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10 Anime Fit For A North American Cartoon Adaptation

Written by  Published June 17, 2015 12:20
For many years, a number of filmmaking countries (including the United States and Canada of course) each has maintained a history of creating works of fiction intended to re-interpret characters and/or stories that originated in storytelling from another country, sometimes changing the setting of the story in particular and/or cultural backgrounds of main characters. The U.S. film and television industry, for example, has a history of creating films and television programs based onJapanese content; 1960's The Magnificent Seven being a cowboy re-imagining of the 1954 samurai-themed film The Seven Samurai, the 1993 Saturday morning cartoon series Sonic the Hedgehog being based on the popular Japanese video game franchise from Sega, 2008's Speed Racer being a remake of the 1960s anime with American actors playing and capturing the visual likenesses of the classic's main characters, 2014's Godzilla being a hit film that placed Godzilla's main battle in the U.S. while being faithful to the character's essence, etc. 

Anyway, I noticed in recent years, there has been controversy about the notion of creating western reversions of anime, manga, and Japanese video games with those against it deeming this concept as being nothing more than a redundant gloom and doom plot that does more damage to great storytelling from Japanese pop culture than good, but the fact is despite the failures of some movie remakes (which FPB made reference to himself on ENR a time ago in his "7 Great Movie We Hope Never Get Rebooted" column), this can be a fun thing, whether it is to just try new story twists, to help fans of an already existing Japanese media property find a version of it they can enjoy with those not into Japanese pop culture, to fix whatever story problems western filmmakers may find, or even to attempt to help a Japanese content work gain mainstream status within western regions (or regain it if it lost its popularity within the west long ago). As we await for the upcoming releases of a number of U.S. films based on anime and manga (Death Note, Ghost in the Shell, Robotech, Star Blazers, etc), I take the time to present to you, right here at ENR, a list of anime I would love to see get western animation series treatments, and as you read this feature, you will learn why they make the list. 


1) Kantai Collection

1 Kantai Collection

While the premise of Kantai Collection (you know, the whole thing about beautiful costumed warriors possessing spirits of history's warships and battling dark forces for humanity's control of the oceans) is a fun and creative one, a western animated show of it could not go wrong with expanding the roster of fleet girls to include fleet girls from western nation origin (American, Canadian, British, etc). Doing so could satisfy both Kantai Collection fans and western non-anime viewers looking for a version they could best identify with.


2) Sailor Moon

2 Sailor Moon

I get it a lot of North America-based fans of this famous magical superheroine property hated 1992's Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon'sEnglish language version from the mid-1990s to the point of not wanting to look back on it, but although U.S.-based anime and manga distributor Viz Media is still releasing episodes of this classic 1990s T.V. show in a new dub on DVD, it is unknown when or if the show will ever come back to North American television, and with Japanese animation's fanbase in North America apparently being smaller than its own in Japan, a western animated version of Sailor Moon could be a first exposure to the famous superheroine tale for the non-anime viewer. Also, as the show's essence should be easy to translate into western animation (you know, an academic underachiever turned into a superheroine with magic powers), creating a western Sailor Moon cartoon could be the chance for western filmmakers to create alternate secret identity versions of the Sailor Senshi (like when DC introduced a new secret identity version of The Flash back in 1956) and set the adventure in a western city like say Vancouver, Canada.


3) Digimon

3 Digimon

Remember when the protagonists of Digimon Adventure 02 ("Digimon: Digital Monsters Season 2" for North American release) encountered Digimon with non-Japanese human sidekicks? I'm sure some of you do, and as the Japanese Digimon series seemed to to always use Japanese people as part of the protagonal focus, a western Digimon could be the opportunity to give western humans their shot at the spotlight while focusing on the fight to save both the human world and the digital world with the Japanese heroes making guest appearances from time to time.


4) Gundam

4 Gundam

The Gundam franchise has a reputation for featuring alternate continuities with each depicting its own set of characters and piloted-humanoid machines while focusing the war action in space as well as on Earth. If fans can tolerate this, who are we to judge if a studio in the west wanted to produce an animated Gundam show with its own continuity, with or without any characters from Japanese Gundam? And if the North American mainstream drama-loving public can handle Pacific Rim, they should handle Gundam, which now as we speak is apparently struggling to regain popularity in North America.


5) Captain Harlock

5 Captain Harlock

Despite the critical acclaim of Captain Harlock's recent movie version Harlock: Space Pirate, this famous space adventure legend by Leiji Matsumoto still seems to have a long way to go to achieve immortal mainstream glory in the west, and as there seem to be a lack of animated drama on western television, a western Captain Harlock cartoon series could be the chance Mr. Matsumoto's iconic space pirate hero needed to get back on the North American T.V. airwaves as nothing Captain Harlock-related seemed to air in North America in years. Plus, since the Captain Harlock saga has always been about former Earth residents sailing the stars as space pirates to fight whether oppression takes place, it would not hurt to include western soldiers in Harlock's pirate crew while catering to western audiences, especially if the Harlock Universe is meant to be one where all nations on Earth equally get along with each other.


