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12 Anime/Manga That Could Be Adapted Into American Comics

Written by  Published June 27, 2016 05:16
Days ago, comic book publisher Titan Comics announced that it will be launching a new comic book series based on Robotech sometime in early 2017. As a fan of the giant robot trope in both comics and screen productions, I got super excited as it meant not only more Robotech story content despite the absence of detail on what the series will be about, but also another giant robot-themed sci-fi epic to look forward to reading in comic print after reading the six-issue comic book miniseries Voltron: From the Ashes, which like the upcoming comic book series, is based on an American sci-fi television series that is in turn a re-edit and re-dub of multiple unrelated anime series put together.

The history of comic books published in the west tells us that a number of Japanese media properties each got its shot in getting at least one western comic treatment, whether it be an alternate telling or an attempt to expand of the universe of the story already told in the Japanese work in particular, but not all treatments were done in one country though (example, only some got published in America). Anyway, the list included Gojira (Godzilla), Ultraman, Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers), Captain Harlock, Mach Go Go Go (Speed Racer), Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy), Tetusjin 28-Go (Gigantor), Rockman (Megaman), Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter, Vampire (Darkstalkers), Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (whose U.S. comic versions are titled "Battle of the Planets"), Dirty Pair Jubei the White Ninja (Ninja Scroll), and Mazinger Z, with the 1985 space cowboys-meets-giant robots-themed television series Space Musketeer Bismarck (edited for American release as Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs) being the latest anime production to have a comic series launched. Marvel Comics even published Shogun Warriors, which featured a crossover team-up of anime mecha Danguard Ace from Planetary Robo Danguard Ace, Raideen (Raydeen in the comic) from Brave Raideen, and Combattler V (Combattra in the comic) from Cho Deji Robo Combattler V. As I think back to history itself as well as the news about the upcoming Robotech comic series, I realize that while there are anime I'd love to see get the North American cartoon series treatments, there are also anime and manga I would love to read American or Canadian comic book versions of if ever published. So here at ENR, I celebrate the announcement of the upcoming Robotech comic book series by revealing anime/manga titles that need their own comic book series treatments published in the west, whether it be in North America or Europe.

1) Kantai Collection

1 Kantai Collection

While the Kantai Collection franchise now consists of a free-to-play browser game, a couple of video games, manga serials, and of course an animated series (with its second season and film spinoff on the way), the animated series, though still best anime television series launched in 2015 (in my opinion anway), proved to be incapable of giving every fleet girl equal exposure within the short number of episodes released so far.

Considering there are currently 160 fleet girls in Kantai Collection lore with more likely to be introduced in the future, a Kantai Collection comic book series published in the west for an ongoing run could be an opportunity to let each gal have her own spotlight issue, following a format similar to IDW Publishing's The Transformers: Spotlight.

2) Kill La Kill

2 Kill La Kill

I recently started reading the manga serial adaptation of the magical superheroine anime television series Kill La Kill, and while I have not yet started reading trade paperback volume 2, I am already enjoying its take on the symbiote concept through the focus on magical powered-clothing called "goku uniforms". I, for one, have taken a liking to its protagonist Ryoko Matoi. Think of how many variations of her life story that could occur with her her trademark dark-colored symbiotic sailor fuku being included in the action, even for an ongoing anthology format comic series illustrated by an all-star roster of America-based comic illustrators like say for instance, Batman illustrator Neal Adams and Spider-Man illustrator J. Scott Campbell. Don't let Flash Thompson/Agent Venom be the only symbiote host-type superhero in western comics.

3) Slayers

3 Slayers

Slayers is perhaps one of the most famous examples of when Japanese storytelling deals with adventures set in a western-like fantasy setting, and Lina Inverse and Naga the Serpent are twn beautiful fantasy gals I can never be wary of. I am sure some of you Slayers fans out there are wondering, "Why no new Slayers comic book stories turned up in recent years?". While it is good to see that the Slayers anime are still be distributed on DVD outside Japan, I can see the adventures of Lina and Naga being told in a western comics series where each issue deals with a self-contained adventure since the multiple anime productions were never intended to refer to each other's storyplots to begin with.

