Anime News Network reports that Starz green-lit a western live-action adaptation of the Noir anime. The series will be helmed by Evil Dead and Spartacus: Blood and Sand masterminds Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert. Steven Lightfoot, Joshua Donen and Bill Hamm are confirmed as executive producers on the project.
We first heard of this project in November 2010, when The Hollywood Reporter broke the news in a story titled Starz Nabs Assassin Project From Sam Raimi. In the initial reveal, the Reporter revealed Raimi and Tapert’s ties to the project, and noted that Lightfoot would serve as the show’s writer. The show’s planning was revealed as an attempt to develop genre shows in the vein of The Walking Dead and Camelot. This week’s confirmation revealed little new information, outside of the notion that Starz seeks to produce content that will place the network on more even footing with HBO, who reigns the airwaves with original content like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.
This will be a particularly sticky situation for Starz. Noir has a large, defensive fanbase in the west, a number of whom are already forecasting doom and gloom. And, frankly, this isn’t totally unwarranted. The last time the words “live action adaptation” were used in the same sentence as “anime”, we were given the double-volley of Speed Racer and Dragon Ball: Evolution. This doesn’t even touch upon the propsed “white-washed” Akira adaptation, which raised the ire of celebrity George Takei.
I have a bit of faith in the project, personally. Raimi has earned his stripes as one who can make a good adaptation with Spider-Man. He’s also proven his ability to make a decent action/suspense title with fare like Darkman. Tapert has long been a solid right-hand-man to Raimi, and served on many of the same projects that rocketed the director to stardom. In addition, Noir seems a bit better suited for a live action adaptation, unlike previous attempts. This may work in the title’s favor.
At the very least, it can’t be too much worse than what Koichi Mashimo did with the title. Noir is a show that I saw as having great potential that was ultimately wasted. Like most Bee Train shows, it opened strong, and had an incredible visual and audio presentation. However, the series fell apart quickly, and ended up being an ultimately unsatisfying reminder of what could have been. Raimi tends to be able to maintain those minor things like a cohesive narrative. Anyway, I digress. If this is handled properly, it could become a strong entry to Starz’s lineup, as well as an interesting update to what many regard as a classic.