Random Thoughts: Adaptations

I, for one, get very cynical and worried when an IP I like is getting an adaptation of of any kind.

 

Faithfulness

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:

Image result for dragonball evolution comparison

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:

Image result for one punch man art comparison

Image result for one punch man art comparison

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.

 

Image result for dark knight trilogy

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.

 

Image result for fullmetal alchemist anime

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).

 

Artistic Style

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.

 

Video Games

Image result for super mario bros movie

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.

 

Image result for persona 4 anime

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.

 

Image result for unlimited blade works

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.

 

Image result for mordin solus

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.

 

Image result for dark souls

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.

 

Image result for fma live action

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.

Gihoon

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10 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: Adaptations

  1. I have to admire adaptations that veer away from the original source. Whether they work or not is another matter. But when they work, I love that I have 2 different well-made stories to enjoy: the source material & the adaptation. But if the adaptation turned out to be crappy, I pretend it doesn’t exist. Ahahaha! As for Western film adaptations of anime, it depends on the anime. If it’s too Japanese or Asian like, say, Dragon Ball…look what they did to Goku. Sigh. And I hear rumours about a Naruto live-action film. If the film features white ninjas…I can’t even. Since a lot of the anime feature characters that aren’t on necessarily Japanese, I don’t mind much that they’re played by non-Japanese actors. I actually want a Western version of Attack on Titan because in the manga/anime, all the characters are actually non-Japanese. It’s only Mikasa who is the rare Asian. I’ll watch that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with your point. Logan veered far away from its source material, Old Man Logan, but it was still awesome. Onto you latter point, I was actually discussing this exact thing with a friend. He was disappointed that Attack on Titan did not have any white people, Germans to be more specific. Similarly, he was also sad that the new live action Fullmetal Alchemist only seems to have Jaoanese while only Asians in the story are from Xing. People have problem with white washing but you know, double standards.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! It seems that people have this misconception that live-action film adaptations of anime should only feature Japanese/Asian cast. They should also consider the story and that characters. Not all characters in anime are Japanese/Asian per se. Sure, some are set in fantasy worlds where there really aren’t clear “races” but for films like FMA and Attack on Titan, they’re different. Good points.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Children’s/YA horror author Derek Landy once said that books work as books, books don’t work as films. What he meant was that some things work better in one medium than the other, so changes can sometimes be necessary. Case in point, a lot was cut out in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but to keep it in would make the film over long and a fair bit more dull.
    If changes are done well, I have no issue with them. While I prefer Brotherhood, I do still enjoy the first FMA adaption for example. Attack on Titan too changed the running order of some of the early story arcs and I thought that it was better for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You are right, good book does not automatically mean good movie, or vice versa. Going on a bit of tangent, games becoming movies remove the player involvement, thus removing huge emotional impact. In Mass Effect, you have to choose to let characters die, their death is entirely your fault. But in movies, you didn’t chose to let X die, Shepard did, so you don’t feel the guilt. I liked all versions of FMA, but I felt that Dante was so much weaker than Father in terms of determination, goals, and overall presence, but that is another topic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aye, I think that that’s a problem with game adaptions. It’s not like ti can’t be done, of course. The Street Fighter II anime is often fondly remembered, and as much many disagree, I do get some nostalgic enjoyment from the first Mortal Kombat film. Without the immersion of interaction though, it can make it a bit jarring when you suddenly step into not having control over the same universe.
        I certainly agree regarding Dante. For me, it probably helped seeing the 2003 anime first in that regard as there wasn’t an instant comaprison for me, especially as the UK release of the manga was nowhere near the end when I saw it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have not seen SFII anime, although it seems pretty cool. I need to check it out.

        Apart from Dante, I felt like the Homunculus made so much less sense, that they result from failed human transmutation. Also the story leaves out the North, aka the best Armstrong, and the entire continent of Xing. I enjoyed the original anime, but it wasn’t enough for me who has read the whole manga.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think that, had the entire manga series been released over here at the time, I would have had the same issues when watching it. In that respect I was lucky to have not finished the manga until long after seeing it. Definitely agree on Armstrong too.

        Liked by 1 person

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