– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Manga adaptations don’t really have a great track record in Hollywood. For most, they tend to miss the mark, but for me, they’re more of a hit-or-miss. Like video game movies, every few years, it seems like we’ll be getting something that could live up to the name of the source material, and each year we’re let down.

Last year alone saw two release — Ghost in the Shell in theaters and Death Note on Netflix. Both were demolished by critics and fans alike, and while I really love the latter film because it’s so different from the manga, I can understand why it made so many fans angry. Years before that, we were subjected to Dragon Ball Evolution, and the year before that, we got Speed Racer, a film that was hated at the time, but seems to have garnered a faithful audience since its release (and it stands as one of my all-time favorite movies).

Next year, we’ll be getting another big manga adaptations — actually the biggest ever — in the form of the $150 million Alita: Battle Angel from director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron. So how will this one measure up? Our own Jace Milam spoke with Rodriguez at New York Comic-Con, and Rodriguez seemed very confident in the overall movie’s quality.

“This’ll be probably considered one of the best adaptions of manga. Because it’s very true to the original material, yet it does its own thing and captures the heart and spirit of it but then it’s got a real beating heart of a movie story that’s … translates to any language because that’s Jim’s specialty. He didn’t just do it exactly like the graphic novel, which may not translate to every country. He made a story that would out of that. He saw what was the story could be and fine tuned it.”

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For those who don’t know, James Cameron took a stab at the script, and from there, Rodriguez modified it until it was a shootable project. This is some big talk from Rodriguez, but his comments make a lot of sense. While we love us some manga, it’s not a medium that adapts incredibly nicely to the big screen. Given that manga is constantly-ongoing, it’s often a seemingly-never-ending string of stories, with themes playing out over a long period.

With a film, they need to somehow break it down into concise two-hour experiences with enough cohesive content to feel like a rewarding distraction from the everyday. Plus, you have the added obstacle of the cultural differences. Luckily, in the case of Alita, it’s set in a world that feels completely different from any place on Earth, so there isn’t as much pressure to keep certain cultural aspects. On the downside, it’s a really odd story with incredibly fast pacing, and it’d be easy for the film to move too quickly by today’s standards to be a fulfilling experience.

What do you think of Rodriguez’s comments? Let us know down below!

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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.