Eight Anime Adaptations I’d Love to See

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I tried to write an intro for this, but no matter what, it was crappy and clunky, so I’ll just dive right in. One final word, though: I will readily admit that this list does have a Western tilt (specifically for English and American works), but, in my defense, this is a bit inescapable, as there is much, much more English-language literature available to me as an American than translated works from other cultures.

In no particular order:

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

I have to be honest – the only way I’d want to see this would be if I could wholesale kidnap the entire group that worked on Gankutsuou – The Count of Monte Cristo, and then convince all of them to work on this. What could go wrong? Here you have a naive young man, his older hedonistic friend, and a besotted artist, all orbiting around an apparently black magic picture and the slow-boil corruption of the young man. Oh, yeah, and a symbolic deal with the devil, as that magical portrait keeps the young man, Dorian, from ever aging, as his morals steadily rot through the passage of time. There’s plenty of material here for a full-season effort, as we have a classic moral conflict on agonizing display.

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Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome is one of my favorite books. It succinctly tells the tale of a tragedy, the suffocating existence of Ethan Frome, a man who has built himself a birdcage out of his own beliefs about duty. I would describe it as both stark and beautiful. What I would find interesting would be a Japanese take on the thing, even to the point of wanting to see it set in historic Japan, as Ethan’s notions of loyalty to family has strong similarities to feudal Japanese loyalty systems. In the hands of a good director, this could be an extremely good OVA.

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After School Nightmare

After School Nightmare is one of the few works I compare favorably with Revolutionary Girl Utena. ASN covers similar ground to Utena – gender issues, adolescence, the meaning of adulthood, sexuality… and it also does it in a manner that is fraught with symbolism and far from straightforward. I would love to see this get an anime adaptation, preferably with Kunihiko Ikuhara (who helmed RGU) in charge of things, and working with J.C. Staff, which was the studio which brought us RGU. J.C Staff did try to replicate RGU’s brilliance with Melody of Oblivion, which fell flat through a combination of gratuitous fanservice and poor charaterization (not to mention having a crap ending), but with Ikuhara in charge, this could be this decade’s RGU. Of course, the likelihood of all that occuring is on par with all the planets aligning, so I’m not exactly holding my breath.

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The Charioteer

For better or worse, The Charioteer kind of comes off as one of those delicate BL light novels which don’t contain sex… insofar as the romance aspect goes. This has a lot to do with its age, though, as it hails from the 1950’s; it was fairly groundbreaking for its time, featuring homosexual relationships as its primary plotline (although it does also deal quite a bit with World War II and its affect on soldiers). Perfect for people who enjoy the excurciating smolder approach to romance.

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Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore, like most of Haruki Murakami’s works, is bizarre. It stars the apparently Oedipally-cursed Kafka Tamura, and the mentally handicapped cat-whisperer Nakata, in two storylines which eventually converge. It also takes place both in the everyday realm of being and on a metaphysical level. This is one of those books that you endlessly speculate about and attempt to work out, but never quite do, something I am sure was intentional on the part of Murakami. If I could pick, I’d tap Shoji Kawamori, who directed the beautiful Spring and Chaos (Kenji no Haru) to lead the way, as he masterfully delivered a surreal biopic of Kenji Miyazawa with that effort that displays his ability to blend reality with the metaphysical.

I will admit that maybe my primary desire for an anime adaptation of this, though, is the chance to actually get the song ‘Kafka on the Shore’ to be produced.

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Hamlet

It would’ve been nice if Gonzo had done an adaptation of Hamlet instead of Romeo and Juliet, as Hamlet is both a vastly superior play to R+J, and isn’t regularly abused in pop culture for the benefit of the young and foolish. It is difficult for me to form an exact argument for the notion that Hamlet deserves an anime adaptation because it is a play which the vast majority of educated people are familiar with; as such, in making an argument I’d just be saying things about Hamlet that you’ve already heard a million times before. Anyway, Hamlet has been adapted in Japan before, by the great Akira Kurosawa, who directed a very loose adaptation entitled ‘The Bad Sleep Well’. I’m curious to see what an anime director would do with it, though, and would enjoy seeing something that is more faithful to the original.

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The Sea of Fertility

The Sea of Fertility is the tetraology that was comprised of Yukio Mishima’s final four novels, starting with Spring Snow and concluding in The Decay of the Angel. I must confess that a small part of me can’t help but wonder if the original person who came up with the bare-bones from which the AIR visual novel was sprung was influenced by The Sea of Fertility. The storyline follows Honda, who begins as a law student, as he tries to save people he believes to be successive incarnations of a former classmate from untimely deaths. As such a statement implies, he tends to fail at this, since he can’t counter fate. I’d pick Ryosuke Nakamura and Sadayuki Murai to direct and write the screenplay for this, respectively, as their work on Mouryou no Hako was nothing short of impressive. But here I think a long movie would be the preferable approach (I actually think Mouryou no Hako may’ve worked better as a movie, since there would’ve been less of an opportunity to forget the fine details that are so important to the plot).

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Galapagos

Galapagos is black humor at its finest – the central premise of the novel is that humanity made its first mistake when it crawled out of the water all those millions of years ago to become a land-dwelling creature. In it, a random group of people get shipwrecked in the Galapagos as the remainder of the world undergoes armageddon. So, everyone in the world is dead except for our characters. And it just gets cheerier from there! Vonnegut’s most cynical work. I’d put this in the hands of whoever was primarily responsible for episode eight of Paranoia Agent – y’know, the one where the three people are trying to commit suicide during the entire thing and keep failing? That one.

