My Experience Following Two Light Novels Turned Into Anime This Summer Season: Realist Hero and Seirei Gensouki

light novel adaptation - Seirei Gensouki and Realist Hero

Hello, name’s Justin. I manage TheOASG — The Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses — a Japanese pop culture site focusing on manga, light novels, and anime with reviews and various features written throughout the week. Much thanks to Karandi for allowing this guest post on her blog, which, as it’s somewhat long, we should get to immediately!

Realist Hero and Seirei Gensouki - both Light Novels turned into Anime

I’ve been very amused watching How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom and Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles this summer anime season. Amused in the sense I’m reading the light novels of both, and they’re both being adapted in completely different ways. One series is content on methodically moving through its long material while the other blows right through its fairly light content. They each provide their own enjoyment, but at the same time, feelings of what could’ve been arise in both. 

Anyways, it’s rare for me to follow two light novels turned into anime in a season, which is why I’m writing about the experience!

A caveat

While there’s a general method of adapting a work into anime, I won’t say most should strictly stick to it. Like everything It’ll come down to budget, scheduling, and support among many to create a good or great anime, but for series adaptations, the studio should be able to create a work that can bring in a new audience while also being able to satisfy the fans who’ve read the source material. Usually it’s not advisable to go too crazy, but being as creative as possible while adapting the source is more preferable. 

How much have I read of each?

Realist Hero: I’ve read 11 volumes of Realist Hero that’s currently out in print from Seven Seas/J-Novel Club in roughly two weeks in 2021…after I’ve had Volume 1 in my apartment since 2019. There are 13 volumes out digitally from J-Novel Club, with 14 currently through pre-publication on their site (volume 14 is scheduled for October). I’m planning to stick to print for Realist Hero, so can’t answer questions about its story past that.

Seirei Gensouki: I started this series with JNC’s omnibus print release back in June (bought a copy back in February), and then proceeded to read all 13 digital volumes since then. I’m now caught up with its prepub on JNC’s site (Volume 16 is coming out in late September). It took me just about a week to read Seirei Gensouki. This is where I note that the average page count for Seirei Gensouki is between 100-131 pages…there was even a volume or two that was 97 pages. That and what it is (more isekai fantasy not an economic/political isekai fantasy) made it a lot quicker to read.

How many volumes has the anime adapted?

Realist Hero: We have gotten to Episode 9 and it’s finally onto Volume 2! Yes, Episodes 1-8, and even bleeding and lingering a bit into Episode 9, was spent on Volume 1. Hell they even added the extra story towards the end of Volume 1 into the anime! 

Seirei Gensouki: After nine episodes, we’re onto Volume 4 of the LNs! So basically, Volume 1 was episodes 1-3, Volume 2 episodes 4-6, and Volume 3 episodes 7-9, with parts of Volume 4 at the end of 9. 

The Pros and Cons of Realist Hero

Realist Hero

Pros: For those who’ve read the source, it’ll be very familiar since I’d say roughly 70% of Volume 1 has been animated. So basically, if you were enjoying some almost university modern-day Socioeconomic student get summoned by a failing fantasy kingdom to become their Hero only for said student to instead apply his sensibilities and supposedly realist principles to rebuild Elfrieden through administrative efforts in LN form, chances are you’ll like it animated. 

A few storytelling adjustments (How Mystic Wolf Tomoe becomes Souma and Liscia’s little sister is the same but it’s done in an unobtrusive way for example) help smooth out some points in Dojyomaru’s first volume that probably either wasn’t necessary or kinda ill placed (For example while there was a cool moment not adapted, the location for when Souma confronts Hal and Kaede in Episode 6 was pretty awkward in the LN). Also bonus points for adding some extra references (the Yami Yugi moment in episode 1, an a capella version of Megumi Hayashibara’s Give a Reason from Slayers NEXT sung by Juna in Episode 3 to name a few) that were either not in the LN or were but had to be adjusted.

