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Old 2010-10-25, 11:18   Link #1
Midonin
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Omnibus vs Unified in the anime medium

Once again, I create a topic about visual novels and the process of adapting them.

The two big names that started this season are Fortune Arterial and Yosuga no Sora, each taking a different approach. Yosuga has revealed this week that it's going for the omnibus format, while Arterial looks to be sticking to one universe for everything.

A debate on the merits of both would be interesting, methinks.

A unified storyline gives us more of the characters in what is certainly the same universe. The same person we see in the final episode has gone though all the events in previous episodes, and likely learned from them. This one has more consistency, and if the focus of the novel is on something that's not romance-related (it always comes down to romance), such as making sure the world doesn't end in a fiery explosion, this is the ideal choice. This way can also be done by selecting one route and sticking with it.

The omnibus format requires the universal reset button to be pressed any number of times, and thus ensures that [main character name] gets [your favorite love interest] because they have infinite do-overs thanks to the cosmic force that keeps resetting things. On the other hand, it becomes more like a series of loosely-connected OVAs that don't have as much time to spend with the characters, and having everybody win leads to some feelings I'm still not entirely sure about. That old adage about "you can't please everybody all the time."

Should omnibus become the wave of the future, or are there better ways to do things? Does the unified approach also have its advantages?
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Old 2010-10-25, 13:11   Link #2
Arabesque
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Originally Posted by Midonin View Post
A unified storyline gives us more of the characters in what is certainly the same universe. The same person we see in the final episode has gone though all the events in previous episodes, and likely learned from them. This one has more consistency
Which is why I have thus far preferred the unified approach moreso than the omnibus one.

I'm refereeing mostly to Romantic based series in my post

I'm not all that knowledgeable in Visual Novels, so I can't say how well it works in them, but from watching Amigami SS and YnS, I can say that while it's an interesting approach to things, I would hate to see it become the way of the future.

Now don't get me wrong, I can see how it could be utilized in a number of good ways (playing with different settings and tropes with each situation, having different character interpretations and presentations etc.) however the way it's been used thus far in romance based anime can be described as ''official'' fanfics that simply cater to each fandom and doesn't offer any suspense due to how formulaic it becomes.

Triple_R more or less summed it for me in one Amigami thread
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Actually, I have to disagree. It might be easier to tie a coherent plot and characterization for each key character together, but it's also harder to make the story (or stories) seem interesting.

No offense to fans of this anime (and I like it a bit myself), but I don't think that it's as good as Clannad or Kanon 2006 was... and I think that the format difference might be a big part of the reason why.

The omnibus 'parallel reality' format effectively removes any and all genuine romantic conflict, as the other five girls tend to be just secondary supporting cast characters for each of the girls' arcs.

So, instead of having the conflict of "Who will he go with? Who will he choose?", or the drama of "How will he let her down? How will she take it?", or wondering if the girls can get along in spite of how they're all interested in the same guy, it's a much milder progression of just watching Junichi gradually win over one specific girl per four episode arc, and that's that.

Most of the great romances of fiction, going at least as far back as Romeo and Juliet, tend to have real conflict within them (in the case of Romeo and Juliet, it was the conflict between their respective families).

These Amagami SS stories have no conflict, or very little conflict, and that means they're a bit less engaging, imo.
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Should omnibus become the wave of the future, or are there better ways to do things? Does the unified approach also have its advantages?
I wouldn't mind if it becomes more common place, but I would hate to see it become the staple.

IMO, the omnibus format can present stories as good and wonderful as the unified one, and also show sub par or underwhelming ones, it's simply another story telling technique. It really depends on what suites which best (for example, something like Kimikiss might be more suited in the omnibus format (thought I personally loved that anime overall) but I think having Toradora! or Clannad do something like it would produce something inferior).

The most obvious advantage that the unified approach has is that the anime doesn't have to be economical in telling it's stories and there is more room for things to be told more completely.
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Old 2010-10-25, 18:03   Link #3
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The omnibus format thing seems to mainly come up with regards to visual novel adaptations, so I think it's worth remembering that visual novels themselves have plot structures that range from omnibus to unified.

