It would be an understatement to say that anime producers have been making Anime adaptations for a while. Now I’m not a historian, but I think they’ve been doing it pretty much since the dawn of Anime. And why not? We all love to see our favourite characters running about doing all the things they do but in motion. And the great thing about adaptations is that they get people who hadn’t even heard of the original work becoming major fans. Anyone read Death Note way before they’d even heard of the anime? And what about Dragonball Z?
The medium is a great way of promoting the best aspects of the manga with the added bonus of being able to do things it can’t do. Apart from the fact that it’s in motion we’re able to see some artistic liberties every now and then, as well as entire arcs made just so the Anime doesn’t catch up with the manga! (I mean, if you follow the manga already, filler arcs can actually be quite fun). But what makes a great adaptation? Can there be a bad adaptation? I mean all you have to do is put into motion what’s on page right?…right?
Well I don’t have all the answers. It’d take too much work, and the subjectivity of the question would mean I’d be fighting with Anime fans for like a week or something (until I get bored anyway). But looking at what we’ve got this season, it’s easy to see what makes a good adaptation, even if I’m not entirely sure what a bad adaptation is. Here’s two examples:
First let’s take Haikyuu!! (ハイキュー‼). What’s more Shonen than an underdog Shonen sports manga? If you’ve been following the manga (high five long term fans! Anyone?), you already know why it’s so damn good. The same goosebumps at the exact same moments are developed during certain parts of that Anime. It conveys the spirit of the manga exactly, while at the same time not being better than the original purely because it’s in motion. A lot of respect has to be given to Haruichi Furudate (古舘春一) for being able to convey action so well on a page.
The second anime adaptation that made me pay serious attention was Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou (僕らはみんな河合荘). I admit, I hadn’t heard of the manga before stumbling upon this gem. But this anime is great in its own right. Firstly I thought Makoto Shinkai (新海 誠) went on from The Garden of Words to start doing an anime series, as the artwork seemed just as beautiful as that film. It plays on the heart strings, and after checking out the manga, I got to see how much the artwork itself plays the whole part of conveying the love story part of the story line. The Anime is full of humor but thanks to the strength of that artwork, the love story undertone remains consistently strong throughout the majority of the anime.
I’m running out of words here, but I’m sure that a whole essay could be written on the subject. I mean we haven’t even covered the role a voice actor plays. It still brings immense pain to hear Goku’s original Japanese voice (I don’t care what anyone says, the Americans did better on that one).
If I was to sum up the basic points of what makes a good anime adaptation of a manga, it’d probably boil down to:
1) It has to please the fans of the manga while being open enough to receive new fans.
2) It should stay true to the original story, as deviation from the original work will likely incite anger, disappointment, or a slight feeling of betrayal.
3) It has to highlight the best aspects of the original work.