Mackenyu’s role as Roronoa Zoro in Netflix’s live-action adaptation of
has brought him global fame and has been praised for its accuracy to the anime and excellent casting.
While Mackenyu has been in many anime adaptations throughout his career, some projects like
Knights of the Zodiac
have missed the mark.
Mackenyu’s performance in
Rurouni Kenshin: The Final
as the villain Yukishiro Enishi showcases his ability to bring depth to his characters and steal the show in action-adventure films.
Mackenyu Arata, known as Mackenyu, has starred in many live-action anime adaptations throughout his career, but some of these movies and TV shows are more memorable than others. Despite his father being Sonny Chiba, a Japanese action movie star, Mackenyu’s acting inspiration was Haruma Miura. Mackenyu dedicated his life to acting at the age of 17 and got his first role in the feature film Take a Chance in 2015.
Mackenyu has risen to global fame due to his role as Roronoa Zoro in Netflix’s live-action adaptation of One Piece. The success of the One Piece anime and the live-action series has put Mackenyu on the map in places where he wasn’t well known before. However, the actor has been in dozens of movies and TV shows prior to One Piece, and some of his best projects are also anime adaptations.
10 Knights of the Zodiac (2023)
An adaptation that missed the mark
Knights of the Zodiac
- Release Date
- May 12, 2023
- Famke Janssen, Madison Iseman, Sean Bean, Mark Dacascos, Nick Stahl, Diego Tinoco, Caitlin Hutson, Mackenyu
- Action, Adventure, Drama
Based on Masami Kurumada’s manga series, Saint Seiya, Knights of the Zodiac stars Mackenyu as the titular Seiya. After learning he has a power called Cosmo, Seiya begins his journey to become the Pegasus Knight, protector of the reincarnation of Athena. Despite the success of the manga that inspired it, Knights of the Zodiac did not fare well with critics, landing it a “rotten” 21% on Rotten Tomatoes. Its special effects were criticized, and it also bombed at the box office, making just under $7 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). Knights of the Zodiac made changes to the comics and anime as well, further adding to its troubles.
Mackenyu starred in two adaptations of the popular anime
Fullmetal Alchemist has a number of adaptations stemming from the manga series by Hiromu Arakawa. There have been two Fullmetal Alchemist anime series, and two animated movies were made between the years 2003 and 2011. The first live-action Fullmetal Alchemist was released in 2017. Mackenyu appeared in the 2022 sequel, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Revenge of Scar as the titular antagonist. He returned to the role in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Final Alchemy as well. Similar to his role in Rurouni Kenshin: The Final, Mackenyu brings a level of complexity to his villainous character that makes him fun to watch.
Despite Mackenyu’s compelling performance, The Revenge of Scar has its issues. For one, it’s over the top compared to the Fullmetal Alchemist anime. Additionally, while some changes made to the anime and manga improve the live-action series, others aren’t as successful. Since the ending stays true to the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, The Revenge of Scar is still worth watching — though it’s not as good as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or most of Mackenyu’s other anime adaptations.
8 Brave: Gunjyo Senki (2021)
A lesser-known adaptation starring Mackenyu as the lead
Brave: Gunjyo Senki follows a group of high school students whose school is suddenly transported back in time to the Sengoku period. The students must quickly figure out what to do, as the Battle of Okehazama is about to begin. The film is adapted from Masaki Kasahara’s manga series Gunjō Senki. Mackenyu plays the main character, Aoi Nishino, a talented but antisocial member of the school’s archery club. The cast’s performances are impressive, making this a memorable addition to Mackenyu’s filmography. However, Brave: Gunjyo Senki‘s main plot doesn’t bring anything new to the time travel subgenre, earning it a lower ranking among the actor’s movies.
7 Kaiji: Final Game (2020)
The final installment of a trilogy based on a manga
Kaiji: Final Game is the last movie in the Kaiji series after Kaiji and Kaiji 2. Despite the first two films being based on the manga series by Nobuyuki Fukumoto, Kaiji: Final Game is more loosely inspired by it. It takes place in the same world, where the characters are placed into deadly games. Mackenyu plays Minato Hirose, who is original to the film. Despite being an original idea, the movie stays true to certain aspects of the manga. It balances its original and manga-inspired elements well, and its commentary on poverty is poignant. It’s still far from Mackenyu’s best adaptation, but it breathes new life into Kaiji successfully.
6 Peach Girl (2017)
A popular romance series that deals with real life issues
Peach Girl follows high school student Momo Adachi as she navigates romance and the stereotypes associated with her looks. She is constantly written off by her classmates as easy or a “bimbo“. Mackenyu stars as Kazuya Tojigamori (Toji), Momo’s longtime crush. The film is based on the manga series of the same name written by Miwa Ueda. Peach Girl is not Mackenyu’s first time in a romance drama, but the lightheartedness of the film is such a contrast to his usual action-packed roles. This makes it stand out among his anime adaptations, and it’s quite impressive for showcasing aspects of high school that aren’t always explored.
