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Live-action 'Dragonball Evolution' scriptwriter: 'I sincerely apologize'

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

Seasoned anime fans know not to get their hopes up too high for Hollywood adaptations of their favorite series. Not only do a lot of projects never get past the rumor stages (we’re looking at you, "Battle Angel Alita," "Cowboy Bebop" and "Mai the Psychic Girl"), even when they do, the results have historically been sub-par. Despite its growing worldwide popularity, anime is still primarily produced for a very specific demographic and environment, and a lot of what makes the originals work so well gets lost in the attempted transition to a mass-market blockbuster.

But even with guarded expectations, "Dragonball Evolution" came as a shock. Some people like point out that 20th Century Fox’s live-action version of the "Dragon Ball" anime and manga franchise had so little respect for its source material that it couldn’t even be bothered to spell its name properly, and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg of puzzling alterations, disappointing omissions, and baffling additions in the 2009 film.

With such a huge gap between the abilities of "Dragon Ball" and "Dragonball" to please audiences, one could point the finger at any number of people involved with "Evolution’s" production. Many, though, choose to point theirs at the movie’s scriptwriter, Ben Ramsey. Ramsey recently spoke with Derek Padula, author of multiple books analyzing the "Dragon Ball" phenomenon, and offered two things many fans have been wanting for the last seven years: an explanation, and an apology.

Ramsey’s complete statement can be found here on Padula’s website, The Dao of Dragon Ball. In it, he acknowledges the disdain fans have shown for "Dragonball Evolution’s" script, and also sheds some light on how it came about.

“To receive hate mail from all over the world is heartbreaking. I spent so many years trying to deflect the blame, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the written word on page and I take full responsibility…I went into the project chasing after a big payday, not as a fan of the franchise…So I’m not blaming anyone for 'Dragonball' but myself.”

“To all the 'Dragon Ball' fans out there, I sincerely apologize.”

Ramsey’s comments are actually quite revealing, and also make some of the movie’s script choices understandable, if not necessarily defensible in the minds of anime purists. If you weren’t a fan "Dragon Ball" and simply tried to give yourself a crash course in what it’s about, you’d quickly see that the story is centered on an alien martial artist, raised as an unassuming country boy, who sometimes transforms into a giant ape. He goes on an adventure and becomes stronger in the process, while making some new friends, meeting a romantic interest, and fighting other, more sinister, aliens.

At that point, you might feel like you’ve got enough characters and story beats to craft an adaptation and stop reading/watching the original. But where "Dragon Ball" really kicks into high gear is as the series goes on and we see not how Goku acquires his superhuman powers, but how he manages to stay the same innocent, pure-hearted guy he’s always been, even as he fights against increasingly powerful and dangerous foes. That heart is sorely missing from "Dragonball Evolution," in the eyes of many of its critics.

Ramsey’s marginal interest in the source material also goes a long way in explaining why characters like Yamcha and Mai were given such prominent parts in his script. Both make frequent occurrences in early installments of the manga and anime (i.e. the chapters and episodes you’d be looking at if you had no prior knowledge of "Dragon Ball" but needed to quickly bring yourself up to speed on its characters and lore), but are hardly more than bit players when you look at the story of "Dragon Ball" as a whole.

It also explains why Piccolo was chosen as "Evolution’s" primary villain. Sure, he started out as an antagonist, but he’s been one of the anime’s heroes for several decades now.

But just as many "Dragon Ball" villains eventually see the light and repent, so too does Ramsey seem to have learned from the experience. In wrapping up his statement to Padula, Ramsey says he now focuses his energies on projects he feels a genuine passion and enthusiasm for. “That’s the only work I do now,” he asserts.

It’s a change in philosophy that we think Goku would be proud of.

Sources: The Dao of Dragon Ball, Yuruku Yaru, Jin

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Dragon Ball fans rally for petition to officially change name of planet Kepler 22b to Namek -- Dragon Ball creator expresses frustration at TV anime’s periodic quality issues -- All-new Dragon Ball anime coming to TV this July with story by series creator Akira Toriyama

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An Apology isn't enough. Nor is his head on a pike.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Dao of Dragon Ball.

LOL, he's doing it again. He probably doesn't know what "dao" means.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

But Dragonball is a Japanese adaptation of the 15th century Chinese classic Monkey King: Journey to the West.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's never wrong to apologize when you've done something wrong.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That movie was just plain unacceptable, not to mention diabolically atrocious!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ah well.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@PBot Dao is the website that interviewed him, apparently run by a fan club. Blame the fans for abuse of words on that one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But Dragonball is a Japanese adaptation of the 15th century Chinese classic Monkey King: Journey to the West. if that's the definition of dao. I know all about Sun Wukong and Goku. What I'm ultimately talking about is how these terms are easily misused by people that are in the New Age, for example. Like "Tao Nightclub" in Vegas, where you see a bunch of Buddha statues and white women wearing kimonos. Tao, zen, chi, dharma, karma etc etc....Just a bunch of people who have been fed up by the Judeo-Christian (and Islamic) philosophies, and so then decided to be just as ignorant on other philosophies.

is the website that interviewed him, apparently run by a fan club. Blame the fans for abuse of words on that one.

I sure hope this fan club wasn't a fan of his work. His apology won't change anything though. The Ancient One in the new Doctor Strange movie is Celtic! Scarlett Johansson plays Major Motoko Kusanagi. I can't wait who Disney will cast for Mulan in their upcoming live action adaptation!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I find myself wondering who's who. If the anime has large eyes and myriad of hair colours but the live action show has everyone with dark hair, it's hard to pick out the characters. It's also hard to portray the emotions the same way anime can.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Stop making "Live Action" in general. It doesn't do the original justice. Just sell rights to content and have remake name it something else.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stop white washing! Goku isn't white nor is Mai or Buruma.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Haha, come on now!! Hollywood has been butchering things for DECADES, its what they DO!

The originals are mostly guidelines at best, you need to be aware of that

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stop white washing! Goku isn't white nor is Mai or Buruma.

I'm sure Hollywood would be HAPPY to use alien actors, but there doesn't seem to be that many here on Earth.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


Exactly. We need to find actors with 3x the size of human eyes, a myriad of hair colours, and ability to go into chibi form upon command. ;)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I wonder if his not working on much of anything for the past 7 years has lead to his sudden mea culpa....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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