When asking a friend or convention acquaintance about an anime show I haven’t seen yet, I sometimes hear a sad or dismissive answer that “it’s not as good as the manga” that its based on. It is the same issue other creators face in converting a book to a movie, though the transition between anime and manga is a bit easier, considering the continuation of the art style set in the manga.
For some anime I’ve inquired about I have received the reply that I shouldn’t even bother watching it and should just read the manga instead. When I was in my younger High School years I to roll my eyes at this notion, but then I realized that there have been many times I have hated a movie version of a book I like. Many of my friends prefer to read the manga before they watch the anime. I, myself, am too lazy to do that, though there have also been several examples of the anime-manga transition that have compelled me to consider reading the original version rather than watching the less-than-perfect animated translation.
I throughly enjoyed watching Death Note and it is one of the series that I have watched multiple times through, though I have yet to go back and read the manga. Let’s take a moment to consider the art using promotional covers.
Here we can see the difference in art style between the of Death Note in the manga (above) and anime (below). In this case, the popularity of the manga resulted in the creation of the anime.
Death Note became so wildly popular that it the franchise also got two Live-Action movies, which I thought were decent but way too condensed for the complicated plot they were trying to portray which was only loosely based on the anime plot. Had I read the manga, which was probably even more complex than the anime, I might not have enjoyed these movies as much as I did.
Many of the wildly popular and long-running anime shows like Bleach and Naruto are based off of their just as popular and extensive manga counter part. A noticeable hiccup in that process is filler. When a show is based off of a manga, it depends on the manga artist to produce new content to air in the show, however, the artist cannot produce as fast as the show can translate, resulting in the need for extra not-main-plot episodes which are aptly called filler. Another problem with the generally successful process is a sudden and/or bad ending to the anime that doesn’t match the manga, which might even be on going despite the end of the show. When that situation crops up, this is the general reaction by the fan community. Notable popular examples of this include Ouran High School Host Club and Soul Eater.
While talking about some of the failings of the manga-to-anime process, one of main examples that comes to mine is my personal experience with the series DNAngel. I heard of it from several people, saw the art, and decided to check it out by watching the anime. It has been several years since I watched it, but I still remember thinking that it felt really off for some reason and that the plot was similarly awkward. Later a friend told me that in her personal opinion, the anime didn’t live up to the standard set by the popular manga. I still have yet to read the manga, as I still have yet to read most manga even of series I really like.
A similar thing happened to me with Fruits Basket. I heard that it was good so I watched the first two episodes of the anime and then I did not watch any more. My friends told me to read the manga, that it was better, and I have yet to. I do intend to come back around and eventually read the manga for many anime shows that I like. I do like manga, I have a small collection from certain series, but to be honest it is just my personal preference to watch the shows.
Despite all the pit falls of the transition process, I know for sure that it is possible to adequately pull off the transition from anime to manga, just as it is possible to pull of a decent book-to-movie transition. Over all, it is up to the individual to decide if manga, anime, or both are right for them, and at times even on a case-by-case basis.