movies.

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This isn’t true only in Japan, but in Hollywood, too, as seen with the numerous comic book movies or the endless reboots.

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Good movies are good movies, whether they are based on anime, comics, video games, or whatever. But it’s in those unknown scripts that you find some truly memorable films.

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter@Brian_Ashcraft.

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Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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DISCUSSION

gwiser
Doctor Nein

It might also be because of the increasing popularity of big budget western movies based on comic franchises which got japanese movie makers thinking they could do the same with mangas.