First name: 安昂 Last name: Brown… Wait, what?
Most of us tend to despise live action adaptations of the anime/manga and cartoons we love, mostly because there is always something wrong with them. Whether it be adaptation decay, whitewashing, miscasting, character derailment… you name it. Most of the live action adaptations I’ve ever hated come from Hollywood because they usually combine all of these elements into one big clusterfuck of fail.
Do not proceed if you are a white supremacist, a fan of M. Night Shyamalan, or if you enjoyed most of his movies that are not The Sixth Sense.
Written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama in 1984, Dragon Ball was an adventure series that was heavily based on the Chinese story Journey to the West during the first several chapters. During the manga’s run, the story has changed from adventure to martial arts to science fiction while still maintaining a quirky sense of humor found in most of Toriyama’s works.
In the recent decade, a couple of self-proclaimed “fans” decided to direct a movie based off of this memorable Japanese manga… entitled Dragon Ball Evolution.
You guys all probably know a lot about Son Goku by now. Strongest being in the Dragon Ball universe, brawny but still a child at heart. Before we find out he’s an alien from another planet inhabited by the strongest race of people in the universe, he was just some strange human boy raised in the forest, with immense strength that would make the majority of sumo wrestlers piss their mawashi.
Somehow, the people behind the making of Dragon Ball Evolution decided to shoehorn Goku into a high school setting in order to have a cheesy romance develop with his future wife (in the manga) Chi-Chi. They also give him confidence problems such as being the target of bullying and rather unusual name calling. The problem is, they never explain why Goku is being picked on in school – HE LOOKS AND DRESSES THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE! And when you think about it, this is Goku. Goku! He shouldn’t be the type of person who would give a shit if he gets his bike stolen or something. He can easily kick anyone’s ass in his weakest state (him at the beginning of the manga).
Not to mention, he’s someone who is socially inept when it comes to anything other than fighting, so he really shouldn’t get these kinds of confidence problems because he would just shrug it off. The person who decided to cast GOKU as a scrawny teenage boy with self-confidence problems was most likely sniffing something unholy during the production.
You do not look like Goku simply by spiking up your hair, kid.
One of the gripes people have against the movie is the fact that Goku is played by a Caucasian actor instead of an Asian one. This is usually refuted with the “Goku isn’t a specific race, he’s an alien!” claim.
Very good point, but I neither agree or disagree with people wanting Son Goku to be played by an Asian actor. Honestly, is him being an alien a really good excuse to cast him as a Cacausian? I know plenty of people would get pretty pissed if Superman were to be cast as an Asian guy. Are we forgetting that Superman’s an alien too? The fact that Dragon Ball was initially based on Journey to the West, a Chinese story, and Goku being modeled from Sun Wukong, a Chinese character (whose Japanese name is Goku)… it makes much more sense if he was cast with a Chinese actor. Just my two cents.
This character derailment is only part of the reason why the movie was bad. Guess how much the rest of the movie sucked. =D
The Last Airbender… Even though the source material, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is not exactly an anime, the creators took heavy influence on East Asian and Inuit cultures and created a “fantastical Asian world” (as described by Nickelodeon). Not only that, they made sure that the cultural elements in the show were accurate to their real-life counterparts. The story and characters were also very colorful, and proved that a cartoon doesn’t have to be made in Japan to have a certain amount of depth to it.
The movie adaptation, on the other hand, took all of the good things that made the psuedo-anime series a cult hit and threw it all out in favor of whitewashing the lead characters and churning out a story you can only get from watching only three episodes of the show.
What a disaster.
I admit, I’m afraid to even watch the movie because of the 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but I’ll take their word for it after reading detailed comparisons and summaries of the movie written by avid fans. From what I’ve heard, the only thing good about the movie are the fancy effects, which is a bad reason to watch a movie. If the script is terrible, if the movie is a failed adaptation of a beloved cartoon series, if the acting is a lifeless performance, and if the movie is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, I refuse to watch it.
Apparently, the dark-skinned Inuits (Katara and Sokka) were white people in the movie, the Chinese and Japanese-inspired villains of the movie (the Fire Nation) were either Indian or Middle Eastern, the only East Asian actors you see are background characters (the prisoners and stuff…), and the main character with the appearance of a Buddhist monk and the Chinese name “Aang” in the cartoon is played by a white boy in the movie. Before anyone accuses me of anything, I’m not exactly being racist myself here, seeing as the acting was considered bad as soon as the movie was released in theaters and I doubt the actors were chosen because of their skill. Are you honestly telling me that these Caucasian actors were more suited to play an Asian role than actual Asians? White people portray Inuits better than Inuits? wut?
One argument would be that this is a fantasy world, and therefore, the characters aren’t really Asians. Yet, this is telling me, fantasy world = “Whites saving the Asians in an Asian-inspired movie while fighting against the colored folks”. Yes, Prince Zuko does a Heel Face Turn later in the series and is pretty badass, but he’s played by an Indian (South Asian)… Take a wild guess at the director’s ethnic background. And the director claims that Zuko will be the REAL hero of the series. Of course.
Really, everything in the series points to Avatar being set in a “fantastical Asian world”. I don’t see how you can get “white” from that… unless it’s in Hollywood (see: 21). Ohandbtw, the casting call was “Looking for Caucasians and any other race.”
If Hollywood even thinks about touching Death Note, riots will ensue.
Let me ask you Fullmetal Alchemist fans something: Would you be satisfied if they made a live adaptation of a European-inspired series in Asia? I thought not. There always seems to be a double standard when it comes to Asian American actors in Hollywood, and frankly (as an Asian), I’m tired of it.
I could go on to and complain about the Super Mario Bros. movie, but that movie was so bad it was good.