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Old 2011-05-27, 11:24   Link #1
MisaoFan
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How faithfulness to the original material the anime is ?

I decide to create this thread when any title based on a original material (manga, light novel, video game...) was adapted into anime, the faithfulness to the original material vary. Some titles are very faithful (Death Note, Highschool of the Dead), the others aren't much (Beelzebub, Naruto, Bleach), which gives additionnal episodes so-called "fillers". Faithfulness to the original material is related in which scripwriter, director or animation studio will adapts it, correctly or now. It's not too grievous if they put some additional (anime-only) material or just cutting half of the elements essential to the story. So it all depends of view. Tetsuo Araki, the director of I]Death Note[/I] and Highschool of the Dead, which demonstrates very well of the faithfullness to the original material while putting a little portion to the additional material, is such an exemple.

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Old 2011-05-27, 11:51   Link #2
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Many people call additional material "enhancements" rather than "fillers". Like when a part of the story is told that was only mentioned implicitly or when we find out what people "off stage" in the source material were doing. This works particularly well when the author helps to pen the adaptation as well. It depends -- K-On! is an example of weaving "anime-only" story arcs in with source and re-arranging source to better suit cobbling together a coherent story each episode (a typical issue when adapting 4-koma material).

"Faithfulness" has more to do with *changing* plot points of the source material or moving the story in a tangent away from the original story. This might be because the story isn't finished (ongoing) or because the director's ego is out of control. Occasionally its because the original material was weak to begin with. And, particularly with VN adaptations, the writing team often just doesn't have the skill to integrate the story arcs. More often than not, those such changes tend to fail though there are some exceptions. Toradora! is considered by many to be an excellent adaptation of the light novel source... how would it have been received if there had been a different ending couple than the books? The Ore Imouto series is an example where there's controversy over the adaptation because of the compression of material (tsundere loses her dere, relationships truncated, forking storyline, etc). Then there's the Haruhi riots..... was Endless Eight a brilliant storytelling of what its like to be trapped in a time loop or the biggest troll evar? (Read the Hogan book "Thrice Upon a Time" for comparisons)

Assessing anime is inherently subjective so titles some call faithful others may not. There is the notion of being faithful to the concept without doing a frame-by-frame recreation of the source. Then there's the Mayoi Neko Run sort of "phooey on the story line lets just do vast amounts of omake where we go nuts" ...

Last edited by Vexx; 2011-05-27 at 12:04.
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Old 2011-05-27, 12:10   Link #3
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Lack of faithfulness is more of an issue when it comes to leaving things out than when it comes to adding on to what's already there, imo. The latter alone sometimes works well, imo.

In the case of Bleach and Naruto, filler episodes (and even entire filler arcs) are put in because the anime is constantly ongoing, but it doesn't want to catch up to where the manga is currently. In other words, as annoying as many find filler arcs in these anime shows (and believe me, I certainly do as well), they're there for pretty understandable reasons in my opinion. Also, these filler arcs often have negligible impact on parts of the anime that are actually based on the source material, so the anime can still be very faithful there at least.

This is a different issue than, say, an one or two cour anime that has more than enough source material to work with but decides to pretty much disregard it in favor of a more anime original storyline (this is a criticism that I've often seen leveled against JC Staff and Deen).


Source material faithfulness isn't the most important thing for an anime adaptation, in my opinion, but I can certainly understand why fans of the source material can get really ticked off when the anime basically crafts its own original narrative instead of using the story that's already available in the manga, VN, or LN.

That being said, since I'm typically an anime-only watcher, this rarely bothers me personally.
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Old 2011-05-27, 12:22   Link #4
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I can certainly understand why fans of the source material can get really ticked off when the anime basically crafts its own original narrative instead of using the story that's already available in the manga, VN, or LN.
How apt that this topic should crop up just after I finished reading the first volume of Nahoko Uehashi's Moribito series.

Back when Seirei no Moribito was airing, there were a few viewers who criticised the anime for being more of a political thriller than a fantasy story, like that of the novel. Now that I've read it, however, I believe the anime is actually superior to the novel. In fact, the novel feels more like an abridged version of the anime, missing many of the anime-original moments that helped to develop the relationships between the story's key characters.

