Why Do Anime Need to Be Rebooted?

The easiest answer to the title’s question is that they don’t have to be. Like all things, anime is something that exists because people have the passion to make them, right? Or, the people who have the passion are exploited by a production company that wants more money. Regardless, one of the key things in animation production passion. An animation production from the limited standards at that time can be so much more charming than something created today with modern anime techniques. Especially since people can create an anime at any time period for a reason with the largest sense of passion to it. In most cases, its so hard to replicate that passion unless its pushed in a completely different direction for or different reasons. At least, that is how I feel about Diebuster which follows Gunbuster. That’s not a reboot, but the tension feels the same.

I can see why people would want a reboot for an anime series that is based around some kind of manga source material. Especially since accuracy is something that a lot of people care about. So thus, we have the brotherhood equation where years after the original show came out and was incomplete or had a different ending, the show is redone to much more accurate to the source material and generally looks better. That accuracy is something that a lot of people want to have. Generally, it’s felt like it has some success with Brotherhood, Hunter x Hunter 2011, and Fruits Basket that just ended recently into some great success. Though, not everyone is going to be happy. I’ve seen some calls for Soul Eater and Yu Yu Hakusho to get a reboot in the same way and I really don’t want these things for either of them. They look great already, leave them alone. Just get people to enjoy them the way they are.

Repeating an original story feels so strange to me. Yet, that has been a thing that has been done somewhat often too. Is it weird to see a creator’s vision at that time or the work of so many people repeat a show and its plot elements for yet another time? Especially when its someone else doing it. Like, I can get why a reboot like Space Battleship Yamato 2199 was made because it’s been literally decades since the original series came out and it comes with a new point of view. I also know that Macross: Do You Remember Love exists, repeats a lot of the plot elements in SDF Macross a short time after SDF came out, and yet its an animation classic. A reinterpretation of the story could be interesting. It’s fascinating to see something be done again and again in different ways. You see that with the Code Geass Trilogy, Eureka 7’s Hi-Evolutions films, or, what we are covering in these two weeks, the Rebuild of Evangelion films.

Oh man, these Evangelion films are something special. Not only because it’s literally a slight changing of themes, but it’s the most documented on why these films were created in the first place. Not to mention, that all of the rebuild films definitely come from Hideaki Anno’s vision so this is a creator going over something they did before in a different way. Especially since Anno’s reasons change over the course of working on them. At least, that is what I get from see from every piece of media I saw from them. The booklet for 1.0 mentions Khara having more freedom to create Evangelion the way he wanted with more advance visual techniques. Then there is the jump to the NHK special where Anno mentions all his ideas turn into some form of Eva, which is why he worked on another edition of it. Which is true? Probably all of it. This is just a case that reading more gets you to understand it more.

Continuing with the rebuilds, its so interesting to see how his life has changed from the tv series to the movies themselves. Why? Well, the conclusions of each of them are different thematically. Neon Genesis Evangelion itself was about finding your own place and life and being happy with who you are. The Rebuilds go a little further and actively challenges the abuser. I like saying that 3.0+1.0 is like that scene in Fruits Basket where Kyo meets his father again in Fruits Basket. If you don’t know what that is like, it will be covered in the future very soon here. So yes, sometimes a reinterpretation from the creator can do so much and show how a person has changed. Other times, it’s about accuracy or money or just passion. Some reasons are better then others just like everything else. It’s often that money and passion can meet together for the same purposes when it’s a well known franchise that people love. The world is just complicated like that. As long as ideas meet together, then they can happen.

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22 comments

  1. On the topic of anime reboots, I’ve always believed that if a show has been on moth balls for twenty years or something with no new material, and the creator wants to do it, let them do it. I also think that we live in an age, technologically speaking, that any legacy anime that could use a modern remaster (like Yu Yu Hakusho) ought to get one. Lookin at you, 0079.

    I have no dog in the fight when it comes to Eva, but it seemed like Anno felt like his message and his vision didn’t come across as he may have wanted the first time around. Who are we, the audience and consumer, to argue with him?

    Fans of Shaman King have responded mostly positively to the Netflix series from what I’ve seen. On the other hand, Sailor Moon Crystal….well.

    It really comes down to how the original source material is handled, especially visually.

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    1. Yeah, it always feels like a crapshot unless the heart is really into the studio making the reboot. That’s why I am nervous about shows getting them even when some reboots turn out to be the best anime ever.

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  2. Given the success of most of the reboots that we’ve seen, which you listed yourself, they don’t seem problematic at the moment. In most cases, they’ve come along to finish stories that were originally stopped, and with better production. I will always hold that the original FMA has its strengths as well over its reboot, but I will always appreciate the rebooted Fruits Basket because I was never planning to watch the original.

