During the celebration of the hit visual novel Steins;Gate’s 10th anniversary, a live-action Hollywood series adaptation was announced to be in the works by Skydance Media. This news comes as a surprise to many, but there are plenty of fans that are none too pleased. Frankly, I’m one of them.
I love Steins;Gate. It’s one of my favorites, if not my favorite anime of all time. So one would think that this news would bring me joy. And on one hand, it does. I’m really glad that it’s getting this sort of attention. On the other hand, though, I’m almost certain that it’s going to be bad. From the translation of the series to an American standard to the history of Western anime adaptations as a whole, I have very little faith in this series being anything worthwhile.
Note that this is written with a general understanding of the series in mind
First, let’s discuss the setting of the story. It takes place in Akihabara, which I don’t think it’s a stretch to call a unique place in the world. It’s culture of moe is something that I feel would be incredibly difficult to pull off in an American setting, especially with how tied into the story it is. You can’t just pick any random city and call it good here, so it’s concerning to think of how they plan to handle it.
Next, and primarily, I want to talk about the characters. Just about the whole cast has something that is difficult to pull off in an Americanized style, such as Okabe’s chuunibyou to Feris’ fixation with moe culture (which could be applied to many of them). But there’s a couple that worry me more than the rest. First up to bat is Daru. His perverse nature and innuendos are a constant source of comedic relief throughout the story, but I’m afraid to see how well that carries over to a land in which that sort of thing can get you chastised by the woke community and leave your career in tatters. The sexual comedy in anime has been a cause for controversy plenty of times before, so I’m worried that they’ll just ditch that in favor of painting him to be a bad guy in an attempt to push a message that really has no need to be pushed.
My main concern, however, lies with Ruka. The controversy surrounding this boy-then-girl-then-boy-again seemingly has no end and I get the feeling we’ll be dealing with it with refreshed vigor when this adaptation airs. Since Steins;Gate’s release, people have been constantly trying to paint Ruka as trans and this seems like a golden opportunity to play that card. Western entertainment spares no opportunity to push an agenda and Ruka is the prime candidate. He’ll be paraded around as the trans icon of 2020 for those internet good-boy points and the fires will be lit anew as another online war breaks out. Also, it will be difficult to find someone to play the role. Finding someone that can play a boy and a girl like that will most definitely be a problem. I can handle them casting a girl for the part, but I won’t be pleased about it.
When it comes down to it, there’s so much that can go awry with this adaptation. And this is all on top of the fact that the west doesn’t have a very good track record of American live-action adaptations of anime. Take the Death Note film for example. It was a train wreck that tried to capitalize on the name alone while not sticking to any of what made the series good in the first place. Light went from sociopathic megalomaniac to wimpy pushover, L became an emotionally unstable gremlin rather than an equally sociopathic gremlin, none of the established rules were seen through, and they didn’t even face half of the problems that this Steins;Gate adaptation does. Needless to say, my faith in this is all but gone.
But if they cast Dwayne Johnson as Yugo Tennouji then I’ll be content.