– by Joseph Jammer Medina

There aren’t a lot of anime films that Hollywood is quick to pick up. For the most part, a lot of the properties they lock down are films or series that have existed in the public eye for a solid decade or two (Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Death Note), and add in the complications revolving around cultural adaptation, and you have a whole lot of obstacles to bringing something to life. This make this next news piece all the more surprising.

According to Deadline, J.J. Abrams’ production studio Bad Robot is teaming with Japanese studio Toho Co. to adapt last year’s hit anime film Your Name for worldwide audiences.

The film’s original producer, Genki Kawamura, had the following to say about Bad Robot working to adapt this flick:

“Just like in the film it feels like a dream. Mr. Abrams and his team have captivated audiences in their masterful reinvention of known properties. And Mitsuha and Taki have found a perfect narrator, Mr. Heisserer, to tell their sci-fi infused love story, which gave the film such drive. The meetings so far have been creatively stimulating with fantastic ideas that no doubt will make for a great movie. I am greatly honored to work with these incredible creators in bringing to audiences the Hollywood live action version of Your Name.”

As with all anime adaptations, this has the potential to go down in flames, but the studio has locked down Oscar-nominated screenwriter Eric Heisserer — who wrote last year’s amazing film Arrival — to pen the script, so they’re at least taking steps in the right direction.

If Your Name has evaded your awareness, it’s well known for being the highest grossing film to come out of Japan EVER, and has since taken in over $355 million worldwide. Those may seem like small fry numbers to us, but for Japan, it’s a huge deal. The film comes from auteur fillmmaker Makoto Shinkai, who got his start making gorgeous self-made animated films. Personally, the guy is a hit-or-miss director in terms of story, and his films often tend to skew more to the more ephemeral and self-important side of things. However, with each passing film, he’s gotten stronger as as storyteller, and while I haven’t seen Your Name myself yet (I’m waiting for an official release), I’m interested to see how much he’s grown.

Your Name tells the story of a teen city boy and a teen country girl who discover they can swap bodies. Of course, a story like this has the potential to go into typical hyper-sexualized territory, but it looks like the filmmaker decided to take this in a much different direction, and from what I’ve heard, it’s actually a strong narrative.

So is it worth bringing to the U.S.? I’d say yes, absolutely. While it has the Japanese setting, it is one that is ultimately not important to the overall story. As such, it’ll likely have the ability to have massive mainstream appeal if approached correctly. They can easily set this in the U.S., and if we’re lucky, they may even have the confidence to cast a Japanese American actor in at least one of the lead roles — which would be huge for the industry.

More than anything, I’m very interested to see who they’d lock down to helm this film. Something tells me we’ll find out within the next six months who that will be, as they’ll want to capitalize on the film’s success as soon as possible. So who should it be? Someone like Marc Webb or Sam Mendes would be interesting choices, or maybe even someone like Danny Boyle, who would be able to capture both the emotional and sci-fi aspects of the story.

What do you think? Does a Your Name live-action film interest you? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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SOURCE: Deadline

  • SaiyanHeretic

    Your Name is a sweet, moving story, and beautifully animated, but I worry something would be lost in translation to an American production. It isn’t just set in Japan, it leans heavily on Japanese culture, social conventions, and even the intricacies of language to tell its story. There are ways to adapt fantasy action series like Dragon Ball, or futuristic cyberpunk like Ghost in the Shell, both of which Hollywood has failed at. Even what is ostensibly just a crime thriller (albeit with supernatural trappings), Death Note, fell on its face. This is one that should be left well enough alone.

  • Behemothrex

    Hit Anime? Well if I haven’t heard about it, it can’t be that big, if you have to be a hard core anime fan then it’s not that big of a hit. Say Akira in a crowd and then say Your Name and see which is recognized more.

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      Akira’s been around for decades, and Your Name has been around for less than a year, so that comparison doesn’t hold up. The numbers speak for themselves. Whether or not you’ve heard of it, the film was a bit hit.

  • David Tapia

    By “official release” you mean on home video? Because this was released in US theaters in April.

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.