I bring this up to illustrate a point I've been making for a while now: Don't mistake an anime adaptation for its original manga/novel version. In fact, it's best to think of them as two totally different stories.

Both versions may be broadly based on the same characters or the same basic themes, but their stories are likely to differ in many respects. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is that storytelling differs according to the medium. Anime is a visual medium, requiring a lot more "show" than "tell". The reverse is more usually true with manga and novels.

My advice to viewers who frequently blast anime for not staying "faithful" to source material: If you don't know how to judge either version on its own merits, then it's probably best that you don't watch the anime or read the manga/novel source. That's the only way to avoid such obsessive disappointment.
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Old 2011-05-27, 12:47   Link #5
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For myself I usually tend to prefer manga or visual novels to anime, and thus tend to judge anime by how faithful they are to the manga. But sometimes (and for me this is rare - both in anime and in film or other "media" like live drama) the ones presenting the written text into a "visual presentation" add small extra elements that help to emphasize a quality of the story or a character(s) in the story that was not really present (or emphasized sufficiently from the presenters' perspective perhaps). These small extra elements can help bring out aspects and appreciation of the written story even more. On rare occasions the anime presentation is even more "real" and/or effective, making me come to appreciate a character I previously disliked. For me both of these cases are difficult and rare to pull off, but I really appreciate it when it is done well - at least done well in my opinion.

One example that comes immediately to mind in the realm of manga would be the two seasons of "The World God Only Knows". In season 1 the animators did this very well with two of the characters - the pop star Kanon and the librarian Shiori.I had already really liked Shiori's character from the manga before watching the anime eps, but Kanon as depicted in the manga did not really make much of an impression on me. Thanks to her well done presentation in the anime I began to have a greater appreciation for her overall. In season 2 the animators did this very well with the character of Chihiro as well. Of all the "mini heroines" Chihiro was the one who I empathized with the least in the manga. After watching the anime presentation this is no longer the case.

In the realm of visual novels, one good example (for me) would be Aisaka Taiga from Toradora. For me how she behaved in the novels was too "over the top" and even nasty, but in the anime she seemed more balanced, normal, and even "human", and I empathized with her more....
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Old 2011-05-27, 15:30   Link #6
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In the realm of visual novels, one good example (for me) would be Aisaka Taiga from Toradora. For me how she behaved in the visual novels was too "over the top" and even nasty, but in the anime she seemed more balanced, normal, and even "human", and I empathized with her more....
Wait, Toradora! isn't a visual novel, it's a light novel. A light novel sound like a normal novel but with manga illustrations while visual novel is a type of video game, a manga-style interactive adventure game with computer graphics.
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Old 2011-05-27, 15:36   Link #7
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Wait, Toradora! isn't a visual novel, it's a light novel. A light novel sound like a normal novel but with manga illustrations while visual novel is a type of video game, a manga-style interactive adventure game with computer graphics.
Gah!

My mistype!

Thank you for pointing that out! *heads off to edit original post*
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Old 2011-05-27, 15:50   Link #8
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Can people not understand how sometimes it is necessary to omit (or edit) material in order to fit a series into a set number of episodes?

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visual novel is a type of video game, a manga-style interactive adventure game with computer graphics.
To me, there's no such term as "visual novel". It's a "game".
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Old 2011-05-27, 16:00   Link #9
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MisaoFan, your interpretation of a "faithful adaptation" is quite incorrect. Fillers don't change anything in a story, it only adds on to something, and even then they have no affect on the actual plot of the series in the future, so that can't be considered unfaithful. Unfaithful is when an adaptation leaves out details and events and/or fails to focus on what is important and/or changes the canon material.

Frankly this is why I prefer following source material first and then watch the adaptation afterwards if I can, because IMO it's always better to see the story the way the original author/developer/creator wanted it to be.
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Old 2011-05-27, 16:08   Link #10
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I mostly agree with TinyRedLeaf, I think it's generally best to treat the adaptation and the source as different entities especially since some things work better depending on the medium. That being said, I would prefer an adaptation to at least resemble the source, otherwise why bother adapting it?

Also, I tend to find adaptations that seem to assume you've read the source to be pointless; to me, it's like shooting yourself in the foot since the newbies who might otherwise be interested will be alienated and lost upon watching it, not to mention that cutting out important details can make a story incomprehensible.

