Looks like Sony is entering the dangerous world of American live-action anime adaptations. The studio has announced (via Variety) that it’ll be adapting the massively successful manga and anime series One Punch Man. And they’re bringing the writers of their blockbuster hits such as Venom, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and its sequel Jumanji: The Next Level.
Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner will reportedly be taking on the story of Saitama, the titular hero who can take out every foe with a single punch. Though it sounds like a simple premise, part of the reason the series—created by the mangaka ONE—has become so popular since it first debuted as a web comic in 2009 is because it works as a smart deconstruction of the superhero genre. It makes sense that Sony would be excited to pick up One Punch Man. It isn’t just one of the bestselling mangas of recent years (the Yusuke Murata series has sold 30 million copies worldwide). It also became a cultural phenomenon when it was adapted into a stylistic, action-packed anime that brought often droll humor to the screen.
The idea of a live action One Punch Man movie is incredibly exciting, but adapting a manga and anime series in America has long been a struggle. Remember the Dragon Ball movie? No, we’d rather not either. There’s also the horror of the recent Ghost in the Shell adaptation and the long in-production hell story of Akira. Basically, this will have to be handled well: a predominantly Japanese cast or at least a Japanese lead would be a great start. Also, there’s the fact that One Punch Man is filled with astonishing monsters, creatures, and outlandish effects. To bring that to the screen will be a feat. To really get the tone of the manga, you’d need something between Ultraman, Godzilla, and Scott Pilgrim. Then of course there’s the comedy, which has a specific kind of dark humor and sarcasm to it—an understanding of just how futile every fight is if you always win.
Basically, godspeed to the people wild enough to take on this ambitious and daunting story. If they get it right, it could usher in a new type of Hollywood blockbuster. If it goes wrong well… look back at those other examples.
You can catch up on One Punch Man for free on Viz Media’s site.