Why Do Certain Anime Adaptations of Manga Feel So Incomplete?

First off, I’d like to apologize for the lack of updates recently, and by that I mean the zero updates since the Persona story. School this semester has kept me fairly busy, which has severely hindered me being able to work on the site. Originally, I was hoping to put up some form of writing once a week, but that has kind of backfired on me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put up some more things soon, as I’m winding down with school, the next episode of the podcast is coming soon, and I have a game review I’m going to be working on soon as well. Thank you for your patience, and hopefully I can continue to put out content that will be enjoyable to read or listen to!

Something that has recently made its way into my nightly routine is reading various manga. Thanks to the huge screen on the iPhone 6 Plus, it’s extremely convenient to sit and read anything on it. Manga especially has become easy to read, with the art and speech bubbles being very clear to read. Most of my manga reading has come through the Crunchyroll Manga app, or by rediscovering shows I had previously watched and finally gotten around to seeing how they actually end. Which led me to the question, why do certain anime adaptations of manga only cover a fraction of a manga?

Ao Haru Ride/Blue Spring Ride Production I.G.

Two offenders of this that I want to talk about are last year’s Ao Haru Ride/Blue Spring Ride and 2012’s Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun/My Little Monster. Both shows ran for the length of one season, with Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun having an extra OVA episode to put it up to 13 episodes. I had watched both of the shows before touching either manga, and still enjoyed my time with both. Some of the problems I had with Ao Haru Ride you can listen about in the 3rd episode of the Seasonal Anime Checkup podcast, but regardless, it still was fairly enjoyable. The biggest problem is that both shows only contain around 20% percent of the actual manga. This means, each show leaves things fairly unresolved, with no real character development, and only a brief look at the overall arc. It feels as if you were to watch a ninety minute movie, and then turn it off after 20 minutes and never look back.

Of course, I’m sure there are technical reasons for this. Maybe the show won’t take off and be a smash hit, factors come in to prevent a second season or a longer season, the manga hasn’t gotten long enough at the point of production to go farther, or it’s an incentive for you to go out and buy the actual manga to see how things end up. The fact is though, each of these shows feel so incomplete when matched up with their original source material. Now, that’s not to say that every anime adaptation falls into this same boat, or even specifically shoujo/romance manga. Kimi no Todoke got a 25 episode run for its first season, and even got renewed for a second season. Even still, the manga of that is still ongoing, so the anime would end up being incomplete. One Week Friends/Isshuukan Friends was able to get across multiple storylines and character development in just one 12 episode run, while also being extremely close to the entirety of the manga. 

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun/My Little Monster Brain's Base

This also extends elsewhere as well with One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood all being able to remain faithful to their original source material, and go on long season runs, with a few of those still ongoing. Speaking of Fullmetal Alchemist, there is also the problem of anime adaptations getting too far ahead of themselves and having to create their own original stories to compensate. That lead to the extremely weird last half of the original anime series, which included characters not being who they should be, Ed killing a certain character that doesn’t die, and real goofy time travel aspects. Luckily for Fullmetal Alchemist fans, the series got a second chance when they rebooted the anime with Brotherhood. Not every show though, gets that chance. Just ask fans of Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket, K-ON, and numerous other shows about wanting to get another season.

If you would like an interesting look at this process, check out the current arc of Winter 2014’s best show of the season, SHIROBAKO. Currently, the storyline deals with them adapting a manga into an anime for a 12 episode run, and one of the main issues is how to do the season finale since the arc it ends in hasn’t been resolved by the manga. This goes back to a point earlier where sometimes production can just be screwed in terms of how to resolve a show it seems.

I’m of course no expert on any of this, so hopefully you don’t take my word for the gospel, but this is certainly a sad thing to look at in anime. Maybe if we hope enough, more adaptations won’t feel as incomplete as Ao Haru Ride or Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. If you have any answers to this conundrum, or want to comment on it, feel free to email me at jared@seasonalanimecheckup.com or leave a comment below! I’d love to hear people’s opinion on this, or if you have some info that I might have missed or was ignorant of prior to writing this. If your favorite manga is coming up for an adaptation soon, pray to whatever you pray to that you get a good quality version of it, and that it is able to tell the proper story that it should tell.