    On the movie side, I’m not so sure how much I would categorize them with reboots. It’s true that movies tend to use a lot more of the same story, but they feel much closer to adaptations to me. It’s a different medium and audience, with constraints that affect how you have to tell the story. It probably doesn’t seem that way to westerners, but that’s likely because we’re getting the content in a different way.

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    1. Yes, a lot of reboots do feel good for their own reasons meta or otherwise and they do replace some classic stuff which can be good or bad depending on the quality of either. I am thankful for the Fruits Basket remake because I wasn’t looking into watching the og series either.

      I guess adaptations make sense. It feels like a complicated thing in that way. Hmmm. I mean, both are moving with visuals and music so partial remake? It’s hard to detail this one.

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      1. I tried to be careful about how I worded that because I know it’s a weird space. What I’m saying is that if you think about the features of reboots and adaptations as a spectrum from one side to the other, movies seem to embody more of the attributes of an adaptation. It’s true that you can boil it down to visuals and music, but you can do the same with live action films, which feel a bit less confusing on that spectrum.

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  3. Nice way of explaining the reboot phenomena! It can either be like Space Battleship Yamato, where it’s a retelling of an already wonderful and timeless tale, or something that adds further catharsis of the original work, like Evangelion. Though with EVA, I’m glad that there is more of an overtly happy conclusion, the other two were vague in their bliss: Ep. 26 implying Shinji could only find peace through blending his consciousness with the rest of the departed human souls, and the End of Evangelion’s outro implicitly saying that individual resolve will often lead to violence and despair. 3.0+1.0 breaks these chains and is hopeful, which I like; the course of human action isn’t always set in stone – which is why Mari’s presence is needed in the zeitgeist of it all.

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    1. Yeah, I kind of agree with Evangelion. I do think that the endings were more hopeful then you thought, but is definitely the best and most positive ending of the show out there and I like it for that.

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      1. There is hope, but I felt no ultimatum – which I feel was an option that was nice to have. “The End of Evangelion” helped me through a stupor of depression once, because the ending says that being an autonomous being means loneliness and people misunderstanding you, and pain – but joy is also gained from the opportunity to be self-governing. The two choices are basically whether to have free-will (life) or be a collective self (death). I am glad that there is a self-acceptance route that doesn’t end in death.

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  4. I definitely always prefer announcing some kind of sequel/prequel/spinoff instead of rebooting something. If you’re going to reboot though, then I feel it’s best for shows that never fully adapted the manga or changed at the end like Full Metal Alchemist, Shaman King, etc.

    If the original show was a super faithful adaption and is just dated, I’d prefer a remake to change things up a bit. In a way you even trick the audience like that. Imagine Saint Seiya getting a remake for example but midway through the Gold Saints arc to save Athena, Poseidon and his men suddenly show up to take advantage of the chaos? To a mild degree, one of the manga spinoffs did that where it turns out that one of Hades minions actually manipulated everyone in the Gold Saints arc but it’s done in a way where it doesn’t matter if you consider it canon or not.

    I’d like more of a direct change because it would spice things up. It’s risky of course but I think it’s better than doing a 1 to 1 remake of something that was already completed.

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  5. I am a snob. Original Evangelion is right up there with Shakespeare and Goethe. Every rebuild and mod they do detracts from it.

    I think of rebuilds like a musician doing a cover of a classic song. Sometimes it works really well. And sometimes it misses the whole point. Most of the time I just feel like there was no point besides the inability to write your own song. The original told the entire story and nothing more needs to be said.

    The same thing is true of classic movies. Nine out of ten times the original was better. It is like the flesh is still willing but the spirit got bored with the whole affair. The truth is that most remakes and sequels exist only to capitalize on the original’s good name. The story is really over but, hey, it became really popular so let’s just slap something together and make a lot of money with no effort.

    There are movies that are done over and over based on much older literature but I don’t consider them remakes in the same sense. They can all be great. You can redo Huckleberry Fin or Romeo and Juliette until the cows come home. The original was never written to be a movie, the conventions are far removed from us today, and the story has become universal.

    I kind of feel the same way about colorizing classic B&W movies. A director puts intense effort into making the B&W art perfectly expressive of what he wants. Adding color ruins this balance. It is like taking a 15th-century woodcut and turning it into a paint-by-numbers picture.

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    1. In some ways, I understand because I have some precious children series like that too but in a lot cases, I can always say that “I have this series and I don’t need anything else” if they do reboot those series.

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  6. I do prefer the Soul Eater manga, but I wouldn’t honestly demand a Brotherhood-style remake of its anime. Invalidating a perfectly good show like that seems incredibly wasteful, especially if you’d then have to retrace its steps for dozens of episodes, likely with much less impact, just to tape a few more chapters at the end.

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