Cons: If there is a big misgiving, it’s how it looks. Functionally the characters look fine and I think overall the show looks passable, but it does look unappealing in a lot of areas. It’s either a case of lack of budget or they’re saving it from when the actual action happens since going in it’s all about characters talking, but visuals is not this series’ strong suit. There are some rearrangements or adjustments that have happened so far that I wish could’ve been included (Liscia being frustrated that Souma says Elfrieden can summon another hero was essentially toned down) or a few surprising stories that I figured would get cut (Like the old man’s Sea God story). There’s also one plot point involving Souma and Hal’s father, Glaive, that’s there yet fairly different in the LNs. How Juna was revealed to be a spy didn’t quite go how it went in the LNs either, to name a few.

The additional issue is because of Realist Hero’s lengthy exposition, you know a lot of words would have to be streamlined, but overall it’s fine. It’s just certain conversations — when Aisha talks to Souma about periodic thinning for example — lacks some lead up details so the forest conversation can come across as knowing too much. Conversely, if you found it kind of strange when Souma essentially promoted Kaede and Hal after discussing the current strife with one of the Three Dukes, let’s just say he had a big reason to do it in the LN (and said reason will come up in the anime). You can explain all you want in text, but an anime has to break all that down to something digestible, and sometimes it doesn’t come through here. Since I’ve read the source I know what Souma’s saying and meaning, but for those who haven’t, it likely comes across very differently.

The Pros and Cons of Seirei Gensouki

Seirei Gensouki

Pros: After some adjustment I’ve been digging the character designs and the interactions the characters have with each other, which is one of the reasons I enjoy the LN. The anime also moves at a quick pace, which in some cases, works out pretty well. It has made lots of cuts, a few for the better here:

From a storytelling standpoint, with this one scene it eliminated two characters from the LN — and since they’re essentially minor characters, it’s fine. If you come in seeing Celia give Rio money, she wasn’t the only one — someone else did too. But well, that someone else died in the scene where Rio returns to the shack, and that someone else has a sister who does appear briefly in the second volume, but hasn’t appeared again in the LN (and feels unlikely to do so). That I’d peg as a smart cut. Sure, it might be nice to have, but on a budget and wanting to get to a good point, the anime staff made the proper choice.

Aside from that, the main “hook” for this isekai is one that at least in anime form doesn’t happen often — the fantasy character actually sticking around. It’s either straight up reincarnated and you take over that fantasy person’s body, but instead, Haruto Amakawa from Japan is dead, and his memories are in Rio, a kid in the slums fueled by revenge. It’s a case where two totally different personalities meld together, which generally creates a sort of who’s taking after who in this case. The harem that does surround him will be what’ll either drive away or bring people into this series though.

Cons: So earlier I said this series made lots of cuts. Overall, the cuts make a lot of storytelling and worldbuilding feel lacking. From explaining the difference between magic and Spirit Arts to character actions, the lack of subtle details prevents us from getting a full sense of each character as opposed to the LN. This in turn bleeds into the story, as of which it only revolves around Haruto/Rio essentially journeying around the world. Now in the novels technically the main story kicks off in Volume 4 once the [Spoiler characters] arrive. It’s just the lead up to it feels like it’s missing something.

It also doesn’t help that because of the cuts, it also feels too rushed. The quick pace works out in some cases, but then we get Episode 8 where the series has Rio talking to two very important people in his life, he’s then supposed to have a match with Gouki — oh look that child he saved earlier in the episode and her bodyguard meet up after he tried to avoid them, they briefly chat, and now Rio and Gouki spar!

I’m serious. This happened in roughly a minute: 

Also while earlier I mentioned two minor characters getting cut, don’t worry, there are a couple others. There’s one additional minor character that has been cut that appears a solid amount in future volumes. If there happens to be a Season 2 for this anime, they’ll have to invent a backstory for said minor character out of cloth…or not. Finally yeah, the actual animation isn’t the best. In the video you saw earlier with Celia giving Rio money, you understand the characters are using magic, but the characters moving the way they are is fairly poor and the blue magic surrounding them is pretty basic. The Latifa/Rio fight is the one where I was really satisfied, but the other fights in this action series don’t stick out as they should. 

So….my preference?

