Otaku USA Magazine
Yes, These Live-Action Anime and Manga Adaptations Exist

Cowboy Bebop's live-action remake is incoming

Cowboy Bebop has a live-action remake in the chutes, and how fans feel about that varies. On the one hand, having director Shinichiro Watanabe and composer Yokko Kanno on board is encouraging. And the cast looks pretty good. On the other… such projects don’t have the best track record, and winners are exceptions rather than expected.

But Japan has been in the process of adapting anime and manga into live-action series and films for quite some time… to the point where, in an effort to write an article about remakes and adaptations that could exist, the list of those that didn’t already exist was pretty short. To that end, here are a few of those discoveries.


Negima! Magister Negi Magi

Magister Negi Magi, in reals

Ken Akamatsu’s manga Negima! Magister Negi Magi has made its way through many iterations, all of them significantly different. Besides the differing anime by Xebec and Shaft, there was a live-action TV series that ran for 26 episodes starting in 2007. Nogizaka46’s Yukina Kashiwa starred as Negi Springfield, the young Magister Magi in training put in charge of a classroom full of cute girls. The live-action series is remembered with… varying degrees of fondness, but fans of the story will find yet another new story to explore within.


Himitsu no Akko-chan

Himitsu no Akko-chan (Akko's Secret)

Fans of magical girl anime will recognize Himitsu no Akko-chan as one of the godmothers of the genre — the first magical girl manga, and the second anime only because Sally the Witch got a speedier adaptation. Atsuko’s magic mirror lets her change into literally anything or anyone, but in the 2012 movie she specifically turns into an adult, gets involved in business, and falls in love. It shouldn’t work, but it kind of does… and it brought a classic back into the spotlight.


Hayate the Combat Butler

Hayate the Combat Butler

Don’t expect to see the high-octane animation and referential humor of the original Hayate the Combat Butler in this live-action adaptation… but a few of the other things stay true in this Taiwanese TV drama. Hayate (now Xiao Sa) is still suffering because of his parents’ debts, and does become a “combat butler” to protect Nagi (now Xiao Shi). A few characters are combined into one — like Maria and Athena — but a lot of the other usual suspects are still around.

This is just a small handful of anime and manga that got the live-action treatment… not even counting more popular adaptations like Attack on Titan and Fullmetal Alchemist. Have you found any other surprising adaptations during your viewing?

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.