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I’ve come to the conclusion that the Coppelion anime feels like the Coppelion manga with its edges filed down. I don’t mean just that they’ve removed all references to nuclear radiation, or that if you add up all of the elements of each version that one is more “serious” than the other, but that there’s a distinct difference in presentation.
Though the manga is more overt with its criticisms of nuclear energy, at least at first, it’s also wackier in a lot of ways. Amidst the tragedy, characters make wild and contorted faces almost like they’re One Piece characters, and there’s even more fanservice to boot. Aoi, who comes across as more cutesy in the anime, has a greater degree of comic relief in her in the manga, and I think it just has to do with that sense of exaggeration.
Here’s Aoi in the anime:
And here she is in the manga:
Also note the difference in Ibara’s facial expressions.
I think in some ways, this difference in feel does more to change the contents of Coppelion than even the censoring, like the wackiness adds a certain element of permeating ugliness to the story which helps to foreground the social and environmental issues a bit more. That might just be my personal preference though, and I find as the show gets into the second arc it starts to adapt the original material better.
Hear me out.
Tomoko, the main character of No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! (aka Watamote) is a sad sack whose life gradually rolls downhill as her own delusions of greatness collide with the reality of her crippling social awkwardness. You can even see this in the fact that, contrary to original translations of the manga, the title emphasizes that she blames other people for her problems. Some of those problems are real, some imagined, but what’s generally true is that she makes things worse for herself.
A lot of characters are likened to Tomoko as a kind of shorthand to understand the humor, horror, and appeal of her character. I’ve seen Shinji from Evangelion, Wile E. Coyote (because of how everything she does backfires), and I was originally even fond of comparing Tomoko to Charlie Brown, but the more I think about it, the more that I realize that ol’ blockhead for all of his misfortune doesn’t quite cut it, and that there is only one true answer.
- Obsessed with media and entertainment, but also thinks a lot of it is crap
- Not entirely incompetent, but definitely overestimates his own intelligence
- Awkward, stuttering laugh
- Hears dirty words where there are none
- Misguidedly misanthropic
- Plans to make his life better backfire constantly
- Sometimes believes he got “laid” just by being near a girl
Think about it. I guess the only thing is that Butt-head “wins” more often because he enrages his principal.
Recently I read two manga with very similar conceptions, I’ll Make You into an Otaku, So Make Me into a Riajuu and 3D Kanojo (also known as “Real Girl.”) Both are based on the concept of an otaku guy and a fashionable girl forming a friendship (or something more), but the messages they convey, at least from what little I’ve read, are significantly different. In particular, the way Otaku Riajuu handles its female lead is pretty embarrassing, and highlights a lot of things wrong with whatever mindset produced the story, and for which 3D Kanojo provides a better alternative.
First things first, there are some differences in the setup of each. Unlike 3D Kanojo, which is about the budding romance between the otaku guy and the fashionable girl, Otaku Riajuu is similar to Toradora! in that the two leads are at least initially trying to help each other to get together with someone else. Other similarities include the fact that the girl is tiny and feisty, much like Taiga. Toradora! is pretty great, so that’s not so bad in and of itself, but there’s more to it.
In Otaku Riajuu, the girl, Momo, has a reputation for sleeping around a lot. The guy, Naoki, upon becoming aware of this, basically wants nothing to do with her. He thinks of her as a “bitch” (in Japanese context, the term veers closer to “slut,” see Panty in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt for a prime example), and therefore wants nothing to do with her. A pretty messed up opinion to be sure, but then when he find out she’s actually uncomfortable around guys and clearly can’t be the bed crusader the rumors make her out to be, then he gets along with her a lot better.
Think about it: Naoki doesn’t like her when he thinks she’s a slut, but when he finds out otherwise everything’s “okay.” I’m not one to throw out the term “slut-shaming” liberally, and in fact this is the first time in the history of the blog that I’ve even used it, but it is literally the main character looking at a girl with disdain for being sexually active. The fact that we’re supposed to think Naoki the poor closet otaku is a Good Guy for changing his opinion of her after he learns the truth makes it even worse.
3D Kanojo on the other hand establishes that its female lead, Iroha, actually does sleep with a lot of guys, but doesn’t make the concept itself an inherent minus other than the fact that she has to deal with a lot of angry former lovers. Here, although the male character Hikari, being an awkward otaku virgin, is uncomfortable with the way Iroha is, the series seems to be more about their budding romance both in spite of and because of their differences. Hikari is also a nice guy in that he tries to save Iroha from a couple of angry suitors and gets so nervous when she invites him to have sex that he ends up avoiding it, but it’s clear he sees her as a person neither in spite of or because she’s sexually active.