The measured pace in Realist Hero feels more preferable than what’s happening to Seirei Gensouki. I still enjoy Seirei Gensouki and in some areas I wish Realist Hero hurried things up and cut some stuff out. As someone reading both source materials though, it feels for Seirei Gensouki it’s cutting out parts that harm the characters inhabiting it, and any type of character building through its dialogue or its fights is quickly over with so nothing can quite stick. Meanwhile you can quickly suss whether anything Realist Hero does is worth your time or not in three episodes because aside from additional details in the novel, this is about what you’re getting from a kingdom-building isekai. 

What’s next for Realist Hero and Seirei Gensouki

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Realist Hero: It’s got four episodes left to finish Volume 2…with a possible chance of adapting parts of Volume 3. While I can’t be fully confident, I’m sure it should end at a good stopping point. It can’t be great since there’s no guarantee of a S2 and there is a great stopping point with Volume 4 that won’t happen here. But there is a solid end point in Volume 2 that can work, so as long as the animation doesn’t melt, it’ll end strong enough.

Seirei Gensouki: The series has followed the 3 episodes = 1 volume scenario except for episode 9 where they put some Volume 4 stuff up, but based on the Opening and Ending animation/visual, it’s ending in Volume 5. So in the next three episodes the series has to adapt two volumes. The good news is Volume 5 is a natural stopping point. The bad news is we already have a significant deviation based on the stinger in Episode 9.

Will not elaborate this point to avoid massive spoilers, but the character you saw at the end of the episode, who I’ll refer to as Rio’s spirit, did not actually appear in the spirit folk village in Rio’s bed in the LN. For anime-only watchers I think you’d be like finally, we’ll know who she is…but since I’m reading the source, I now have many questions on how the anime will tie in the other plot points (yes, points) from the novel in the last three episodes. Is one completely cut? Is it rearranged?

Also, you’ve seen her introduced as Lotte — also known as Liselotte — and she’s a major character that we know is one of the reincarnated characters in the show, and she appears briefly in Volume 5 of the LN. They’ve met back in Episode 4, but Rio and Liselotte really meet in Volume 6 of the LN. In the OP and more clearly elaborated on in Episode 8, we’ve also been introduced to Rio’s nemesis, Lucius. A spoiler, but these two meet in Volume 7 — is the anime going to tease Lucius and not have them meet? It’s a case where it would feel a little irresponsible to introduce someone like Liselotte into the narrative all grown up and not explore her backstory at all in this anime. Lucius is on a lesser scale if only because his backstory is tied deeply to Rio so you can’t not include him in this anime, but is he in the OP as eye candy/tease? 

Basically, I think some sort of anime-original scenario is on the table, and the chances of that happening went up a bit thanks to how Episode 9 ended. Episode 10 should make that clearer, but functionally there is a way they can make Rio’s spirit waking up this early work while not totally messing up one of the plot points. But despite all the prior cuts the story still was fairly on track and engaging enough. Yet now I’m left wondering even more how much will be crunched over the next three weeks. 

Images from: Seirei Gensouki. Dir. O Yamasaki. TMS Entertainment. 2021 and How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Dir. T Watanabe. J.C.Staff. 2021


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Guest Post: 5 Video Games We Want To See As Anime

5 Video Game

This post, 5 Video Games we Want to See as Anime, comes from Rachel of No Filler Anime: I may not always watch the most popular anime on the shelf, but I’m watching what intrigues me and I think that’s the beauty of anime – there’s something for everyone. I came to anime and manga late in the game.

While I had occasionally dabbled here and there, I really didn’t start watching with any conviction until I was older. Suddenly, I had the desire to begin consuming more anime. The good ones and the bad ones. New series and classic series. It didn’t matter what it was or it’s notoriety, if the synopsis seemed interesting, I was bound to watch. Please check out my blog:- https://www.nofilleranime.com

Even though the film industry considers video games merely as spin-offs, the two are not excluded from one another. Many films have failed as adaptations of video games, but where a movie would sink, an anime would probably thrive. The anime fandom and “geek culture” is no longer unpopular, for it burrowed itself into the pop culture and made its way into popularity, thus enabling such adaptations that would have failed before to success in this era. 

One of the best known video games that got adapted to many different forms, amongst them a successful anime, is Pokémon. Deriving from the main video game narrative, it got built into a whole franchise that still to this day is a huge success. 

