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Old 2012-10-06, 17:14   Link #1
Archon_Wing
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The Chains of the Adaptation: Is it easier to like original anime?

After reading a lot of the recent hoopla in the Little Busters and SAO thread among others, I've definitely noted a lot of rage, disappointment, and general poop throwing when an adaptation does not meet standards with most of the poop stains ending somewhere near JC Staff and Deen. Over the years, I've always felt "Cool Story Bro, the original will always be there" but I've then since realized that it is quite impossible to just view a source and adaptation as standalone. I don't care, because television is my primary medium, but I can now see that this cannot apply to everyone.

How can I expect people to not care about stories and characters that look alike with the same names and relative personalities acting out of character? Hell, even as a kid, I complained that the Super Mario Brothers movie had no resemblance to the game. I eventually started to feel that pretty much every adaptation of a popular story carries a great deal of baggage. Regardless, it feels like any one new to the source would be better off just avoiding discussion.

Compare this to anime originals where you simply can't tell where it's going, nor can some random dick spoil you about the ending, at least not while it's airing. You only have your own speculations with the speculations of others to try and figure out what will happen next. It's all equal and most answers can't be wrong, at least not yet.

And many times, problems can't be blamed on the writing or studio just because well, you can't just do whatever you please if the client wants a certain thing adapted. Even if your client is a dick and tells you to make 8 episodes out of 30 pages, there is no choice-- pride doesn't pay the bills. Sometimes it's easy to point out that this content could use more focus and this could be cut, but it's not always possible to pick and choose.

So, going over my own list of favorites, it seems fairly evenly split, though original anime is a lot less common since it's easier to greenlight something with an established fanbase. Also, I've never actually bothered with most source material. Is ignorance bliss at times? I enjoyed the Fate/Stay Night anime at first, but after learning about how badly it represented the setting and themes in later, better adaptations makes me look rather poorly at it in retrospect.

I'd also like to know which anime were considered good adaptations as well and why. It just doesn't seem to happen often and a lot of people tend to regard anime as some kind of 2nd tier medium with whatever gold residing in manga/vn/novels which I resent. :S
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Old 2012-10-06, 17:41   Link #2
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Whenever an anime is an adaption on pre-existing material I'm already familiar with, I do not treat it like I do an anime where I don't already know what's going to happen. I treat it like I'd treat watching anything that I had already "watched".

Which is why, I think, I pretty much never "rage" over how an anime didn't do this, that, or the other thing, that its source material did.

I guess I can see that for some (ok, a lot), people, comparing things is super compelling, but I've always found that path leads to high blood pressure, in all aspects of life.

So, to answer your question, the ease of my enjoyment has nothing to do with whether an anime is original or from a pre-existing source. Whether I already know what's going on or not is the real dichotomy in that case. Which is my way of saying, at least in my case, your question is the wrong one to begin with.

Now, that said, I'd still have to choose Original Anime as the over-all winner, if only because it means the discussion threads aren't 90% whining over how the anime isn't faithful to the source material, or rather unsubtle posts about what's going to happen. I usually try to avoid those threads like the plague, but it's hard, with so much anime NOT being original.
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Old 2012-10-06, 18:06   Link #3
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I think the problem is that source material readers inevitably have this idea in their head about how a story should be adapted based on what they would do if they were in charge and how they pictured things when they read the material. There are scenes they love, plot elements they think are important, subtle things that should be done "just so" and so on. And the big problem is that most anime doesn't have nearly the budget (whether in time or in funding) to adapt things to the level of detail that most source material readers dream of. So people are always comparing the anime adaptation to the one they imagined in their heads, and it almost invariably comes up short in some regards.

Anime story planners also have to make some creative decisions about how to fit the content into 22-minute chunks that have some sense of progression and flow that makes sense and is compelling to people with no prior exposure to the franchise. Sometimes this means resequencing things or editing things so that future episodes will fit properly. I have often found that source material fans often don't take the importance of this factor into consideration when speculating about how things could have been done differently in their view.