I think a lot of the reason for this difference is just the intended demographic. Otaku Riajuu is based on a light novel, and aims for that male otaku market. Although not always the case (and not something exclusively otaku or Japanese), a valuing of virginity and purity by way of moe aesthetic is very clear and obvious here, and the strange idea the manga has about what it means for a guy to be “nice” likely stems from this. 3D Kanojo however is a shoujo manga, and this can be seen in the male lead who has a smattering of “gentle, ideal boyfriend” in him. He’s awkward around girls, but that’s what makes his attempts at heroics all the more charming. It also goes a long way in explaining why Iroha is written in a more well-rounded manner.
I’ve only read a bit of each, so I can’t say for sure if my opinions of either title would change down the road, but for now I’d have to say that 3D Kanojo is clearly the better title. The differing approaches to the popular girl character used by it and Otaku Riajuu do not form the entirety of my reasoning for recommending one over the other, but I think they give a good indication anyway.
I’m not much of a fan of Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, the moe-fied Cthulhu mythos-themed comedy anime, but I find that the main character Nyaruko has a really appealing character design. While she doesn’t look that different from other cute anime girls, Nyaruko draws the eye and leaves a memorable impression to the extent that it makes me want to maybe, just maybe, give her show a second chance. In looking at her more closely, the element that visually differentiates her from other similar character designs, the lynchpin which transformers her into something more distinct and complete, is her checker-patterned dress.
My reasoning has relatively little to do with personal preference (at least as far as I can tell about myself), but is based on the amount of contrast that the checkered pattern provides on Nyaruko’s overall design. Nyaruko does wear other outfits in her series, namely her school uniform, and if you compare the two outfits the checkered dress simply stands out more. There’s the inherent contrast of dark and light that a checkered pattern already has, but there’s also the fact that the pattern stands out against the broad swathes of flat color that make up Nyaruko’s hair, skin, and the rest of her clothing.
You could get a similar effect with stripes, but a checker pattern is like a stripe pattern taken to the next level, and I think that the way the checker pattern is only a small part of her dress instead of the dominant pattern as you might imagine a striped dress to be keeps it from overpowering the rest of Nyaruko’s design. It’s also somewhat of an uncommon clothing pattern among anime characters, which makes it easier to associate the checker pattern with her character before others. What you’re left with then is a visual design which not only pops out but causes others (including other characters in Nyaruko-san) to recede.
It’s fairly common knowledge that sequels aren’t the easiest thing to successfully pull off in entertainment. Even if the sequel ends up being okay, it may not live up to its predecessor because of how iconic moments and innovations can start to become formula (having to fit “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” into every Die Hard for example), or plot points from the first in the series have to be modified in order to cater to the new version. Whenever I watch a sequel, I’m aware of how daunting this mountain can be, and try to take into account those problems even if they ultimate are my criticisms. This is the approach I took when I heard that Eureka Seven, one of my favorite anime ever, was getting a sequel, but even with an open mind I felt that Eureka Seven AO not only paled in comparison to the original but was in certain ways a regression of what Eureka Seven had done.
Eureka Seven AO is billed as a direct sequel, as opposed to an alternate universe/retelling like the movie or the manga. The story centers around a young boy named Fukai Ao, who lives in the independent nation of Okinawa, and for whom life is difficult because of the way the community tries to ostracize him. In this world, the skub (or scab however they want to spell it this time), are considered a problematic natural disaster, especially because they bring with them mysterious monsters known as “Secrets,” which Ao ends up having to fight. For anyone who’s seen the original, the fact that the world of AO consists of real-world countries and continents is meant to imply that something is very strange or different about its setting, and trying to figure out just what in the world happened becomes part of the initial intrigue of the series.
When I say “regression,” I’m not referring to retcons or weird developments in AO‘s plot which cast a different light on the original’s events, but a regression of what mecha anime is capable of. Eureka Seven took an approach which let viewers explore its world through a cast of engaging, fleshed-out characters and a central love story developed gradually over the course of many episodes, and which anchored the narrative in such a way that the emotional excitement of the series builds up continuously throughout. It’s not altogether unique to Eureka Seven, and you can probably trace this style of show all the way back to Macross. Eureka Seven AO, on the other hand, feels more like a mediocre 80s mecha anime, more keen to develop its story as a set of vague mysteries and tensions but never entirely delivering on any of them. It’s not just that the plot is worse, but that it ends up resembling the way a staunch non-fan might look at and describe their idea of a Gundam anime.