(Bare in mind that I haven't actually played all of these, so a lot of the information about specific games is second hand)

In some VNs, the plot remains fairly consistant no matter which girl you choose to pursue. Tayutama, for example, features the same three major fights no matter which route the player takes, with only details and the romance scenes changing. You wouldn't want to make an omnibus out of one of these because there would be a lot of repeated sections.

Many VNs, however, feature quite different stories based on the girl you end up with. There's no way you can get all the storyline of Kanon or Clannad in one playthrough.

Depending on the content of the actual routes, this can present problems for a unified approach. While many of Key's storylines work even with the romantic elements stripped out, such as most of Kanon's stories and Kotomi and Fuko's routes in Clannad, some do not: Kyou and Tomoyo's routes in Clannad comes to mind. That's why those routes were done as OVAs rather than as part of a unified story.

Actually, to be completely honest, the animes for Kanon and Clannad aren't that far off something like Amagami in terms of structure, Kyoto Animation simply avoided needing a reset because the routes they included didn't have an impact on the other routes. This works because Key includes a fair bit of non-romantic storyline in their routes. I don't think Amagami is this lucky: without the romantic developments, many of the routes would probably fall flat.

I'm not particularly opposed to the idea of a romantic-conflict centered rewrite of Amagami, but that's largely because I consider the various stories in Amagami to be weak to begin with. I'm not much of a fan of romantic conflict in romance anime - there are some shows centered around it I like, but in general I prefer it when the girl's individual stories are the focus. It's just that the individual stories in Amagami are weak. I also think it's worth noting that otaku are notoriously unforgiving when it comes to major rewrites.

Yosuga no Sora seems to have much stronger individual subplots for the girls, which is part of the reason I like it a lot more than Amagami. I don't actually mind the omnibus format here: the "branch point" episode endings mean they're not going to waste episodes when they reset. I still think that they're probably going too fast (four routes in twelve episodes?), but that would also be a problem even with a omnibus to unified conversion like Kyoto did with Kanon.
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Old 2010-10-25, 20:25   Link #4
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Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
You wouldn't want to make an omnibus out of one of these because there would be a lot of repeated sections.
I'd rather take such circumstances as opportunities for script writers to stretch their wings a bit and include their own ideas.

Quote:
I also think it's worth noting that otaku are notoriously unforgiving when it comes to major rewrites.
I'm not so sure about that, not after discovering DVD sales figures for Shingetsutan Tsukihime and Toei's Kanon adaptations. Both shows sold surprisingly well for their reputation of apparently not existing because they were so badly adapted. What otaku hate aren't bad adaptations, but rather overall bad anime productions.
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Old 2010-10-25, 23:14   Link #5
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This is a topic that I've come to feel pretty strongly about, and Arabesque's quote of me there sums up some of my reasons for generally being against the omnibus format.

In addition to those reasons, though, I would add the following:

1. By its very nature, the omnibus format creates several short self-contained stories. Relatively few animes, these days, extend beyond 24 episodes. Most dating sim-style visual novels contain at least four different love interests to choose from (and usually more than four). So, that means the greatest length we can reasonably hope for in an omnius-style anime adaptation of a dating sim-style visual novel is 6 episodes per route (and it will usually be fewer episodes than that). That puts quite a limitation on character and relationship growth. I've seen good animes that were this short, but I never found them as fulfilling as Clannad or Kanon 2006.

In recent years, I've seen some animes that were undermined by their shortness (Angel Beats! being a major example of this). If future visual novel adaptations are all limited to 6 episodes (or less) of interconnected continuity, then it's going to be very hard if not impossible to find a truly great and memorable story in any of them. I would argue that Clannad's story is very memorable, and in many places great. The fact that it had time (i.e. a lot of episodes) to develop a richly textured multi-layered narrative with lasting character development is a big part of the reason why, in my opinion.


2. I disagree with 0utf0xZer0 on his point that omnibus to unified conversations suffer from the same sort of pacing problems or limitations here. A reasonably skillful writer can unify different visual novel routes together to make a solid, comprehensive, and sensible whole, with good character development for all the key characters. I would argue that Clannad did just that.