The other thing I've seen source material readers fret a lot about is that anime-only viewers will have a bad impression of a story they love based on their exposure to the anime. This is where a lot of the more defensive behaviour comes from. It's easier to throw the anime under the bus in these sorts of cases so that you can still maintain that "the source material is so much better". This often happens even if the source material actually isn't all that much better in that regard, but people just don't think the flaw is as big of a deal as people make it out to be.

And last, I would also mention that people tend to get attached to whatever the first thing they were exposed to was. This is one of the reasons why some sub viewers struggle watching dubs, because there's a dissonance between the character they remember and the one they hear. I think it's not so different with source readers who later watch the anime -- there can be a dissonance from the story they know and remember and the way it's presented, and it can be hard to understand (at least at first) why the change was made or whether it was necessary. People tend to assume the worst of anime script writers (that they're trying to butcher the material on purpose), but doing things like trying to fit everything into the episode count allotted, and trying to provide some sense of finality even though you don't know if your story will be continued to future seasons isn't an easy problem to solve.


At the end of the day, though it's impossible to separate yourself from the source material once you know it, I think it helps to see it as an "alternate interpretation" of the story. Sort of like how a story may be passed on from generation to generation, and the story morphs a bit over time. Conversion is a lossy process for many reasons, but if you try to zoom out a bit and consider the larger themes being explored, there is usually still a lot to appreciate. I suppose that it can be a struggle to realize that, because the anime was done in certain way, it means it's less likely that it will ever be presented in the way you wished for... but in that case, as you said, it's important to remember that the original is still there.

I would also say that, in general terms, there appears to have been an increasing emphasis on faithfulness to the original work in anime adaptations in recent years. Part of the problem with that is that, as this increases, people become that much more picky about all the little things; if you know it's going to be really loose, you give up on comparing, but when it's pretty close but "not quite", you start getting uptight about what was cut and what wasn't. So I think it's a bit hard to get a good read on what is a "good adaptation" and what isn't. For example, with SAO you have a lot of bellyaching (there are a *lot* of novel readers), but in truth I think most novel readers appear to be fairly satisfied with the adaptation. So not sure that we can mistake this sort of pickiness for outright complaints; some of it is more passion and wishful thinking than intentional or severe criticism.
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Old 2012-10-06, 18:09   Link #4
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I'll get back to you after I go through Sword Art Online... in which... I have no knowledge of any other incarnation of it -- other than the animation.

This brings me to this point: I avoid other media forms, and simply stick to the animated version. This keeps me in the "bliss of ignorance", per say, of the material presented in the other media, such as print, video game, novel, etc. In doing so, I leave my first impression of a franchise name to the animations. If I ever with to go any further, then I explore the other media formats, which I rarely do.

It's easy to get caught up in the disappointments in the animated format, when one is already familiar with the story in another format. This leads to expectations, which may or may not be fulfilled.

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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
I think the problem is that source material readers inevitably have this idea in their head about how a story should be adapted based on what they would do if they were in charge and how they pictured things when they read the material.

Indeed. That is a good root to the issue; AND ironically, one person's viewpoint and interpretation will not agree with that of others. Thus, if said person created the animation format of said material, then there will be plenty of others in line to complain.
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Old 2012-10-06, 18:26   Link #5
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I think it's definitely harder to enjoy an adaption of something you love.

Fullmetal Alchemist the perfect example for me. While I happy more people got into the manga storyline because of Brotherhood I admit I had a lot of issues with the anime being a long time fan of the manga.

Was I probably making a bigger deal out of changes than I needed to...probably! It just sometimes when you really love something it is hard when the adaption doesn't meet your expectations. And certainly fans of the original work are going to have lofty expectations. Really I would say complaints might be a reflection of that fan's love for the original work.

It's rare for me to read the manga first though so this doesn't often affect me.
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Old 2012-10-06, 18:43   Link #6
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A good anime adaptation faithfully recreates the original work in the animated format. A good anime adaptation is a good anime that has a similar story to the source work. A good anime adaptation is somewhere between those two, being faithful to the original story, but still working well in the new format.