What Eureka Seven AO does have, at least initially, is a strong cast of characters with plenty of potential as to how they’ll develop, but much of it never comes to fruition (though the brief glimpses at Ivica’s character and past were things I enjoyed in particular), or if there is a development the lack of impact from the rest of the series lessens the overall effect. In particular, AO never manages to have its story properly focused by something like Eureka and Renton’s romance, and though it didn’t have to necessarily be “another romance” (which might have well turned it into just a rehash of the original), there was nothing that could properly fill that void. It seems like the closest thing was just the mystery of what happened to Eureka and Renton, the intrigue of which the show feeds into fairly well, but the explanation we’re left with at the end is less than satisfying. And there is the potential for romance at the beginning, as the dynamic between Ao and his friend Haru is cute and gives a good sense of their relationship, but it ends up getting pushed aside. In the end, probably the most interesting point brought up in the show has to do with how the Secrets are treated by humanity, and how it reflects in some ways the way the Skub were regarded in the original Eureka Seven.
If the movie Eureka Seven: Good night, sleep tight, young lovers suffered from having a weak and confusing beginning but then a fairly strong finish as all of its disparate ideas came together, then Eureka Seven AO is the opposite: It starts off strong and with many of the pieces in place to tell something both grand and personal, but its plot and character development are so discombobulated that when the ending finally comes it hits like a drizzle instead of the torrent of emotions that the original provided.
As an anime by the studio P.A. Works about a group of teenage girls growing up and strengthening their friendship, Tari Tari inevitably draws comparisons to last year’s Hanasaku Iroha, which has both a similar premise as well as visual style. In addition, both feature similar trios: a petite main character with a lot of pep, a more serious one, and a gentler one with a sizable bust. Yet, as close as they are, I find the two shows to feel quite different, and it has to do with aspirations, or lack thereof.
In Tari Tari, each of the girls (and the guys as well) each have a concrete goal they’re trying to pursue. Some of them are more long-term, like Sawa becoming a professional equestrian, while others are more immediate, like Konatsu forming a successful choir club or Wakana composing a song to fulfill a promise, but all of them have a conceivable end point to pursue which drives each character forward. This in turn influences the pacing of the show, as the sense of looking ahead gives the show a kind of momentum.
In Hanasaku Iroha, however, only Minko truly has an objective to push her forward: becoming a great chef. For everyone else, especially the main heroine Ohana, there are no particular goals or dreams associated with them. At the very best they have things they don’t want, like Yuina’s hesitation about inheriting her family’s inn or Ohana’s pensiveness towards responding to her friend Kouichi’s romantic confession, and this lends to Hanasaku Iroha on top of the rural setting a kind of slower and more subdued “day-by-day” feel.
Essentially, Tari Tari and Hanasaku Iroha are both about teenagers becoming adults, but they differ in focus. Tari Tari‘s sense of maturation comes from the characters moving along paths they’ve set out for themselves, learning along the way as a result. On the other hand, Hanasaku Iroha‘s characters are wandering through their growth to adulthood, trying to find their paths among many. Though both are about the everyday, Hanasaku Iroha sits a little more in the present, while Tari Tari shifts a little more towards the future.
Eureka Seven is one of my favorite anime ever, Eureka is one of my favorite characters ever in a show full of incredible characters, and I consider the pacing of the show to be among the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a tough act to live up to, and so with the new Eureka Seven AO currently running in Japan, I wanted to at least give it more than one episode before I started talking about it. Not that I thought that the first episode was bad and needed a second one to “give it a chance,” but my experience with the original told me that this may very well be a show which continually ramps up and whose threads (plot, thematic, or otherwise) are only barely visible in the beginning.
To cut straight to the chase, the main character Ao is clearly implied to be Eureka and Renton’s son. As a result, I feel like Ao inevitably draws comparisons to Renton, but also that the show obviously wants you to do so. The first episode of the original Eureka Seven was all about how Renton wanted to escape his boring, do-nothing town and join the fabulous rebels of Gekkostate, whereas Ao has to deal with the constant materialization of skub coral and the destruction it causes. On top of that, both have parents whose legacies at first seem larger than them, with Renton’s father Adrock being regarded as the greatest hero who ever lived and Ao having to cope with the fact that even mentioning his mother and her turquoise hair on the island garners animosity. The difference between the overbearingly positive reputation that Renton had to deal with and the overwhelmingly negative one that Ao must live with draws an additional interesting parallel, but I feel like it does so while making Ao seem like his own character.
