7 Films Based on Japanese Manga

I. Edge of Tomorrow is a great sci-fi film about one Major who wakes up with each day being repeated, but the catch is that this day is the day of the invasion battle with aliens. This Groundhog Day-concept works brilliantly in the story, and Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt’s chemistry is unbelievably good. However, this film is based on a light novel called All You Need Is Kill (2004) by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, which, in turn, was then adapted into a 2014 manga by Ryōsuke Takeuchi.

II. Our Little Sister is a Hirokazu Koreeda film about three sisters meeting their half-sister as the unexpected happened. The film is beautiful and gentle, but it is actually based on a manga by Akimi Yoshida titled Umimachi Diary. Akimi Yoshida is a manga writer and artist probably best known for her manga series Banana Fish.

III. Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy is a neo-noir thriller, which won on the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. The story is about Oh Dae-su, who was unknowingly imprisoned in a cell for 15 years. Released, violence and vengeance take priority. The film, however, is actually based on a manga Old Boy by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi.

IV. Battle Royale is a well-known 2000 Japanese horror thriller directed by Kinji Fukasaku, and based on a 1999 debut novel by Koushun Takami. In this story, a number of junior high school students are selected by a totalitarian government and forced “to fight each other to death”. The winner is “the last student standing”. As so often happens with best-selling Japanese novels, it was adapted shortly after its publication into a manga Battle Royale, and then the film appeared. The Hunger Games book/film series now bears striking similarities with Battle Royale.

V. This entry is controversial, but not half as controversial as the Paprika/Inception entry below. I talked plenty of the similarities between Perfect Blue (1997) and Black Swan (2010) in my article here, and the conclusion is that Darren Aronofsky must have been more than just “inspired” by Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue animation and its corresponding light novel Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. Aronofsky placed his story of a girl under extreme “entertainment-scene” pressure at the NYC ballet scene, but the story is the same, and there are detailed plot, character and shot similarities.

VI. Ghost in the Shell is a 2017 film starring Scarlett Johansson. It is based on a manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow, that deals with dystopian cyber-technology and the philosophical concept of robots gaining consciousness. There is also an animation of 1995 – Ghost in the Shell, directed by Mamoru Oshii (Angel’s Egg (1985)).

VII. A case can be made that Nolan’s Inception is based on Paprika (2006). This is another Satoshi Kon’s animation based on a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, which, in turn, was later turned into a 1995 manga Paprika (not published until 2003). The main similarity is the concept of dream-invasion or infiltration to achieve a certain particular goal, and there are a number of very similar scenes in Kon and Nolan’s works.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. ospreyshire says:

    Very interesting list. I heard they were going to make a live-action Paprika series. Christopher Nolan should’ve given credit to Satoshi Kon. It’s interesting that you put multiple examples of movies associated with plagiarism controversies. I’ll ignore two obvious Disney examples. HAHAHAHAHA! XD Even though I haven’t seen it, you could put Alita: Battle Angel since it was based on manga and is a live-action remake of the anime. I haven’t seen Edge of Tomorrow, but I feel like I should since Yoshitoshi ABe was involved with the manga and he’s one of my favorite anime/manga auteurs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, the list is obviously not exhaustive, and I will have to check out Alita: Battle Angel, thanks. I thought Edge of Tomorrow was a great sci-fi, so much recommended!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ospreyshire says:

        No problem and that’s not a bad thing. I heard good things about Alita being one of the better live-action takes on anime, but I’ve only seen the original OVA series. I’ll let you know if and when I get to watch Edge of Tomorrow.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. msjadeli says:

    I’ve seen most of the movies but didn’t realize they were all based on manga. That Paprika movie was simply surreal. Very difficult to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

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