Yes, some deviation from the source material will obviously have to come into play here for a unified approach to work... but then, as 0utf0xZer0 alluded to, the omnibus format isn't necessarily free from this as well, unless its willing to have lots of repeated sections (and this can turn off a lot of viewers; just recall the controversy surrounding Haruhi's Endless Eight).
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Old 2010-10-26, 00:15   Link #6
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I don't think its all one or the other... the decision should be made by the creators based on the difficulty of integrating the source material.

OTOH... I suspect the producers smell easier or more predictable revenue from the omnibus format.

I don't utterly dislike 'choose the girl' series (though the FAIL seems to be increasing lately) .. but I have to say I'm getting more likely to skip those when a good seinen or shoujo series is available - they just seem to work better for me.
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Old 2010-10-26, 00:44   Link #7
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I recently made a comment on a blog concerning this issue, so I'll just quote it below with some adjustments. It pretty much sums up my stand on the issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bloo
HmmÖ Iím sorry, but I canít agree that this is a good or exciting direction (omnibus) for VN adaptations to go down and I hardly find it innovative. My main issue with this structure is that itís pretty much lifted wholesale from the VN itself. Many VN's follow the omnibus format and when their anime adaptions follow suit it can feel more like a copy/paste job than an actual adaptation. Of course not every one that takes this format is like this, but itís very hard to avoid if youíre going to go through every arc and just reset at the end of each one.


To me, it feels like a sign of laziness on the part of the series composer and/or script writers. It's much easier to simply look at the different scenario scripts from the game and copy them rather than attempting to adapt the VN into a woven story. A good series composer should be able to resolve arc conflicts in a satisfying manner in order to unify the narrative.

I guess my stance comes from what I expect from VN adaptations and adaptations in general. I appreciate it when an adaptation tries to add something new to the source material by taking advantage of the new medium. In my opinion, the format that Amagami SS and some others use doesnít bring much new to the table. At times it can feel like the only difference between the adaptation and the source is that the characters in the anime are moving where in the VN they are static. If that's all an adaptation has to set itself apart from the VN, then I will likely be disappointed. Plus, if someone really wanted to go through every possible arc and storyline in the game, they could simply play the VN.

Anyway, thatís all just my personal preference and Iím sure many will disagree. I hope I was able to give you a different perspective on the matter.
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Old 2010-10-26, 01:58   Link #8
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I just realized that while we've been discussing Yosuga no Sora, nobody here has actually explained that anime's approach to the omnibus format. It basically goes like this:

Route one: episodes 1-4
Route two: episode 1-2, 5-6
Route three: episode 1, 7-9
Route four: episodes 1,7,10-12

So basically, the endings of episode 1, 2, and 7 serve as branch points. I find this a lot more interesting than Amagami's "straight resets", and it allows for 4-5 episodes per arc instead of three - although based on how the fourth episode played out, I'm going to say that 4 episodes is not enough when you have to include an introduction episode. It only works in Amagami because the stories in that show tend to be mainly fluff anyway.

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Originally Posted by cyth View Post
I'd rather take such circumstances as opportunities for script writers to stretch their wings a bit and include their own ideas.

I'm not so sure about that, not after discovering DVD sales figures for Shingetsutan Tsukihime and Toei's Kanon adaptations. Both shows sold surprisingly well for their reputation of apparently not existing because they were so badly adapted. What otaku hate aren't bad adaptations, but rather overall bad anime productions.
Interesting perspective, but to me it basically says some brands (Key and Type-Moon) are so big that their sales will be huge no matter what. Kanon 2002 didn't sell nearly as well as any of the Key/Kyoto collaborations.

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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
2. I disagree with 0utf0xZer0 on his point that omnibus to unified conversations suffer from the same sort of pacing problems or limitations here. A reasonably skillful writer can unify different visual novel routes together to make a solid, comprehensive, and sensible whole, with good character development for all the key characters. I would argue that Clannad did just that.
Eh, I didn't so mean to imply that they're subject to the same pacing problems or limitations. I'm simply saying that I don't think unification will save you when you try and cram four routes into twelve episodes. (Exception: if two or more of the routes are the same story from different perspectives. Which actually might be the case with Yosuga no Sora, I guess we'll find out.)

