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Best Live-Action Anime Movies

December 27, 202311 Mins Read

Live-action adaptations of beloved anime series are often plagued by poor critical and fan reception. In many ways, live-action anime films, as well as adaptations of other formats like video games and book series, face many challenges when trying to adhere to the original story. Anime can be considered especially risky to make real, given that most fans might prefer that many of their favorite characters stay in 2D form.

However, despite this hesitant audience, the film industry never stops trying to find the perfect balance between bringing anime to life and capturing these characters’ emotions, actions, and stories. Some of these adaptations are surprising fan favorites and cult classics that create a smoother-than-expected transition from anime to live-action. What are the best live-action adaptations of anime that are worth checking out?

Updated on December 27, 2023 by Mark Sammut: The specifications have been added for every live-action anime adaptation.

Most of these movies are based on the original manga (or light novel) rather than the anime, but as long as the latter exists, they will be considered.

14 Parasyte: Parts 1 & 2

IMDb: 6.8 (Part 1)

Parasyte Part 1 live-action anime

Parasyte: Part 1

Release Date
November 29, 2014

Takashi Yamazaki

Based On
Manga By Hitoshi Iwaaki

Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte manga took well-worn horror sci-fi ideas and gave them a refreshing coat of paint. Even though the seinen series concluded its run in 1995, the story proved timeless enough to hold up well when it was turned into a brilliant anime in 2014. Soon after Madhouse’s show, Parasyte received a two-part live-action adaptation that, while not comparable in quality to the manga or anime, is enjoyable in its own right.


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Aliens are infecting humans and taking over their brains similar to something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. While the adolescent Shinichi avoids this fate through sheer luck, he winds up with an alien for a hand. Stuck together, they form a bond that significantly changes both of them as they find themselves tasked with protecting humanity from the invasion. Parasyte: Part 1 is generally the stronger of the two movies, but the sequel has some memorable moments as well.

13 Ace Attorney (2012)

IMDb: 6.5

Ace from the Ace Attorney Live-Action movie

Ace Attorney (2012)

Release Date
February 11, 2012

Takashi Miike

Based On
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney By Capcom

Capcom’s Ace Attorney has quite a dedicated fanbase, with the franchise producing plenty of successful games along with a solid anime adaptation. This franchise has covered a lot of ground over the years. Because of this unique and mixed heritage, the film had to capture both film and video game attributes at once.

The result of this great experiment in live-action was surprising, to say the least. Ace Attorney was considerably better than most live-action adaptations released at the time, and it captures the humor of the source material quite well. That said, the movie is based on the game and not the anime, although they all cover similar ground. The film is primarily based on the second and fourth cases shown in the first game.


11 From Me To You (2010)

IMDb: 6.9

From Me To You 2010-1

From Me To You

Release Date
September 25, 2010

Naoto Kumazawa

Based On
Manga By Karuho Shiina

Based on Karuho Shiina’s popular shojo manga, Kimi ni Todoke is an expertly executed “opposites attract” type story. Sawako Kuronuma is ostracized at school due to having a passing resemblance to Ringu‘s Sadako; conversely, Shota Kazehaya is popular and charming. Shota sets out to get Sawako out of her shell and sparks quickly start to ignite between them.

2010’s live-action adaptation is a breezy and sweet romance about two characters who are just adorable together. Mikako Tabe and Haruma Miura are perfectly cast as the two leads, and they have good chemistry. Although not the definitive way to experience this story, the movie is a nice alternative to the manga and anime.

10 Chihayafuru Trilogy (2016–18)

IMDb: 6.9 (Part 1)

Chihayafuru live-action

Chihayafuru Part 1

Release Date
March 19, 2016

Norihiro Koizumi

Based On
Manga By Yuki Suetsugu

Apparently, Chihayafuru refuses to be linked to anything that is not, at the minimum, good. While the anime is reasonably well-known in Western countries, the same cannot be said for the live-action trilogy, which largely stayed in Japan. However, the movies were fairly successful in their home country, and they are not just a footnote in the franchise’s legacy.

