krpalmer: (anime)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Back on the upslope of last decade’s anime and manga boom in the English-speaking world, I did feel tickled at the first reports of series being optioned for Hollywood motion pictures. It’s been a while since then, though (including a bust that might not after all have amounted to “complete retrenchment to a handful of obsessives for all time”), and as some productions got lost in a maze of development and some did show up to reactions at most unimpressed among “fans in the know” and a general slide into obscurity, I suppose I fell back to “the original work isn’t diminished for me.” I can also ponder whether I’m more content than some with “drawings” and less requiring “the legitimization of live-action,” aware as well of live-action manga adaptations made in Japan that I don’t take too much interest in either, even if I’m also aware of snickers about “detachment from three-dimensional reality.” There might be a connection between that and how, while I don’t take a lot of interest in “live-action superhero movies,” I did go see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the movies after noticing the enthusiasm of others, then indulged myself watching The Lego Batman Movie on Netflix.

When it worked its way around to release at last, though, one more live-action adaptation of a manga that had been in production for a long time did seem to produce some positive reactions from people with their own solid interest in anime and manga. They seemed positive enough I even started wondering about taking my own chance on the movie. While I couldn’t see it during its opening week, on its second weekend I went to see Alita: Battle Angel. I was wondering a bit about this being one franchise I’d been aware of without ever quite managing to take it in, having missed out on previous releases and then supposing Kodansha Comics’s latest version did seem a bit over-produced for me as large-format hardcovers. As I watched the movie, though, I did get to thinking that while I wasn’t distracting myself “comparing it to the original,” that didn’t seem the only thing keeping up my interest in it.

The appeal didn’t seem complicated by any means, with lots of special effects and lots of action, but the development of an oft-told story with a distinctive yet still unassuming-at-first character who shares our lack of knowledge of a strange new world (if for her own unique reasons) discovering inner powers and taking on more brutish foes and their enigmatic, elevated overseers with her own skill and finesse seemed solid enough to me. I did wonder a bit if the movie’s world had been developed with a few more cultural references than the manga had, but again I was perhaps able to see it “as itself,” and not just “as a take on the original more or less acceptable.” This, of course, was even with Alita’s eyes enlarged through special effects; they did seem a bit odd at first glance, but I think I got used to them before long. A lot happened in the movie, and I am wondering about watching again to try and sort out one character who tried to play both sides; however, I’m contemplating buying the Blu-Ray to do that. I did that for the Pacific Rim movies, and there was the thought Alita was just a bit more interesting in its first viewing than even them. There have been movies based on existing properties just about since cinema began, so as I said I haven’t felt too intimidated by even “this obscure thing that might evade the most wearying byproducts of saturation marketing” getting pulled in, even if that might affect the delicate balance among “other people would surely like this as much as me if they knew about it,” “do I need the reassurance of other people liking something too?”, and “maybe there are compensations in staying out of the way of many.” In this one case, though, “adaptation” might seem more “trying to start from a story presumably tested by someone else” than what seems modern suspicions about “trying to pull in an existing audience with something they’re already familiar with.” To continue the story, I suppose I’ll have to seek out the manga at last, although I do sort of ponder how it seemed to grind to a conclusion, then start up again with a second series I have a first understanding of being an “alternative ending.”
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