On the whole I'd say the unified format offers better opportunities and more flexibility to writers. Most importantly, it means you don't have to treat all routes equally: you can shorten less important routes in order to give more time to more important ones. And of course, a unified plot gives you space to make the romantic developments feel more real: you can have Tomoya's releationship with Nagisa develop slowly because you can have it develop throughout the various arcs.

(EF is an interesting example here: each EF season is essentially two six episode stories merged into a twelve episode whole. The connections between the stories are limited, but the alternation between stories prevents the progression from feeling as rushed as if you were to watch each arc as a six episode whole.)

All this being said, I would like to stress that Clannad isn't actually all that "unified". The "arcs" within the plot are pretty recognizable as the routes from the game, it just happens to be possible to cut some bits (mainly the romance from those routes) rearrange them in a way that works as a cohesive whole. That doesn't work when adapting something where going with one route precludes going with another. Fate/Stay Night is a good example here.

I think for something like Amagami to work in a unified format, you'd have to rewrite at least a few of the routes as non-romantic storylines, and demote the girls in those routes to non-romantic sidestory status. Then they could focus more attention on the remaining routes. I think this could present some challenges because Amagami always struck me as mainly romantic fluff - take that away and how much is left?

So, that means the greatest length we can reasonably hope for in an omnius-style anime adaptation of a dating sim-style visual novel is 6 episodes per route (and it will usually be fewer episodes than that).

Six episodes is actually enough if you don't have too complex a story in my opinion: quite a few Key "routes" are adapted into four episode arcs, so with two episodes to handle introductions and such, you should be fine. As a light novel example, Hanbun no Tsuki pulled it off. Amagami and Yosuga no Sora are shooting themselves in the foot with the four episode arcs though, those only work if you have really simply plots.
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Old 2010-10-26, 04:36   Link #9
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Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
Interesting perspective, but to me it basically says some brands (Key and Type-Moon) are so big that their sales will be huge no matter what. Kanon 2002 didn't sell nearly as well as any of the Key/Kyoto collaborations.
07th Expansion sounds like a huge brand to me, yet Umineko DVD sales were abysmal. Remember, Key wasn't as huge in 2002 as it is today, the same can be said for TYPE-MOON during Tsukihime's time. Oh yeah, these brands were hugely popular in their own circles, but the larger otaku landscape didn't really know how to respond to them.
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Old 2010-10-26, 10:40   Link #10
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Omnibus is best - hands down. If they had done that for the Fate/stay night anime, it would be been so much better.

But I think one reason they don't is because they want people to go out and buy the VN, especially if it's a PS2 port of an eroge, lol.
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Old 2010-10-26, 12:37   Link #11
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I think we don't have enough elements to compare the two approaches properly yet. Some of Amagami's flaws could be attributed to the directing (or even the original material) rather than the format of the story. I have a feeling Yosuga no Sora will handle the omnibus format better. For one, having common episodes for some of the heroines is definitely a good idea.

I honestly can't say which approach I prefer right now. Both can be valid options depending on the original material. Amagami's plot relies heavily on the romance aspect and thus is better suited for omnibus.
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Old 2010-10-26, 12:51   Link #12
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07th Expansion sounds like a huge brand to me, yet Umineko DVD sales were abysmal. Remember, Key wasn't as huge in 2002 as it is today, the same can be said for TYPE-MOON during Tsukihime's time. Oh yeah, these brands were hugely popular in their own circles, but the larger otaku landscape didn't really know how to respond to them.
This is probably just a little off topic, but is there an event that marks the point where Key and Type-Moon "broke through" to otaku at large?

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I think we don't have enough elements to compare the two approaches properly yet. Some of Amagami's flaws could be attributed to the directing (or even the original material) rather than the format of the story. I have a feeling Yosuga no Sora will handle the omnibus format better. For one, having common episodes for some of the heroines is definitely a good idea.

