There are certain media that Hollywood has not yet figured out how to adapt satisfactorily. The two that always come to mind are video games and anime. In recent times it is becoming clear to me that with them, Hollywood is more successful if it only takes them as inspiration than if it tries to adapt one. Proof of this is the recent Free Guy: Taking Control – 96% as far as videogames are concerned. The film was able to capture the essence to reflect on what would happen if a non-playable character had conscience and got tired of being a victim of the players.
Speaking of anime, we have the case of Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings – 95%. I know what they must be thinking. It’s a Marvel movie; that is to say, a superhero movie based on comics. If it is. No one is going to question that. The thing is, anyone who has seen it and is a fan of anime may have noticed the traces of it.
In fact, after seeing it, more than one realized that the director Destin Daniel Cretton seems to be the most suitable for making a film adaptation of Dragon Ball O Dragon Ball Z. After infinite mess that was Dragonball Evolution – 14% and that they have been things like the Netflix movie of Death Note. Fans don’t want Hollywood to make an anime movie. That said, Shang-Chi was proof that it is possible in the hands of the right person. The critic Chris Stuckmann was the first to say that the director should adapt the work of Akira Toriyama . After him several users echoed this statement. For example, a Twitter user named Webby:
Shang-Chi was one of the best Marvel movies I had seen in a long time. The plot was pretty basic, but it makes up for it with great characters and probably the best fight scenes we’ve had in a long time. No spoilers, it became fully Dragon Ball Z in the end and I loved it so much!
The reality is that when I was fortunate enough to see the tape at a press function, I also thought that, although I have to say it, more than in Dragon Ball, I thought about [entity_embed style=”link-tomatometro” id_entity=”480278″][Temporada] Avatar: The Last Airbender: Book 1 (1)[/entity_embed]. I’m not going to get into the debate of whether it’s anime or not. For me, that series and The Legend of Korra – 100% they are western anime. And seeing Shang-Chi it is clear that Destin Daniel Cretton I would have done a much better job than you did M. Night Shyamalan with the live-action movie of that Nickelodeon anime.
All these reflections have made me think that, although it sounds exaggerated, Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings it’s the best live-action anime movie we’re going to have at the moment. Here are some reasons.
The anime was one of the inspirations for the film and, in particular, Dragon Ball Z
The very first reason is that anime was one of the key influences when creating this film, as revealed Destin Daniel Cretton in an interview for Geek Culture:
It was actually a very personal pitch. I made a PowerPoint presentation with images of many of my favorite movies, Asian movies, Chinese movies, Korean movies. Japanese cinema, including a lot of anime.
In addition, in that same interview he revealed what we all notice when we see the tape; the particular influence of Dragon Ball Z. The reality is that the movement with which he defeats the Dweller in the Dark reminded more than one of a Kamehameha (although it also has its similarities with a Rasengan of Naruto). Here the words of Cretton about this:
I grew up with Dragon Ball Z and used a clip of Goku-san doing the Kamehameha. I showed that as one of the clips. In the movie there is a moment when we are doing the tug of war, and it is a father and son scene … and there is a scene in Dragon Ball Z when there is a Kamehameha that is happening and it lasts a very long time, so that was a of inspirations for the movie, no doubt.
The Asian cast
Among the many reasons why Hollywood anime adaptations have failed, whitwashing has been a top one. Many fans have not felt comfortable watching the characters of Dragon Ball, Ghost in the Shell, Death Note y Avatar: La leyenda de Aang being played by white people. That creates a disconnect with the material, but mainly shows that in the United States they prefer to put a white person in a high-budget film than an Asian one, even if the material requires it. Shang-Chi has shown that you can make a fantasy and martial arts movie with a mostly Asian cast. Key point in a good live-action adaptation of an anime, although there would be exceptions like Full Metal Alchemist O Attack on Titan.
It has creatures from eastern mythology
Not all fantasy anime have creatures from eastern mythology, but the reality is that many do and thanks to them they have become popular in the West. Many of us are familiar with the Long or Chinese dragons, thanks to Shen Long from Dragon Ball, and recently Kaido and Momosuke from One Piece. In the case of the nine-tailed foxes, kitsunes in Japanese, jiuweihu in Chinese, they are part of the cultural imaginary of the West thanks to Kurama in Naruto, to the homonymous character of YuYu Hakusho, a Shippo de Inuyasha, a Renamon de Digimon Tamers, among many others. The Quilin (Kirin in Japanese) or Chinese unicorn, may be less familiar to anime fans, but these mythical beings that look like the cross of a dragon and a horse were a central character in the anime. The Twelve Kingdoms, which is basically a Narnian portal fantasy, but inspired by Chinese mythology. Another is the Chinese phoenixes or fenghuang that will be familiar to fans of Osamu Tezuka since his sleeve Hi no Tori (Phoenix, in Spanish) is inspired by this being.
In Shang-Chi all these creatures appeared in Ta Lo, along with others from the mythology and folklore of China. The most important of course was the dragon that in the film was called the Great Protector and was a central element of the plot. The one that could have been the strangest for Western viewers is Morris. That creature that looked like a corgi butt with wings does exist in the Chinese cultural imagination and it is a Hundun or Dijiang. Basically a representation of the primordial chaos. These beings often live in a state of perpetual confusion. Another that appeared, but that we Westerners recognize by having seen it a thousand times as an ornamental element in oriental palaces are the Chinese guardian lions. All these creatures are part of what gave flavor and character to the fantasy world presented in the film and help to give it that anime touch. Also, who does not love seeing the protagonist riding a dragon.
Of course, it must be admitted that several of them are also going to be recognized by fans of Pokémon, since they have served as inspiration for these creatures: Gyarados (long), Ninetales, Zoroark and Delphox (kitsune); Keldeo and Suicune (Kirin); Entei (Chinese guardian lion) and Ho-Oh (Fenghuang). It should be said that there were people who confused the creatures of Shang-Chi with beings from this Nintendo franchise. That took by surprise Kevin Feige, as he said in an interview with Collider:
The only thing that surprised me from the first reactions, and I don’t know if this was on the internet, but it was in some of the initial screenings … a lot of the benchmarks … Some people thought there are a couple of Pokémon characters there They are not Pokémon characters, but they are inspired by similar things, and I guess, that caught me by surprise.
Martial arts and there is practically air bending
In many shonen fighting anime, and others that don’t, like Cowboy Bebop, martial arts are quite an important element. Shang-Chi It is the simple answer of how to bring that kind of anime to the big screen; i.e make it into a wuxia movie. What’s that? It is basically the Chinese name for fantasy centered on martial arts, think about The Tiger and the Dragon – 97%, but also in Avatar the last Airbender. In fact, something that seemed very striking to me is that in the film characters like Ying Li and Ying Nan basically fought using something reminiscent of the air bending of that western anime and it is more here that it was a power granted by the Great Protector to the inhabitants of Ta Lo. In Avatar the control of the elements was likewise handed over to humanity by mythological beings. Mind you, I’m not going to deny the fact that Avatar’s airbending was inspired by very similar techniques seen on the S tape.Shaolin Soccer – 91%. Regardless of this, the great martial arts choreographies and techniques used by the characters referred us all to the world of anime and made us dream of the adaptation that Hollywood could do if it puts the same effort into it.
Keep reading: Shang-Chi’s journey from the comic to the MCU