Let’s see our picks of the video games that would make excellent anime!

Bloodborne

Platform: PlayStation 4

Bloodborne

The hero wakes up in a hospital in the city of Yharnam after a blood transfusion. It’s not clear why and how he got there, the player has to put the tiny mosaics together as more and more questions arise. While an ancient evil is roaming the countryside, a mysterious infection that is taking its toll on the streets making the nights dangerous, for the streets are filled with crazy badger figures, killing those who venture it. 

Who else, but heroes dare confront them, those that somehow managed to preserve their human nature. The protagonist would be one of those heroes, trying to save himself and the city from the infection. Being an immortal individual, the anime could focus on his struggle of dying over and over again, the possibility of failure setting in his mind. Granted, the main character is somewhat of a silent type, but that could very well work in the favour of the unimaginable struggle of repeatedly dying and possibly failing to save everything. 

As the narrative of the video game is quite vague, the anime could very well dive into discovering the plot throughout the episodes. 

Fight scenes are spectacularly done in the video game, and it should translate to the anime as well and give it a superb visual advantage to succeed. 

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Metroid

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo ES, Nintendo 3DS, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Wii, GameCube

Metroid

Another well known franchise, although, it doesn’t have an anime adaptation. Given that the long running video game was made into manga, it would come as no surprise if someone decided to adapt it to anime. However, despite the series’ generous thirty-year run – from the first release for the 1986 Nintendo NES to the ongoing Nintendo Switch episode, fans are still waiting for that day to come. 

The original video game follows a bounty hunter, Samus Aran, who combats Space Pirates in order to protect the galaxy. The problem for adaptation arises because the linear and non-linear game releases. Metroid is still in the makes of new releases, so it would be the perfect combination to cross promote the new video game and the anime. 

Metroid has not only fans wanting for an anime adaptation, but a well known creator, Adi Shankar has expressed his interest, and according to him, it would be the adaptation of his dreams. Many before him tried to adapt the game for screen, but colossal fails of adaptations in the past never left enough space for liftoff. 

Dark Souls

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Dark Souls

Imagine a dark medieval fantasy world. Now imagine there are cycles that are linked to the first flame and they change everything – the living become dead, the dead become undead. Basically, it’s a cycle of light and dark. 

The first game focuses on the undead, the second on the bearer of the curse, who is also undead, the third game focuses on relinking the flame with all the beings that previously relinked to it in a combined effort to make the effect more potent. The world is continuously marching toward the same moment over and over again, the death of the first flame.

Sacrifices are needed to keep the first flame burning and delay the age of darkness, thus many characters would be short lived in an anime adaptation, but that might even be an amazing screen opportunity to mine.

The video game got a comic adaptation, so here’s to hoping someone picks it up and makes an anime!

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Overwatch

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

overwatch

Although an anime series was announced as hush-hush, we are yet to be blessed with one. The game already has an unbelievable similarity with anime, as the creators borrowed the aesthetic elements from Japanese culture. 

But, the problem lies in the fact that it’s almost impossible to adapt a multiplayer shooting game into an anime that would haul in money. Almost. 

The plot takes place 60 years into the future. The organization Overwatch was created 30 years ago to end a crisis that the Omni robots caused. Peace was restored thanks to Overwatch, but as the organization dissolved over time, tensions arose between the human and robot population of Earth. All agents of the Overwatch are called back in service, a battalion of characters are at the creator’s disposal. This is a superb plot for an amazing sci-fi-action anime.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Platforms: iOS, Nintendo DS

5 Video Games We Want to See As Anime - Ghost Trick

This game is a very interesting story with rich animated depictions, combined with logic puzzles, mixed with humor. The main protagonist awakens as a ghost ready to solve his own murder mistery. He discovers he has supernatural abilities, for e.g., possessing inanimate objects that help the player solve puzzles in order to get to the bottom of the protagonist’s suspicious demise. All the while helping others stay alive – that is, the main character is able to rewind time to 4 minutes before someone dies, thus saving everyone he can.

The amazing rainbow of eccentric characters that appear in the game and the bizarre plot is reason enough for wanting to see an anime of the same title. 

What are the video games we want to see as anime?


