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All 16 Netflix Live-Action Anime Adaptations, Ranked Worst To Best (Including One Piece)

March 13, 202412 Mins Read


  • Netflix’s One Piece nails the live-action adaptation, balancing excitement, comedy, and emotional depth, pleasing die-hard fans and newcomers.
  • Past failures like Death Note and Fullmetal Alchemist are overshadowed by One Piece’s success, showing that practice makes perfect in live-action anime.
  • With a huge fanbase and extensive source material, One Piece proves that a live-action anime can capture the essence of the original series.

One Piece is one of Netflix‘s most recent in a long line of live-action anime adaptations. The streaming service has been trying its hand at bringing popular anime to life for the last decade or so, though not all have been as successful with audiences as others. It takes a lot of finagling to bring the larger-than-life stories from series with (oftentimes) hundreds of episodes to a live-action movie or TV series, and Netflix has proven that practice makes perfect.

Though One Piece has shown that a good live-action remake of an anime is possible, several of its predecessors had audiences feeling it couldn’t be done. Early attempts like Death Note (2017) let fans down in a huge way, while others like Fullmetal Alchemist (2017) and Bleach (2018) simply failed to leave much of a mark. However, it seems that the right anime and the suitable adaptation format could mean a work of art that long-time anime fans and casual viewers alike can appreciate. Netflix’s complete collection of anime live-action adaptations demonstrates that the streamer is improving.


8 Reasons Why Live-Action Anime TV Shows Are Better Than Movie Adaptations

Live-action TV anime adaptations have proven to be more successful than movies. For various reasons, the TV adaptation model should be the standard.

16 Death Note (2017)

A high school student finds a notebook with supernatural powers.

Lakeith Stanfield as L and Nat Wolff as Light Yagami sitting at a table together in a scene from Netflix's Death Note.

Death Note

Adam Wingard

Release Date
August 25, 2017

Charley Parlapanides , Vlas Parlapanides , Jeremy Slater , Tsugumi Ôba , Takeshi Obata

101 minutes

Netflix’s Death Note had a lot of promise, with a great cast and a decent budget to get the job done. The problem is that the complex and philosophically interesting anime was grossly simplified in creating a live-action adaptation. Light’s moral arc amounted to nothing, Mia was turned into something entirely different, and Ryuk’s motivations were blurry and uninteresting. Overall, Death Note was a tragic disappointment. Thankfully, Netflix’s Death Note show may set these wrongs straight.

15 Cowboy Bebop (2021)

A group of bounty hunters track down the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals while avoiding their pasts.

Cowboy Bebop
Tamara Tunie , John Cho , Geoff Stults , Alex Hassell , Mason Alexander Park , Daniella Pineda , Mustafa Shakir , Ann Truong , Rachel House , Elena Satine

Release Date
November 19, 2021


As a classic anime from 1998, scrutiny was already high for Netflix’s version of Cowboy Bebop. It had the opportunity to be a great success, what with the cult following the original series has developed over the years and fewer episodes compared to newer anime like One Piece, Bleach, and Death Note. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out how Netflix had thought. The series was canceled after only one 10-episode-long season, with critics calling the remake unforgivably dull.

The finale reveals truths about the past for the Elric brothers.

A cropped image from the poster for Fullmetal Alchemist: Final Alchemy features one person with a cybernetic arm in the center of wrecked buildings and a green sky

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Final Alchemy was the final film of Netflix’s live-action Fullmetal Alchemist trilogy, none of which performed exceptionally well. Still, this last installation was the final nail in the franchise’s coffin. With a measly 48% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, the live-action sequel was simply trying to shove too much plot into too short a time. Both versions of the original anime were so layered with subplots and massive reveals that even attempting to summarize it all into a film trilogy was asking for a streaming flop.

The Elric brothers face off against a mysterious serial killer.

The man with the scar on his head wearing sunglasses in the live-action Fullmetal Alchemist: Revenge Of Scar

Netflix’s second Fullmetal Alchemist movie, The Revenger of Scar, focused a good deal of its plot on the familiar villain from the anime, and this saved it a little bit. A little more streamlined than the installment that would come after, this film managed to maintain more of a rise and fall with its plot and wasn’t trying to be too much more than it was. Still, with complaints of poor acting and subpar CGI, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Revenge of Scar only managed to pull a 53% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

This brought the start of the Elric brothers’ story to live-action.