An example of good anime adaptation and bad anime adaptation would be illusionary world/last episode in KyoAni's adaptation CLANNAD. It was a game mechanic awkwardly shoved into the anime format, and did not really make sense unless you played the game/read up on said mechanics.

An example of good anime adaptation and a bad anime adaptation would be omnibus format VN adaptations in general. They are not faithful to the original as the original split the stories off into separate routes, and often you have to compromise faithfulness to shove it into one story. Staying with CLANNAD, the blatant offenses against source work here were the skipping of a lot of content dealing with Kyou and Tomoyo due to the fact that it would be hard to fit in the single story line (and to KyoAni's credit, they did release Another World Kyou and Tomoyo OVA's to try and address this).

As a whole, CLANNAD is a great anime adaptation. KyoAni balanced well, creating a great anime alongside a great adaptation. So well that KEY kept waiting for a long time for KyoAni to do LB! before finally giving up.
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Old 2012-10-06, 18:48   Link #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Random32 View Post
A good anime adaptation faithfully recreates the original work in the animated format. A good anime adaptation is a good anime that has a similar story to the source work. A good anime adaptation is somewhere between those two, being faithful to the original story, but still working well in the new format.

An example of good anime adaptation and bad anime adaptation would be illusionary world/last episode in KyoAni's adaptation CLANNAD. It was a game mechanic awkwardly shoved into the anime format, and did not really make sense unless you played the game/read up on said mechanics.

An example of good anime adaptation and a bad anime adaptation would be omnibus format VN adaptations in general. They are not faithful to the original as the original split the stories off into separate routes, and often you have to compromise faithfulness to shove it into one story. Staying with CLANNAD, the blatant offenses against source work here were the skipping of a lot of content dealing with Kyou and Tomoyo due to the fact that it would be hard to fit in the single story line (and to KyoAni's credit, they did release Another World Kyou and Tomoyo OVA's to try and address this).

As a whole, CLANNAD is a great anime adaptation. KyoAni balanced well, creating a great anime alongside a great adaptation. So well that KEY kept waiting for a long time for KyoAni to do LB! before finally giving up.
I don't think that faithfullness is synonym for being always good. A serie can still be good even if it didn't folow the story of the original till the end.

As for your opinion that omnibus formats are not faithfull, i think they can be more faithfull than a story in which all the routes were forced into one. Although the stories will be rushed though.
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Old 2012-10-06, 18:55   Link #8
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For me the best adaption (faithful but I also feel it added something to the original work to make it even better) was Mushishi.
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Old 2012-10-06, 19:22   Link #9
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I think a good adaptation is a faithful one. One the follows the source as accurately as possible. Personally, when I'm a big fan of the source work, I want everything done as close to the source work as possible. Of course that doesn't always make the best anime for anime-only viewers since quirks of the source work, and stuff in the source work that completely don't work in the anime format get in.

Also, correction, I meant not-omnibus, i.e. all in one. Sorry.
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Old 2012-10-06, 20:39   Link #10
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I'm one of those people who subscribes to the notion of a good show being able to stand on its own. I really don't like having to reference the source material to understand some plot point, people saying some aspects of the series were taken out or added, or defending the show by saying it's faithful to the original work.

The first and second points tie into each other. You need at least semi-decent coherency or stop trying. The third point only tells me that if I didn't like what happened in an accurate adaptation, I won't like it in the source material; the original work is not infallible.
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Old 2012-10-06, 20:55   Link #11
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I have opened this topic some time in the past, and I don't think that "faithfulness" does not have an absolute value among all anime series. There are series that need tweaks to work in an animated format, particularly that which has a limited amount of episodes, to streamline the story or for some other reason.

Take for example Kamisama no Memo-chou.

Spoiler for Explanation, contains plot details of Kamisama no Memo-chou:
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Old 2012-10-06, 21:09   Link #12
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I'm pretty much with Relentlessflame on this topic.