I usually think the source is better, but there are major exceptions where I found the adaptation to be either better or comparable in quality to the source like Midori no Hibi (I think it's better), K-ON! (adds a lot, but most of the additions are good), and CLANNAD.
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Old 2011-05-27, 20:15   Link #11
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In addition to the point regarding how stuff needs to be editted/omitted to fit into a set number of episodes, it's also important to remember the fact that most adaptations are more or less meant to be advertisements to the source materials. Vexx mentioned Mayoi Neko Overrun; I think that anime is probably the most blatant example of following this advertisement mindset, being super faithful to the novel for the first three episodes and then cockblocking people whose interests are piqued by showing them fillers for the rest of the season. And then people will have no choice but to turn to the source material. Just as planned.

In any case, being "unfaithful" is not inherently a bad thing. It just so happens that most of the time, the animation staff simply don't know wtf they're doing and screw something up. Of course, there has to be a degree of faithfulness or you might as well give the damn thing a whole different name, but a real competent adaptation is one that knows how fix what is broken, and not simply show everything from good to bad.
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Old 2011-05-27, 20:24   Link #12
Irenicus
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This thread is getting awfully unfair to the "complainers'" side.

Yes yes they sometimes go overboard, mistaking first impression for superiority, blah blah blah, but don't you pretend you don't feel it too when a good story is wrecked because someone in the writing team takes the idiot way out and instead of adopting a properly written story, creates a fail replacement.

For example, on the OreImo controversy...I liked the anime, very much so because I watched it during a period when it was one of the few anime I watched, it almost felt like a second "first anime you've ever watched" moment (I was "stuck" in Japan at the time). But even I, in a mood that was ready to forgive all transgressions, noticed how the infamous "anime" episode felt weak, underwhelming, outright strange even. For those still in touch with the fanbase and all the criticism (unlike me who was in a high bubble of sorts) it must have been excruciating.

And you're asking me to "accept" that failure as the necessities of different works adapting to a different medium? Fuck that. It's bad, and it doesn't have to be there. It messes up the continuity of a story. Of course people are going to ask, look there's a whole trove of already written material that serves perfectly well if you need some more ideas, what the hell are you guys doing?

Frankly, my mode of thought is simple: if you're planning to change things, do it well. You'll have plenty of defenders for your artistic choices. The raised K-On! example is a good one, so is the first season of Minami-ke. Some material are from the source, some original; all rearranged to create a coherent narrative, and the script is written with an eye towards a good flow of a 24 minutes episode format. Change all you want, since they're doing it right; except for the few fanatics most people are quite content.

If you fail however, prepare for the backlash. JC Staff for example needs to stop writing their own endings. Yumekui Merry was a very fun anime for 2/3's of its runs. Guess where things started to get horribly wrong...?
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Old 2011-05-27, 22:15   Link #13
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It all comes down to this... If you don't want to be faithful to the source material, then you have to be better than the source material. Change for the sake of change is an awful thing to do. If a change is made to appropriately convert a work to a different medium, that's fine too. But never should they change what isn't broken.
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Old 2011-05-28, 00:04   Link #14
Akito Kinomoto
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
That being said, since I'm typically an anime-only watcher, this rarely bothers me personally.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Yes yes they sometimes go overboard, mistaking first impression for superiority...
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Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
If you don't want to be faithful to the source material, then you have to be better than the source material.
This brings up something that always seems to be forgotten regarding an adaptation of the source material: what version did you experience first? Whether it was caring about the theatrical version of The Lost World: Jurassic Park more than Micheal Crichton's original novel or favoring Of Mice and Men before I watched the movie, I find that the adage of "first impressions lasting a lifetime" applies to me more than it doesn't.

For an actual anime example, there's Bleach and Naruto: Shippuden. My complaints and criticisms toward the latter can be applied to the former, yet I find myself watching Bleach and merely continue reading Naruto if only because they were seen and read first respectively. Basically, what you've familiarized yourself with first will tend to cement one's expectations.
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Old 2011-05-28, 00:13   Link #15
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"Better" or "worse" based on which yardstick?

