does knowing the ending spoil the fun?

Categories: anime, commentary


What ever happened to “M”?


From what I’ve seen in Madhouse’s Death Note, it looks like they’re taking a page out of the Black Lagoon playbook: keep it as close to the manga as possible and slick it up. For Black Lagoon, where exposition isn’t the key factor, it doesn’t matter as much that I know what’s going to happen next… it’s the execution fo the bullets and twincest bloodsucking killer lolis that get the focus of my attention.

But does it apply it Death Note, a story that’s about Raito’s and L’s battle against each other that’s told through gripping dialogue more than gripping action sequences? Death Note relies on two primary vehicles to deliver its suspenseful thrills: the first is the constant one-ups-manship between Raito (Light-o?) and L a la Spy vs. Spy. The second is morality driving the story. For people not familiar with Death Note, imagine if Haruhi Suzumiya knew that she, indeed, were a god and could kill anyone anywhere she pleases… as long as she knew their name and their face. That’s Raito’s power that he acquired with the “Death Note.” I can’t imagine any DC Comic’s character having such a power. How would you use such a power? How far would you go to protect it? How would the world respond to someone with this power?

The story of Death Note is more or less completed through twelve volumes of manga, and if I know what’s going to happen next, and Madhouse is keeping the scenes and dialogue almost entirely intact… I ask the question, is this a case where knowing too much of the story is a detriment to the enjoyment of the series?

I think people who watch Death Note for the first time, not having experienced it in any of its previous incarnations will enjoy it immensely. It’s a dark thriller, but the battle between Raito and L is masterfully done. For people who have read the manga previously, a lot of the thrill of the chase is gone. One can bask in Madhouse’s job in producing the series, but, for me, just like I have no inclination to go back and re-read twelve volumes of Death Note, I don’t have any inclinations to follow the 37 episode animated version– especially considering SPOILERS START how one of the more awesome characters is voiced by Aya Hirano, but she, uh, isn’t in the show for long… still, I’m looking forward to her performance SPOILERS END.


Sometimes reading manga is like reading spoilers. You’re just better off not knowing and enjoy the ride for the first time.

20 Responses to “does knowing the ending spoil the fun?”

  1. I’ve usually read the manga before watching the series. More enjoyment may be found doing it the other way around, not sure, but Death Note will be the first that I’ve read which has actually ended, and the ending should be in the anime. Most other series end up with a variation of the end (manga is still serialized; ie Fruits Basket), so I haven’t felt deprived of knowing the end just yet.

    Death Note could be different due to the seriously left-field twists and complexities. I’m going to try my best and forget what I’ve read, and remember it as I watch (hopefully^^).

    I’ll say that reading the manga first has saved me some pains when figuring out if I want to watch a show. After the first couple volumes, and comparing with the first few episodes I’ll know if I should just toss the towel on the anime and hit the manga.

    ah, good post!

  2. I do think that knowing the ending spoils the fun. I thought the ending of Haibane Renmei was amazing. I quickly ordered my friend to watch it. What does she do? Goes to a forum and looks up the spoiler to figure out what happens. Whats even the point in watching the last three episodes? All the divelopment, tention, and release is for naught if you know what is going to happen. There is no emotional hook, no mystery, no excitement in not knowing how it is going to turn out.

  3. Knowing the ending can spoil a lot of things because it can undermine character development or drama as things go on, with Mai HiME being the epitome of this. On the other hand, it can also be used to better analyze and understand events as they happen. FMwS and Kanon both use a -lot- of foreshadowing that only people familiar with the exact endings will be able to pick up on and appreciate and knowing the story there does help a lot in enjoying the shows.

    It’s largely a matter of taste though. For some people, the journey is all the fun. For others, they just want to get to the ending and know how things end up. And various mixes thereof depending on the show and tone yada yada yada. It is kind of funny how spastic people can be over spoilers and how they supposedly ruin things while movies like Harry Potter and LotR are practically living evidence against this.

  4. For the record, you’re mistaken about your spoiler. You may have her mixed up with another seiyuu or something; she doesn’t play the character that I think you have in mind.

  5. I haven’t read the manga for this show. I was a little familiar with the story though. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I really enjoyed this episode and I’m looking forward to the morality aspect of the show.

  6. >> For the record, you’re mistaken about your spoiler. You may have her mixed up with another seiyuu or something; she doesn’t play the character that I think you have in mind.

    i think jason got it right, there is really 1 main girl char in DN and she is voiced by said seiyuu (though i have no love for the said girl, so kinda sad for it)

    i don’t plan on watch this series (at least follow it closely) unless i’m convinced it’s a masterpiece

  7. If the story is built like a labyrinth, yes, it does spoil the fun. What’s the point if you already know the way out?

    Episodic, simple, not plot driven stories, can be enjoyed even if you know what is going to happen.

