Manga is one of today’s entertainment industry’s most varied and richest mediums. Throughout its existence, many authors have managed to create so many stories that it would be hard to count and not feel exhausted. And so, in the age of streaming services and the constant need for content. Manga seems to be the perfect source to extract new ideas and adapt them to film or television. Netflix has been quite interested in doing this, and in the last several years, it has focused on bringing new manga stories to life. Burn the House Down is just the latest of those adaptations and might be one of the most successful ones.
Burn the House Down is a TV series developed by Netflix and directed by Yuichiro Hirakawa. The series stars Mei Nagano, Kyoka Suzuki, Asuka Kudo, Taishi Nakagawa, and Yuri Tsunematsu. The series tells the story of Anzu Murata, a young woman who finds a job as a housekeeper for the uptight Makiko Muratai, a woman obsessed with how people perceive her.
However, there is a reason behind Anzu working for Makiko, when we learn that Makiko was the woman who ruined Anzu’s family when she was just a child. Now Anzu has come back to take revenge on the woman who ruined everything and saves her entire family in the process.
Burn the House Down is a manga written and illustrated by Moyashi Fujisawa, and it really feels like the perfect manga to translate to live-action. As we said before, manga contains many stories in very different settings and with cartoonish and realistic characters.
You can really find it all. However, Hollywood and many other industries have repeatedly only gone for the most outrageous and extravagant manga to adapt to live-action. The animated nature of manga, and some of the outlandish nature of its stories, just don’t work when crossed with flesh and bone.
However, there are many manga like Burn the House Down. Stories are defined not by the power levels of their characters or the insane visuals of their attacks when battling but by the quality of their characters and the storytelling. Many manga stories are incredibly grounded and make the perfect material for film adaptation. Burn the House Down is one of them.
This story contains no superpowers, extraterrestrial planets, or anything of the sort. This is a story that plays out as a classic thriller. The Netflix adaptation takes this awesome story and gives it a chance to be experienced by many more people, which is already a plus.
When reading a manga, we have to use our voices to give voice to the characters as they speak. But here, the live-action adaptation actually brings in excellent actors to play those roles. This is the true benefit of a live-action adaptation. It isn’t that the visuals are more detailed, sometimes, as they jump from the page to the screen, but because actors can raise the material to new levels, thanks to their training.
The delivery of a line can change everything. Just ask Harrison Ford how they made terrible dialogue on the page work when the scenes were shot for Star Wars.
So, the actors and what they bring to the table are the strongest elements of the adaptation. Mei Nagano is a fantastic protagonist. She is not only pretty, but she has a quality where she can change from naive and sweet to menacing and calculated.
This is perfect for this type of story, as the characters try to hide something from others. Secrets always come to light, and the story’s pacing is quite good at feeding us new revelations occasionally. These developments are both big and small, but you always feel like the story is progressing somehow.
This is also one of the advantages when it comes to adaptation. The show’s creators already have the entire story at hand, so they can refine it even more and make it flow better.
The show’s creators achieve this goal and make the eight episodes easy to watch. On a technical level, the show has good production values. The sets all feel very realistic, so you can feel like this story is happening in our world right now. The visual design knows how to express several of the repeatedly exposed themes throughout the show.
However, while Nagano does an amazing job as a protagonist, Kyoka Suzuki stands out as the piece’s villain. Your hero is only as interesting as their villain, and Suzuki’s character represents quite a bit of an adversary.
You learn to despise her, and you also begin to understand the motivation behind the things she does. It doesn’t make her a better person, but seeing a perspective like this on such a character is interesting. The rest of the cast also does a great job bringing these characters to life in a natural way.
The series doesn’t overstay its welcome; you can feel like you watched something complete by the end. It is a nice feeling that is not often presented to us in this era of streaming, where series are made to last forever but then cut short for whatever reason. However, as the story reaches its second half, some of the developments become a bit redundant, and you just wish the characters would take action and do what they need to do. The story tries to bring the tension to new heights, but in reality, everything is frustrating.
Burn the House Down is a classic thriller with many secrets, betrayals, and revelations.
The main actors are doing an impressive job, and while the story becomes a bit frustrating towards the end, the characters are good enough that you cannot help but keep watching to see them clash in the most disastrous of ways.
This might not be an instant classic, but it is certainly the road that Netflix and many other studios should be taking when it comes to adapting manga for film or television. We don’t need more Cowboy Bebops. We need more Burn the House Downs.