    6) Puella Magi MadokaMagica

6 Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Although the MadokaMagica anime series and its film trilogy spinoff are currently available on R1 DVD, the DVD volumes are highly pricy, and that is so not cool for anime fans who don't use the internet on a regular basis while the anime themselves still have yet to turn up on the North American television airwaves. Although the manga spinoffs are available in North American bookstores, we have to consider that not all comic book readers are manga readers. Therefore, a western cartoon series version produced for television is what MadokaMagica needs in being accessible to a broader North American screen audience, and as the anime is about magical superheroines being forced to fight witches in order to compensate the space cat Kyubey for granting them wishes, there is always room for setting the adventure in western grounds as well as rewriting the anime's lead character MadokaKaname as a Japanese-Canadian and replacing her homeland comrades with westerners of different racial backgrounds (you know, reflect racial diversity in the western world) whilemaintaining that anime's essence. The filmmakers would just need to make sure to make them as cute as Powerpuff Girls to avoid losing any of the anime's charm. Last of all, re-versioning MadokaMagica for the west could be the chance to ignore the heroine's unfair cost of saving the world from the anime series' finale episode (she deserved better than what actually happened).


7) Vision of Escaflowne

7 Vision of Escaflowne

Who in North America could forget the 1996 fantasy mecha show that aired on America's Fox and Canada's YTV? It showed very sophisticated storytelling with sword-equipped giant-sized medieval-like mechanical armors. You could say it was like watching a Lord of the Rings with giant robots in it. How hard could it be to bring the world of Escaflowne into western animation? After all, we westerners love great fantasy action with Game of Thrones being among the very popular American fantasy television series titles today.


8) Tokyo Mew Mew

8 Tokyo Mew Mew

The sad thing about the anime series Tokyo Mew Mew is that its American-produced English language edition (which Americanized character names and rewrote some plot details in attempt to appeal to North American youth audiences) only covered its first half as it ended up being cut short for low U.S. Nielsen ratings, thus leaving audiences without any closure to the Americanized take. To make matters more unfortunate, no R1 DVD release or re-airing of this show ever happened. Therefore, it would be nice if a western animated Tokyo Mew Mewgot made so as to give new audiences a first exposure to the TMM saga, although with a new western twist, even to re-write the superheroines as Japanese immigrants living in the States.


9) Sword Art Online

9 Sword Art Online

Remember the 1982 American sci-fi movie Tron where people get trapped in virtual reality with some people actually not making it out alive? Well, Sword Art Online is a Japanese story presented in such a narrative style, except for the part about protagonal characters debating on which place is better to live in (real world or VR world), which I'm sure some of us westerns can relate to. Not only could a Western animated SAO be what SAO would want to watch with non-anime viewers, but it could also narrate the VR adventures in the  SAO saga from a fictional western person's perspective. And even if a western Sword Art Online was to lack the presence characters from the Japanese created versions, the essence would still remain to be about the experience of being trapped in an online RPG. 


10) Mobile Police Patlabor

10 Mobile Police Patlabor

Crime fiction T.V. show franchises like CSI and Law and Order never shy away from giving regional law enforcement divisions their own shots at the spotlight. Regarding the Mobile Police Patlabor franchise, the installments all focused on the same regional police force. So why not a Patlabor series set in a western town while still focusing on the use of police-operated human-shaped vehicles? You know, expand the horizons of where mobile police operations could take place. Anything is possible.

So there you have it, fanboys and fangirls. You have learned what anime I'd like to see get turned into western animated series, although there might be some titles likely to not go through anime-into-western toon process anytime soon. Despite that the fact we are now living in an age of extreme purism against the production of western-made versions of anime, manga, and Japanese video game content from many enthusiasts of Japanese pop culture worldwide, there is always a reason to take this course of action. Anyway, for those of you who support this type of artistic practice, feel free to comment on what anime would you yourselves like to see get the western cartoon series treatments. Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Christopher Arnold

Meet Montreal Island-born fanboy Christopher Arnold. He is a fan of a number of things: comic book action/adventure heroes (the superhero kind included), science-fiction, horror, Japanese Animation, action figure collecting, cosplay photography, and fan art. While his main column focus at ENR is action/adventure storytelling (regardless of if it includes sci-fi, horror, fantasy), when it comes to reviewing/analyzing material, whether it be comics/graphic novels, film, or even television, he is the kind of person to avoid judging a work of fiction by time of release and by nation of origin (and that's part of his moral code). Also, he's not afraid to admit if he finds comparison between two unrelated media properties. While he enjoys serving you, the readers, he's not the kind to show his true face on social media (so PLEASE, RESPECT HIS PRIVACY).

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