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Why Is The Number of Light Novel Adaptations A Problem?

Light Novel Rage

It’s becoming a fairly standard cry each and every season. “There’s another light novel adaption with all its tropes and cliches.” And then fans of the source get defensive, those who dislike light novel adaptations start throwing out every poor adaptation ever as evidence that the entire idea of adapting a light novel is fraught with peril, and then there’s everyone else who is sitting on the fence and wondering if this light novel adaptation is going to be interesting, a train wreck, or an interesting train wreck.

So is there a problem with the number of light novels getting an anime adaptation?

I will admit, there’s a lot of generalisations about light novels and anime adaptations out there. Just watching season after season it is easy to buy into the idea that the anime industry is actually being taken over by light novel adaptations or that somehow they’ve become almost the staple source of adaptations. I certainly believed there were a lot more than it turns out there actually are.

So I decided to look into this a little bit. Just doing my own quick count on MAL for the anime that aired in 2018 (not continuing series) I found that unsurprisingly Manga remains the main source of anime adaptations. In fact, when you include web manga and 4-koma manga in the mix it accounts for nearly 50% of all source material for anime airing in 2018 that MAL includes in its seasonal pages (I’m totally open to the fact that this is not the be all and end all definitive source of information regarding this but it probably is a reasonable enough representation for this discussion).

What I was surprised to discover was that original anime accounted for 21% of anime in 2018. While I knew Zombieland Saga and one or two other titles were anime originals, I was unaware of just how many other original anime came out.

Zombieland Saga Episode 2

Then we have games, light novels and other (which accounts for ‘other’ as listed on MAL and novel and visual novel adaptations) which all come in at close to 10%.

Huh.

I genuinely did not see that coming when I first decided to see if Light Novel adaptations were in fact becoming too prolific. While I knew manga adaptations would still be the highest, I kind of thought light novels would be second or third, or at least close to a large chunk of the releases, but it is actually only sitting at 9.1%.

Then when you look at the highest scored title on MAL for each season, you see that in every case it was an anime based on a manga. The only light novel adaptation that came close was actually Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai in the Autumn season.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 6 - Sakuta

So why do people think there are too many light novel adaptations or that light novel adaptations are ruining anime, or that they get too much attention?

One of the reasons might be how widely discussed these anime are, even if they aren’t scoring the highest for technical proficiency or story-telling. When looking at the number of members each title has in each season we start to see light novels rising significantly higher in popularity than their score rating would indicate. Winter 2018 see’s Violet Evergarden in the top spot with the Overlord sequel in third. Spring was dominated by manga adaptations so the only light novel adaptation that made it into the top 5 was the Sword Art Online spin-off series. Summer saw Overlord 3 and How Not To Summon a Demon Lord in the second and third spots respectively. Finally in Autumn all three top spots were taken by light novel adaptations including Goblin Slayer in the top spot, followed by Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai and Sword Art Online Alicization.

Following along on Twitter or just what gets reviewed on blogs, there is no denying that light novel adaptations are well watched each season. While they may not all rise to high critical acclaim they do generally entertain a wide audience and by and large they provide a bit of fun even if they don’t necessarily have depth. Then again, I was pretty stunned to find Violet Evergarden’s source listed as a light novel and I wouldn’t call Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai particularly shallow in terms of the emotional scope it tried to encompass.

And I can already hear some people arguing that those aren’t the light novel adaptations that are complained about. It is the other ones. You know the ones. The ones with self-insert protagonists that get transported to another world and live out some harem or power fantasy (or both).

ragnarok10b

Sure, we could look at The Master of Ragnarok and shake our heads in dismay at the state of the entire anime industry being reduced to that kind of light novel adaptation. Then again, we could see that as The Master of Ragnarok just not being very well written or produced as an anime and even by isekai/harem standards it ended up pretty woeful (personal opinion).

I kind of feel most people constructing an argument around whether there are too many light novel adaptations, or that light novel anime adaptations are somehow subpar, or who are arguing for light novel adaptations, all suffer from cherry picking the titles that support their argument. For every Master of Ragnarok there’s a Bunny Girl Senpai. And while isekai power fantasies may not be your personal thing, clearly they sell well so there’s definitely an audience out there for them. Declaring the entire genre trash or that every single story is the same is a little closed minded.