I don't think enough people realize that entertainment medium/format really does matter. Things that may work in an entirely written medium won't necessarily come across well in a visual one. At the same time, the hours upon hours of detailed setup in many a VN may make perfect sense for a VN that people play for several hours per sitting, but it doesn't necessarily make sense when your medium is a series of 24-minute animated episodes delivered at a rate of one per week (and so each episode needs to be somewhat compelling/entertaining in and of itself).

Yes, the Umineko anime utterly slashed and burned vast quantities of VN content, but I honestly don't know how they could have done it any differently without making anime-original viewers go "Holy cow, is this ever slow!"


So the big advantage that anime originals have over most anime adaptations is that anime originals are first and foremost designed with this medium in mind from the very creative outset. In other words, the writers know that they're writing for 24-minute chunks spread out over a few months, so they can tailor the narrative to be nicely overarching while also having each episode work at least somewhat well as a standalone.

Another big advantage that anime originals have is that it puts every viewer on the same page, and at the same level. So cliffhangers are more effective since it leaves all of us in suspense, and speculation is more effective since we're all truly speculating.

For these reasons, I'm very glad to have seen a lot of prominent anime original works in the last couple of years.


That being said, a lot of LNs and VNs have narratives that are well-suited to the general tone and feel of modern anime. The eroge adaptations of today make for a pretty natural and smooth transition from the manga-based harems of decades past.

But when adaptations happen, I think it's important to remember the demands of the new format, and the importance of winning over new viewers fairly quickly.
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Old 2012-10-06, 21:41   Link #13
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Regarding Archon’s first post:

IMO it’s all about the adaptations’ writing and spirit. An adaptation can be good, or even better than its source material as long as the adapter understand the spirit of the source and what it was trying to tell, then capture all that and show it in the anime form with a good execution which suited the said medium (in this case, anime).

Also, just like what already mentioned by other posters: faithful =/= good. For example, have you seen Jaws, Jurassic Park, Die Hard, and TLOTR? By themselves, those are very good movies and some even consider them as “classics”. But, since they clearly stray from their source materials (novels & short stories) can we call them as good adaptations? I would say yes, coz those movies still carry the spirit and the main messages of the source materials accompanied with stellar execution well-suited for the adaptations’ medium. For these movies, the changes to some of their characters and events actually improve the story rather than hinder it. One example: the grandpa Hammond character in Jurassic Park is originally more towards a billionaire who just wants to make money by creating a dinosaur park. In Spielberg’s movie, his character are changed into someone who is passionate in realizing the dream of many people who wants to see living-breathing dinosaurs and to show it to the world, especially kids. Hammond is not as profit-hungry as in the source material which makes his character better and improve our overall experience when watching Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. So, changes in adaptations aren’t always a bad thing as long as the adapters know what they’re doing.

I also agree with you that new fans of adaptations anime or “novice” can feel intimidated when going into discussion filled with fans who already read the source. I don’t think I need to further elaborate on this. All of you should’ve known how it feels to be a novice entering a discussion thread filled with “experts” who complain, spoil, and (in some cases) even “driving away” the novices who starts asking “obvious questions”. Thanx to moderators, this kinda thing didn’t happen often nowadays.

Compared to adaptations, discussing anime originals (like Gundam series like SEED, 00 or AGE, for example) is indeed more enjoyable since every member on the board is pretty much on equal ground when it comes to discussing characters, minor elements of the story, and speculation of future events.

As for the blame for the adapters: yes, you can still blame poor writing (and execution) even for adaptations. It’s both writing and execution that make an adaptation either good or bad based on the medium it takes. Yes, pressures will always be there for any kind of adaptation, but good writing & execution (as well as understanding of the source) is a prerequisite if we talk about quality. So, even a faithful adaptations can still become boring, dull, or even abysmal if the writer doesn’t come up with interesting execution (I was reminded of the dullness of the first Narnia movie even though it follows the novel closely).

