TPAB’s Top Ten: Things I Learned From Six Years of Blogging and Reviewing (Part 9 of 10)


We’re almost at the end. I think one is the most important thing I learned this year as a reviewer, and I hope you guys enjoy. 

9. The Faithful Adaptation of a Bad Anime Paradox

Okay, so one day, I saw this anime called Donten ni Warau. I believe it’s Laughing Under the Clouds, or some stupid sh*t like that. The show sucks. The pacing is all over the place, the character arcs are stupid and the show basically tries to overcompensate by giving us hot dudes. Now, I know this tactic. UtaPri got three seasons out of just its hot dudes, and I’m fine with that. Donten ni Warau is a manga though, and you can tell the adaptation is being ruined. I feel bad for the manga, because it’s not being given proper love. How evil does a studio have to be to completely ruin something in twelve episodes? I can forgive shows with rushed endings, or even shows with a low budget to really bring out the appeal of the anime. But a studio killing potential when they could’ve reached it, I was not a fan of that.

When I wrote my review of the anime, I specifically wanted to have a big portion of it dedicated to the manga. If the anime won’t give it love, then I will. For all the hot dudes in that anime whose potential is crippled, TPAB will be your hero. So, I read the manga and something horrible happened.

The anime is a faithful adaptation of the gawd damn manga.

The original source itself sucks. The author doesn’t know how to tell a story. She only knows how to draw characters. She’ll have massive pages of beautifully drawn characters with barely any dialogue. It was also a very short manga. I think it only has thirty two chapters or something, but you can make a story in that amount of chapters. Yuki Midorikawa gave us Natsume’s prototype in just a one shot, and the thing is so respected that it got an anime adaptation. Talent is easy to spot, and talentless shlock is also painfully easy to recognize. The original source for this anime rushed the pacing, killed the potential of the characters, had no idea where to drive the story and gave us a ham fisted romance that clearly needed more chapters to develop.

The crazy part is that the anime is faithful. Every chapter was adapted, every interaction is transferred verbatim, the mangaka’s impressive visuals are carried over, and everything else was given respect. I always believe that a good adaptation captures the best parts of the original source but also highlights its weakness. This was the case for Donten ni Warau. The anime was so faithful that the mangaka’s flaws in creating the series are also highlighted. This concept ruined me. Dear gawd, I stumbled into a paradox.

So, fellow bloggers and fellow reviewers, I ask you: If the original source is BAD and the anime faithfully adapted it, is the anime BAD as well?

If the anime took effort in giving us the original source, but did such a great job that the bad source is given its rightful adaptation, is the anime itself bad as well?

Don’t give me a “yes and no” BS answer. There’s a definitive ruling to this, or maybe there’s not. This is a paradox, and gawd, what kind of studio would even adapt a bad source? Oh gawd, do I need to revisit Mahou Sensou? This is what happens when you try to improve as a reviewer. You basically stumble into something that’ll really make you crazy.

Full List

1. The Diversity of the Anime Tag
2. The Blogger Dilemma
3. Collabs are fun
4. Friendly yet Reclusive
5. MAL Synopsis
6. Episodic Review is a Hard yet Interesting Adjustment
7. Dramatical Murder and Yosuga no Sora
8. The Special Secret Relationship of the Fans of the Original Source and the Anime Staff
9. The Faithful Adaptation of a Bad Anime Paradox
10. Hurdles and Setbacks Makes Life More Interesting

28 thoughts on “TPAB’s Top Ten: Things I Learned From Six Years of Blogging and Reviewing (Part 9 of 10)

  1. “There’s a definitive ruling to this, or maybe there’s not.”

    No, there’s not. Bad/good and faithful/unfaithful are not synonyms, they’re separate (x/y) axes.

    I’m 95% an anime guy, and don’t read much manga or play many of the related games, so I’m short on examples, but I do have one… Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue.

    The bit on the source material is second hand, I’ve never played the game. But between the howls on the forums and blogs when it aired, plus some research, I think I have a handle on it. Also, bias warning – I’m a fan of the anime.

    The source material is a romance VN, with MC-kun/player insert the center of things as per usual. The sport of Flying Circus plays a role, but it’s mostly the framing story that gets MC-kun to interact with the girls. The anime on the other hand, is a straightforward sports anime. MC-kun is pushed kind of into the background, and the girls and their struggle and progress are the centerpiece of the plot. There’s pretty much no romance, not even mild flirting.

    So while the anime takes the characters, the basic plot, and the background from the game… Having no romance and reducing the role of MC-kun, it can reasonably be seen as an unfaithful adaptation. On the other hand, it’s a pretty good sports anime, with no more than the usual amount of tropes (many of which *are* lifted from the VN).

    Then there’s Sweetness & Lightning which I mentioned the other day. In some respects there’s a great deal of infidelity. On top of the character issues I mentioned, the adaptation takes considerable liberties in places. It skips chapters, it re-arranges chapters, one key scene is re-written almost in it’s entirety… (Not badly mind you, just radically different while sending the same message.) Yet, it’s still an outstanding anime that delivers the same basic story.

    So, in critiquing/reviewing, comparing the source and the anime is indeed very important… It’s also important to view each as their own creation. Twins as it were, not clones. And thats without getting into the issues that arise because the demands of different media are often radically different.

  2. Call me biased, because I don’t look at manga / source material and never have, but I think its fine to judge an anime in isolation. Even if you do want to consider source material, I think its fair to say that the anime has to stand up on its own two feet regardless of its source – so in this case I guess you could say if the anime is bad, then the anime is bad; even if the adaptation itself was good / faithful.

