Sunday, May 10, 2009

Character styles - manga vs anime series

One of the things that makes or breaks a series for me is what the characters look like, the character style. It's not everything. I'll watch a series with a character style that I don't really care for if everything else is good. But just like in real life, first impressions go a long way. The first thing that attracts me to a series is the looks, followed by the music. And then what keeps me watching is a combination of music and plot. The final piece is how it ends, so that it's the overall product that determines whether I think it's a great series or not. But I will say, pretty anime is more fun for me to watch.

Anyway, a pretty large number of anime series have their start as adaptations from manga. And in
case you don't know what a manga is, it's the Japanese books that are being bastardized in the US as "graphic novels". (Yup. No, bias here!) Okay, okay, not to get off topic, many anime series are adapted from manga. This can be good or bad depending on a number of things, like: whether you've read and liked the manga and whether the series follows it or strays from it. Think of watching the most recent Lord of the Rings trilogy after reading the books. It's fine because it follows the books closely. Now think about the Eragon books and what the movies have done to the plot. So whether you like the manga or the series more is probably going to depend on which one you ran into first.

Another thing that can make you less than happy to have an anime series developed from your
favorite manga is if you really like the character style in the manga, and then it's totally different in the series. This works in reverse if you watched the series before discovering the manga.

I'm always intrigued that the characters in a series developed from a manga can look so totally different than the manga characters. I suppose it depends on whether the person who wrote the manga does the characters, or is involved in the character design for the series or not.
I classify (because in case you couldn't tell already, I love to sort things) these cases into four main types: 1) Close: the characters in the manga and series are so close that it makes no difference, 2) Different-okay: the characters are different between the two, but not enough to make it difficult to switch back and forth, 3) Different-disturbing: the characters are different enough that it's disturbing. If you're reading the manga and watching the series also, you have to make an adjustment and get used to the style when you move back and forth, and last but not least 4) Gyah!: the characters are so different that you can't tell which characters are which when you go from manga to series or vice verso. So! Those are my categories, from best to worst and here are some examples in each category.
In all the pictures on this post , the pics on the left are from the anime series and on the right they're
from the manga. or at least that's what I'm attempting to achieve. Sometimes when I push the "publish post" button, things end up not at all where I intended.

Close: Series/manga that fall into this category include Bleach, Inuyasha, Fruits Basket, Vampire Knight and Loveless. With each of these series, it's pretty easy to move between the series and the manga. There's not much feeling of disconnect and the characters are clearly recognizable.

Different-okay: These series would include D.N.Angel, Rurouni Kenshin, NANA, Death Note, Trinity
Blood and D.Gray-man.These are series that you can make the switch with a little hitch then you forget there's a difference.

Different-disturbing: Among these series would be Nabari no Oh, Fullmetal Alchemist, Get Backers, Natsume Yuujinchou and Ouran High School Host Club. These series not only make you re-adjust to the look of the characters, but sometimes you can't make the adjustment. You keep looking for the characters you've come to expect.

The different-okay and different-disturbing groups are sometimes not that clear cut. On any given day I might move series between those classifications depending on how recently I've watched the series. And no doubt there are people that disagree about which category a series/manga pair should fall into, depending on whether their favorite manga was made into an acceptable series or not. Myself, I tend to buy the manga after seeing the series, with some notable exceptions. I bought Trinity Blood, 07-Ghost and Vampire Knight without knowing they would be made into series. Generally though, I have more trouble adapting to the look of the manga than to the look of the series.

The final group is the worst. These are the 'try-to-guess-which-characters-are-which ones. Good examples of this type of series are Mahoutsukai na Koto Taisetsu Ni and Yami no Matsuei. The two bottom pictures are depicting the same two characters from Mahoutsukai. In a case like this you really want to ask the characters to wear name tags so you don't get confused. Yami no Matsuei is like this too.
Anyway, I've spent too much time on this, re-arranging pics. Hopefully they'll post the way I want them. (Yes, I know. I look at the preview. They don't always post where they show up in the preview.)


  1. Vampire Knight anime can't even hold a candle to the absolutely amazing Vampire Knight manga. I can't think of anything prettier than that manga.

  2. Everytime you add a picture it changes all the spacing. You have to go back and edit the post somestimes three times before the correct spacing sticks. I agree, it's annoying.

  3. Mmm. And when you add 18 pics like I did in this one and then try to space specific ones across from each other, you need the patience of a saint!

    How did I know you'd comment on VK? Must be psychic,ne.