Could Haruhi Suzumiya Work as a Live Action Series?


The rumors have been flying over the English anime blogosphere about the possibility of a live-action Haruhi Suzumiya J-drama starting soon. (See here and here, where the rumor originated.) According to one commenter elsewhere, however, someone from the infamous 2chan actually called the production companies to confirm and they have neither confirmed nor denied it, so the cast above is probably a wishlist and not the actual casting. Being unable to read Japanese, I can’t confirm anything–a disadvantage we have as English speaking anime fans…I have to trust those who do have m4d ski11z.

Personally, I have my doubts about whether a live-action version can work at all. Haruhi Suzumiya was specifically created as a send-up of specifically anime conventions and cliches: the constant costume changing, the moe, Tsuruya’s genkiness, the entire character of Yuki=Rei Ayanami, etc. Having been to a few anime cons, I’ve also seen how hard it is to dress up as a character and 1.) not look like a fool; 2.) actually remind you successfully of who you’re dressed up as and be, well, in character. (This is especially true, IMO, with unnatural hair colors and hairdos.)

Plus, a lot of the kinds of SF special effects that a live-action adaptation of some of the Haruhi episodes would require would have to be fairly high budget to look right, and from what I remember, J-dramas tend to have low budgets (much lower than their American counterparts in general). Low key, slapsticky comedies like Gokusen and Nodame Cantabile seem to work fairly well in live-action. But I just don’t know about Haruhi Suzumiya, though, especially with all the high expectations riding on it and the inevitable fan outrage on both sides of the Pacific that would follow it they messed it up.


Well, actually, there is one episode that I can successfully see adapted as live-action–and that is the infamous first episode, “The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina” home movie that so wonderfully and postmodernly sets the pace of the series. I can actually see that being ten times funnier live-action. Especially if they recreate it shot for shot, including all the times it’s poorly lit and out-of-focus. I’d watch that in a heartbeat.

Do you think it would work? Who would you cast? I know very little about J-drama actors and actresses so I wouldn’t know. (Is the fantasy casting above good?)

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

3 thoughts on “Could Haruhi Suzumiya Work as a Live Action Series?

  1. Actually, I just wrote about it from the cast perspective, actually. Haha. Coincidence:

    Either way, as you said above, making a live action adaptation of something of this magnitude may not work out so well. I can only hope.

    As for the budget though, if it’s anything like the Slam Dunk live action, it may get a huge budget simply because it’s a huge show. As for the hair color thing, yeah, it usually doesn’t work at all but in cases like these, they just keep ’em the actor/actresses natural hair color and try to get it as close as possible. I like the cast, but I can only cross my fingers now.

  2. Well, some episodes could work incredibly good like the adventures of Mikuru, the island murder episode, the baseball tournament even the day of sagittarius (that would be really funny).

    On the other hand the “serious” stuff like the Ryoko vs. Yuki battle and the Shinjin would really suck.

    so if it’s for me they should do only half a show XD

  3. I think it could work. Remember that the anime was an adaptation from the novels. A live-action dorama could cover substantially different territory from the anime. There are several novels and lots of things that weren’t in the anime. They could do the SF weirdness in quite different ways, even off-screen, if they wanted to.

    But I actually read the 2channel posts and think there’s a better than 50-50 chance that this is just a magazine writer manufacturing news. Anyway, I’m still holding out for Hirano Aya to get at least an audition to play Haruhi.

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