    • Ah, but what if the anime only failed because the manga failed already? So the anime is automatically bad by default? Even if the anime really succeed in bringing the manga to life?

      • Yes, at least I think so. If you look at the anime in isolation, did you enjoy it or think it was a good anime? That’s all you really need to ask here. Though that does make it seem a little sad doesn’t it? The anime was doomed to fail to some degree.

        • Yeah, I understand By itself, the anime should be judge separately but underneath that, the “adaptation” does plays huge role, so I made me really think, lol.
          and it is sad

  3. Glob, you really have a point. It is a paradox. 🙂
    However, if you bring it to a really simple level and separate the two things. I think you could say that the anime was bad, but it was a good adaptation. 🙂
    But then, how do you rate the anime overall 😮 . Wow, this is a real mind F***. I can see how it would drive you crazy XD

  4. I wouldn’t say faithful and good are the same when it comes to adaptations. Some stuff just doesn’t transfer well from one medium to another and the hallmark of good direction is making sound changes to facilitate that transition. I think it is important to honor the spirit of the original work while transforming it into a powerful piece that stands on its own in the new medium.

    • But what if the adaptation was verbatim? every panel, every dialogue and everything was adapted with effort, they completely brought the manga to life, but the thing adapted is bad, is the anime now bad for giving effort to a bad source?

      • That’s what I’m getting at, a, “verbatim” or, faithful adaptation doesn’t mean it is good. I mean, good on a staff if they put in the effort that’s a good thing but it doesn’t mean much if the final product is going to be bad because of the source. That’s where direction can make or break something. Sometimes you just need to make changes to make something work.

        • if you change the source then its no longer faithful, and that’s fine. you can find fault in the anime for that.
          but my problem is the verbatim stuff, where the anime doesn’t change anything. I can’t fault an anime that puts effort, a lot of it, in bringing a manga to life simply because the manga itself is ad. Or do I? Do I just forget the fact that everything is verbatim, because that’s e unfair to the anime, I think.

          • Anime deserves to be judged on its own merits. It is silly to say an anime is bad because it isn’t a verbatim version of the source. It’s not really, “changing the source” it’s called an adaptation for a reason. I’m not saying folks should rip apart the source but some stuff doesn’t work 1:1 and needs some change to be a good product.

            I would totally fault, an otherwise perfect, adaptation of something if it was still awful. Why adapt this? Why was so much effort put into an obviously bad product? It is completely reasonable to ask these questions because something MUCH better could have been made in its place. Sure, the anime isn’t 100% the problem in that scenario so I’d want to know this and point it out in a review if I did, but still.

            I’m not even saying, “bad” stuff should never be adapted, because I do like some fairly universally hated stuff (School Days and Hand Shakers for example. Only one is an adaptation though) but I do recognize that both works have problems.

            Maybe that makes sense? I think we both are maybe having a tricky time explaining perhaps?

            • yeah, i think explaining our side is a bit tricky. I apologize. I believe you’re saying adaptations will change no matter what, right? I think what I’m saying is that I’ve compared a lot of anime to its source, saw that anime still does capture the original and some really do change nothing. They add voices and animation, but the important bits still come from the source.

              And why some ad works are still adapted is mostly because most anime is part of a multimedia promotion. the big wigs behind the scene is pushing it, and it doesn’t matter if its good to them as long as it makes money. But,yeah, I digress.

              and I guess you’re saying you haven’t seen an anime adapt the source verbatim, and that’s fine. I’m saying they exist, and a problem arise in critiquing them. of course, I am on the small group since no other reviewer really check the anime and compare it to the source.

              I guess my approach is more about learning where the anime messed up the adaptation, so I dig deeper and I realize this paradox exist. xD

              • No problem. I’ve sen tight and loose adaptations and understand how the committees for shows work, I’m saying that judging anime solely on how costly it was adapted makes no sense. Additionally I’m saying that sometimes changes are necessary to make a something work in a new medium and this idea that it not be a 1 for 1 translation is silly.

                • Costly? Lol. That was never my prob but its ok. I understand.
                  I guess not everyone can see how adaptations can be close to 1 to 1. It nay sound silly but i trust ny six years reviewing anime and i know this paradox is a doozy for me 🙂

  5. Ultimately, even if it’s faithful, if it’s a bad story, the anime is going to be bad unless the animation, voices, or whatever raise it to the level of mediocrity.

    • ok, so it’s bad. is it because the anime adapted the manga to a tee, or because the anime itself is bad for giving effort that wold otherwise make it successful??

  6. I feel bad for doing this since it’s pretty much stealing your thunder…no just come over to my blog the anniversary post is up. You’ll be surprised xDD. As always keep up the good work TP, you’ve earned very single one of your accomplishments. Proud of you!! :D.

  7. I’d go with ‘the anime is bad’. I think Jon and umaiyomu already tried to justify their reasons sufficiently. But I’ll add that – the production and animation staff are good (as you mentioned that they follow everything to point) – so good that they didn’t consider the source in need of ‘some’ salvaging (I didn’t watch the show, so I assume from your description that it really needs help). 😛

  8. Oh wow what a paradox. I guess in this case, it would be safest to say it was a bad anime but a good adaptation. I guess in these cases it would be better to separate the anime from the source and simply judge the anime for what it is. In this case that would be a bad anime which this was. That’s how I’d do it anyways. :’)

These are my thoughts. Feel free to add yours.

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