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Goin’ Japanesque!

5 Selected Anime or Manga That Were Reborn as Great Live-Action TV Dramas

It has become common in Hollywood movies or in Japan to adapt anime or manga for live-action dramas.

A driving force behind this trend may be technological advancement in visual effects and anime and manga being visually complete works, making them easy material to create films from. 

This time I gathered here 5 works of manga or anime that were adapted for live-action TV dramas in Japan.


1. Kodoku no Gurume (Lonesome Gourmet)

The main character is a man who operates a privately-owned trading company importing various merchandizes and his name is Goro Inogashira.

This manga depicts how he enjoys dining experience in various restaurants that he finds during his business trips.

The story often presents ordinary eateries he happens to step into and inconspicuous common dishes served there rather than featuring local specialty food or high-end restaurants.

An ordinary middle-aged man enjoys a meal of ordinary-looking dishes, and the story depicts it like a documentary accompanied with his monologue.

The TV drama in Japan has started in 2012.

A web drama has started in Taiwan in 2015, adopting the settings of the drama.

As in the original manga, the drama progresses with Goro Inogashira as the only character in the story, played by actor Yutaka Matsushige.

The eateries and their dishes that appear in the drama are actual places and food served in the real world.

This is an informative drama that presents reality of Japan and its citizen’s life without embellishment, as it doesn’t focus on famous places or renowned restaurants in Japan.


2. 81 Diver

The main character Kentaro Sugata has been aiming to become a professional shogi (Japanese chess) player, but he gives up on his dream, feeling limitations in his talent.

Yet he struggles as he cannot just abandon his dream. He has been playing betting shogi matches, which is illegal, as a way to release his frustration.

During such days he hears a rumor of an exceptional shogi player in Akihabara called “Akiba no Ukeshi”, and he plays against this lady player.

Sugata ends up experiencing a complete overwhelming defeat and he decides to train himself in earnest and change the way he lived in the past.

The original story is a manga with the same title, written by “Yokusaru Shibata”.

The TV drama was broadcasted in 2008.

It is violation of laws to bet money on a shogi match, and inclusion of such illegal dealings has rendered this story thrilling.

Superbly produced, the drama was made very enjoyable even for viewers who know nothing about shogi games.


3. Osen

Osen is the maître d’ of Isshoan, a long-established traditional Japanese restaurant, and the story depicts human dramas richly woven by her and the people around her. If you would like to look into the detail of this manga, please refer to my earlier article (Osen).

The TV drama was broadcasted in 2008, and the title role of Osen was played by actress Yu Aoi.

Some settings of manga are often modified for various reasons including difficulty in reproducing them in the live-actions.

Such modification was made in this case without consent of the original author Shota Kikuchi.

Infuriated at the modification, Shota Kikuchi stopped writing manga to protest in the middle of the serialization.

Earlier in the TV drama he was credited for the authorship but later it was changed to “original idea”.

I think the drama was potentially more enjoyable if viewers did not read the original manga, and the viewers who read the manga might have been able to understand why the author was upset.


4. Glass no Kamen (Glass Mask)

Maya Kitajima was an ordinary girl but her hidden talent was discovered by a retired great actress Chigusa Tsukikage. The story depicts her ascent to a top star in the world of theater, competing with her rival Ayumi Himekawa.

This is a famous shojo manga that everyone in Japan perhaps knows.

The serialization has started in 1976 and it is still continuing today.

The TV drama was aired in 1997 and actress Yumi Adachi did a great job playing the role of Maya Kitajima.

In addition a famous actress Yoko Nogiwa played the role of Chigusa Tsukikage, and she presented amazing resemblance to the character in the original manga it became a hot topic of discussion.


5. Saint Oniisan (Saint Young Men)

This comedy has a crazy setting in which Jesus of Christianity and Buddha of Buddhism obtain a long vacation and come to Japan to enjoy the break, taking advantage of the arrival of the 21st century. 

The original story is a manga authored by Hikaru Nakamura with the same title.

And this original is displayed even in the British Museum in London. Reference


This story has been already adapted for anime but a TV drama has not been aired yet.

Adaptation for a TV drama has been already announced but casting remains undecided.

We are eagerly awaiting the start of this drama. Official Website


Many other anime and manga have been adapted for live-actions.

I think looking for titles in manga and anime from such a viewpoint is another interesting way to enjoy them.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon