Before Alita: Battle Angel, the idea that any live-action anime film would be worth watching was a little ludicrous. For whatever reason, there were very few good live-action anime films. The number of ones worth watching could be counted maybe on one hand and many of them were made in Japan. Rurouni Kenshin, Death Note, Bleach, and Parasyte had some effective adaptations, while more obscure manga like Oldboy and Ichi the Killer were adapted into such amazing films that people often forget they were manga first.
But American adaptations? Ghost in the Shell is controversial, sure, but it and Alita are leagues above the likes of Dragonball Evolution, Fist of the North Star, and our attempt at a Death Note film. And even Japan has misfires, as seen with Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Devilman. Still, there are a few that might prove good. A few anime might work in live-action in this post-Alita era.
Perpetually in production yet never really any closer to being made, Akira has been an anime adaptation in development hell for almost as long as Alita: Battle Angel. What makes Akira so tempting to adapt is its role in pop culture. It's one of the first anime films to capture the eyes of American audiences. It showed Western folks that animation can be for adults.
But beyond that, Akira is just a great movie. It's also not so outlandish. It's cyberpunk dystopian fiction, which draws heavily from Western iconography. Akira, like Alita, wouldn't be that difficult to recreate visually on the screen. Word has it that Taika Waititi is working on the film, but considering how many directors have come and gone from this project, we'll believe it when we see it.
9 Cowboy Bebop
Another adaptation in development hell for a very long time, it looks like Cowboy Bebop will be getting the live-action treatment at long last from Netflix. This is a pretty logical decision to make, as Bebop is another anime that really wouldn't need much altering to fit in live-action. The series focuses on an ex-mafioso, an ex-officer, a con-woman with amnesia, and a non-binary hacker extraordinaire -- oh, and a super-smart dog -- collecting bounties on space criminals while slowly confronting the demons of their past.
There are dozens of live-action films that are similar, so it seems plausible that a Western director could pull off that story. Oddly enough, the biggest risk would be the musical soundtrack, as Yoko Kanno and Seatbelts's score for the series remains arguably the best anime soundtrack ever composed.
8 Ouran Host Club
People associate anime with high-scale action and super-long fights, but some of the best anime (and many on this list) don't feature any action at all. Take for example Ouran Host Club, one of the most widely beloved shojo anime of all time. The plot? Haruhi, a poor but brilliant student, is accepted into Ouran Academy, where the mega-rich send their kids. Due to a series of mishaps, she is mistaken for a boy, wanders into a room occupied by the school's "Host Club," and shatters a vase.
What's a Host Club you ask? They basically are a bunch of male flirts who entertain their bored classmates by flirting with them (or each other). And now Haruhi, in debt, has to join them. The series is more a comedy than a straight-up romance, but one that remains beloved and ever-popular even years after its release.
Another classic shojo anime, this fantasy epic features time-travel, demons, and jewel collecting. Rumiko Takahashi is regarded as one of the greatest manga writers/artists of all time, and, arguably, Inuyasha is her most popular work. Even when Cartoon Network deprioritized anime during the late 00s, Inuyasha remained a mainstay on the channel.
The series is widely beloved, but in desperate need of compressing. The overly-long fantasy saga could be adapted into a trilogy of films either by America or Japan -- though, due to how important Japanese iconography is to the series, if a Western Studio attempted to adapt it, it would need an all-Asian cast of actors. After all, the series is about time traveling back to Feudal Japan. I cringe imagining some misguided (racist) American producer thinking he could switch out samurais and wolf-demons with knights and dragons or something...
The best fantasy saga in Japan. This is it. There are few fantasy manga that rival Berserk in terms of sheer magnitude and power. It is a profoundly powerful and disturbing manga. Guts, a mercenary who joins the Band of the Hawk, ends up falling in love with both his sister-in-arms Casca and his enigmatic leader, Griffith. But Griffith, brilliant strategist as he is, has ambitions for something greater.
That's only the description for one arc of Berserk's manga. The rest of the manga has never been well-adapted to screen. With Game of Thrones ending, Berserk could occupy the fantasy niche in its wake.
5 Yuri on Ice!!!
Ignoring a Hallmark film with a similar name and concept, no one talks about Yuri on Ice!!! as a potential live-action anime adaptation. This boggles the mind. The story follows Yuri Katsuki, a champion ice skater with some undiagnosed anxiety problems, falling from grace following a devastating loss. However, with the help of his idol and former champion, Victor, Yuri makes one last attempt to make history as a champion skater, especially before a hot-shot Russian skater -- also named Yuri -- wins an international tournament.
It's your basic underdog sports story. It wouldn't require a high budget. You can cast a multitude of actors of different races. It offers a beautiful same-sex romance story. And it has a huge built-in audience. Why is no one talking about making this film?
4 Fruits Basket
One of the best-selling shojo manga of all time, Fruits Basket is a beautiful fantasy drama. Ditsy but pure-hearted Tohru Honda stumbles upon her classmate Yuki Sohma's terrible secret. Thirteen members of his family are cursed to transform into one of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac (and the Cat) when hugged. When the Cat -- Yuki's cousin Kyo -- comes barging into their life, Tohru makes an effort to help the family with their deep-seated emotional pain, all while the enigmatic leader of the family opposes her at every turn.
The series features a cast of lovable characters who deal with some deep-seated pain. It's at once charming and incredibly moving. While a live-action film might be hard to make, a series like Fruits Basket seems tailor-made for a medium-budget series on, say, Netflix.
3 Sailor Moon
A lazy crybaby like Usagi Tsukino is the last person anyone would expect to save the world. However, as the reincarnation of an ancient space princess, Usagi and several other young girls are charged with protecting the world from evil kingdoms, aliens, extra-dimensional entities, and the physical embodiment of entropy itself in this classic shojo saga whose story spans across thousands of years and planets.
Yes, a Sailor Moon live-action series exists. Yes, there were rumors years ago that Disney was planning on making a film with some Disney star in the role of Usagi. However, this anime could be amazing as a big-budget superhero film. In the era of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, why wouldn't Sailor Moon work as a sillier, more over-the-top superhero film?
2 My Hero Academia
In a world where everyone has superpowers, Midoriya, superhero fanboy extraordinaire, has none. This is until one day he encounters his idol, All-Might, the greatest superhero in the world, who sees potential in Midoriya to be the greatest hero of all time.
Imagine if someone crossed Harry Potter and the MCU. That's what My Hero Academia is. This high-flying adventure seems tailor suited for the big screen, especially in a market now dominated by Marvel. We need variety in the superhero genre -- which this anime adaptation could offer. Oh, and wouldn't you know it? Legendary is developing this project.
1 Neon Genesis Evangelion
Where do we even begin with this series? In 2000, an event called Second Impact ended half the lives on Earth. In 2015, a group of monsters known as Angels starts emerging. Only the bio-mechanical monsters known as Evangelions can stop them. Only children can pilot them. But this series isn't really about that.
Shinji Ikari is a boy whose father has ostracized him his entire life, only to be called back to pilot a giant machine now that his father has a use for him. This is his story as he tries to find a purpose to live. The most controversial anime ever made, Neon Genesis Evangelion was really, really, REALLY close to getting made back in 2003. WETA still has production art for a potential film online. With Gundam getting an adaptation and the series returning to Netflix, now seems like the time to bring this sci-fi saga to the big screen.