Hollywood adaptations of Japanese stories derived from manga have failed to connect with a Western audience, and not for a lack of fan interest. Instead, the core issues one encounters are matters of mistranslation, which construct the fatal flaws of American adaptations of manga. In my research, I identify three major errors in adaptation typically present in these narratives. First, I discuss mistranslations of story via analysis of Netflix’s 2017 adaptation of Death Note, which includes plot reduction for the sake of time and budget restraints, as well as conflict rearrangement to fit the traditional Hollywood mold. Next, I discuss mistranslations of cultural values, as successful adaptations of Japanese manga that are accessible in an American context require a trans-cultural fluency American studios seem to lack; I use Paramount Pictures’ Ghost in the Shell (2017) to illustrate this point. Finally, mistranslations of form are present in these failed adaptations. In order to bring the spirit of a manga to life on-screen, many directors have tried to replicate the style of this apparatus to film, often with unsuccessful results due to its jarring deviation from the Western norm. Spike Lee’s Old Boy (2013) becomes case-in-point in this section as I contrast the apparatus of anime to film. Ultimately, I conclude that successful adaptations are quite possible; one merely needs to select the right story and cater it to what American fans of manga find fascinating about the genre—its cultural authenticity and wholly original (and decidedly non-American) ideas.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Finley, Megan Jo, "“Descending into Eeriness”: Navigating “the Uncanny Valley” Present in Hollywood Adaptations of Japanese Narratives" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 8495.
Japanese narratives, Hollywood adaptations, uncanny valley, adaptation, translation, anime, manga