I honestly can't say which approach I prefer right now. Both can be valid options depending on the original material. Amagami's plot relies heavily on the romance aspect and thus is better suited for omnibus.
I definitely think that Yosuga no Sora has a superior format to Amagami, and the "branching cliffhangers" are kind of neat. That said, the first arc of YnS is actually what inspired me to say "a unified plot gives you space to make the romantic developments feel more real: you can have Tomoya's releationship with Nagisa develop slowly because you can have it develop throughout the various arcs." Guess I spoke a bit too soon with the post prior to that, since I hadn't seen episode four yet at the time.
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Old 2010-10-26, 13:00   Link #13
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I think the omnibus format could end up being effectively used to sell DVD's/BD's of shows that wouldn't sell much unified. How many 12 episode eroge adaptations have come out that have felt rushed, disconnected, and had rather open or predictable endings? By marketing individual routes, even if the story is still rushed, people can buy their favorite girls, or their favorite stories, which would all at least have a conclusive ending, instead of 20% of 1 girl and 60% of another etc, all mashed together. However, if you are adapting a VN or eroge that lends itself well to the unified format, or have an established studio working on the project, or also adapting something that is fairly popular, unification would be what I'd prefer.
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Old 2010-10-26, 14:05   Link #14
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Unless they're going to make a series like 52 episodes long, please stay away from omnibus.

The pacing ends up being too fast to ever truly enjoy each girl's storyline. It jumps so fast that you rarely have time to even emotionally connect to any of the characters.

Amagami SS is a good example of this, where it quickly builds up a relationship, then has it conclude in some cheesy way really fast because the story needs to end quickly. Would it have been so cheesy had it actually developed the characters properly at a good pace? Probably not.

There is no point in omnibus format if it is there to simply appease the visual novel players. Especially if they do a poor job at it.

With a unified story you can properly set the tone of the series, not have to rush through everything as much (My god fortune Arterial is already only 1 cour, if they omnibus'd it, it would be horrible), actually develop characters, and leave room for the tiny details in stories that really just make it all together more enjoyable.

So yes, unified > omnibus any day, and I think this goes beyond my opinion, it just objectively allows for better story telling in a short amount of available time (1 or 2 cour series that possess multiple lengthy routes).
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Old 2010-10-26, 16:19   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post

Eh, I didn't so mean to imply that they're subject to the same pacing problems or limitations. I'm simply saying that I don't think unification will save you when you try and cram four routes into twelve episodes. (Exception: if two or more of the routes are the same story from different perspectives. Which actually might be the case with Yosuga no Sora, I guess we'll find out.)
When dealing with that episode limitation, I agree: It's probably going to feel at least a bit rushed regardless.

With 24 or more episodes to work with, though, I think that the unified approach can be worked to feel a bit less rushed than the omnibus approach.


Quote:

On the whole I'd say the unified format offers better opportunities and more flexibility to writers. Most importantly, it means you don't have to treat all routes equally: you can shorten less important routes in order to give more time to more important ones. And of course, a unified plot gives you space to make the romantic developments feel more real: you can have Tomoya's releationship with Nagisa develop slowly because you can have it develop throughout the various arcs.
Good points.



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Originally Posted by DragoZERO View Post
Omnibus is best - hands down. If they had done that for the Fate/stay night anime, it would be been so much better.
Why do you think so?

I liked the Fate/Stay Night anime pretty well as it is. It had its flaws, but they really weren't connected to going with unified over omnibus, imo.

Also, Fate/Stay Night's storyline goes far beyond romance alone. Dividing it into separate romantic routes would really undermine what the Fate/Stay Night anime accomplished, in my opinion - and that is a compelling
action-packed dramatic narrative mostly about explosive and eye-catching conflict.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
Unless they're going to make a series like 52 episodes long, please stay away from omnibus.

The pacing ends up being too fast to ever truly enjoy each girl's storyline. It jumps so fast that you rarely have time to even emotionally connect to any of the characters.

Amagami SS is a good example of this, where it quickly builds up a relationship, then has it conclude in some cheesy way really fast because the story needs to end quickly. Would it have been so cheesy had it actually developed the characters properly at a good pace? Probably not.

There is no point in omnibus format if it is there to simply appease the visual novel players. Especially if they do a poor job at it.

With a unified story you can properly set the tone of the series, not have to rush through everything as much (My god fortune Arterial is already only 1 cour, if they omnibus'd it, it would be horrible), actually develop characters, and leave room for the tiny details in stories that really just make it all together more enjoyable.