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25 Responses to Eight Anime Adaptations I’d Love to See

  1. Shit, I haven’t read or even heard of anything you listed LOL I feel like I should make a reply thingy to this though…..

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I feel like Galapagos may be the one which would appeal to you most out of the eight.

  2. Baka-Raptor says:

    Shit, I haven’t read or even heard of anything you listed (except Hamlet, get thee to a nunnery, and the Picture of Dorian Gray, which I was supposed to read but didn’t) I feel like I should make a reply thingy to this though…..

  3. thekungfukid says:

    Damn so I’m not the only one who hasn’t read any of these ( except for Hamlet).

  4. Kiri says:

    I guess at this point you must be feeling pretty well-read and superior to your fellow illiterate bloggers! For what it’s worth though, I do agree that Hamlet is a vastly superior play to Romeo and Juliet (whose adaptation sucked worse, holy shit). I’d also love to see Macbeth and King Lear adapted, though the latter is certainly due to my love of Kurosawa’s Ran.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I actually didn’t think that Gonzo’s version of Romeo and Juliet was too bad, but I suspect this may have more to do with my dislike of the original than anything else. I think if they’d trimmed some of those epically lame ‘Romeo works hard and understands the little people!’ it would’ve upped the overall quality a LOT.

  5. If I remember rightly, The Bad Sleep Well has a company setting, which is also what they used in the (shaky) 2000 film adaption. Maybe that says something about corporate power nowadays.

    To my mind Ethan Frome is the one of these with the best case for an adaption, because of the theme of duty that you point out. (Financially, I suppose ASN would be most likely to shift merchandise, as it has an established fanbase.)

    @ Kiri: If you like King Lear, Macbeth and Ran, have you seen Throne of Blood?

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yes, The Bad Sleep Well did have a corporate setting. As for the version with Ethan Hawke as Hamlet, I haven’t seen it, since I was fresh off of that Romeo and Juliet adaptation that had a modern setting and was leery of watching Hamlet undergo similar treatment. I’ve been trying to get my hands on the Russian film version, Gamlet, for a while, as I’ve heard it was very well directed.

      As for ASN, I think it’s been out too long – if it hasn’t gotten any interest yet from a studio, I doubt it will =(

  6. omisyth says:

    @21stcenturydigitalboy
    You haven’t heard of Hamlet?

  7. Baka-Raptor says:

    By the way, your URL says nine.

  8. On a quick aside, I have to second Kiri on the Kurosawa’s Ran being unbelievably good.

    For a book adaptation, Ender’s Game comes to mind. It’s got a great story, snarky writing, and it features young boys as the main cast, so the animators could still hit their target audience.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      A friend of mine has been attempting to convince me to read Ender’s Game, if I’m not mistaken, but it hasn’t quite come up in my pile of books yet.

      As for Kurosawa – can’t say I’ve seen Ran, but I did love Throne of Blood.

  9. saturnity says:

    Kafka on the Shore would be an awesome Anime because it has something for everyone: reverse traps, WINcest, classical music, and a Shinji Ikari-esque male lead. For me, Oshima is probably the most memorable Murakami character. I literally man-swoon whenever he’s on the page.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      All of those did cross my mind; I think that the best part, though, is the fact that it isn’t entirely clear whether there is incest or not – they never clear it up.

      As for Kafka being like Shinji… well, Kafka gets sex, right? I’m pretty sure milksop boy doesn’t.

  10. usagijen says:

    OMFG After School Nightmare adaptation DO WANTTT!

    • adaywithoutme says:

      It would be really fucking awesome, and is Exhibit A in ‘why do shitty manga get anime adaptations?’.

  11. ghostlightning says:

    I think 12th Night would be a fun thing to adapt, even if only for the traps. Also, The Old Man and the Sea for the ridiculous manliness (GAR!) and the baseball.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yeah, except that, if The Old Man and the Sea got adapted, it’d have to go on for the screen equivalent of twenty-one pages too long.

      12th Night is definitely something that could be done in a very fun manner.

  12. schneider says:

    Dorian Gray and Kafka on the Shore would be awesome.

  13. adaywithoutme says:

    Since I can’t branch comments beyond two replies…

    @ Baka-Raptor – Probably The Tempest was the ninth that got cut – I say ‘probably’ since I was also toying with putting down The Scarlet Letter when I started the post and figured it’d be either that or The Tempest, and decided to scratch the Scarlet Letter first since I’d probably get cranky over an anime trying to recreate the Massachusetts Bay Colony circa 16xx. So, The Tempest was the ninth.

  14. ETERNAL says:

    Sea of Fertility sounds really interesting. I should check it out after I read more of Murakami’s stuff.

    I’d like to see an adaptation of Dorian Gray, though, because I’m usually bad at reading old books but the story sounds intriguing. I just hope the studio can get through it quickly because I think I’ll have to read it this year at school >_>

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Sea of Fertility is fascinating and devastating – I also think it is Mishima’s high water-mark as a writer. It also, if I recall correctly, isn’t as over-run with misogyny as some of his other stuff is, which was refreshing. Its on my re-read list.

      As for Dorian Gray, I’m actually fairly delighted to hear that you might have to read it for school, as its one of those books that has really gotten mothballed (not quite to the extent of my favorites Edith Wharton and Sinclair Lewis, but that’s another rant). As for getting through old books in general, I think I would advise you to try watching a very good movie version prior to reading the book – I stress here that I mean to both watch AND read, not just watch instead of reading. This can be helpful in greasing the wheels, so to speak.

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