Bakuman‘s two title characters, Mashiro (played by Takeru Satoh) and Takagi (played by Ryunosuke Kamiki), are just as preppy and energetic as they are in the anime, despite the fact that they’re 17 years old in the film but only 15 in the anime. Not only do they closely resemble their anime counterparts, in some ways they’re even better than the originals!

Takeru and Ryunosuke are part of a select group of actors who’ve portrayed anime characters in live-action adaptations – and made them even more awesome than the source material. What is it about these actors that manage to create memorable and distinct characters from drawings on a printed page? We take a look at 7 actors who should have won Academy Awards for their roles (if only they qualified).

1. Takeru Satoh as Kenshin Himura (Rurouni Kenshin series)

Takeru Satoh & Kenshin Himura. Credits: onehallyu & Death Battle Fanon Wikia

Takeru Satoh & Kenshin Himura. Credits: onehallyu & Death Battle Fanon Wikia

There were many doubts about Takeru Satoh’s ability to play Kenshin at first – would he be able to portray the dual facets of Kenshin’s gentleness and brutality? His youthful face helped in giving Kenshin the humble, calm facade that most of his friends saw, but his eyes were what hid the lingering killer in his soul. Takeru Satoh’s eyes have this dead serious expression, even in photos when he’s smiling – just cover his mouth to see what I mean. It’s not surprising that he was able to slip into the role of Kenshin so easily when his natural appearance already hid such a dichotomy!

2. Jay Chou as Takumi Fujiawara (Initial D)

Jay Chou & Takumi Fujiawara. Credits: Alchetron & Initial D World

Jay Chou & Takumi Fujiawara. Credits: Alchetron & Initial D World

Quiet. Intense when he’s at his craft. Shy. Filial.

Who do all these qualities describe? Both Jay Chou and Takumi, which is uncanny when you think about it. Jay Chou’s performance as Takumi wasn’t too far from his real life persona, except that he was a skilled racer rather than a talented musician. They both have that same, devil-may-care expression as the default look on their face. And their training was intense – try speeding down a winding mountain without spilling any liquid in a cup! Jay Chou’s similar dedication to his craft was also what made him the star he is today. You’d be hard pressed to find a better Takumi than Jay Chou.

3. Kenichi Matsuyama as L (Death Note series)

Kenichi Matsuyama & L. Credits: the ninja babbles & Comic Vine

Kenichi Matsuyama & L. Credits: the ninja babbles & Comic Vine

Kenchi Matsuyama’s perpetual hunch couldn’t have been easy, but that’s made him so memorable as L. While he maintained an aloof demeanour throughout the film, it was his performance in L: Change the World that made him so much more popular than he was in the anime. In L: Change the World, we saw L take centre stage and learnt just how much he cared about the people around him, even if he didn’t show it. What made it even more heartbreaking was that L only had a month to live in the film. That made him even more loveable because we knew this would be the last time we could see him in action.

4. Tsuyoshi Domoto as Hajime Kindaichi (Kindaichi: Shanghai Mermaid Legend Murder Case)

Tsuyoshi Domoto & Hajime Kindaichi. Credits; ninjamerah & Rocket News 24

Tsuyoshi Domoto & Hajime Kindaichi. Credits; ninjamerah & Rocket News 24

If there’s one thing that Japanese pop star Tsuyoshi Domoto has in common with Kindaichi, it’s that piercing stare. It’s incredibly unnerving for a main character, especially when he stares straight at you. Kindaichi’s intelligence is echoed in his actor’s achievements – Tsuyoshi holds the Guinness World Record for the most number of consecutive number-one singles since his debut! Imagine what he’d be like if he actually put his mind towards solving crime, like Kindaichi – or if Kindaichi put his mind towards singing (although that would be a totally different anime).

5. Chew Chor Meng as Mr Kiasu (Mr Kiasu)

Chew Chor Meng & Mr Kiasu. Credits: SMILE! & Marketing-Interactive

Chew Chor Meng & Mr Kiasu. Credits: SMILE! & Marketing-Interactive

I know it’s cheating a little (since Mr Kiasu is a manga, rather than an anime), but how could we ignore our own country’s manga-turned-tv-series? Chew Chor Meng was already famous for his turn as “Lobang King” Ah Bee, so casting him as Mr Kiasu in the Channel 5 adaptation was a perfect choice. His English fits the Ah Beng-ness of Mr Kiasu to a T, and his legacy as the “Lobang King” carried over into the series as well. Not to mention his distinctive flat top hairstyle, which mimicked the comic Mr Kiasu’s signature look. As the quintessential Singaporean, Chew Chor Meng was already Mr Kiasu (aren’t we all?), and playing him just cemented the connection between the two.

6 & 7)Takeru Satoh as Mashiro Moritaka and Ryunosuke Kamiki as Takagi Akito (Bakuman)

Takeru Satoh & Mashiro Moritaka. Credits; Golden Village Cinemas & TV Tropes

Takeru Satoh & Mashiro Moritaka. Credits; Golden Village Cinemas & TV Tropes

Ryunosuke Kamiki & Takagi Akito. Credits: Golden Village Cinemas & Bakuman Wikia

Ryunosuke Kamiki & Takagi Akito. Credits: Golden Village Cinemas & Bakuman Wikia

And rounding off the list is Takeru Satoh (again!) as Mashiro, and Ryunosuke Kaimiki as Takagi in Bakuman. Takeru Satoh shows off his versatility here by portraying a hyper and enthusiastic schoolboy, alongside Ryunosuke Kamiki, who coincidentally, also stared with him in the Rurouni Kenshin series. Despite being in their 20s, they still manage to exude the excitable pubescent energy of teenagers. But what makes them even better than their anime counterparts is the chemistry between the two actors, who really bring the bromance to life on film. You can’t help rooting for this writer-artist duo, even if you don’t read that much anime.

Poster for Bakuman. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Poster for Bakuman. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

So what do Mashiro and Takagi get up to in Bakuman? Well, it’s a coming-of-age story of two friends who want to create the best selling manga in Japan. It showcases the manga making process and how much blood and sweat goes into it, but it’s also the story of childhood friendships and the unbreakable bonds of brotherhood. Catch Bakuman if you want to know how manga is made!

Credits: onehallyu, Death Battle Fanon Wikia, Alchetron, Initial D World, the ninja babbles, Comic Vine, ninjamerah, Rocket News 24, SMILE!, Marketing-Interactive, TV Tropes, Bakuman Wikia, Golden Village Cinemas,