I'm reminded of the third arc of Aoi Bungaku, based on the novel Kokoro by Natsume Soseki. A great deal of artistic licence was taken in the anime adaptation, adding a "what if" scenario that did not exist in the novel. It wasn't a "necessary" addition, and it could dramatically alter the story, depending on how you interpret the new material.

My positive impression:
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Sensei was, by nature and personal experience, a deeply suspicious man. That was his tragedy. He was a man capable of very tender love and great generosity but, having been tricked out of his immense inheritance at an early age, he had lost faith in humanity — he could not even trust his beloved wife, the one person in the world besides the narrator he held dear to his heart.

Sensei deeply despised this aspect of his personality, even as he had come to embrace it as part of the human condition. Hence the novel's core theme of ego versus morality, which reflects Soseki's belief that it took very little for a man to forgo propriety (Confucian tradition) for desire (Western modernity).

So, even though the anime's interpretation may be completely original, in my opinion, it successfully captured the spirit of the novel. That's the mark of a well thought out and well-executed adaptation.
Compared with this critical opinion:
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Originally Posted by Ansalem View Post
The second episode, I would have to disagree with other interpretations here, in that I feel that while it captures some of the message of book, it is a disservice to the story of novel and the spirit of the narrative. As stated, it's completely written by the anime writers. It's more a "what if this were the case" scenario rather than having anything to do with the novel, since the view is so blatantly contrary to that actually presented... I don't think Soseki intended any reader to imagine that something like that had occurred.

In the end, it was an interesting watch, but ultimately doesn't capture the narrative of the novel. It does present the uncertainties of the heart that are present in the novel, and how emotions between you, a loved one, and a friend can be quite complicated. However, it seems to purposefully contort the story into a much darker, crueler chain of events than what Kokoro actually is, simply to match the theme of the other works chosen.
The important point here is not that we disagreed on whether the anime's story was "better" or "worse" than the novel's, but whether it stayed faithful to the spirit of the source material. Within those boundaries, a great deal of changes can be made, to the extent that you could end up with two completely different stories.

How then would you judge one against the other? It would be like comparing apples to oranges.

In the end, the only common point that could be compared is the narrative intent of either story. To what extent are they the same? Did the adaptation introduce a new and interesting perspective on the same issues? If new issues were invented or added, to what extent do they enhance or detract from the original intent?

All these considerations are naturally open to debate, and there will seldom be complete agreement since subjective interpretations are involved. And that's why I've long since realised that it's ultimately futile to compare two versions of a "same" story. They aren't the same: they're the products of two (or more) authors intent on communicating different themes.

It's useful to have knowledge of one or more versions of the same story, because it helps guide interpretation, but it is ultimately a mistake to compare one version against the other. So, when saying that Ore no Imouto the anime sucks, for example, it's more useful to examine why it was awful as an anime, than to compare it against the light novel source which you think is better. The trap is easy to spot: What makes you so sure that everyone agrees the novel was "better"?

Quote:
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Basically, what you've familiarized yourself with first will tend to cement one's expectations.
Which is why literature students are usually advised to read a play or a novel before watching a movie or theatre production based on the literary material. It's important to form personal interpretations before being influenced by the interpretations of other people. That way, you can better see how perspectives differ from person to person. You'd be actively thinking about how your own experiences affect the way you understand a story, instead of passively absorbing someone else's view.
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Old 2011-05-28, 00:29   Link #16
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How then would you judge one against the other? It would be like comparing apples to oranges.
No it wouldn't. It would be comparing fresh apples with apple pies.

And the good food critic can offer much in regards to whether the apple pie successfully encapsulates the sweet essence of the apple or whether the chef should have just used generic sugar and be done with it.

Therefore,
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf
All these considerations are naturally open to debate, and there will seldom be complete agreement since subjective interpretations are involved. And that's why I've long since realised that it's ultimately futile to compare two versions of a "same" story. They aren't the same: they're the products of two (or more) authors intent on communicating different themes.
Rather than, like you, deciding that it's futile, it is on the contrary very much necessary. If two authors are intent on communicating different themes based on the same story framework, then the derivative has something to say, in support of the first, in irony to the first, against the first work, or even to express the second author's own convictions through the framework provided by the first work. Because both works function from the same "image" there is a certain inseparability that makes the differences all the more accentuated.

