It should be no surprise to people to say that a majority of the anime we watch is adapted off of a visual novel, manga, video game, or light novel. No one far enough down the rabbit hole should look at that statement and be suddenly bewildered by it. Of course this isn’t news to anyone. Even in the west, movies and TV shows are now more than ever being adapted from books, video games, and comics. Adaptations upon adaptations upon adaptations, over and over and over. The only difference between Hollywood’s sudden infatuation with adapting anything and everything and anime as we know it is that anime handles adaptations in such a way that it never grows tiresome and anime has been thriving off of adaptations for infinitely longer than Hollywood has. This week, there isn’t really a problem to address. Instead, this week, I want to talk about this trend and what I think about it.
Let me start off by saying that this isn’t a bad thing. I don’t care if Japan continues on only to turn anime into an industry 100% focused on adaptations. I don’t care primarily because anime production companies care a lot more about what they can adapt and there’s such a gigantic pallet of stories to adapt that a sudden deflation of interest never appears. From Another and Steins;Gate to Shugo Chara and Lucky Star, all of these adapted shows are taken from a deep enough pool that there is infinite diversity. Don’t like magical girl adaptations? Don’t worry because there’s another animation studio adapting something as far as can be from magical girl shows. Now compare this to Hollywood. Look at how despite the film industry churning out adaptation after adaptation, there’s a common complaint on unoriginality. Nothing but superhero films and adaptations of books set in a dystopian future gets tiresome extremely quickly. Marvel’s entire cinematic universe is getting some people to get tired of going to see the biggest new movie, but fans of anime like The Monogatari Series still excitedly look forward to the next step in the ever-unfolding story.
Adaptations breathe an undying life into anime, however original stories also perform exceptionally well. From Madoka Magica to Love Live!, original stories have proven time and time again to perform well. Whether they perform narratively well or have particularly well done production is entirely up for debate, but there isn’t even a margin of a doubt that these shows perform commercially well. Studio SHAFT’s second most popular series right behind The Monogatari Series is Madoka Magica. ASCII Media Works spawned an incredibly successful multimedia franchise with Love Live!. Even the Pokémon franchise launched side by side with its anime only a year apart and is without a doubt insanely successful. In anime, original ideas sell extremely well with the right team and it makes sense that they do. Writers in successful anime studios have seen endless amounts of adaptations done and watched as some were successful worldwide and as others sold so poorly in Japan that a continuation would never exist. These writers know what their audience likes and by introducing something new, they know what can succeed. Even my favourite anime, Selector Infected WIXOSS, was a purely original idea, and along with it came a brand new WIXOSS TCG.
Despite the similarities between western movies and Japanese anime with a ratio of adaptations to original stories, anime seems to do it better though nothing but better understanding. Maybe part of it is the fanbase, and fans of anime are completely blind to the slight similarities between shows, but I personally have a hard time believing that. Popular YouTuber, Markipler once said that he would love to make a horror game because he had seen so much of it and experienced so much of it, experiencing first hand what he enjoyed and what was bad, that he could eventually figure out a project that would perform well. Japan, at least in my eyes, has the same mentality when it comes to anime. Maybe I’m an over-analytical fanboy, but I think my opinions are pretty grounded here.
Sorry for no post last week! I thought I’d be able to squeeze out some time to write something and schedule it for last Friday, but by the time I came up with the topic, I had way too much on my plate. From graduating high school to going on an eight hour road trip to visit some friends, I didn’t even have time to write my next novel let alone my editorial. Regardless, I hope you all enjoyed this week’s editorial! If you like what I do here and want to see what I’m up to when I’m not doing my part for this blog, you can follow me on Twitter! I’ll see you all next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist 桐ヶ谷チトセ.