Covering Chihaya, Taichi, and Arata’s high school years as they pursue their passion for karuta (and each other), the trilogy tells a complete story that mostly does justice to the source material. The third entry tends to be regarded as the weakest of the three, but it is not bad by any means.

9 Bakuman (2015)

IMDb: 6.9

bakuman 2015 movie


Release Date
October 3, 2015

Hitoshi Ōne

Based On
Manga By Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata

Tsugumi Ohba’s Bakuman is the definitive manga (and anime) about manga (and anime). Producing 20 high-quality volumes, the story depicts Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi’s journey to becoming published mangakas, with their ultimate goal being to create a shonen jump property popular enough to warrant an anime. The manga inspired an anime adaptation by J.C. Staff that lasted for three seasons, and the show comes close to matching the source material’s quality.

Unsurprisingly, the 2015’s Bakuman live-action movie does not quite have the time to capture everything that makes the manga and anime so beloved; however, the feature gives it a respectable try. While cutting out most of the characters’ trials and tribulations, the adaptation nails the source material’s love for manga. The film plasters this admiration across its backgrounds, resulting in an experience that feels like a tribute to Ohba’s work and the industry in general. Also, people unfamiliar with the manga will not feel lost while watching the movie, although they might not quite grasp why certain characters had to be included.

8 Your Lie In April (2016)

IMDb: 6.8

Your Lie In April 2016 live action movie

Your Lie in April

Release Date
September 10, 2016

Takehiko Shinjō

Based On
Manga By Naoshi Arakawa

Your Lie in April seems destined to be a success regardless of its chosen medium. Naoshi Arakawa’s manga and A-1’s anime adaptation are both considered to be among the best romance stories in their respective fields, and their reputations are earned. The live-action movie is not well-known outside Japan, but it is nevertheless a respectable iteration of this narrative.

Due to a personal tragedy, Kosei Arima has been unable to play the piano. However, this changes when he meets Kaori Miyazono, a violinist with a contagious zest for life. Blending romance, drama, and music-focused sequences, Your Lie in April is a powerful and melodramatic experience.

7 Blade Of The Immortal (2017)

IMDb: 6.7

Live-Action adaptation of anime Blade of The Immortal

Blade of the Immortal

Release Date
April 29, 2017

Takashi Miike

Based On
Manga By Hiroaki Samura

Streaming Service(s)
Tubi , The Roku Channel , Fubo TV

While not a well-known anime for its time, Blade Of The Immortal achieved relative fame for venturing into the live-action arena. The actors were well-chosen for their respective roles and relay the mannerisms of the characters perfectly, and many fans found that the original allure of the anime was carried over into this format. The almost overdone amount of blood, gore, weapon-based fighting, and underlying currents of supernatural power make this film a success.


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Released in 2017, Blade of the Immortal should be one of the go-to live-action anime movies for just about anyone. The movie itself covers the first two story arcs of the series.

6 Let Me Eat Your Pancreas (2017)

IMDb: 7.1

Let Me Eat Your Pancreas live-action

Let Me Eat Your Pancreas (2017)

Release Date
July 28, 2017

Shô Tsukikawa

Based On
Novel By Yoru Sumino

The live-action version of Let Me Eat Your Pancreas came out before the anime, so it is an adaptation of the light novel (or manga); still, the movie deserves a shout-out since it largely covers the same ground as the 2018 anime. Similar to the source material and animated flick, Let Me Eat Your Pancreas is a heart-breaking drama about two teenagers who come together over an impending tragedy.

Haruki Shiga prefers to keep to himself at school, but he becomes interested in his classmate Sakura when he learns that she is dealing with a terminal disease. While her personality is very different from Haruki’s, Sakura takes a liking to him, and the two develop an endearing friendship that hints at something more.

