Here’s a quick quiz for you: Name just one well-done anime-to-film adaption! It doesn’t even have to be perfect, just well done. Go ahead, I’ll wait. If you can’t come up with an answer, don’t worry, there probably isn’t one!
There have been a number of Hollywood adaptions of anime over the years, and they’ve all been pretty poorly received. From The Last Airbender to Dragonball Evolution, live action anime films seem cursed to fail. Even movies that aren’t even out yet, like Ghost in the Shell and Death Note, are already getting negative responses from fans.
But why do these movies fail so often? Well, a large part of it has to do with casting and story. As a fan of anime, I understand how difficult it is to adapt their stories on-screen. As fantastical and ludicrous as some Hollywood stories tend to be, anime takes that craziness and kicks it up to an 11! So I can understand why live action anime adaptations feel the need to change the story a bit.
Unfortunately, most anime-to-film adaptations don’t change the story a bit, they change it up a lot. Such is the case with Dragonball Evolution!
Dragonball Evolution, the live-action adaptation of the popular Dragon Ball franchise, though most fans wouldn’t agree. If you were a kid at any point during the ’90s through now, you more than likely grew up with a little Dragon Ball in your life.
Dragon Ball told the tale of Goku, a strange young boy who live in the woods by himself. Goku possesses incredible strength, able to lift a house and toss straight into the air if he wanted to! He is also a member of the Saiyans, an alien race that can transform into gigantic ape-like creatures during a full moon. Goku has a tail on his lower back, to signify his Saiyan heritage.
Of course, that was just a description of anime Goku, movie Goku has hardly any similarities. This is because Dragon Ball Evolution, like most anime adaptations, was hardly anything like the anime it was adapting! Whereas anime Goku was a young boy of Asian descent who lived in the forest, with super strength and a tail, movie Goku (Moku, if you will) was an 18-year-old Caucasian high-school student.
As you can probably guess, the movie didn’t too well in theaters. Largely panned by fans and critics alike, DB Evolution just couldn’t find its audience, and ultimately went down as one of the worst live action anime films — and regular films — ever made.
Obviously, I put the blame in the people behind it, such as the director, the studio, and the writers. Unfortunately, some fans do more than just blame the people behind the film, they straight up hate them, sending them hate mail and angry comments left and right!
While some would argue that the people sending hate mail are in the right (especially those who have seen the movie), it can still feel pretty terrible to get so much hate on a daily basis for something you worked hard on. That’s evident in the words of Ben Ramsey, the screenwriter for DB Evolution, who issued an apology to fans of the Dragon Ball franchise.
Ramsey wrote a letter and sent it to Derek Padula, the writer, and co-creator of the awesome fan-film, Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope. In the letter, he apologizes to Derek and other DB fans for the result of Dragon Ball Evolution, and explained why he thinks the film did so poorly.
‘I knew that it would eventually come down to this one day,’ Ramsey started.
‘Dragonball Evolution’ marked a very painful creative point in my life. To have something with my name on it as the writer be so globally reviled is gut-wrenching. To receive hate mail from all over the world is heartbreaking. I spent so many years trying to deflect the blame, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the written word on page and I take full responsibility for what was such a disappointment to so many fans. I did the best I could, but at the end of the day, I ‘dropped the dragon ball.’
Dragonball Evolution came out in 2009, so it might seem a little strange that Ben is apologizing now, seven years after the film’s release. But really, it makes sense. After all, just imagine having your name on such a big and failed project, it’d be hard to take the blame for it so quickly.
Plus, Ben’s credit was pretty large too, being the writer and all.
Ben continued with his apology, explaining why he didn’t put as much effort as he should have in making the movie:
I went into the project chasing after a big payday, not as a fan of the franchise but as a businessman taking on an assignment. I have learned that when you go into a creative endeavor without passion you come out with sub-optimal results, and sometimes flat out garbage. So I’m not blaming anyone for ‘Dragonball’ but myself. As a fanboy of other series, I know what it’s like to have something you love and anticipate be so disappointing.
This is another big problem with live action anime adaptions. Often times, when Hollywood decides to adapt a movie, they try to find directors that they feel would do a good job either based on much they can pay them or how successful their previous endeavors were. They don’t tend to look at how passionate the director is about the source material.
When you don’t find someone who is passionate about what they’re working on, you can’t expect great results. I don’t particularly blame Ramsey for taking the job either (besides not being a DB fan).
Just imagine waking up one day and getting a call about the deal of a lifetime, directing a Dragon Ball movie! You don’t have to be a fan of the show to know how popular it is, and how much money you could get from making a movie based on it.
Ben Ramsey finished his letter by saying he sincerely apologizes to all Dragon Ball fans, and that he hopes to make it up to them one day by making something entertaining that he’s very passionate about.
So I guess all that’s left is to ask:
Do You Accept His Apology?
Like I said, it is difficult adapting an anime on the big screen, especially one as fantastical as the Dragon Ball franchise, but does that mean we should forgive Ben Ramsey?
Personally, I’m willing to accept his apology, but that doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily forgive him or anyone else who worked on the movie for how it was made.
With all due respect to Ramsey, I really think that 20th Century Fox should have found someone else, someone more passionate for the series, to write the film. Dragonball Evolution really serves as an example for what not to do when adapting not just anime, but ANYTHING, to the big screen.
Thanks For Reading!
Do you accept Ben Ramsey’s apology? Comment down below!
Source: The DA Of Dragon Ball