Fullmetal Alchemist Anime Director Criticizes Upcoming Live-Action Film

posted on by Kim Morrissy

At a stage show on September 16th at Nikufes (Meat Festival) Tokyo 2017, Fullmetal Alchemist anime director Seiji Mizushima criticized the upcoming Fullmetal Alchemist live-action film, saying that, “It was a bad idea to only use Japanese actors.”

Mizushima made these comments at a roundtable discussion with anime producers Hiroshi Kanemaru (Popin Q) and Tomoki Misawa (Urawa no Usagi-chan). The topic of discussion was the recent trend of live-action film adaptations of manga and anime. Mizushima was asked to share his thoughts on anime's increasing mainstream prominence in Japan. This topic was particularly pertinent given that the setting of the discussion was Nikufes, a nationwide meat festival that has only recently begun incorporating anime song stage performances and anime collaborations.

When first asked about the Fullmetal Alchemist film, Mizushima criticized the casting choices, saying that, “If you asked me whether I think the cast could pull it off, I'd say that no, they can't.” He elaborated by saying that, “It's hard for actors to capture the look and feel of the original manga.”

Mizushima also ridiculed a number of recent live-action film adaptations, including Gintama. “Gintama just looked stupid,” he complained. The producers shared his sentiments about live-action films, mentioning that Terraformars was a bad adaptation of a great manga.

“2D is freer than live action,” was the consensus. “You can express more with it.”

Mizushima didn't rule out the potential of the live-action Fullmetal Alchemist film entirely, however. He mentioned that he's interested in seeing how the 3DCG shown in the trailer looks in the film itself, and also in seeing how the film handles the story of Hiromu Arakawa's original manga. He ultimately agreed with producers Kanemaru and Misawa when they said that, although they would prefer to stick with anime productions, they approve of how live-action films have been broadening the appeal of anime and manga for the mainstream public.

“I'm rooting for it,” he said.

Seiji Mizushima directed the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime TV series, which first aired in 2003. The anime is based off the manga series by the same name, written by Hiromu Arakawa. An animated remake of the series, called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, first aired in 2009, and was directed by Yasuhiro Irie. A live-action film adaptation, which Seiji Mizushima had no involvement in, will be released in Japanese cinemas this December. Fumihiko Sori (live-action Ping Pong) is directing the film.

At Anime Expo 2017, Fumihiko Sori and Ryōsuke Yamada (Edward Elric's actor) discussed the challenges of creating live-action adaptations of manga and the ramifications of having an all-Japanese cast.

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