Admittedly, I’m not jumping up and down and saying that everyone should watch How Not To Summon a Demonlord anytime soon. There’s an audience for it though, and that audience greatly enjoyed it. Even some people who normally aren’t up for an isekai story full of fan-service and the like ended up enjoying Demonlord as it went about writing a story with fairly good pacing and combining its base elements to most entertaining effects.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7

So why is the number of light novel adaptations a problem?

I don’t believe it is. It is another source of stories same as other novels, games, manga, etc and when adapted well can lead to some truly interesting anime. While it might feel like there’s too many similar light novels being adapted we need to consider the fact that clearly there’s a market for that story if it keeps selling, some of the adaptations are actually pretty good (while some are fairly objectively terrible) and that maybe it just isn’t your genre. Someone who doesn’t like shoujo love stories would declare those all the same as well and yet a die-hard romance fan would argue that every single one is different because of how the characters are constructed and the combination of elements around them.

It’s only been since starting the blog that I ever began reading light novels, and what I’ve found from reading them is that there’s a huge range in the quality of writing and the stories being told in them. However, I started reading light novels because there were some anime adaptations that were based on light novels that I fell in love with and I wanted more of the story. Which kind of means the anime did its job at promoting the source and was entertaining enough in its own right (or else I wouldn’t have bothered). So while I get that some people don’t like light novel adaptations, and some people hate isekai, I don’t think it is ‘taking over’ anime or that it is too highly represented, or even that adapting light novels is a problem. Like with everything it is about looking at each work on its own merits, or lack of them, and the personal opinions of the viewer. So while some people will continue to avoid these titles, others will eagerly await the next announced title.

grimgar e2b noscale
Not from 2018 but still an awesome light novel adaptation.

That said, I’d love to know your thoughts so leave me a comment below and you can also check out my pretty terrible infographic with my findings from spending an afternoon reading MAL below.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Infographic - Anime By Source in 2018

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Based on Light Novels From The Last 5 Years

Tuesday's Top 5

I am going to credit the idea for this list to Lethargic Ramblings and their excellent post last week In Defense Of Light Novel Adaptations. While reading it I suddenly really felt like making this list and while I limited it to the last 5 years to make the selection easier, it was still pretty hard to narrow this list down to a top 5. I’d love to know some of your favourite adaptations so be sure to leave me a comment below.

It is important to note I am not basing this on how well adapted the story is, given I haven’t read the source material for a lot of my picks. I’m just discussing anime that were really fun to watch that happened to be adaptations of light novels.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Sword Art Online (original series not in the last 5 years) and Alderamin on the Sky.


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Number 5: GATE

34049-gate

I know some people don’t like GATE and there are quite a few issues with the story, but that doesn’t actually stop it being really fun. There are some interesting character moments and a little bit of political commentary. None of it gets enough development when there is a harem and silly comedy to get on with, but it still makes for a fairly engaging story at times. Overall, this is an anime I had fun with and it reminded me of Stargate and other shows I liked a lot as a teen.


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Number 4: Chaika – The Coffin Princess

Chaika

This is another show that has its silly moments, but the first season at least is quite interesting. I really enjoy watching the saboteurs helping Chaika to recover the body parts of the former emperor while evading pursuit. There’s some great moments and fun fights as well as a nice dash of magic to keep things moving along. The second season kind of fell apart a bit as it tried to cram so much information in as it attempted to rush to a resolution, but at least it does end the story so things aren’t left open and unresolved.

Number 3: Lord Marksman and Vandis

marksman4

There is no surprise that I love this series and Tigre is one of my favourite bow wielding characters. While I’ll admit, Lord Marksman and Vanadis is an odd mix of military tactics and harem fantasy with the mix not sitting particularly well at times, it is certainly a unique viewing experience and one that I found fairly memorable. Not to mention, Tigre is awesome.


