Western Entertainment Could Learn a Thing or Two From Japan

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Last week I heard through the grape vine that AMC will be making a spin-off series of the Walking Dead, and yesterday I watched the premier of The Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. As someone who is into western comics, I’m all for the idea of bringing comics to either television dramas or movies. And if novels to films are any indication, it seems as though TV networks and film studios are getting better at creating quality adaptations: e.g. Harry Potter, Watchmen, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc. (Though somewhat subjective)

However, the thing that bothers me about western entertainment is that the TV and film making machine seems to be so starved for ideas; that it’s afraid to take risks on any original content, and instead opts to make remakes, sequels, and spin-offs every chance it gets. Seriously, do we really need a Robocop remake? I just watched the original a few days ago and the 1980s version holds up just fine.

*Enter stage left the Japanese business entertainment model*

Japan’s Business Model

Previously stated in an earlier post, I briefly talked about the various transformations that a manga goes through depending on its popularity. First it’ll start out as a monthly issue, then a collection of issues will be published in a volume or trade paper back, then it’ll be turned into an anime, which can lead to a live drama and/or movie where it’s then immortalized in a larger size trade paper back with color.

If you look through Japanese media, there are hundreds of examples of manga that had gone through this process. One of my favorites are the two Gantz movies. While I was lukewarm on the manga and anime, I thought that this was one of the rare occurrences where the films were actually better than its source material. Part of the enjoyment of the films for me was that I knew nothing of the series, so when I first watched the films, I was just as confused and curious as the characters were. With that being said, I don’t want to spoil anything, so go check it out.

Oversaturation

Back to my original point. One of the things that I’m afraid will happen with Marvel’s multiple phases, DC’s efforts to cash in on Batman and Superman, and all the X-men and Spiderman movies is that the market will become so over-saturated with comic book superheroes that eventually audiences will get tired of the constant bombardment.

Likewise, while I can never get enough of the Walking Dead, I’m afraid the same thing will happen by making too many spin-offs of the same source material. And to be perfectly honest, I really didn’t think the new The Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. was all that great. However, I’m hoping the next coming episodes will pick up a bit.

It just seems as though that when film studios and TV broadcasting finally find a successful idea, they throw millions of dollars into it milking it for every penny they can get. As someone who loves comics, I like all the attention that superheroes are finally getting, but I feel as though all this would be better suited to be strung out a bit slower. After all, isn’t one of the main rules of entertainment to leave your audiences wanting more?

Applying The Japanese Model

Right now there are so many great comics outside of the Marvel and DC superhero realm that they could easily be adapted to TV or film for an extremely entertaining ride.

For example, right now I’m reading Locke and Keyand without spoiling too much, it’s about various keys hidden within an old house that when found and used on the correct lock, give the user a special ability. This comic has everything from Dawson’s Creek like romances to serial killers to ghosts and time travel. Doesn’t that sound awesome?!

The best part about it is that the comic is now entering its sixth and last volume where each volume could be adapted to fit one season of television giving it a nice six season run. If television studios really wanted to, they could easily expand a bit more on the romances and the power of the keys giving the series an extra season or two.

And secondly, because it will be published entirely (The comic looks to be ending in the next month or two) producers already know that their is a strong readership backing it, which if done properly, could garnish a high television rating.

And this is just one exmaple! There are hundreds of other great comics that could easily be adapted to TV and/or film.

Conclusion

By setting up some sort of gauntlet that the Japanese have in place with manga, western entertainment could really diversify itself, be economically savvy and be viable for the long term.

Again, the biggest thing that I’m worried about is over-saturation. However, by expanding out to a vast array of comics, western entertainment could easily maintain a high level of interest while gradually releasing shows and movies to the point where people don’t get sick of the constant bombardment of the same things.

Image Source: TalkingComicBooks

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