    I think what “hurts” Death Note is the fact that it is an already popular manga (beyond the usual popularity a manga can reach, I mean), so most people are already on the loop and might spoil the fun for those who aren’t.

  8. I have read the manga up to volume 9 and knows what ultimately happens to Kira and his reign… however I still find the anime extremly enjoyable and well done.
    While it is true that when you watch the anime of a manga you’ve already read, it’d be harder to completely enjoy it because you’d be constantly comparing it to the original (which caused me to hold the TV version of Negima, NHK, and the recently released Kujibiki Unbalance in very low regards).
    But I’d still watch them… really more for the sake of watching the characters come to life on-screen than anything else.

  9. like AC said, it’s the journey that appeals to me. besides, it’s not like i remember every detail that happened so it’ll be interesting to go through it again. i was also mostly confused during the 2nd half of the manga anyway so hopefully i can understand it better the 2nd time around…maybe.

  10. The gripping thing about the anime is the Gregorian battle chants. You don’t get that from the manga.

  11. I do believe that knowing the end spoils a story, *especially* an anime.

    Hence my “anime, then manga” approach.

  12. I love spoilers, I usually refrain form downloading a series unless I know the plot in sufficient detail. To me most of the enjoyment comes from analysing the plot as a whole hence I prefer to acquire as much data as possible as soon as possible.

  13. Most movie adaptations are the result of popular demand for the work to be filmed. While we may already know the ending/outcome, part of the enjoyment is being able to see your favourite scenes in action or performed by your favourite actors.

    In the case of manga to anime adaptation, I don’t really see how it is any different from popular fiction-movie adaptations. Half the time, we already know the ending of a particular manga chapter or even the series. How many times have we watched an anime episode and went “Oh, I liked/hated how they adapted this scene from the manga”?

    We get a kick from hearing our favourite voice actors giving life to the characters, adding a level of subtlety and nuance that is otherwise absent in the manga version. Others might enjoy the vibrancy of the action. Some, like me, enjoy comparing the differences of the original work with the adaptation.

    I’m not suggesting that a film or animated version is always superior but rather, there’s a different sense of enjoyment from watching a movie adaptation to reading the original work in words. Both media have their own level of aesthetics that should be enjoyed on their own.

    We may already know the gist of how a story may end, but like AC says, it’s the journey that makes it worth watching.

  14. Sorry for the semi-spoiler below:

    I’m fairly certain Aya Hirano’s character is there up to the bitter end. If it’s the character I think jason is talking about, then I’m sure she’s there until the end. She just gets relegated to background character status so that could be what jason meant.

    If jason meant the other girl (the Queen), it does fit into the “not around long” thing jason said, but she’s not voiced by Aya Hirano and she’s very minor to the story.

    Besides, if the character is “awesome” then it has to be the correct character. I really like those perky types and I’m excited to see how Aya Hirano plays her.

  15. anyone know if it’s gonna cover both manga arcs or just the first?? kinda disappointed with the second manga arc :(

  16. I read a good deal of the manga and honestly tired of it after a few events that I felt drained all the fun from the series. From that, I probably won’t be watching the series until I find out if it covers the whole thing or not, and if it makes any changes.

    I much prefer watching the anime first, then reading the manga for the sorts of details, extra story, and art not found in the anime. Reading the manga first, I just feel like I’ve been there and done that.

  17. I should note: That being said, there are some rare cases where I feel the manga absolutely whoops the anime. Tenjou Tenge and Gantz both come to mind. Their anime versions were timid shadows of the manga.

  18. Air Gear? Heh. They -butchered- that.

  19. The execution DOES matter, in any decent anime. Sure Death Note is story driven, but that doesnt detract from the overall experience, of seeing and hearing things move.

    Simply put, there are emotions, dramatic symbols, sounds and actions that they cannot portray in manga. We want to hear that oh-so-divine music when Light passes his holy judgement on those murderers. We want to see how he reacts, the sounds he hears, the way the pigment of his eyes changes when he goes into crazy-righteous mode. And most of all – we want to hear aya hirano’s melodious voice acting.

  20. I’m waiting to see how Hirano Aya plays the role as well. My guess for now is that she might play it “Haruhi-like” because for me, there are some semblances in the characters of the two girls.

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