February 2, 2007

From Manga To Idol Drama

Japanese anime and manga have always been extremely popular in East Asia, especially Taiwan and Hong Kong. Popular manga titles in Japanese have been known to fly off the shelves of bookstores faster than books published by local authors in the local language. Many people flock to language schools to learn Japanese for the sole purpose of reading untranslated manga and watching Japanese anime and drama. In fact, I personally feel that anime and manga have a greater cultural impact in East Asia than cartoons from Disney or Warner Bros.

Especially in Taiwan, the Japanese love of all things "kawaii" (cute) have so successfully taken root that many of the pop stars or actresses that have became famous in the last 4 to 5 years look very much like shojo manga (young girl's manga) characters themselves - big round eyes, long hair, peachy complexions, super sweet smiles and slim girlish figures... Classic examples include Jolin Tsai, Cyndi Wang and Rainie Yang...

Adaptations of popular Japanese manga into Taiwanese "idol" dramas are also extremely common. The only "localization" done is usually that the setting of the story is changed to Taipei instead of Tokyo. The names of the characters are more often than not the same... even if the Japanese names sound strange in Chinese. A good example is Meteor Garden's "Dao Ming Si", in the Taiwanese adaptation, the character's surname becomes "Dao Ming" and his given name becomes "Ah Si" which is a direct translation of the character's surname Domyoji in the manga.

Examples of manga that have been made into Taiwanese idol dramas include:

流星花園 (2001)
Based on manga (花より男子) by Yoko Kamio
Starring Barbie Hsu and pop group F4 (Jerry Yen, Vic Zhou, Ken Zhu and Vanness Wu)

蜜桃女孩 (2002)
Based on manga (ピーチガール) by Miwa Ueda
Starring Annie Wu and Vanness Wu

橘子醬男孩 (2002)
Based on manga (ママレード・ボーイ) by Wataru Yoshizumi
Starring Stella Huang Xiangyi and Ken Zhu

薔薇之戀 (2003)
Based on manga Bara No Tame Ni (薔薇のために) by Yoshimura Akemi
Starring Ella (from pop group S.H.E), Zheng Yuan Chang and Jerry Huang

戰神 (2004)
Based on manga by Fuyumi Soryo
Starring Vic Zhou and Barbie Hsu

惡作劇之吻 (2005)
Based on manga (イタズラなKiss) by Kaoru Tada
Starring Ariel Lin Yichen and Joe Cheng

惡魔在身邊 (2005)
Based on manga (悪魔で候) by Mitsuba Takanashi
Starring Rainie Yang and Mike He

東方茱麗葉 (2006)
Based on manga (東京ジュリエット) by Miyuki Kitagawa Starring Ariel Lin Yi Chen, Wu Zun and Simon Yam

花樣少年少女 (2006/07) (picture)
Based on manga (花ざかりの君たちへ) or by Hisaya Nakajo
Starring Ella (S.H.E), Wu Zun and Jiro Wang

As you can see, creating idol dramas based on manga is really common. One reason could be that the ratings for such dramas are usually pretty good as there exists a ready audience from fans of the popular manga and also because the boy-girl relationship issues in manga suit the Taiwanese idol drama genre to a tee.

So... expect more such manga/anime based drama serials in the years to come...

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