Faithful Anime Adaptions vs. Original Material

I was scrolling through Twitter the other day when I came across a series of Tweets.

And it got me thinking about anime adaptions.

Because there have been hundreds of manga series that have been adapted into anime, but depending on their status and plot it depends whether the studio faithfully adapts the story – almost panel for panel – or if they go their own way with the story. And is it good that anime adaptions chart their own course? Or is it better when they stay faithful to the material they are based on?

I have a few examples of where things have gone either way, or in another direction completely.

WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD!

Blue Exorcist/Ao no Exorcist

Blue Exorcist, A-1 Pictures

Blue Exorcist is a great manga. A fantastic manga filled with amazing characters and a fast driving plot. But only the first 4 volumes were animated, before A-1 Pictures went off and made their own ending.

The split was most likely because of the manga’s popularity – in Japan an offer will be made to the magazine that publishes the manga by an animation studio normally after the manga has been running for about 1 year, if the manga is popular. It is up to the magazine whether or not to accept the offer, and then they talk with the manga author about whether they want the anime to go ahead. This often means that often the anime catches up with the manga and sometimes overtakes it.

I can only assume this is what happened with the Blue Exorcist anime, which is a shame, because the manga – as I have said twice before – is amazing.

In the manga we are only in the second big arc, and probably still have quite a lot of content to go before it ends. But the anime rounded everything off, giving reasons why Rin was born, who his mother is, and they had a big climatic fight. I really hope that this is a completely original ending and that Kazue Kato has an even better one install for us when she brings the series to an end.

And the housemate and I are crossing our fingers in the hope that the whole of the manga will be reanimated once it has ended.

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist, Bones

What happened with Fullmetal Alchemist is what I am hoping will happen with Blue Exorcist.

In that the anime stayed faithful to the manga until about halfway through and then it split off and did its own thing. But, due to popular demand, the animation studio went back once the manga had ended and animated the manga’s ending, creating Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

I will raise a hand and admit that I have only seen the anime ending, not Brotherhood. I tried watching Brotherhood, but couldn’t get past the first few episodes, because the script was shaky and the writing awful. I thought they were going to pick the series up from where they split off from the manga, but they tried to squeeze in too much content into too few episodes in order to catch up. It was just terrible. I want to read the manga though, and I prefer the Brotherhood ending to the anime ending – much kinder to the characters!

One Piece

One Piece, Toei Animation

Fillers.

That is probably all I have to say in relation to the current One Piece anime series.

Fillers. Fillers everywhere.

Because the anime is literally catching up to the manga with the speed of a Japanese bullet train, Toei are having to pad out the episodes with Goddamn awful filler material that has made me stop watching the series because I just can’t take it anymore.

The anime and manga are literally within chapters of each other – Oda is still writing the Dress Rosa arc, which still has a fair few chapters (I guess) before it is completed. Goodness knows what Toei are going to do once the Dress Rosa arc has finished – will they take a break? Will they make a load of filler arcs until the manga has plenty of material for them to animate? I highly doubt that they will end the anime, or give it an alternative ending – it’s so popular and it must make so much money. And, to be honest, I would be sad to see One Piece anime end.

I just wish they would stop putting in filler material!!

Nabari no Ou (King of Nabari)

Nabari no Ou, J.C.Staff

The manga story for Nabari no Ou wouldn’t have worked as an anime. I haven’t read all the manga, but I know enough of the turn of events that it wouldn’t have worked on screen, which is probably why the anime split off and did it’s own thing.

Yoite dies halfway through the manga series and we only see him once more at the end when Miharu leads him into the afterlife (sobs). I prefer that Yoite didn’t die until right at the end of the anime – mostly because it gave Miharu x Yoite more screen time! It felt right that the whole anime had been building up to Yoite’s death and that the anime plotted his and Miharu’s character development until they were different people by the end of it.

Although, I wish they had included Fuuma’s betrayal in the anime, and also added more of Kouichi’s and Raimei’s relationship.

Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin

Attack on Titan, Wit Studio and Production I.G

The anime of Attack on Titan has – so far – stayed very faithful to the manga.

There have been a few bits here and there that have been changed, but that is to be expected. One of the biggest changes made, which might lead to even more changes, is at the end of season 1 when Eren is in his titan form, fighting Annie in her titan form and he announces that he is going to destroy the world. This did not happen in the manga, and my housemate pointed out that it was odd since Eren had apparently taken control of his titan powers during the boulder/blocking up the hole in the wall scene.

Whether it’ll stay faithful remains to be seen with the very slow, and not very interesting, political arc coming up. I’m rather hoping that the anime company will jazz things up a bit, or at least steam roll through it.

I do like it how the animation company have waited for the manga to get more content before continuing on the anime. Rather hoping that it will stay this way. Guess we’ll find out next year with season 2!

Tokyo Ghoul 

Tokyo Ghoul, Studio Pierrot

Tokyo Ghoul is an interesting case.

The manga was finished, or finishing before the anime started, but the anime split away from the manga in the second season.

It’s an even more interesting case because the author of Tokyo Ghoul, Sui Ishida, was the one who wrote the story for season 2… And it kind of sucked… A lot. Sorry, just my personal opinion.

I’m going to start reading the manga this year, because I LOVED LOVED LOVED the first season of Tokyo Ghoul, and if the manga has more content that is that good then I want to read it. Since I have not read the manga I do not know if the content would have been suitable for animation, or if changing the plot was the best way forward for the anime – although I’m seriously hoping the middle section of the Tokyo Ghoul manga is better than the second season of the anime (makes gagging noises),

They are releasing a third season of Tokyo Ghoul (apparently later this summer), which I will watch, just to see if it takes the same route as the manga in that Kenaki Ken comes back with a new identity. The anime still has a lot to resolve – the appearance of that new monster ghoul for example, the identity of which we do not know yet.


In conclusion of what’s best, faithful adaptions or original anime material?

I personally think it depends on the manga. Some manga will work as anime – where there is a build up to a climax and a big showdown – but others will not and need to be changed.

It annoys me when the animation studio have perfectly good manga content and decide to go their own way – like in Blue Exorcist – but then I guess that is where it sadly comes down to money and popularity rather than creative content. Animation studios have to strike while the iron is hot, and sometimes don’t have the time or money to wait around for the manga to get more content for them to animate.

In relation to the series of Tweets I put at the start of this post I’m not sure if I 100% agree with @ChrisBeveridge, since I think that it is best to stick to the manga content, because that is what the majority of fans want – we want to see faithful adaptations of the work we love.

I think originality in anime is important – there are dozens of anime out there I love which aren’t based on manga (Free!, Michiko e Hatchin, Samuari Champloo), but when translating a manga into anime I think it is important to say true to the original material with the odd filler episode thrown in (if you really have to), and some artistic licence at hand when it comes to the animation style and voice acting.

What do you guys think?
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One thought on “Faithful Anime Adaptions vs. Original Material

  1. I like both. I want to see the faithful anime adaptation of the manga, but I also want to watch a totally original take on the series. What I want is for a loyal adaptation AND an original story. It makes life more interesting that way.

    Liked by 1 person

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