Peach Girl‘s popularity led to adaptations being made in both Japan and Taiwan.
5 Tokyo Ghoul S (2019)
A small but electrifying role in the 2019 film adaptation
Tokyo Ghoul S is the second movie adaptation of the Tokyo Ghoul manga. The manga takes place in an alternate Tokyo, where ghouls exist and feed on human flesh. Written by Sui Ishida, Tokyo Ghoul spawned a successful anime adaptation as well. Mackenyu’s role in Tokyo Ghoul S is relatively small, as he only has a few minutes of screen time. His acting, however, shines through. Even though his face is hidden behind a mask for most of the scene, Mackenyu’s voice carries the intentions of his character, Sōta, well.
Tokyo Ghoul S is one of the better anime adaptations to emerge in recent years, as it does a good job expanding on the first live-action movie and offers a solid adaptation of its source material. Unfortunately, Mackenyu’s lack of screen time makes it difficult for this to rank higher on a list of his movies. However, few scenes he does have are enough to land Tokyo Ghoul S among the top five.
4 The Chihayafuru Trilogy (2016-2018)
A romance trilogy about karuta
Based on the manga of the same name by Yuki Suetsuga, the Chihayafuru trilogy was Mackenyu’s first romance drama. He plays Arata Wataya, a high school student who dreams of becoming the men’s champion in competitive karuta, a card game. Arata winds up in a love triangle with the main character, Chihaya Ayase, and her childhood friend, Taichi Mashima. Mackenyu won the Newcomer of the Year award for his role in the first Chihayafuru film, a testament to his strong performance throughout the trilogy. These films contain a lot of humor, a solid understanding of karuta, and great character portrayals, landing them among Mackenyu’s best work.
3 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable Chapter I (2017)
An action-fantasy film based on the hit manga and anime
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is well-known thanks to its anime adaptation of the manga written by Hirohiko Araki. It follows the Joestar family, whose descendants all share the same birthmark and nickname: JoJo. The story takes place in the real world with the addition of supernatural elements. Mackenyu plays Okuyasu Nijimura, who acts as an antagonist to Josuke Higashikata and Koichi Hirose alongside his older brother, Keicho. In the “Diamond Is Unbreakable” arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Josuke is the main hero, and Okuyasu and his brother eventually help him on his quest.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable Chapter I is a solid adaptation, with costumes and characters that match their manga and anime counterparts well. The film stays true to the wacky action of the anime, and it contains all the bright colors the source material is known for. It also offers plenty of exposition for audiences who may be unfamiliar with the anime. Although it changes details from the original storyline, the film succeeds. It’s among Mackenyu’s top three with all its strengths, but it doesn’t compare to the top two.
2 Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (2021)
The fourth installment of the period action-adventure franchise
The Rurouni Kenshin franchise spans five movies and is based on the manga series of the same name by Nobuhiro Watsuki. All the films follow the life of Himura Kenshin, a legendary assassin. Mackenyu plays Yukishiro Enishi, the leader of the Shanghai Mafia who is after Kenshin for killing his sister. Mackenyu gives an incredible performance as the villain, a role he does not tackle often. He expertly portrays the pain of Enishi while still keeping him firmly in an antagonistic role.
Rurouni Kenshin: The Final is the conclusion of Kenshin’s storyline, as the fifth film is a prequel story. It delivers a satisfying ending for Kenshin, and the movie is full of exciting fight sequences. The themes from the manga remain intact, and Mackenyu’s performance brings depth to the role of Enishi. It’s the actor’s best movie anime adaptation, though his best ever is a TV show.
1 One Piece (2023)
Mackenyu stole the show in the live-action adaptation of one of the longest running animes
One Piece (Live-Action)
- Release Date
- August 31, 2023
- Iñaki Godoy, Mackenyu, Emily Rudd, Jacob Romero Gibson, Taz Skylar
- Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
With over 1,000 episodes, One Piece is one of the longest-running anime. Originally a manga series by Eiichiro Oda, the success of One Piece‘s anime led to the creation of a live-action Netflix series. Mackenyu stars in this project as Roronoa Zoro, a pirate hunter and legendary swordsman known for his Three-Sword Style. Zoro joins Luffy and his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, in their quest for the One Piece treasure. Mackenyu brings Zoro to life with charm and style, and the actor’s martial-arts background certainly helps him play the nimble swordsman.
Mackenyu’s portrayal of Zoro is far from the only good thing about One Piece, which seems to have broken the live-action anime curse with its Rotten Tomatoes score. The series has been praised for its accuracy, and its casting is excellent all around. It’s one of the few live-action anime adaptations that met viewer expectations. The portrayals of iconic characters like Zoro raise the bar for future adaptations and make this Mackenyu’s best yet.
One Piece has been renewed by Netflix for season 2, but a release date has not been set at the time of writing.