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Number 2: Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon

is-it-wrong-to-try-to-pick-up-girls-in-a-dungeon-season-2-release-date-spoilers-for-danmachi-e1436273064961

Right, so now we get to just one of my favourite binge worthy anime titles. DanMachi is fantastic fun. Okay, you can’t take it overly seriously given the main character has extreme plot armour and it is definitely a fantasy on a power trip but this is just great fun. Exploring the dungeon, nearly getting killed, interacting with others, nearly getting killed, eating good food, nearly getting killed… There’s just so much enthusiasm and fun plus it features one of the best fight sequences ever just after the midway point. This is one series I loved (though the spin-off was pretty bland).

Number 1: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

Grimgar

It kind of had to be. After all, this was the anime that actually inspired me to finally take up reading light novels and I don’t regret that at all. While the slow pace of the show may put some people off, I found Grimgar to be a truly delightful viewing experience. I loved how it dealt with human emotions and the real survival aspect of living in a fantasy world where you may not have the right skill set for hunting and killing. I really fell in love with this anime and I’m really enjoying reading the light novels. Though it has left me wondering why there is no second season of this.

And that’s my list but I’d love to know what would make your list.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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A True Champion Can Adapt To Anything, But Don’t Mess With The Source Material

Death Note Live Action Movie

Last week I reviewed the Netflix Death Note movie and I tried really hard to review it as a movie in its own right rather than as a poorer version of the psychological masterpiece that is the original anime (at least the first half of it). However, while I read a lot of reviews about this movie, what I noticed repeatedly was that a lot of reviewers were not reviewing the movie on the screen. They were reviewing how well it managed to follow a different script or the manga. Some reviewers even put side by side pictures of the live action characters from the American production with the anime version of the character as though this somehow added weight to their argument that the movie was appalling.

Now, I don’t actually want to argue about whether the movie was good or not because that isn’t even the issue. While I enjoyed it on my second watch through, there are some actual plot and character problems that the movie has, even ignoring the source material and the changes that were made, and it definitely has some pacing issues in the second half. Is it the single worst thing I’ve ever seen and would I threaten the production team with having their names written in a Death Note? Probably not, but nor do I care to try to defend the movie because this movie is pretty much doomed to be a five minute discussion topic and then the world will move on.

However, I have to wonder why fans get so attached to the source material that any variation feels like some kind of criminal act? By its very nature, adapting material forces changes. From manga to anime, anime to live action, it is kind of certain some things are going to be lost or changed. Some because of the medium involved and others because of different interpretations, and still others by deliberate choice. While those choices may produce a lesser quality work (and regularly do, I’m not even going to try to claim that the majority of works that have ended up with this treatment aren’t pretty dreadful) it isn’t necessarily because they chose to change them. In the case of Death Note, I would actually argue that the changes didn’t go far enough.

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In an effort to pander to the fans of the manga and anime, several characters and events were left in the film, though they served little purpose and actually just took up screen time that could have better been spent on fleshing out some of the more original ideas. The pacing fell apart toward the end because we’d wasted time building L up as any kind of antagonist when he actually wasn’t the one Light had to confront, and because they bothered to leave Light’s father in the story as a character of any significance. Which of course in the other variations of the story, L and Light’s father are important and of course should have screen time, but in this version of the story, they were merely the face of the police, but the climax isn’t about Light facing off against the police. It is about Light facing off with Mia, his partner who for whatever reason wants to use the Death Note to judge whoever she wants.

If you sat through Netflix’s Death Note and felt frustrated by the ending, think about how much better it would be if L just remained a background character. A voice on the TV reassuring people that the police were looking for Kira, and someone Light mocked to make himself look good to Mia, and then they went about their business. What if the police received a tip that Light and Mia might have been Kira after they were overheard discussing the Death Note in the school grounds (because they do and that is stupid), so the police still show up at the dance forcing Light to tell Mia to go to the ferris wheel and still leading to a chase sequence, only no L and no space gun.

Suddenly the whole sequence is cleaner and less complex because you aren’t trying to deal with L’s emotional break down which is unimportant to the viewer because this version of Death Note gave us no reason to care and you aren’t trying to figure out what is with the gun. Light no longer has to try to justify his actions in hysterics and we actually have time to give Mia some actual character development. It would all work so well.

However, let’s pitch that idea to Death Note fans.

So, I’m going to make a live action version of Death Note.

Go on.

