I have a question for all of you. How do you feel about adaptions of manga and light novels? Do you feel like they are always supposed to be heavily bound by source material and supposed to be accurate as possible? Do you think that adaptations should make some adjustments to the source material to make it more interesting and unique for the medium it’s appearing in? What about if the adaptation took a materials characters and its world in another direction to make it something nobody has ever scene before? I’m sure that there are very nuanced and interesting discussions to all these questions. Of course there should be, I hope. Just like everything else, there are positive aspects and negative aspects to all these things. That being said, I am going to make the argument that source material shouldn’t be end all be all.
I’m going to get killed for this, aren’t I?
Immediate Counter Argument to What I Just Said
So what are the problems with not being attached to the source material? A lot of things. For one thing, having a series being unchained and not lead into any general direction could hamper the story to an incredibly large degree. Such things known as filler arcs are the worst example of those because they are entire arcs that have nothing to do with the anime’s story at all. As you would expect, these are things that long running shonen series have to do sometimes to remain attached to their source manga.
You can possibly say the same for other series that kept going when they run out of source material. You know, like Soul Eater and FMA 2003? I feel like those are half and half in these regards. There are advantages and disadvantages to what either of those series did. That being said, consider they are adaptions and not the works themselves, I don’t think anyone can call anything that these series have done in the end not canon. They are their own entities. At least, I think they are.
Adding some personality
Filler isn’t always bad. Especially when it’s just an episode here and there in a series adaptation or just a thrown in element into episode can do so much to give a character more personality. For example, let’s talk about Dragon Ball Z versus Dragon Ball Kai. First of all Dragon Ball Z has a lot of flaws. It’s paced too slow a lot of the time, focuses too much on characters yelling to power up which takes up a ton of run time, and who knows what else. Kai fixes a lot of those problems by trimming down Z quite a bit to make it more consumable, but I think that means it takes out a lot of Z’s personality as well.
I know that this is a small thing, but Goku being afraid of needles adds a quite bit to his character. Well to me, anyway. Also, it’s kind of funny and adds comedy when it’s needed in some very dramatic moments. Here is this infinitely strong warrior that isn’t afraid of facing death and severe injury to face the strongest opponents in the universe, but one prick from a needle can scare him to death. It doesn’t add any complexity to Goku at all, but it does give him some more personality and that is always a good thing.
Also, let’s talk about the filler episodes. Or perhaps a filler episode. You know, when Goku and Piccolo learn how to drive. First of all, it’s placed in the perfect spot. It happens between two arcs that is separated by a certain amount of years so this insanity can happen. Also, how fun and funny is it that super powerful characters that can fly are learning how to drive when they don’t have to? It doesn’t add anything to the story at all, but it adds fun and personality to Z. Considering how dramatic Z is a lot of the time, this is nothing but a good thing. I’m not saying that Kai doesn’t have personality, but quickly cutting between arcs hurts it for me.
Fixing a Stories Flaws
With this aspect, I am going to look at Angelic Layer and its adaptation. If there was something that Angelic Layer’s adaptation did better then it’s manga, according to online research, it’s Misaki’s mother’s story line. In the manga, Misaki’s mother never sees her daughter because she is incredibly shy. I mean, same, but having a more dramatic story in the anime about how she can’t walk and the Angelic Layer systems are paying for a method for her to walk is a lot more meaningful and powerful. Maybe a lot more dramatic, but it makes a lot more sense. At least to me.
What about Attack Titan season three that cut down a lot of the meandering and politics that were in the manga to make it all flow naturally and humanly? The flow of ideas and story elements can be changed for the better I anime adaptations. I mean, it’s the second chance for this story to be told. Why not improve on it when you have the chance to?
More eye popping Action Scenes
Ok, I am being a little picky with this aspect. Along with that, this could be also a positive and negative aspect for adaptation platform. Just going to say that right here and now. Also, there are some manga that have amazing action flow that makes each blow feel powerful and meaningful with some great action choreography.
At the same time, there are some who have pretty standard flow that just have action to have action. If there is something that an anime can do better than some manga in the action department, it’s making the action actually like action spectacle. You know, these would be the anime’s sakuga scenes where everything suddenly looks amazing and everything flows well and feels like everything has weight. At the same time, an anime adaptation’s fight scenes could be extremely lame compared to a mangas when they aren’t directed correctly. It’s a double-edged sword.
Unique Directional Style
This is yet another main point on how an adaptation can improve the source material in it’s own way. How an anime’s scenes are show to compared to a manga, or the addition of different color elements to a show’s background can add so much more personality and feeling to a series. Like, March Comes in a Lion or instance. The opening scenes of Rei living in an empty room or the numerous scenes where he feels like he is drowning because of his depression. March Comes in like a Lion does a great job of putting you in Rei’s head space, which is another reason why I love it to death. It’s very needed in an emotional piece like March Comes in like a Lion. Other series taking the effort to make a show feel special and emotional should be encouraged.
In the end, I would definitely choose a well-crafted anime adaption over it’s source material any day. An adaptation that is its own thing and high lights the strengths of where it comes from in its own way is the ideal anime for me. Especially when an anime is an adaptation of a light novel and the anime uses its medium to improve on the source material in its own way. The change of mediums can be hard sometimes, but it can always create something special that you won’t be able to see anywhere else. It doesn’t happen for everything, but when it does….
By reading this post, you might have an idea about what is coming on Friday. If you don’t, then you are in for a good surprise. Here’s a hint, it’s a post centered around a story that has been adapted twice. That’s it, that’s the clue you’re getting!