So in my new podcast, I ranted about bad adaptations. And I wanted to talk more in-depth about what really constitutes a bad adaptation and then in turn what anime have bad adaptations. I’ve started a few times that I believe anime (or animation in general) is the greatest form of art there is. Now that’s another post for another day, but my take on that boils down to it consisting of so many forms of art while also having the freedom of creativity of animation and art style. So it’s always a great time when a popular manga or someone’s favorite manga gets announced to have an adaptation on the way. Until the studio is revealed and its Pierrot. I think it goes without being said that there’s a difference between a bad adaptation and just flat-out bad anime. So what makes an adaptation bad and what are some bad adaptations?
So what makes a bad adaptation?
- I think some fans hold this notion that every anime has to 1:1 adapt its source material or its trash. I don’t believe that to be true. Part of my anticipation when it comes to watching some of the anime that I’ve previously read the source material on is seeing a new take on what I’ve read. Yes when it comes to dialogue manga being the form of media it is, lends itself to being more 1:1 with that. But certain panels once animated are just bound to look different because it’s in motion. I think the biggest example of both these points is Attack on Titan season 4. On one hand, the table scene’s cut dialogue feels like something was lost. But then you have the infamous jacket scene, which looks a little weird, but overall is one of the best-looking moments in the anime. And it’s just a different take on a still image. There’s nothing wrong with tweaking things and It only becomes a problem when it goes beyond simple tweaks and the removal or shuffling of scenes fundamentally changes a part of the story.
- Animation is obviously a big part of anime. So when shows for whatever reason have subpar or bad animation it can really degrade the entire experience as a whole. But this is not to be confused with art style. Art style and animation are separate from each other and how someone views art style is a lot more subjective than animation quality. Anime often have subpar or just okay animation until certain scenes with big moments. That being due to various production and workload issues. But that’s just the reality of the situation that probably won’t change any time soon. It just the degree of which an anime has subpar animation or how bad it is when it starts to get into qualify as a bad adaption.
- Pacing is such a big deal. It’s something that a lot of anime can struggle with for various reasons. Time constraints whether it be only having a certain amount of episodes to adapt a certain amount of chapters. The source material is barely ahead of the anime. Or the source material can just have bad pacing. But 2/3 are sadly a product of studio production constraints. That could all lead to bad pacing and rushing through content which can ruin the flow of the story.
- Filler sucks and if you’re a viewer that watches week to week it can really suck to be subjective to filler especially if it’s bad. I fully believe my enjoyment of Naruto and Bleach as a whole is heightened because I had the luxury of skipping over the various long-filler arcs.
All of these points affect pretty much every anime to varying degrees. It’s how much it affects it that we start to delve into bad adaptation territory. It’s no secret a lot of shounen are ongoing and barely ahead of the manga. So often they’re filled with filler, have subpar animation at times, and can have pacing issues. But for the most part, all of those aren’t to the degree that makes the overall product bad. Often those anime have outstanding animation when it calls for it. The filler can be amazing. The pacing is usually off but not that it’s rushed but the exact opposite. So there are levels to this and most of the shounen I’ve watched never go as low to be considered flat-out bad adaptations. That goes for every genre though. So with that being said let’s talk about some notorious adaptations that are seen as bad for varying reasons.
What are some bad adaptations?
Tower of God
Seen as a bad adaptation by some. It’s a case of cutting content and changing events to fit into the episode amount, but ultimately ending up changing a lot of plot points, set ups, and characterization. It’s still good though and I would recommend this anime to anyone. As someone who also read the source material. I don’t believe the anime is so far gone that a second season couldn’t rectify the problems with this season.
- Skipped content
- Changed scenes
- Characters/events feel fundamentally different.
Did the studio just have no faith in the source material? Season 1 of this anime was great. Season 2 is the reason why this anime is on this list. Outside of Attack on Titan, season 2 of this was probably the most anticipated anime earlier this year. Then it comes out. Now look, I’ve seen a lot of people’s opinions. It seems like the manga kinda got bad as it went on. But there was still some good stuff especially the stuff that comes after the events of season 1. They took the Root A route. You don’t ever want to take the Root A route. The best way to piss off a fanbase is to bastardize the source material while attempting to create something anime original while also skipping content. Season 2 was the talk of the town this year and it’s tragic. The Promised Neverland should’ve been something special.
- Horrible pacing
- No faith in source material
- Cut Content/ Skipped Content
- Anime original stuff
Seven Deadly Sins
I think that gif speaks for itself.. for a show that’s carried by its hype moments and fights… c’mon
- Bad animation
- Also pacing issues
I don’t know enough about Berserk to comment on it definitively, but there’s no way I could write about bad adaptations and keep out the most beloved manga that has yet to get a good adaptation past its introduction. I feel like it’s a crime for Berserk to be so acclaimed but then for Berserk 2016/2017 to be an actual thing that happened. I’ve watched a handful of videos discussing that anime which I recommend as they are more knowledgeable than me. To me, CG in anime isn’t bad, it’s actually pretty good most of the time. But it feels like such a slap in the face for a manga that’s artwork could legitimately go in a museum to have such simple CG designs. Not to mention skipping over pivotal content and horrendous sound design. Eventually, I’m going to go through my Berserk phase and dive into this when I get full perspective but from just the clips I’ve seen my point stands strong.
- Horrible bastardized animation & art style
- Skipped content
- Horrible sound design
- etc, etc
Out of every anime I talk about in this post. This is my personal tragedy. Tokyo Ghoul captivated me from the first episode. While I still think season one was good, after reading the manga it’s a shame what happened to this series.
Tokyo Ghoul is far from a 1:1 adaptation. You could make the case that cut content from the manga was cut because there was no assurance that Tokyo Ghoul would get a season 2. Just to make sure the pacing and everything fit within the given episodes. After all, it was popular in Japan already but its popularity surged after the first season. But the backstory and side plots that were cut in season one are pivotal to future events and characterization. But that could’ve been rectified in a second season. Outside of that, season one is a pretty good adaptation on its own. Root A (its sequel) is a “new take on the source material” that feels like a botched sparks notes version of the second half of the manga in an attempt to create something anime original while also keeping some of the events from the manga. Then there’s RE. Say what you want about Root A, but it looked amazing. Re’s has subpar animation is only the tip of the iceberg. Root A was such a disaster story-wise, that since now that RE is supposed to be more faithful to the manga, it acts as if Root A never existed. Not only does that make Root A waste of time but it means that RE is missing so much source material because half of the original manga wasn’t properly adapted. And they make no attempt to fix that. Restarts off like everything is peachy and we’re supposed to know what happened before this. Then the biggest wtf moment in my anime fan history is them adapting so many chapters in 24 episodes. I have yet to watch RE fully and as a giant fan of Tokyo Ghoul it’s the biggest disappointment ever to me and it’s my poster child for a bad adaptation.
- Major Cut content
- butchered second half of manga
- Subpar animation for RE
- 179 chapters adapted in 24 episodes
Is there hope?
At the end of the day. Bad Adaptations aren’t 100% the end all be all for a series. Some anime like Tower of God can be seen as bad adaptations but with further seasons it’s completely plausible that the cut content and changed events could be rectified. Full Metal Alchemist 2004, Fruits Basket 2000, could easily be seen as bad adaptations. Yet thankfully they got the reboot treatment and now their respective reboots both spent time occupying the #1 spot on mal and are widely beloved and acclaimed. So not all hope is lost that one day these great series get their justice done in anime. It might just take a while. Hopefully, I get to see Berserk (2030) and Tokyo Ghoul:Re(mastered) one day.