I, for one, get very cynical and worried when an IP I like is getting an adaptation of of any kind.
One of the biggest issues most people have regarding adaptation is faithfulness to the original source material. In most cases, people get angry when it becomes different from the original, but I have seen it done the other way as well. I don’t think faithfulness is the secret ingredient of adapting something, but it is undeniably important.
I think a movie/book/game is still a good movie/book/game despite its unfaithfulness to the original source, but it has to be good. Also just because it is faithful does not make it a good movie/book/game.
Slight tangent… I heard this incredibly stupid defence of a movie coming out, Valerian. I saw the trailer and I wasn’t that excited by it, everything there seemed liek something I saw before. And someone told me it’s going to be good and I should be excited by it because it’s based on a graphic novel, to that, I say horse shit.
Example of too different from original:
This is what I mean, Dragon Ball (and Z) is one of the most famous manga and anime ever made. But the Hollywood adaptation was … well garbage. It seems like the only aspect of the original the movie kept was the name of characters. Goku ins’t white, he never went to school, he can’t distinguish men from women without grabbing their crotch areas, and had a tail. The plot is utter nonsense and everything has been bastardized.
Example of being too similar to original:
One Punch Man is an adaptation of an adaptation. Quick summary, One Punch Man started out as a web comic by ONE, then it was adapted with Yuusuke Murata into full fledged manga, and then it was adapted into full seasoned anime by Studio Madhouse. For most parts, all three versions of the are identical and received high praise. The anime especially received praise for how close it sticks to the the manga.
As a fan of the manga series, I got out only little from the anime, the actions were awesome, and the colors were brilliant, but that was about it. Obviously new comers were treated to hilarious story, great fights, and some needed drama, but I’ve already experienced those, shot by shot in fact. I am not saying the show was bad, clearly I liked it if you see my review, but I would be lying if I said I got so much more out it. This is a dilemma that I don’t know if there is a good answer.
the Good Kind of Change
The way I see it, adaptations are screwed if you do and screwed if you don’t situation when it comes to faithfulness. But faithfulness aside, adaptations can still be good if … don’t be too surprised here, if it is good by itself. A lot of adaptations do make changes to bring the story to a new medium, and if the creators embrace these differences and treat with with respect, they are often praised.
When changing from the original source, I want to see the studio embracing the fact that they are changing it, rather than being held down by it. The best example of this is probably Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. These movies were INSPIRED by the the original sources rather than bastardizing them like how they were in the newer DC movies. DK Trilogy full embraced the ultra realistic universe they created themselves in,m they embraced the serious tone of the gang politics and anarchy. This is very hard to do.
Not Enough Content
Another instance a studio can just cover its ass by making more adaptations to satisfy everyone. This happens more frequently in anime and games than others. When a manga gets popular, it usually receives an anime adaptation. Depending on where they are in the manga, sometimes manga outlives the anime by a noticeable amount and the anime has to end its story before the manga does.
One of the biggest example of this is the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise. I, for one, think the manga and Brotherhood are the superior versions, there I said it. But things like this happen with more series’s. Some examples of this include Soul Eater, Papa Kiki, or I Don’t Have that Many Friends. To make up for lack of content, anime series usually do one of the following: (1) add in filler after filler for long running series’s like Naruto and One Piece, (2) push off the next season off until more content comes from the original source like One Punch Man and Shingeki no Kyojin, (3) just end the series abruptly hoping for a revival like the original Berserk anime series. I usually prefer option (2).
I don’t really know why, but sometimes the adaptation decide to change the style of the original source vastly.
Something like Aku no Hana (above), tried out this new technology to make anime more realistic, think of it as motion capture for anime. Not sure why they chose this series for the experimentation, might be because it is not well known as something like FMA, and the result is something incredibly different art from its original source.
Or sometimes, it’s not even about trying something different, rather just lack of quality.
When you you turn a game into an anime or a movie… a lot is lost. Let’s talk about movies first, since that’s realy easy. Historically, video game movies have been horrible. Some famous horrible video game movies include, Super Mario Brothers, Doom, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Dead or Alive, Mortal Combat, and I can keep going. So when the Assassin’s Creed movie was announced, I was thinking “oh boy, not another one”. I have not seen the movie and nothing about it excites me. But corporate synergy and market will make sure this trend lives.
But anime is a little different, more obvious is instead of having just 2 hours, they can have 1 or more seasons to elaborate. And since they are animated, their may be not as much weird transition from one medium to another. Take Persona 4 animated series, they did alright job of capturing the feel and the visuals of the game, it’s not that hard as the art of the Shin Megami Tensei games make it really easy to do this. The Witcher 3 has something like 30 different endings, you can’t adapt them all. The only series I’ve seen that does multiple choices issue well was Higurashi Naku Koro Ni, as one of the character is time goddess that can remind time to do, well just that. I mean something like Yosuga no Sora, but Higurashi did it better.
Another, and more expensive way, to do this is make multiple anime seasons based on different options. This is similar to Higurashi’s and Yosuga no Sora’s way, but instead of dedicating handful of episodes per route, dedicate the entire series to do it. The only esample I can think of is the Fate/ Stay Night series. For those of you who don’t know, FSN is a visual novel game with 3 main routes: Fate, Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven’s Feel. Fate route was explored in 2009’s series by Studio Deen. Unlimited Bladeworks was explored by Ufotable’s series recently. And Ufotable, praise their name, annouced that they will adapt Heaven’s Feel route as well. This takes a lot of money and time, and I am glad they are doing it.
Here is a thing about games though. They are interactive medium, and the choices the player has to make give impact to those choices. In Mass Effect, you get to decide on fates of many people, especially your crew. You can choose whether or not Mordin Solus dies, and you have to live with it. In BioShock, you can adopt the Little Sisters and raise them as your own or put them to the cruel machine of industry as you gain more power. In Nocturne, you can decide to screw every deity and side with Lucifer to go punch God in the face.
Another part of gaming is the feel of accomplishment and badassery. Watching a person fighting horde of demons versus YOU beating the hell out of and surviving hordes of demons because you worked your ass for it, is completely different. Watching Omnislash play it out in Advent Children was cool, but earning that in the Golden Saucer and using it on Ruby Weapon is something else. Or just any part of Dark Souls. Typically, to show how difficult a fight is in anime is to make it long, but something like Dark Souls, almost every other encounter is like that.
This is a somber post, and I want to be more hopeful about it. But the entertainment industry today is more focused on making a quick buck using the names of franchises we like instead of raising their own standards. Why make the next Full Metal Alchemist when we can just make a live action version of it? If at parts, I sound hypocritical, it is because I have very mixed feeling about it. I am not looking forward to live action of FMA, but I am looking forward to anime adaptation of Heaven’ Feel.