Anime fans from all over the world still have nightmares about the debacle that was 2009's Dragonball Evolution -- a disgrace of a movie that was a horrible live-action representation of the beloved Dragon Ball franchise. Sour memories like these are why Sony's recent announcement that Venom writers, Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinker, are set to breathe live-action life into the One-Punch Man franchise, has been met with derision, as fans worry that this adaptation could realistically be the next terrible, Hollywood take on anime.
Hollywood's anime adaptations haven't translated well nor been received well by both long-time fans and newcomers alike to anime culture. One of the biggest flaws within many of these live-action adaptations is that studios tend to stray too far away from the source material and the core ideas that make up the foundation of what that they're trying to reproduce. Tearing away at the basis of what fans have come to love throughout years and years of religious viewing is one of the fastest ways to lose those same fans.
There is a collective groan across the world of anime every time a new live-action project is announced because, historically, of how little care and consideration appears to go into replicating something that the anime community loves. More often than not, studios will try and appease a wider audience instead of the fans that have been glued to their TVs week after week, month after month or even year after year to their favorite anime -- fans that will have built real connections with those shows' characters, learning the intricate details of their fictitious lives while watching them grow, mature and overcome. These are the things that studios often overlook when completely rewriting stories that have already been established without the assistance of big, American studios.
Fans who followed the story of Goku from Dragon Ball's inception in 1986 filled theaters to see a complete and inaccurate retelling of one of manga and anime's greatest sagas. Goku never attended high school to receive formal education and the Oozaru was never a servant of King Piccolo but, rather, a transformation that Saiyans underwent while gazing at the full moon. Mai was never a servant of King Piccolo either and her true comrades, Emperor Pilaf and Shu, don't even appear in the film. Goku transforming into his Oozaru form because of an eclipse was complete and utter rubbish and did absolutely nothing to try and stay close to Akira Toriyama's source material. Regrettably, the blunders mentioned above don't even scratch the surface of just how far the writers at 20th Century Fox carelessly butchered Dragon Ball's amazing story.
Another prime example of this is the more recent Death Note adaptation from Netflix in 2017. Light Yagami became Light Turner, transforming him from an overly-obsessed and intelligent teen to a whiny and bullied high school afterthought. The relationship between the fan-beloved L and Light never fully develops either as the two characters have as little interaction with one another as possible -- a stark contrast to the very relationship that was, at one point, the foundation of the whole show.
The egregious portrayal of Light in this film is so, so disrespectful to its anime counterpart that the writers of the movie have Light actually reveal the location of his hidden Death Note to L. Even worse, the rules of the Death Note are changed to conveniently support the already laughable plot. It was the rules of the Death Note that propelled the manga and anime forward, forcing Light to come up with ingenious tactics to protect himself and ensure that his murderous reign as the psychotic Kira would continue up until his series-ending death.
One-Punch Man could well fall foul of the same egregious alterations. It may be a wacky and nonsensical anime sometimes but despite its eccentricities, it's still become well-established in the anime community and can stand on its own without the assistance of any big-name studios or poorly translated live-action adaptations. There are things in the anime that don't make a single ounce of sense but fans have accepted that and reveled in them to the point where anything other than just won't be acceptable.
Hollywood has historically had a hard time with this -- always adding some kind of reasoning to things that have already been accepted by fans as being intrinsically unreasonable. Fighting against the things that fans love and changing them to make them make sense for audiences who aren't as heavily invested in the source material is a death sentence for any script based on any manga or anime.
The idea of a One-Punch Man live-action movie is great... if the writers can actually follow the story and produce something that is a pure embodiment of One-Punch Man's source material. But, given Hollywood's track record, this effort could, unfortunately, end as others have before it -- in huge disappointment for the hopeful fans that waste their dollars to go and see it.