So yes, unified > omnibus any day, and I think this goes beyond my opinion, it just objectively allows for better story telling in a short amount of available time (1 or 2 cour series that possess multiple lengthy routes).
Well said.

There are times when omnibus might be better (I'm thinking really basic dating sim game with very little beyond straightforward romance), but generally speaking, I agree with you.
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Old 2010-10-26, 16:37   Link #16
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Unified all the way. Otherwise it is too disjointed and too hard to feel any development or attachment to the story-- we also run into interchangeable character syndrome. Unless you would like to establish oneself as a collection of short stories, but that's a hard thing to do and that's what really happens.

Omnibus also makes the main lead feel too unfocused and perhaps inconsiderate when combined with disappearing character syndrome. Kanon 2006 is a great show, but it wasn't a good romance for the most part just because there's too much plot dragging and the final romance feels tacked on. In fact, I just feel Key adaptations tend to be better about drama, friends, and family rather than romance due to the necessity of having to water down many of the relationships to platonic. This is not a bad thing, but it just shows the sheer difficulty of getting it right even with the best efforts.

I also feel it's needed to get the show recognized as a single entity, with a certain focus. Do something well, instead of doing everything crappily (*stares at DEEN*)
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Old 2010-10-26, 18:46   Link #17
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Why do you think so?

I liked the Fate/Stay Night anime pretty well as it is. It had its flaws, but they really weren't connected to going with unified over omnibus, imo.

Also, Fate/Stay Night's storyline goes far beyond romance alone. Dividing it into separate romantic routes would really undermine what the Fate/Stay Night anime accomplished, in my opinion - and that is a compelling
action-packed dramatic narrative mostly about explosive and eye-catching conflict..
And if they had done each route faithfully, it would have been so much better. We don't need a romance story to split up - it's about adapting a visual novel which has multiple narratives and to me, omnibus is best. They just have to put the time in and that's where the problems start happening.
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Old 2010-10-26, 20:27   Link #18
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Originally Posted by DragoZERO View Post
And if they had done each route faithfully, it would have been so much better. We don't need a romance story to split up - it's about adapting a visual novel which has multiple narratives and to me, omnibus is best. They just have to put the time in and that's where the problems start happening.
Ok, I see where you're coming from.

I'll concede that omnibus has two key edges over unified:

1. Each and every route is adapted to a romantic conclusion, so fans of each and every pairing have something to cheer about.

2. Omnibus format does allow for total (or almost total) faithfulness in source material adaptation. It may very well not have such total (or almost total) faithfulness, but its possible with the omnibus format, whereas unified requires at least some significant changes.


These are two significant edges (at least for the core eroge fan community), so I can understand them making the difference for a lot of anime fans.

In fact, I think that omnibus will probably be the predominant format for eroge adaptation for the forseeable future: It's easier for anime writers, and is likely to generate far less controversy that can potentially backlash.


That's partly why I've argued in favor of unified. I'd hate to see it go out of style entirely. It has its own key edges that I'd hate to see be lost for good.
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Old 2010-10-26, 20:33   Link #19
DragoZERO
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: USA
Age: 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
That's partly why I've argued in favor of unified. I'd hate to see it go out of style entirely. It has its own key edges that I'd hate to see be lost for good.
I don't see it going out the back door, definitely not. There have been excellent adaptations so long as they stick to one story line. It's when they mix and match that it gets bad, most of the time. Requiem of the Phantom blended elements from most of the routes perfectly and made an excellent, excellent story. However, Phantom's routes were not all the same length and some ended where others would have continued so they had a little more leeway.
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Old 2010-10-26, 21:29   Link #20
Reckoner
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Age: 23
A problem about the faithfulness argument you're using is that you're assuming they have to blend all the routes into 1, while they can just use all the space they have to adapt 1 route faithfully, which IMO I would have prefered they do this with the fate/Stay Night Anime.

Really, a route is supposed to be a whole story. I think it's a crime to hack and slash at a story just fro the sake of showing them all. I prefer quality of my adaption thank you very much.
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