New Live-Action Anime Movie Repeats Dragonball Evolution’s Mistakes 14 Years After The Failed Adaptation



  • Movie adaptations of well-loved properties often flop, like Dragonball Evolution and Netflix’s Knights of the Zodiac, due to poor scriptwriting and lack of faith in the source material.
  • Dragonball Evolution failed not only because it strayed from the source material, but also because of bad visual effects, messy storylines, and controversial casting choices.
  • Knights of the Zodiac repeats many of Dragonball Evolution’s mistakes, receiving negative reviews for its use of CGI and hard-to-follow plot, but is praised for its portrayal of the anime’s melodramatic atmosphere and representation of an Asian lead character.



A movie adaptation is always a risk, especially when it is tackling a well-loved property or developing an animated piece into the live-action realm, and unfortunately more often than not, these adaptations are flops, just like Dragonball Evolution and Netflix’s most recent anime adaptation, Knights of the Zodiac. In 2009, Dragonball Evolution became one of the worst anime movie adaptations ever. The film not only did poorly at the box office, but it also received bad reviews from critics and fans alike who slammed the movie for its script, and in particular, its lack of faith to the source material.

When it comes to movie adaptations, the number one mistake that can be made is not sticking to the source material. This is a massive problem for book adaptations, video game adaptations, and of course, anime adaptations. Dragonball Evolution definitely fell into this camp fourteen years ago, and it paid dearly for that misstep. But, that wasn’t the film’s only problem either. Unfortunately, Dragonball Evolution also failed because of its bad visual effects, its messy and unsatsifying storylines, and its casting. Though Dragonball is an anime, the entire cast was white. Ultimately, these issues killed the entire live-action Dragonball film franchise.

Related: Knights Of The Zodiac Ending Explained

Knights Of The Zodiac Repeats Many Of Dragonball Evolution’s Mistakes

Saint Seiya's Pegasus Seiya in Knights of the Zodiac-1

Sadly, it seems that Hollywood has still not perfected the live-action anime adaptation. Almost fifteen years after the release of Dragonball Evolution, Netflix released a new anime movie, Knights of the Zodiac, which unfortunately falls into the same problems that its predecessor did in 2009. Knights of the Zodiac is based on the manga, “Saint Seiya,” and follows a street orphan that realizes he has incredible powers that make him the only person strong enough to protect a reincarnated goddess. The film stars Mackenyu, Famke Janssen, Madison Iseman, Diego Tinoco, Mark Dacascos, Nick Stahl, and Sean Bean.

Although “Saint Seiya” is a popular manga series, Knights of the Zodiac did not do so well with audiences or critics. The film has garnered a meek 21% on Rotten Tomatoes and even its positive reviews have hints of the negative in them. Though some critics appreciate the melodramatics and entertainment value of the film, they still feel that it will be a disappointment to fans, and ultimately, is not a piece of art by any means. Like Dragonball Evolution, Knights of the Zodiac is criticized for its use of CGI and hard-to-follow, barely-there plot. Ultimately, both films failed to grasp the magic of their source material.

What The Knights Of The Zodiac Movie Gets Right About Saint Seiya

An image of Diego Tinoco wearing purple armor in Knights of the Zodiac

Knights of the Zodiac wasn’t all bad though. Despite the fact that Knights of the Zodiac includes big changes to the anime, it isn’t the worst movie ever by any means, and definitely has its redeeming qualities. For one, unlike Dragonball Evolution, it has a main character played by an Asian person. Furthermore, one note that many critics had was that Knights of the Zodiac succeeds at portraying the atmosphere of anime. The movie is melodramatic and over-the-top in exactly the way anime is. In this way, it isn’t a complete departure from the manga, and could be enjoyed more than Dragonball Evolution.