A character in full robotic armor in an alleyway next to a stone wall in the live-action Fullmetal Alchemist

The Fullmetal Alchemist anime was undoubtedly full of action, but a good deal of the plot existed in the dialogue and impactful moments in between. Unfortunately, this wasn’t how Netflix’s live-action adaptation went about things. Since the anime had two versions—both of which were mostly the same for the first few episodes—fans are very familiar with how the start of Ed and Al’s story should go. Unfortunately, Netflix’s version rushed through everything to dive into the action, resulting in a superficial movie with no clear target audience.


10 Best Live-Action Anime Adaptations Not From Hollywood, Ranked

Hollywood has had a difficult relationship with anime, but Japan boasts a wide breadth of great live-action films based on anime and manga.

11 Zom 100: Bucket List Of The Dead (2023)

One man decides to get through a bucket list before he’s turned into a zombie.

A blended image features a man yelling and smiling with his fists in the air alongside a man riding his bike away from zombies in the live-action Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead
Custom image by SR Image Editor

Zom 100: Bucket List Of The Dead has a premise that is bound to catch audiences’ attention for at least a moment. Though fairly typical for an anime, bringing the idea of an eternally optimistic hero trying to get through a “before I become a zombie” bucket list is rather bizarre for live-action. Still, the Netflix series has proved that it can make it work. Unfortunately, Zom 100 missed out on driving home the point that being a zombie is preferred to being a mindless corporate monster. The anime was a fun social commentary, but Netflix’s version missed that mark.

10 Bleach (2018)

A teenager fights evil spirits and tries to help souls to the afterlife.

A young man stands with his sword leaning against his shoulder in the live-action movie for Bleach


Shinsuke Sato

Release Date
July 20, 2018

Tite Kubo , Shinsuke Sato , Daisuke Habara

Sota Fukushi , Hana Sugisaki , Ryo Yoshizawa , Erina Mano , Yû Koyanagi , Taichi Saotome

108 Minutes

The Bleach anime ran for 366 episodes, so there was no way that Netflix would condense the plot into a single movie. Therefore, the platform’s 2018 adaptation stuck to the initial arc of the series, and this was the right choice. The film wound up rather well-rounded, and audiences gave it a fair 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, a lot was left unsaid, so though Bleach itself was a fun ride, it wasn’t entirely satisfying. It might have done much better as a live-action anime TV show like One Piece.

9 From Me To You: Kimi Ni Todoke (2023-)

A shy teenager develops feelings for her more outgoing classmate.

A teenage boy cups the cheek of a teenage girl in a classroom in the live-action From Me To You Kimi Ni Todoke

Though most of Netflix’s anime adaptations have stayed within the action genre, the platform took a stab at a romance with From Me to You: Kimi ni Todoke. Overall, it seems to have worked relatively well. It might have functioned fine as a movie, but the original anime was adapted into a live-action TV series, making it an even more true-to-source adaptation. Still, it’s hard to say that Netflix’s version has had much to add, making the new series seem difficult to justify.

8 The Ingenuity Of The Househusband (2021-)

A former Yakuza member becomes a househusband.

A man puts laundry on a clothesline in his yard in the live-action The Ingenuity Of The Househusband

The anime The Way of the Househusband is a hilarious series of short episodes about an ex-Yakuza turned househusband. Of course, this means it isn’t quite as heavy-hitting as series like One Piece or Cowboy Bebop, but there is something extraordinary about watching the main character, Tatsu, get so much delight from domestic tasks. One of the best things about Netflix’s live-action adaptation, The Ingenuity of the Househusband, is that Kenjirô Tsuda, who voiced Tatsu in the anime, plays the character in the flesh. This makes it a delight, but this version still lacks the original’s comedy.

7 Kakegurui (2019-)

A teenage girl gambles to bring down the student council president.

a teenage girl smirks at a teenage boy next to her in the live-action Kakegurui

The manga Kakegurui follows a high school whose social structure depends entirely on gambling—which means a reasonably simple premise to adapt into a live-action TV series. For this reason, Netflix’s Kakegurui succeeds where others have failed. Without the larger-than-life aspects that typically make up anime, this series didn’t require too high of a budget. Moreover, the writers managed to adapt Kakegurui almost perfectly from the source material, with very little left out. Of course, without all the action and camp, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but its two seasons are still a relative success for Netflix.


8 Live-Action Anime Adaptations That Actually Respected The Source Material

Live-action anime adaptations can be hit or miss, but the most successful ones tend to respect the source material that they’re based on.

