Tag Archives: adaptations

“Read the Manga” Endings and the Failure of Adaptations

I remember the first time I sat down to watch the show Btooom! It had peaked my interest after reading the plot description, so I opened up my laptop and began watching. By the last episode, I was hyped. The show up until that point had a great story, solid pacing, and looked as if it were going to come to a decent conclusion. Except, it didn’t. My hopes were dashed as soon as the credits rolled and the two main characters were left still stranded on the island with a helicopter floating above their head.

This failure, now more commonly referred to as “read the manga” endings, have not only ruined what were otherwise great shows but have now become commonplace in an industry that is known for its unpredictability of sequels. Why provide a concrete ending to a show we could potentially make more money off of?

This isn’t just a problem in anime either, although it is widespread throughout the industry. In fact, this same problem exists within American movies as well. Movies that are otherwise finished and don’t necessarily need more worldbuilding get sequels, whereas ones that desperately need more detail are left unfinished. This is of course because it is a much safer bet to produce a sequel to an already popular franchise then it is to take a risk on a new title.

 

*stares*

 

But this is where the capitalist elements of both industries fail. The need to maintain a profit promotes the ability to expand on an already existing property, and because of that writers leave space open to continue a story even if it does not need to be continued.

This is the failure of the modern anime adaptation as we know it today. Instead of trusting in the audience to be satisfied with a self-contained story, the industry manipulates the source material and writes a story that they know they will not finish in the hopes of making a bit more money.

Another good example of this is No Game No Life. While the movie did adapt an important segment of the story, as of today we have no confirmation of a direct sequel series to the original. The team at Studio Madhouse decided it was more important to leave open room for a sequel they have zero plans to make and instead decided that it would be better to leave fans in the dark.

It is one thing to have a “read the manga” ending and have plans to make a concluding sequel that get announced shortly after the season airs, like the case with My Hero Academia season three, but most studios do not do that. It seems as of recently that is starting to change, but it still currently an industry standard.

It is a shame that material that is otherwise superb gets treated as unimportant when studios fail to conclude the series in one go or give even a hint at a sequel.

Your Name Live Action: Can It Be Good?

The production of a live-action version of your name was recently announced, and it came as a surprise to many. While Your name has become one of the most commercially successful anime films of all time, alongside spirited away, It is still largely gone under the radar of your average moviegoer.

One person who did notice it was director J.J. Abrams, who will be producing the movie at his studio Bad Robot alongside the original creators of the film, Toho. Abrams is responsible for directing the highly successful Star Wars: Episode 7 and has the endorsement of the producer of Your Name, Genki Kawamura.

2014 NBCUniversal TCA Winter Press Tour Portraits
Writer, Director, and Producer J.J. Abrams

If there’s one thing that I think most fans can agree on its those live-action adaptations of anime and manga have been really, really bad. From Dragonball Evolution all the way to this year’s Ghost in the Shell and Death Note, Hollywood has been struggling to get it right, but honestly, it shouldn’t be that hard.

Imaginative stories like Death Note basically write themselves, but, as I‘ve noted before in a previous post, they still get it wrong. Whether it be adapting films accurately or just writing a new version of the story, it seems like anime has never really gotten the mainstream representation it deserves. Now the question arises as to whether or not Abrams can do arguably one of the best-animated films of all time any justice.

Honestly, though, I’m not confident, for a few reasons. The first of which is the very medium that Your Name exists: anime. Anime has many things that make it great, be it character design, music, and the vast pop culture references, but one thing that makes anime so great is the art. Art is an essential part of an anime’s identity and trying to recreate that in a live action film is going to leave a lot to be desired.

A live action version would also have another problem: Culture. Your name is a Japanese story, through and through. Everything about the story of your name, from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to the uniquely Japanese tradition of a Shinto shrine and the mythos behind the Red String of Fate would go over the heads of an American audience. It definitely went over my head when I watched it the first time. Without the uniquely Japanese part of Your Name, it would just be a sci-fi film about switching bodies.

Although, I can’t be too filled with dread because there is a reason to have hope. J.J. Abrams at the helm of this project might mean that we might finally get an adaptation that does the original film justice. Abrams has been at the forefront of Sci-fi films for a while, and his 2011 film Super 8 is one of my favorite movies of all time. Even Makoto Shinkai, Your Name’s director, seemed excited about the joint production, saying:

“‘your name.’ is a film that was put together with the local creativity and domestic techniques of those of us living in Japan. With such a movie now intersecting with Hollywood, there’s the potential for the staff to show us new possibilities, which is something I’m looking forward to in the finished film.”

In light of recent tragedies, it is completely justified to stay skeptical of this project. Even with the team behind it, there is no guarantee that this won’t end up a complete trainwreck. It would be nice to believe that there is even a glimmer of hope with the name attached to it, but that is most likely wishful thinking.