4) Senran Kagura

4 Senran Kagura

I never played any of the Senran Kagura video games, nor have I ever watched the ninja girl-themed action video game series' anime series adaptation Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash or even read any of the manga versions, but I can never resist cute teenage female vixens, even when depicted together as a team. It is a bummer no publisher in America, Canada, or even in Europe took the task of publishing an all-teenage girl group-focused comic for the male readers (or so I think), and I for one think a western-published all-ages Senran Kagura comic can do wonders, even if it depicts the protagonists as westerners of Japanese decent with the trademark skimpy outfits of a few of them being toned down a bit (but I don't think such toning down would affect the fun of witnessing battle action).

5) Death Note

5 Death Note

Some of you are aware of the upcoming American live-action webfilm retelling of the popular horror manga serial Death Note. You know, the story of a magical book that kills people by having their full names written down along with established causes of demise. However, not everyone is a Netflix user. Therefore, there needs to be an alternate option in making introducing Death Note to the non-otaku crowd. I can see a comic book maxiseries going the route where protagonist Light Yagami forms a gang of Death Note users (each as focus per multipart storyline) to keep the police from figuring out who the one true murder culprit is as Light's the root of the nightmare, allowing way for an increase in the stakes.

6) One Piece

6 One Piece

One Piece is one of those manga serials that just keeps going and going for years without us knowing for certain when the final chapter will arrive. While I never read the manga, I have given up on the anime series long ago when realizing it was getting nowhere for Monkey D. Luffy and his band of pirates to reach their treasure destination.

A western comic book adaptation of this famous pirate-themed action comedy could be what we need to enjoy the tale without so much going on between point of departure and the end of the journey. Like try doing a comic book limited series consisting of a small number of 4-part storylines each dealing with the going-ons in a different location of visitation.

7) K-On!

7 K On

The theme of all-girls rock bands indeed have a place in American comics, but so far, all American comics about this theme are primarily for female readers. I have nothing against catering to women, it would be nice if America did a girl band-themed comic that can partly cater to male readers for a change as long as it's only focused on music and has the right knid of visual look to appel to both fanboys and fangirls (like the 1970s animated Josie and the Pussycats series of course). K-On! is a for-male readers manga serial that tells the tale of five cute-as-puppies high school teenage girls trying to amp their rock game and protect a music club from closure, and while the manga appears to be no longer available in outside-Japan distribution (at least I believe that is the case), a western comic version could fill the void left behind even if it was to rewrite the five girls as Japanese immigrants starting a rock band in North America or Europe. 

8) Gurren Lagann

8 Gurren Lagann

While it is a bummer the manga adaptation of the giant robot anime series classic Gurren Lagann never made it past trade paperback volume 6 in its North American run, I could see the world of Gurren Lagann being expanded on in an ongoing comic series, even to introduce new successors to the original Team Dai-Gurren along with Gurren Lagann machines of their own as well as dealing with the adventures the surviving members of of the team might take after parting ways. Plus, how hard could it be for western comic writers to provide their takes on what happened before the start of Team Dai-Gurren's fight with the those responsible for limiting humanity's living space to underground areas, including the anime's lead female character Yoko Littner's rise to warriorhood?

9) Codename: Sailor V

9 Codename Sailor V

The tragedy about Japanese comic book star Minako Aino/Sailor Venus is that her days as a lead character ended the moment Codename: Sailor V's sequel manga serial Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon began serialisation, and this Minako Aino-centric manga did not even last for a full year.

While considering Toei Animation (producer of Sailor Moon anime) does not have the guts to produce an anime returning the superheroine to her lead character roots, a western comic series starring her without the other Sailor Senshi might what needs to happen to ensure Minkako gets her next shot as lead character, whether it re-imagines her story without the existence of the other Sailor Senshi maintained in continuity, or serves as a western attempt at a sequel to Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon or its 1992 anime T.V. series adaptation where Minako returns to saving the world solo.