5 Nana (2005)

IMDb: 7

Nana 2005 live action movie


Release Date
September 3, 2005

Kentarō Ōtani

Based On
Manga By Ai Yazawa

An adaptation of Ai Yazawa’s beloved manga, Nana tells the tale of two wildly different women who share a name and wind up becoming roommates and friends after meeting on a train heading to Tokyo. The manga, anime, and movie all do a stellar job of establishing both leads as fully developed characters with aspirations, flaws, strengths, and insecurities. Rather than define them, their friendship helps them grow as individuals.

2005’s Nana adapts the source material very well, not only in terms of characterization but also presentation. Mika Nakashima and Aoi Miyazaki deliver solid performances as the two Nanas, particularly the latter, and their friendship is convincing. The film spawned a less-good sequel in 2006, although it is still watchable.

4 Kingdom (2019)

IMDb: 6.7

kingdom 2019 movie


Release Date
April 19, 2019

Shinsuke Sato

Based On
Manga By Yasuhisa Hara

Yasuhisa Hara’s Kingdom manga spawned a pretty great anime series and proved to be successful enough to justify the creation of a live-action movie in 2019. Like nearly everything else associated with this license, the film is something special, even if it is a bit too rushed at times.


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Like the manga and anime, Kingdom follows two orphans who aspire to become generals, a journey rife with war. Blending fantastic action and effective character development, the 2019 feature serves as a solid introduction to this universe. Unsurprisingly, the live-action retelling is not on the same level as the anime or especially the manga, but it is a good movie in its own right.

3 Death Note (2006 & 2007)

IMDb: 7.5 (Part 1)

Japanese live-action film Death Note adapted from anime

Death Note

Release Date
June 17, 2006

Shusuke Kaneko

Based On
Manga By Tsugumi Ohba

With the recent advent of Netflix’s Death Note live-action remake and the subsequent flaring hatred from critics, it’s fair to acknowledge the alternate version. Japan had already created a live-action version of the famous anime series centering around the characters L and Light Yagami. While the Netflix version took many creative liberties, the Japanese version clung closely to the appearance and behavior of the characters in the show, as well as keeping a close tie to the original storyline laid out in the anime and manga.

Furthermore, many fans related to the overall horror genre present in this version, which was the original intention of the anime. It was never meant to be conformed into a different version, which is why adhering closely to the source material is often key in attaining a level of acceptance from anime fans.

2 Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

IMDb: 7.3

Live-Action of the anime Alita:Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel

Release Date
February 14, 2019

Robert Rodriguez

Based On
Manga By Yukito Kishiro

Streaming Service(s)
Hulu , DirecTV Stream

One of the few times that Hollywood took an interest in the world of anime and managed to get it right, Alita: Battle Angel is one of the few outliers in the popular media world when it comes to live-action adaptations. The movie was in development hell for quite a long time, but James Cameron’s backing helped push it over the line without sacrificing quality.

A rare feature that also sets it apart from other Hollywood adaptations is how loyal the plot is to the source material, and that carries over into the actor’s mannerisms and behavior. Even the 3D eyes added onto Alita seemed to go over smoothly, something that is normally avoided or shunned in the live-action community. Robert Rodriguez’s deft touch with action sequences shines through the movie’s many set pieces, giving them a great sense of scale that captures the spirit of the manga and the anime OVAs. Hopefully, Alita gets a sequel as it fully deserves one.

1 Rurouni Kenshin Movies (2012-2021)

IMDb: 7.4 (Rurouni Kenshin: Origins)

Live Action Adaptation of anime Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin: Origins

Release Date
August 25, 2012

Keishi Ōtomo

Based On
Manga By Nobuhiro Watsuki

The first installment of the live-action series of Rurouni Kenshin movies came out in 2012. The film’s positive reviews led to a sequel being created in 2014, with the hope of more in the near future. The series not only highly respects the original anime and manga but also manages to compete with the high expectations set out by both formats.

Much of this is achieved through intense and lightning-fast sword-fighting scenes that feature tight and elegant choreography. The original trilogy is fantastic, and the Netflix sequels maintain that standard of quality. While most live-action anime movies can only be wholeheartedly recommended to die-hard fans of the source material, the Kenshin films require no prior knowledge or built-in love to appreciate. They are just great historical action flicks.

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