Ignorance is indeed a bliss when our main goal is to enjoy or objectively analyze a show as a stand-alone thing. Just like you, I enjoy DEEN’s Fate/Stay Night anime the first time I saw it. Yes, it was a bad adaptation if the goal of the series is to re-tell all the elements of that Type-Moon VN. Still, if the anime’s goal is to simply tell a love story between Shiro and Saber with the battles of servants & rules of Holy Grail War as gimmicks, then it’s still a good series.

As for my favorite adaptations, I’d say Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen (Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal) is among my favorites. Yes, that adaptation kinda changes Kenshin’s character from a pretty cheerful (outside) man-slaying samurai into more of a cold and loner one. But you know what? Considering the gravity of the “evil deeds” he’s committed to bring “peace” to the era, the anime depiction of his character feels more real and relatable than the manga. Also, if you read the manga, the battles feel more like levelling-up in video games until Kenshin arrives to the “final boss”. In the anime, they make the battle more real. Also, my personal favorite is the character-design of the anime which feels (again) more "real" compared to the manga.
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Old 2012-10-06, 21:46   Link #14
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Well I think that why most people dont like adaptations is they they move way to fast and cut out a lot of material or just flake on the source entirely
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Old 2012-10-07, 00:49   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obelisk ze Tormentor View Post
Ignorance is indeed a bliss when our main goal is to enjoy or objectively analyze a show as a stand-alone thing. Just like you, I enjoy DEEN’s Fate/Stay Night anime the first time I saw it. Yes, it was a bad adaptation if the goal of the series is to re-tell all the elements of that Type-Moon VN. Still, if the anime’s goal is to simply tell a love story between Shiro and Saber with the battles of servants & rules of Holy Grail War as gimmicks, then it’s still a good series.
I just wanted to touch on this.

I think the goal of the adaptation is also a good point. A lot of times, fans of the original work always assume that the one and only valid and acceptable goal for an adaptation should be to accurately represent the original work. But a lot of the more financially successful adaptations (including both Fate/stay night and -- that which should not be named -- Tsukihime) were focused instead on telling their own story using the original material as the foundation (with varying degrees of fidelity in certain areas). Sometimes that actually makes for a better anime given what can be accomplished in the time/budget allotted (which the actual writers have no control over).

I guess it goes back to what I said before that sometimes people are disappointed because a story being adapted one way makes it much less likely that it'll be adapted in the way they want. So it's sort of like this "one chance for glory" thing. Hence why the disappointment is that much more pronounced from that group. It's understandable... but at the same time, it can be a bit lacking in perspective.
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Old 2012-10-07, 01:02   Link #16
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In terms of whether I prefer an anime based on pre-existing material to adhere as strictly as possible to it or not, here's my preference, assuming I am intimate with the source material:

Veer as far away from it as possible, or adhere to it as closely as possible. No trying to re-tell the same story, but making a gazillion changes anyways. I think that middle road tends to lead to immense angst among pre-existing fans of the intellectual property.

As an example, I really enjoyed Gai-Rai Zero. More anime based on pre-existing material should take this approach, imo. Instead of re-hashing the existing story, it told the prequel instead.

On the other hand, another non-original anime who's source material was familiar to me that I enjoyed ('till the last few episodes), was Claymore. For the first 20-some episodes, I can't think of another anime that was more faithful to its source material. Even all the combat stills that were seemingly used due to a low animation budget seemed to be taken straight out of the manga panels. I don't recall there being much of any angst over the series until they decided to do an anime original ending. Bad move. Ignoring the end, Claymore showed me that it's entirely possible to near perfectly emulate your source material if it's a manga, as long as you're not concerned with taking home any awards for fluid animation.
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Old 2012-10-07, 08:00   Link #17
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Originally Posted by Random32 View Post
As a whole, CLANNAD is a great anime adaptation. KyoAni balanced well, creating a great anime alongside a great adaptation. So well that KEY kept waiting for a long time for KyoAni to do LB! before finally giving up.
I would say that After Story was better then Clannad because it didn't have to use the omnibus format, and could concentrate on one larger story. It was much stronger as a result, and didn't feel needlessly "haremesque".


