Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Value of Anime Adaptations:

Here's a simple mathematical guide to the value of adapting a franchise into an anime:

Anime is the pinnacle of all artistic mediums because it is cheap to produce, but has all the elements possible in entertainment -- art, animation, music, voice acting, special effects, plot, and most of all the length necessary to cover any story of any size.  Even so, not everything is made into an anime.  Why?  Because as cheap as anime is, the alternative mediums are even cheaper, so usually stories are made in other ways that have less risk of selling at a loss.  Anime normally takes the exceptionally popular works of art from other, cheaper mediums and adapts them into anime series, figuring they have the best chance to sell well in their 'perfect' form.  Since anime isn't making anything new, but merely adapting an already told story to a different medium, how much value is created each time a good story gets an anime version of it green lit?

The best way to think of this is a sliding numerical scale.  If anime stories are a '5' in terms of the best possible medium of artistic expression, then the next medium down is visual novels, at '4.'  Visual novels also have length, music, art, voice acting, and occasional animation.  They just have less animation, less voice acting, and a lot more words people have to read through.  But these three drawbacks do make the medium slightly worse than its more perfect form.  In other words, adapting a visual novel into an anime only gives you +1 extra point of value.  The next medium down is manga, at '3.'  Manga is in black and white, has no music, no voice acting, no animation, only art and plot.  Even so, manga tends to be drawn better than its anime equivalent, and the pacing is better, so it doesn't fall too far behind the anime adaption.  You only get +2 points for converting a manga to an anime.

At '2' you get light novels, which are a ton of words plus a few illustrations.  Here you have only art and plot, but everything has to be described by words with pictures only punctuating key scenes and not trying to tell the story like a manga does.  Switching out a light novel for an anime adds a ton of new tools, like music, voice acting, art for every scene and animation, but it does take away the internal monologues, which tend to be the coolest part of every story.  Anime can't zoom in and show what people are thinking inside their heads, so light novels aren't entirely worse than their anime competitors.  Still, when everything is weighed up anime makes for a far more entertaining product, giving +3 points of value to an adaption.

At '1' you get any other source, like a novel, video game, card game, or whatever.  Taking these mediums, which generally don't even try to tell a good story on one hand, or on the other hand don't have any accompanying special effects like art to help them, relying on endless reams of text describing the most tedious and monotonous and trivial of things, and fixing it all up for an anime adaption adds massive value to the product, giving a mighty +4 to the situation.  Zettai Bouei Leviathan is a perfect example of this process.  It took a game on mobile phones of all things, that has no coherent plot, graphics, or anything, and turned it into a magnificent story with great characters and an all-star cast of voice actors.  The added value is ridiculous, the previous product is so much inferior that it practically didn't exist at all.

Which of course, rounds out the categories.  At '0' you have anime original series.  If the anime doesn't adapt anything but just comes up with the idea on their own, they get a full +5 points in value creation.  If only all anime scripts were as good as Nanoha or Code Geass or Pretty Cure or Madoka Magica, we'd do best to never adapt anything at all and just let anime make its own products freely.  But for every Code Geass there are awful original anime ideas like Tamako Market, so hitting a full +5 value is quite the gamble.

With this in mind, what would be the value gained from making the anime series I wished for?

#1, Sword Art Online:  As a light novel series, it would gain 3 points from being adapted into an anime.

#2, Hayate no Gotoku:  As a manga, it would gain 2 points if animated.

#3, Nanoha Vivid -- manga -- 2 points

#4, Da Capo -- visual novel -- 1 point

#5, Umineko -- visual novel -- 1

#6, Rewrite -- visual novel -- 1

#7, Negima -- manga -- 2

#8, Ranma 1/2 -- manga -- 2

#9, Full Metal Panic -- light novel -- 3

#10, Haruhi Suzumiya -- light novel -- 3

#11, Index -- light novel -- 3

#12, The World God Only Knows -- manga -- 2

#13, Baka to Test -- light novel -- 3

#14, Papa no Iukoto -- light novel -- 3

#15, Rurouni Kenshin -- manga -- 2

#16, Dragon Ball Kai -- manga -- 2

#17, Claymore -- manga -- 2

#18, Guyver -- manga -- 2

#19, Kenichi -- manga -- 2

#20, Blecah -- manga -- 2

#21, Strike Witches -- anime original -- 5

Overall, my anime wishlist would generate 46 points of added value in the universe.  But there's an added benefit to anime series -- fansubbers tend to be willing to translate anime, but won't translate light novels or visual novels becaise they include too many words.  In the case that an anime adaption would allow for the first ever English version of a series, you should treat the series as 5 points, an anime original, for all intents and purposes.  In that case, Da Capo and Papa no Iukoto should be counted at 5 points instead of 1 and 3 respectively.  This adds six more points of value to the board, for a grand total of 52.

The world would be a better place with +52 utility.  Let's see if the actual choice Japan made for a summer season can compare.

No comments: