It’s either a reader’s dream come true or their worst nightmare to see beloved YA books adapted on screen. But we can’t ignore how incredibly exciting it is for that moment we’re able to rush to the theaters or tune into Netflix and see our favorite books come to life, regardless of its faithfulness to the source material.
With that in mind, think of any Young Adult adaptation in recent years whether you liked it or not. Have you noticed something they all have in common?
They’re all live action.
From contemporary to dystopia: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Hate U Give, and iconic franchises such as The Hunger Games and Twilight, to name a few. They’ve all found their way to both the big and small screens featuring real-life actors and sets.
Consider the most recent adaptation deal that’s got readers everywhere excited, Shadow And Bone.
It was announced back in January, Netflix acquired the rights to Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy world of the Grishaverse to be adapted as a live-action television show.
While it’s great to see the steady progress thus far for Shadow And Bone, consider the potential YA adaptations could have, especially in fantasy, to develop ground-breaking work in the field of animation.
Think about the influence Japanese animation has had on audiences with creators that have impacted the industry around the globe, such as Satoshi Kon and Hayao Miyazaki to name a couple. From beloved anime films and series that have found audiences worldwide to even more recent works such as Violet Evergarden (from Kyoto Animation), Your Name, Mob Psycho 100, and Demon Slayer.
Japanese animation reminds audiences how 2-D (and 3-D) animated projects carry emotion, heart, depth, and legacy to storytelling in a way that can’t be done in through any other medium.
With regards to adapting written works/established properties Kyoto Animation (a beloved Japanese animation studio that develops unique and captivating stories), for years has had its “Kyoto Animation Awards.“ This award grants a prize to written works (full length & short novels) written in Japanese, which are then adapted into anime.
At its core, what makes animation such a beautiful art form is its unique ability to portray a range of emotion, color, and imagination you just can’t capture through live action.
Animation can present itself in a variety of ways from traditional 2-D to hand-drawn, and even stop motion. Its limitless and that’s what makes it such a powerful medium capable of pushing boundaries and expanding on new horizons.
In animation everything is intentional, from the heightening of expressions, pauses, motion, and subtleties. The versatility of this art form can create certain atmospheres that portray much more beyond just what we see on screen.
One animation powerhouse that understands this very well is Studio Ghibli. The films they create, showcase a balance between fantasy and reality.
One of the many tasks within animation, is creating a unique world that’s both immersive and real to the audience. This studio is just one example of how that can be done successfully, even when adapting written works, such as Howl’s Moving Castle.
Think about the 2018 animated film, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. It’s the unique “vintage comic-book aesthetic,” according to The Vulture’s article discussing how it changed the game of animation, that won audiences over and set this feature apart.
Into The Spider-Verse centers around teenager Miles Morales, whose from an African and Puerto-Rican background, as he takes up the role as Spiderman and embarks on the grand adventure of becoming a hero.
From sci-fi to fantasy, contemporary, historical fiction, and the paranormal, this medium has the unique ability to bend rules or break them entirely in ways live-action just can’t―and that’s the magic of animation.
Consider the potential for more inclusive and diverse storytelling featuring YA, if they were to be animated features.
One author that comes to mind is Anna-Marie McLemore. She’s a YA author known for her lush magical realism novels that feature Latina protagonists and Queer representation.
For example, consider if one were to adapt McLemore’s 2016 novel When The Moon Was Ours. Throughout it, she layers wondrous prose alongside themes of family, friendship, and identity.
With animation, it would be possible to bring to life the meaning behind Sam’s painted moons, the flowers that grow from Miel’s wrists, and the vivid imagery that weaves its way throughout McLemore’s masterful writing!
Breaking the mold of live-action adaptations can unlock more doors for opportunities to feature YA that identify as #OwnVoices and are written by authors of color. The creativity that comes with animation can bring their works to life beyond the page like never before.
Thank you so much for checking out this post! I’ve been wanting to create more unique discussion posts to share on the blog and this is one that’s been on my mind for a while, in regards to YA adaptations! There’s many more sides to this discussion I’m looking to share in the future, but please let me know your thoughts on the one I’ve shared today 🍃📚😍
Do you have an ideas on what YA Books you would want to see as an animated film or show? Lets discuss in the comments 😄💖📚🎨