More generally, I think the most important thing is for adaptations to be compelling in and of itself. Creatively, adaptations will always be a bit held down by the fact they need to be somewhat faithful to the original (and in the Japanese system, original creators can veto any choices made by the anime, which can also hamper things).

I would say certain mediums are easier to adapt then others, first among these being serialized manga. Manga and Anime have similar constraints in place, and it's easy to directly adapt 2-3 manga chapters into a single anime episode with minimal changes. The main issues with manga come when an Anime is adapting something currently still running, and the show has to either make up an ending or end inconclusively. In this respect, being based on an already finished manga is clearly a stronger proposition, for instance look at FMA: Brotherhood, a much stronger show then FMA because it could show the mangaka's original vision in full, rather then have to right an entirely original second half (though that original second half wasn't too bad, but they could never hope to write as well as Arakawa).

Second would be light novels, the chapter structure of a LN is easier to adapt into an anime, and single novels can be adapted into arcs.

Third would be linear VNs, so that you don't have to have an omnibus format, however here you begin to get cracks in the system. While the story tone is often similar to anime, the format isn't, there usually isn't any nice discrete chapters with built in cliffhangers which can be easily converted into episodes.

Fourth would be non-linear VNS (IE with multiple "routes"), these are problematic as I said before because of the inherent problems of omnibus format, the route Amagami SS took is probably the lesser of all evils here.

Last would be Games. Games tend to have pretty weak narratives as it is, and they have to leave chunks open for gameplay. This just doesn't work when converted to a visual medium. I can't really think of a single game to anime conversion which turned out really well.


Of course, the major flaw in adaptations is that a faithful adaptation can only be as good as it's source material.
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Old 2012-10-07, 08:30   Link #18
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On the adaptation topic, I think directors can really shine when they have a rather faulty material and expectations that aren't high. For example, Sankarea from the Spring season became from something unreadable (imo) to something rather fun to watch. This season's Sukitte Ii na Yo's first episode also does this.
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Old 2012-10-07, 08:54   Link #19
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I think it is true, that original anime has the advantage of not being compared to an existing source.
Having an anime adapted from manga or novel, the divide among opinion is pretty much inevidable.

Nevertheless, the adopted-anime has an advantage that it already has an established base fandom it can feed on.
Which more often than not, works in favor for the franchise.

So there's advantage for both format.

Quote:
Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
I would also say that, in general terms, there appears to have been an increasing emphasis on faithfulness to the original work in anime adaptations in recent years. Part of the problem with that is that, as this increases, people become that much more picky about all the little things; if you know it's going to be really loose, you give up on comparing, but when it's pretty close but "not quite", you start getting uptight about what was cut and what wasn't. So I think it's a bit hard to get a good read on what is a "good adaptation" and what isn't. For example, with SAO you have a lot of bellyaching (there are a *lot* of novel readers), but in truth I think most novel readers appear to be fairly satisfied with the adaptation. So not sure that we can mistake this sort of pickiness for outright complaints; some of it is more passion and wishful thinking than intentional or severe criticism.
Then there's the opposite extreme.... like oh I don't know, ZETMAN maybe?
I totally understand having to cut material for anime series. I am totally fine with it for the most part.

But I think I'm gonna have to draw the line when they cut out like, 80% of the source material, AND completely change whatever was left of the 20% from rich chocolate to vanilla lame.

God that was a trainwreck.
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Old 2012-10-07, 09:05   Link #20
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Location: Saimoe Planet
While the medium matters, all it takes is adjustment. You can't have the anime follow the whole source material since you need to find cliffhangers, critical points and the pacing should be right in order for the anime to make sense.

Whether people would catch on to the anime adaptation as much to the original material is up to them. Being faithful is one thing but if you have a bad execution of it, it would look bad and people would then resort to the source material.

Some series need to be chronological, be made prequels or sequels wherever they may fit. While the setting may be set in stone, the anime would use the elements to create a story that can stand alone on its own.
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