It may be a bit difficult to continue on with the weekly schedule of editorials after the most hyped thing I’ve written so far going live and getting a ton of awesome reception from everyone who’s read it. Before we get into this week’s editorial I just want to say that I’m really grateful for everyone who enjoyed that post and I appreciate all of the praise and support more than anything! If you haven’t read it yet, the post I’m referring to is my first and last Nico birthday post, which you can read here. It’s the most vulgar I’ll ever be on this blog and it’s the most effort I’ve thrown into my writing here since the Week of Tsuyuki, so I’m really glad people liked it as much as they did. This week we’re going to talk about a somewhat popular topic amidst the anime community as a way to wind down from my work on harassing Nico. Let’s get onto the topic, shall we?
Disappointing your fan base is usually something you want to avoid when you’re creating anything in general. The last thing you want is for a production you’re responsible for to be rejected by your audience because it didn’t live up to expectations. The biggest source of disappointing shows by a landslide with newer anime coming out is adaptations. A large amount of anime coming out along with anime that have already aired have been adaptations and a common complaint from the manga, visual novel, and gamer communities when their favourite manga, novel, or games get adapted is that the adaptation didn’t live up to the same quality or impact that the original material had. This has created a somewhat large problem with creating adaptations and an adaptation’s success. There are moments where having experience with an anime’s source material can almost guarantee not enjoying it nearly as much as the portion of the audience who has no experience with the title.
This is a very clear problem. If part of your audience would go into something you make and before they even begin the experience they know they’ll dislike it, not only are you under more pressure to create something that lives up to expectations but already cuts out a part of your audience as a separate section that you need to satisfy differently if you want to capture your entire audience even though part of that section won’t even give your show a chance. Shows living up to the source can be incredibly intimidating because some of the audience will be expecting absolutely no deviation or for all deviation to be justified. Of course, we can’t just expect every single show to be the exact same as their source material verbatim, but shows like Mekakucity Actors took their source and deviated from it so far that the source material outshined it in every single aspect. But on the other hand you have shows that do other unique things with their source.
My favourite manga of all time, Yumekui Merry, had an anime adaptation that was quite interesting. It followed source for about half of the production and for the second half deviated in an incredibly interesting way, introducing an anime original villan and new characters that fit the new deviation perfectly. It was increadibly interesting and it deviated from the plot in a good enough way that it separated itself from the source material and was satisfying from a stand alone perspective. This isn’t something that should always be done, but it’s still something noticeable as a way to produce something different while still enchanting those who enjoyed the original production. A non-anime example would be how the How To Train Your Dragon movie followed almost nothing from the book it shared its character names and title with, but still sold itself as something good to all of the people who read the book in elementary school. It disconnected itself from its source material and that made it able to not only stand on its own, but do what it wanted to do with the same overall premise that the original had.
Another show that’s currently airing but that I absolutely adore the source material for and is respecting its source a ton while still allowing room for small deviation is planetarium. There are some lines I can say along with Yumemi since they’re so memorable but it still brought occasionally new things to the table, and it will need to do so consistently as the original VN had one setting and two characters. There’s zero way the anime will be able to replicate the exact same feeling the novel had since the fact that it was a novel is what made planetarium doable while still being so impactful. It will have to deviate enough to be interesting in the form of an anime, and it was very clear by how much I’ve seen that they’re going to give it the kind of diversity it needs to remain interesting. Hopefully.
But does the idea that adaptations are almost always lacking make the source always better? Maybe to some people, and I can’t really nag on those people since for every Yuemkui Merry and planetarium (so far, mind you, I don’t want the anime to end up being a failure and everyone to come to me saying “Oh, but Yuki, you said you liked it!”) there is also a Mekakucity Actors and Fullmetal Alchemist. For every How To Train Your Dragon there’s a The Last Airbender. Regardless, I feel like it’s better to give the adaptation a chance unless the show had particularly bad production value. For a show to live up to the source is going in with the same mindset that upsets me about some fans of metal music that upset me. The same kind of people who expect every band to be nothing but hardcore death screamo and to never deviate from that. It’s okay to deviate as long as the new production is still something overall enjoyable. As long as what you’re creating is still something you can look at and say you’re proud of. As long as what you made can linger in your audience’s mind as a memory, like the way some music or anime has done to me. That’s when your production is good, regardless of source, and while living up to the source is still a stressful idea, it isn’t one that should dictate your production. Living up to the source isn’t something I think a show should worry about, since it’s an entirely new way of looking at things, but I understand that a lot of the time you want to make your show appealing in a way that makes both camps of your audience happy. In the end, it’s just anime. Enjoy what you want, but the source shouldn’t always dictate your enjoyment.
This editorial is probably one of those I’ll reread in the morning and feel like I should have written entirely differently, to which there are many of, but oh well. I hope you all enjoyed and thank you again to everyone who reads my editorials. If you’re interested in what I’m doing when I’m not writing at 4:48am to get this post out on time, you can follow me on Twitter. As always, I’ll see you all next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist マシマサキ.