It’s going to be set in America.

What?

No, it will be fine. We’ll just give Light an American sounding surname. No problem.

Assuming that’s true, what else will you change?

Okay, I’m going to get rid of L as a main character. He’ll still be there, but the investigation isn’t going to get that close to Light, as I’m going to focus on how Light changes as a character because of the Death Note rather than how smart he is and how well he can play cat and mouse with a detective.

Right, so the table just got flipped and that discussion ended rather abruptly. Because for some people that change means it is no longer Death Note. What it means to be Death Note is gone. For me though, Death Note is the power to kill with the book. How that power is handled by different people in different times and places could be fascinating. There’s an endless parade of stories that could come from that idea and some of them could be brilliant. They may not involve two super geniuses anonymously facing off using the entire world as their battle ground, but the stories could still be pretty brilliant. So that is where I feel that saying the reason the Netflix Death Note movie is not that good isn’t because they changed the source, but because they didn’t have enough confidence to take the core mechanic and make it their own. They tried to have their cake and eat it, by appealing to fans by keeping things they should have just cut and trying to make a very different style story at the same time.

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But if we turn our attention to the other big adaptation that got people talking, Ghost in the Shell, we have much the same argument. Some people accusing Hollywood of White Washing, others saying that the writers missed the point, still others saying Scarlett was not a good Major whereas some would say she did a fine Major. But maybe it is the fans missing the point.

I don’t know how many of you have ever read the novel ‘Jaws’. I’m sure most of you have either seen the movie or know of it. It’s a great movie. Lot’s of suspense and jump scares, excellent musical score, some buddy moments with the cast, and of course a giant shark eating people. It’s classic and it works. But the movie wasn’t supposed to be that suspenseful. The shark was supposed to appear a lot more and the reason we only get limited glimpses of it, adding to that great atmosphere, is because the shark malfunctioned and they couldn’t get any more footage of it. The drunken singing and storytelling occurred because one of the cast was genuinely drunk (regularly). Many things that make that movie amazing occurred entirely by accident.

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And when you read the novel, aka the source material, what you find is an incredibly different story and one that the movie was clearly never trying to tell. Yes, there’s still a killer shark. But there’s also a love triangle between Brody and the scientist and Brody’s wife and the book spends a lot of time on the drama and relationship aspects and far less time with the boys drinking on the boat. It is almost as if the only thing kept the same were some of the character names and the killer shark. I’ll also point out that the movie is much more entertaining than the book, though doesn’t have the depth of characterisation you will find in the book.

But comparing the two is kind of pointless. The book has its place and its audience and it inspired one of the greatest classic horror stories to hit the cinema. The fact that the two stories have ended up vastly differently doesn’t mean that the movie is trash or that the writer should somehow be fed to the broken mechanical shark.

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To bring this back to anime though, I think Sailor Moon (1990’s) and Sailor Moon Crystal are a great example of why following the source isn’t the be all and end all. I loved the original Sailor Moon anime. Yeah, it isn’t following the manga but as I didn’t even know it was based on a manga when I was young that isn’t really a criticism I care for. It was a great story and one I fell in love with. That didn’t mean I wasn’t excited about Crystal. Seeing the story in a new form. Same characters but with a different interpretation. One that was apparently closer to the source but different from the one I knew. The end result is that while the main characters did great out of Crystal, the Sailor Scouts really get sidelined a lot and their personalities are pretty bland. So, sure, fans of the manga may really appreciate Crystal for how true it might be, but for me, while it is great to see Sailor Moon with more modern visuals and less filler, the 1990’s version is always going to be my go to version for the champion of Love and Justice.

I’m going to reiterate that the point of this post wasn’t to tell you that Death Note was an amazing movie. Nor was it to criticise people who want to criticise the movie. It was more a musing on how our preconceived notions of what something should be like affect our ability to accept variations on it. Which makes me wonder why we have so many reimaginings of super heroes and why we’re tolerant of those guys getting darker and grittier with every retelling but aren’t happy to see a character made more human or actually get a girlfriend.

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Anyway, over to you and I’m sure I’m asking for it but let me know your thoughts on how fans deal with adaptations of source material.

 


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Karandi James