It is important to note that even if we magically had the money and influence to get any of these properties turned into an anime there is no guarantee that they would turn out well. All adaptation is more of an art than a science and the countless promising adaptations that have become cinematic abortions are a testament to how easy it is to adapt something incorrectly. We picked these titles because there is a chance if done correctly would be suited to anime. In practice this might not happen but we are assuming a best case scenario. Still it is a fun thought experiment and I hope everyone will feel free to make their own suggestions in the comments.
Marvel’s attempt to draw in manga readers may have failed, but that didn’t prevent Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona from writing a winner. This story of a group of kids who realize their parents are all part of a criminal ring, has great characters and their relationships to one another resonate. The dynamics of these people who form an unconventional family while making their way in the world as heroes and a safe place for other kids are wonderfully vivid. Also there is a dinosaur. I would want the story to end with the initial arc which Vaughan finished since all the stories there after are quite variable in quality.
The Chronicles of Amber is an epic fantasy series by Roger Zelazny. Shifting through dimensions and fantastical monsters can now be done with modern CG but would look fantastic if animated correctly. The plot starts as a simple story of revenge to reclaim a stolen throne and escalates into a multidimensional conflict. But overall there is a good deal of talking between big action scenes which is the narrative style that anime loves the most. Plus all the princes and princes of Amber are amazingly hot, incredibly competent, and scheming against each other. The series consists of two series of 5 book cycles. Most people consider the first pentalogy far superior to the later so you could stop with The Courts of Chaos but you would have room to adapt the Merlin Cycle if there was enough demand.
This is a well-known Franco-Beligian comic I’ve talked about before. Think of Yoko trained as an engineer but really a jack-of-all-trades fabulous mix between Nancy Drew and Jonny Quest. Her adventures and mysteries take her all over the world as well as into space and SCIENCE often plays a role in the stories. Even though she is on the move, she has a regular cast of characters so construction an overarching storyline could easily fit in.
A classic of the science fiction genre and far more accessible and personable than Asimov’s Foundation series. The first three books are mystery novels at their core but at the same time are some of the foundations of all robot literature as well. The human Elijah Baley and his robot partner R. Daneel Olivaw have a unique partnership over the course of the series and one of the few times Isaac Asimov makes engaging characters. It has a decent cross cultural to anime fans as Americans love sci-fi anime, the Japanese love mystery anime, and the Robot series is well-respected everywhere. There is also robot sexy time and incest later on so you know it would do OK with otaku.
The classic children’s novel involving space and time filled with fantastic worlds, the struggle between good and evil, and saving a universe. It features strong, brainy Meg as the lead as well as her piercingly intelligent little brother Charles who must defeat the disembodied brain with powerful telepathic abilities known as IT. Love, conformity, and truth all playing big roles throughout the story. Science-fiction always finds a good home in anime where the vastness and oddness of the universe can be on full display.
While the Robot series is a well-respected classic Blake’s 7 has always been a fervent cult following. Set in a dystopian future which seems to be all the rage now it lends itself to appealing to a western audience. While some of the titles I picked have a slightly dark or cynical feeling this title is downright morose in its worldview. The original series had an infamously cheap BBC budget so some high quality and imaginative animation could bring the exotic planets and settings of the universe to life. The crew of the Liberator was fairly diverse and had crew members that ranged from the more traditionally heroic Cally, to the grey hero in Blake, to the almost villainous Avon. It is a series that has demanded a remake for some time so a new medium might give it a new life.
This is a British novel about a future, artificially living prison run by Incarceron a brutal AI. The prison is its own world with forests and villages while Incarceron is an all-seeing being which kills the human inmates but also births half-lings from the fiber-optics of its walls. To me, this setting already feels perfect for an anime which could visually bring it to life.
Exalted was a table top role-playing game system that was created around mixing traditional high fantasy with manga to give rise to a hybrid that mixes the two while creating its own mythology and feel. The anime and manga influences on the setting are unmistakable therefore making it easy to adapt. There is an already established set of signature characters that could be used for a story or the animation team could create their own charters if so desired. The Exalted universe is set in a time of chaos with invaders from outside and infernal strife within the world making it a grand setting for epic adventures as well as personal quests. There are leagues of untamed wildness filled with fantastic monsters, ancient and terrible gods, forgotten secrets, stolen destinies, outcast heroes, savage and magical barbarians, majestic cities filled with corrupt nobles, lost technology, and a planet wide empire on the verge of civil war. You could set a whole TV series in the Ankh-Morpork styled hive of scum and villainy known as Nexus and never leave the city walls.
Mostly important because there deserves to be an animated version where the most famous line is not “Well, excuuuuse me, Princess!” Though I do agree in order for this series to work the creators must give Link a strong voice, personality, and point of view. I am undecided on whether or not I would want them to take one of the existing games and make it into an anime or whether I want them to create a new story in the continuey, but I’m leaning towards new giving more freedom and less expectation. Plus this also gives them a reason to be creating an anime in the first place. I know most video game adaptions go in the poorly done category, but this list is in a perfect world remember.
The Pirates of Dark Water was an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon that had a distinctly anime vibe. It had an ongoing plot with a slightly older feel to its writing. The sort of show that would appeal to the lucrative shonen demographic. Sadly the show was canceled before Ren and his crew could complete their quest. It would be remarkable to see a reboot of the series like they recently did with Thundercats. You could redo the original episodes with a more modern sensibility while finally giving the show the conclusion it deserved. I think the airwaves are big enough for two pirate anime series especially since this would probably be a co-production.