In fact it is one of the more common ways a critic can approach a literary work. When JosÚ Saramago wrote The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, he had so very much to say, and the critic or the reader who reads it without even once comparing it to the Biblical works is simply missing out [edit: as you perfectly understands according to your response to Akito_Kinomoto].

Or alternately, the derivative is written by authors who don't know how to properly adapt a longer story to a 1-cour anime format and screws it up. In which case the fans reserve the right to rage and complain as much as they want, thank you very much. Not every change in the work is done to express a point. Far too many is done because...well, I do not know why they would do those horrible things for no reason either. Lack of time? Skills not up to par? Committee writing? (Gods, committee writing!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf
So, when saying that Ore no Imouto the anime sucks, for example, it's more useful to examine why it was awful as an anime, than to compare it against the light novel source which you think is better. The trap is easy to spot: What makes you so sure that everyone agrees the novel was "better"?
What trap? And why should the same story, told in different formats, not be compared, just because one is told by colors and sounds and moving pictures and the other by text? Certain changes are because of different mediums -- that K-On! the anime tells a common theme, or event, for 24 minutes of moving picture time each, whereas K-On! the original manga is a series of jokes in the 4-panel format -- and certain changes to the plot and theme are, well, artistic license is the nice way to put it. Like when 14 years old Kirino got an anime made out of her first light novel in the OreImo anime. You could say it was bad because it was bad, but when other people read the original story, of which the event didn't happen, and moreover when one is entitled to assume the scriptwriters for the anime ought to very much read the original material, that difference is there and the question of why, or alternatively "FUUUUUUUUU- (et cetera)" cannot be ignored.
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Old 2011-05-28, 00:50   Link #17
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"Better" or "worse" based on which yardstick?
That really is up to the viewer.

However, I will say this. An adaptation of a work by default draws upon the already existing fanbase of the work for popularity/sells/etc. I feel then that there is a certain duty to this fanbase to maintain much of the same elements that made the work popular in the first place. Creative additions are just fine, but does it accentuate the work, offer an interesting take on it? If the changes are made so that it really doesn't do anything to make it better, but in fact makes it even worst, what is the point?
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Old 2011-05-28, 01:27   Link #18
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It's useful to have knowledge of one or more versions of the same story, because it helps guide interpretation, but it is ultimately a mistake to compare one version against the other. So, when saying that Ore no Imouto the anime sucks, for example, it's more useful to examine why it was awful as an anime, than to compare it against the light novel source which you think is better. The trap is easy to spot: What makes you so sure that everyone agrees the novel was "better"?
He isn't saying the anime sucks he's saying a specific anime original episode sucks.
And he has specific reasons for disliking that episode. (It has an extremely unrealistic premise for one.)

In this case even you should agree that eating a bowl of fresh apples is better than eating a bowl of oranges, one of which is rotten, regardless of how much you prefer oranges.

And in this case the main reason for the addition seemed to be the anime trying to be clever about changes between source materials and adaptions. This meta-ness is what annoyed some people about it at least. Ironically defending the episode requires going against what the episode stands for.
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Old 2011-05-28, 01:35   Link #19
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Which is why literature students are usually advised to read a play or a novel before watching a movie or theatre production based on the literary material. It's important to form personal interpretations before being influenced by the interpretations of other people. That way, you can better see how perspectives differ from person to person. You'd be actively thinking about how your own experiences affect the way you understand a story, instead of passively absorbing someone else's view.
If the sheer difference in traffic between an anime sub-forum and a manga sub-forum on this site or any other says something, it's that Otaku usually watch more things than they read. So although learning the author's intent in its rawest form beforehand is good practice, it would be nothing short of impractical when second-hand exposure runs through the fandom.
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Old 2011-05-29, 20:08   Link #20
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Originally Posted by Akito_Kinomoto View Post
If the sheer difference in traffic between an anime sub-forum and a manga sub-forum on this site or any other says something, it's that Otaku usually watch more things than they read.
You could use that as a case for English-speaking otaku, but not necessarily Japanese otaku. While we have a very limited variety of manga in America (even more than anime), the Japanese have a huge variety of manga to choose from and manga comes much cheaper than anime so it's common for people to read the manga of an anime they like (assuming they didn't read the manga first).
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