It also doesn’t hurt that Ao’s relationship with his friend Naru is distinctly different from Eureka and Renton’s. It seems to be built on this strong friendship which goes beyond the immediate conventions of the island where they live, and I actually have it in my mind to judge anything related to Eureka Seven based primarily on how it handles its main romance. The reason is that when Eureka Seven was originally airing, during the breaks there would be commercials for the Eureka Seven: New Wave PS2 game where the slogan for the game was “Another Boy Meets Girl.” This of course implies that Renton and Eureka were themselves a “boy meets girl” story, and the fact that their romance was so unbelievably strong supporter that concept. In that respect, and many others, I continue to look forward to Eureka Seven AO. No guarantees it won’t wipe out (see what I did there), but I feel like it’s definitely off to a strong start.
Earlier this year, I started to read the Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai manga.
I became an instant fan.
I really enjoyed the manga because of how it showed the difficulties of making friends when inexperience and considerably flawed personalities are thrown into the mix. It’s a decidedly otaku-oriented series that hits kind of close to home in a pleasant way. So when I heard that it was getting an anime adaptation I was pretty thrilled about it. I had my fingers crossed that it would be the anime of Fall 2011. Now, a few episodes into the TV series, I find it safe to say that I am fairly disappointed with the anime adaptation of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai.
On a basic level, the anime and manga are not that different from each other. They have the same premise, a group of people who are very bad at making friends trying to help each other to humorous effect. They have the same characters with the same personalities. They both have fanservice and their fair share of otaku references. But where I find the manga to pass with high marks using this mix of ingredients, the anime by comparison falls short of the manga’s success.
I think the best place for me to begin is the art, because the character designs for the manga and anime are drawn in markedly different styles. Whereas the anime has more of what I’d call a typical light novel/visual novel-esque style to it, the manga’s artwork seems more loose and fun. The manga doesn’t feel the need to stick to its template too closely, and perhaps because it doesn’t have to devote frames of animation to consistency, it makes the comic feel comparatively more energetic. Putting aside more abstract aspects of manga such as page and panel layout, decompression, etc. (things which I think the manga does quite well and do contribute to the quality of the series), even the smiles from the characters in the manga show a lot more emotion behind them. I feel like I can understand the inner workings of the characters and I’m pleased by that. The anime on the other hand, while its designs aren’t abysmal or anything, don’t seem capable of as much expressiveness, and in general the show feels a little stiff and wooden by comparison. I understand that the anime’s designs are closer to the original light novel’s but I still like them less. On that note, I have not read the light novels, so I cannot say if either is a faithful enough adaptation to the original, but the problem isn’t faithfulness so much as it is the particulars of execution.
Another major factor is the fanservice. By that, I don’t mean that the manga is devoid of fanservice which makes it somehow automatically better. In both cases, the girls are still cute, Sena’s chest is equally impressive, and they all have a tendency to wear attractive outfits. There’s nothing particularly objectionable about this. However, the anime has significantly more fanservice, to the point that I find myself saying, “The girls are already cute enough! You don’t have to do anything more with them!” The fujoshi character Rika has scenes showing her fantasizing in both versions, but the anime’s depictions tend more towards a climax in an eroge while the manga emphasizes the extent to which it leaves her flustered. The show also has a tendency to repeatedly linger on the female characters below the belt to a degree which exceeds the yuri mahjong anime Saki. The opening video itself seems particularly dedicated to showing off the girls’ bodies and ignoring the friend-making aspect of the show, and I find myself wishing it had been done differently, perhaps something akin to the Toradora! OP. To put it simply, there’s a difference between the girls wearing a sexy bikini that shows off her figure and a shot that draws specific attention to the underboob.
Now, I understand that the series has something of a harem vibe to it. It’s an unavoidable aspect of it, for better or worse, and it’s not like I have anything against a harem series which is designed to show off its girls. I once compared Infinite Stratos to Kore wa Zombie Desuka? and while I found the latter series better and more engaging overall I thought the girls of Infinite Stratos were more attractive with better designs. That approach is fine, if a little limited in its appeal. With that said, I find the key difference to be that, based on how the two adaptations approach the categories mentioned above, the expressiveness of the characters/aesthetics in general and the approach to showing off the attractiveness of the girls, the manga does a much better job of making me think of the female characters as people first and cute girls second. While I certainly don’t mind that the girls are nice to look at, what made me love the series in the first place was that it encourages a deeper understanding of the characters, particularly their awareness of their own personal flaws. With the manga, I feel that it gives a much stronger sense that these characters really do wish they could make friends in a way that outshines the fanservice, which I think gives it far greater ability to reach otaku and other readers with that bit of warmth. With the anime however, although that aspect is still there, I think it makes it more difficult to see past that simple harem exterior and into the meat of it (no pun intended for Sena fans).