10) Lupin III

10 Lupin III

Lupin III is one of those anime and manga franchises where audiences can enjoy any animated episode, film, or manga episode without fussing over continuity order. Adding to the fun is the artistic variation of its five recurring characters (gentleman thief Arsène Lupin III, gunman Daisuke Jigen, samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII, Interpol inspector Koichi Zenigata, and femme fatale Fujiko Mine).

Many long-running western comic titles tend to change artists between issues, which can sometimes be annoying if the series in particular involves continuity throughout every issue, but since Lupin III does not possess a continuity order for any stories released so far, I don't think the charm of this heist-themed action comedy lore would be negatively affected if it was to span a long-running western-published comic series where the stories are self-contained with new artists taking over from time to time.

11) Pretty Cure

11 Pretty Cure

A time ago at ENR, I mentioned Pretty Cure as being among the anime that I'd love to see have their own western cartoon treatments (same went for Kantai Collection). While we do not know when or if anymore Pretty Cure television series will be distributed outside of Japan after the English language "Glitter Force" edition of Smile Pretty Cure! completes its run, there is the issue where the dub is a Netflix-exclusive and not everyone uses Netflix and/or the like on a regular basis. Therefore, another option to introduce Pretty Cure to new western viewers needs to happen, and a western-published comic series would be the perfect and option, whether it as a limited series expanding on the universe of Smile Pretty Cure! or an ongoing antholgy series covering the various incarnations of this famous for-female viewers magical superheroine franchise up-to-date.

12) Dominion: Tank Police

12 Dominion Tank Police

If you are into the cyberpunk kind of sci-fi, chances are some of you may remember this 1988 made-for-video animated miniseries installment of this sci-fi action comedy franchise created by Masumune Shirow of Ghost in the Shell fame. In case you don't remember, it is basically follows a team of police officers who patrol the streets of the environmentally polluted town of Newport, hunting for criminals with tanks. Those police officers with tanks as well as the their robotic catgirl adversaries (the Puma sisters) could use another go of action. Maybe Shirow should think about letting westerners have a try in a writing comic book series exapnding on the universe of Dominion: Tank Police and introducing new villains (both human and non-human) along the way. I mean, what can westerners ask for in a Dominion: Tank Police comic other than tough-as-hell cops, android catladies, and high-tech battles and comedic moments (including those of the dark comedy kind) to add to the table?


So this concludes my list anime and manga titles I'd like to see span western-published comic series of their own. To tell the truth, I could care less if the western comics spanned by any of the titles were to go the manga-like visual approach or not as long as the story and art are fresh. I hope you had fun reading this feature as much as I had writing this, and feel free to mention any anime or manga you would love to see gets its own western comic series treatement in the comment box. Thanks for reading, see you next time, and if you are game for an anime-based western comic, check out Saber Rider and the Star Sheriff's comic book miniseries retelling as well as Voltron's next comic book miniseries Voltron: Legendary Defender, which will begin on 7/13/2016 and exapand on the continuity of the recently launched Netflix exclusive webseries of the same name.

Christopher Arnold

Meet Montreal Island-born fanboy Christopher Arnold. He is a fan of a number of things: comic book action/adventure heroes (the superhero kind included), science-fiction, horror, Japanese Animation, action figure collecting, cosplay photography, and fan art. While his main column focus at ENR is action/adventure storytelling (regardless of if it includes sci-fi, horror, fantasy), when it comes to reviewing/analyzing material, whether it be comics/graphic novels, film, or even television, he is the kind of person to avoid judging a work of fiction by time of release and by nation of origin (and that's part of his moral code). Also, he's not afraid to admit if he finds comparison between two unrelated media properties. While he enjoys serving you, the readers, he's not the kind to show his true face on social media (so PLEASE, RESPECT HIS PRIVACY).

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