“Edge of Tomorrow” - a manga adaptation done right
Arts Entertainment

“Edge of Tomorrow” - a manga adaptation done right

How Doug Liman's adaptation trumps over past, present, and future manga adaptations.

“Edge of Tomorrow” - a manga adaptation done right
Movie cover for Edge of Tomorrow. Courtesy of staticflickr.com

Manga adaptations have earned a bad reputation for being meme-worthy. From the poorly-made Death Note adaptation to the recent over-the-top eye-enlarging effects of "Alita: Battle Angel," we tend ask ourselves why these adaptations fail. Yet, not once do we ask ourselves what an ideal adaptation would look like. On May 2014, one movie defied our expectations and set a strong milestone for all future adaptations to come: Doug Liman's "Edge of Tomorrow."

"Edge of Tomorrow" is an action movie based on the manga "All you need is kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Both stories surround a private in the United Defense Force (UDF), fighting against an alien race that invades Earth. The private, in both Sakurazaka's and Liman's versions, has the ability to relive his day. He eventually used that skill to become adept at combat and win the war against the aliens. Think "Dark Souls" but in movie form.

"What have we he- Nope!" GIPHY

What makes Liman's interpretation unique and innovative is that he brings newer perspectives to the table. Here's 3 things that makes this manga adaptation one of the best.

1. Original characters

Unlike most anime adaptations, "Edge of Tomorrow" introduces its own characters. Major William Cage is our protagonist, taking the place of private Keiji Kiriya. Instead of being a recruit off the bat, we find out through the first few minutes of the movie that Cage is in fact an officer in the Media Relations department of the UDF. He was quickly demoted after declining to provide media coverage for a large assault on France, forcing him to then fight on said battlefront as an inexperienced private.

Looks like someone got the hang of it... after 1500 tries GIPHY

Rita Vrataski retained her name but was ultimately more different in the movie. Her backstory never got explored, thus building upon her mysteriousness. Her adept skill in melee combat made her an instant fan-favorite, even more so than Cage. She was portrayed as a mentor figure rather than as a mere comrade as compared to the manga.

Rita Vrataski - the real battle angel GIPHY

Although the story mostly followed the original light novel and manga, Liman's approach to the theme of the movie gave it a unique and modern feel, taking it away from the boring copy-and-paste formulas of adaptations.

2. Simple lore

The lore of the light novel/manga is highly looked into. So much so that it built its own universe with its own rules. This tends to be true with a lot of current manga; those like "Attack on Titans" tend to dive very deep into the lore, thus constructing such a detailed world that a 2-hour-long movie could never contain. Hence, the "Attack on Titans" live-action adaptation never took off.

"Edge of Tomorrow," however, did a great job of simplifying the lore. Instead of going deep into what the aliens are made of, what they can do, and where they came from, Liman decided to not do any of that until the audience is comfortable with the setting of the movie. Only then, after we dive deep into the movie, did he briefly explain the aliens and their abilities.

SPOILER ALERT - Cage learns about the aliens and his ability Youtube

The mindless drones are called Mimics, their masters are the Alphas, and the overmind is the Omega. The Mimics are used to scout and attack; the Alphas turn the tide of battle with their adaptive abilities; and the Omega observes all with omniscience. Why did they attack? It doesn't matter. We are thrown in the perspective of Cage, and from his point of view, it doesn't matter where they came from. All that matters is driving them out.

3. Effective comedy

Calling "Edge of Tomorrow" the "rated-M" version of "Groundhog Day" is not that far-fetched either. Hirosaka explained in an interview, saying that he "looked up existing works with loop story lines." And what's the one thing we know about "Groundhog Day?" It's funny!

It's funny because the main character is placed into an unwanted situation. It's funny because we could sense the hilarity within their frustration as they try to break free from the cycle. Cage is funny, at least in the first half of the movie. Throughout that long sequence, we get to experience what Cage experiences, and feel what he feels. Sometimes, his anger and frustration feels hilarious, and that is great!

Edge of Tomorrow funny scenes compilation Youtube

A lot of manga adaptations try to incorporate inside jokes from within the series itself, expecting fans to laugh at them. Most of the time, they end up being more cringy than funny. But Liman saw it differently. His sense of humor comes from being relatable. That allows for an original type of comedy, one that stood independently from the franchise itself.


"Edge of Tomorrow" was an excellent adaptation movie, easily trumping over its peers. With Netflix's Bleach and Death Note adaptations flunking in popularity due to their failed formulas, one could only hope that another "Edge of Tomorrow" come to revive the adaptation genre. Whatever the future brings, I have hopes that they would be great. Haven't seen "Edge of Tomorrow," give it a shot! Not ready? Have a peek at the trailer!

Edge of Tomorrow - Official Main Trailer Youtube

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