6 Yu Yu Hakusho (2023)

A dead boy becomes a spirit detective

Netflix’s Yu Yu Hakusho got a lot of things right about the anime, especially the costumes and the fight scenes. As one of the most influential action anime of its era, Yu Yu Hakusho asked for an adaptation that lived up to the original. Unfortunately, there were also some major issues with the live-action Yu Yu Hakusho, namely regarding the pacing. Multiple arcs were combined into just five episodes, and the series rushed through important moments that could’ve been their own seasons.

5 Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024)

After being frozen for 100 years, Aang must train to restore the world’s balance.

Avatar: The Last Airbender (Live-Action)

Gordon Cormier , Dallas Liu , Kiawentiio , Ian Ousley , Daniel Dae Kim , Paul Sun-Hyung Lee

Release Date
February 22, 2024


Albert Kim , michael dante dimartino , bryan konietzko

Michael Goi , Roseanne Liang , Jabbar Raisani , Jet Wilkinson

Albert Kim

Avatar: The Last Airbender has got to be one of the most beloved animated series to ever have aired on Nickelodeon, and Netflix making the animated series available to a new generation only increased the number of fans. Likewise, the live-action movie made in the past was such a disappointment to long-time fans that there wasn’t a lot of hope for a live-action adaptation living up to expectations.

Opinions about the Netflix series have been divided since it premiered. The consensus is that the way the live-action series has been able to streamline the story is effective in keeping the pacing of the series on point, but that some moments in the show feel stilted. Not all the Avatar changes (like Sokka not being as misogynistic and thus, not having the same arc) haven’t been well-received, but the show keeps the spirit of the original alive. It’s been so successful for the platform that it will get to finish its story, renewed for two more seasons.

4 Rurouni Kenshin – The Beginning (2021)

The prequel movie details a tragic romance.

A man and woman stand in falling snow in Rurouni Kenshin Final Chapter Part II - The Beginning

The live-action Rurouni Kenshin movies, which started in 2012, weren’t initially produced by Netflix. However, after their success (both independently and on the streaming platform), Netflix decided to create its movies using the cast of the live-action trilogy. Rurouni Kenshin – The Beginning recounts the titular samurai’s early years and the tragic romance that made him turn away from his life of killing. The film was artistically done and brings to mind the samurai movies of old while never losing sight of the original anime—all factors that helped the film earn an impressive 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.

3 Rurouni Kenshin – The Final (2021)

The end of the saga sees one final face-off.

A warrior stands in front of fire and damaged houses in Rurouni Kenshin Final Chapter Part I - The Final

Perhaps the best thing that Netflix could have done with its Rurouni Kenshin adaptation was to split the ending into two parts—one to fill in the details of Kenshin’s past and the death of his wife and another to explore how the consequences of this time seeped into his later life.

Rurouni Kenshin – The Final saw the Battosai finally face off with Enishi, with all the emotional impact that this entailed. This made for a well-rounded film that showed a great deal of respect for the source material—and even managed to enhance it. This is why the movie managed a whopping 100% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes (but an 88% audience score).

2 Alice In Borderland (2020-)

Gamers compete to survive in a parallel version of Tokyo.

Though the Alice in Borderland anime miniseries is undoubtedly popular, it’s the manga that has solidified itself in fans’ minds. This benefited the Netflix series since it had a little more freedom to organize its adaptation in the best way possible. Ultimately, the streaming platform made a great choice in keeping this a series rather than a movie (it’s clear the movie adaptations have a more difficult time). Alice in Borderland‘s first seasons kept audiences binging, and season 2 kept the ball rolling, allowing the Netflix series to claim a 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

1 One Piece (2023-)

The Straw Hat Gang sets sail on an adventure across the seas.

One Piece (Live-Action)

Iñaki Godoy , Mackenyu , Emily Rudd , Jacob Romero Gibson , Taz Skylar

Release Date
August 31, 2023


Matt Owens , Steven Maeda , Tom Hyndman

Matt Owens

The One Piece anime is absolutely massive, with over a thousand episodes released since the series got its start in 1999. It also has one of the largest fanbases of any anime, meaning Netflix was set up to fail with its adaptation. With a mixed bag of failures and success in the world of live-action anime, no one was entirely sure what to expect with One Piece.

However, it seems that, through trial and error, Netflix figured out how to make something spectacular. The excitement, comedy, and emotional impact of the original anime are all accounted for, proving (so far, at least) that it really is possible to create a perfect anime adaptation.

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