I’m not going to accuse people who really like the show of having poor taste or think they’re simply unenlightened fools. I much prefer the manga and its style, but people may choose the anime’s designs over them for whatever reason. The girls are cute and it’s okay to think that they’re cute, to be attracted to them or even obsessed with them. Perhaps most importantly, while I find the level of fanservice in the manga to be more or less acceptable, I know there are people out there who would find that the cheesecake ruins the character portrayals in the manga. Even so, I just can’t shake the feeling that the anime’s approach to Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai obscures its greatest strengths too much.
This is a follow-up to the images from the X-Men manga I posted yesterday. Now that I’ve given people time to ruminate over those pages, pages which I selected partly to show how various characters are portrayed but mostly to show how the artists took a very “manga” approach to the material, I’d like to go into further discussion about them.
I’d also recommend checking out my post about what I think is a recurring defining trait of American comics.
There’s two things we can say about this comic. First, is that it’s based off of the 90s X-Men cartoon, which was actually shown in Japan with new openings specific to the Japanese broadcast.
Second, is that this isn’t a terribly good comic. It’s an interesting piece of cross-cultural collaboration and all but of course isn’t nearly as high-profile in America as, say, Nihei Tsutomu’s Wolverine comic “Snikt.” It is, to put it simply, okay but not great, and there are many, many runs of the original American X-Men comic which are better and more influential. But of course that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.
While this page doesn’t really show any X-Men and in fact just has Mystique in disguise, I think it tells us a lot about some of the fundamental differences between manga and american comics, and it has largely to do with the fact that it is such a low-profile throw-away comic. It is not the pinnacle of manga achievement, but that’s what makes it so useful.
After all, if you only try to learn from the very best you’ll only end up seeing a fraction of the whole image.
Here we have Mystique disguising herself as per her shape-shifting powers. Clearly the goal of the artist here was to portray an attractive female so that when the thug accosts her she can turn her head into a grotesque abomination for contrast. The result is an almost Matsumoto-esque female figure, particularly in the face. She’s disguised as a mysterious, alluring sort of woman, and it’s one far more in line with the Japanese version of such a concept as opposed to the more American va-va-va-voom type, despite this being an adaptation of an American property.
Now what I find to be even more interesting than the character designs is the panel arrangement of this X-Men manga. Again, it is not the best example of panel flow in a manga, but it is a very good example of what is considered “standard” for panel progression.
Panels are arranged as if they do not all exist on the same plane. Intra-panel depth cues are not nearly as important as seeing the panels placed one on top of the other to achieve a smooth progression throughout the page. A lot of emphasis is placed on shifting facial expressions, and those faces help to carry the reader’s eyes through the page.
Of course, this is only in a page with no action and how could I make a proper comparison without some fighting going on?
Below is an example of a fight scene from this manga, and an example of a fight scene from popular X-Men artist Jim Lee’s run, which was going on at around the same time.
Now it’s not exactly a fair comparison as Jim Lee is considered among the best artists who have ever worked on X-Men and there simply aren’t a lot of X-Men manga to go by, but what’s important here are the small differences.
Notice the degree to which the characters separate from the backgrounds. In the case of the manga, the separation is much more stark despite the Jim Lee panels having color on their side, color generally allowing an artist to much more easily separate foreground and background compared to black and white.
Then there’s the vertical progression vs the horizontal one, which admittedly this is not a good example for. This is perhaps my own pet theory, but I believe that a comic in a language which is generally written vertically will tend to have a vertical progression, while comics in a horizontal language will put an emphasis on the horizontal just short of having books actually being wider than they are tall. The most prominent example is the Japanese 4-Koma vs the American 3-panel strip, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Basically what the X-Men manga here has shown us is what features are so naturally a part of manga and people’s and artist’s perceptions of manga that they crop up in a comic based on American superheroes. Because this is a comic based off of the X-Men with obvious attempts to match the look of the cartoon and comics, the Japanese and manga influences in the drawing style come out even more.