it’s not hard people

Warning: fanboy content ahead. Proceed at great peril.


I sat down today, tried to crank out a post for Nagasarete Airantou 4, and I just couldn’t do it. There wasn’t anything for me to write out beyond complaining about how the anime just isn’t doing the manga justice. Then I decided to start writing about Hayate… and well… same problem! OTL.

The thing that really hurts is that I enjoy both manga series, and the reasons why I enjoy both– Nagasarete‘s fanservice and kinetic and sweet humor and Hayate‘s gags and Maria– are desperately missing from their anime counterparts. Nagasarete has been turned into this generic goo that eats up 24 minutes, and it’s a very empty 24 minutes. Maybe the pacing is a bit off, and maybe Feel is butching a few jokes (like how Ikuto is supposed to eventually realize, that, hey it’s really a ghost), but one thing is clear: all the fanservice and all the fanservice jokes are gone. The running gag that is Ikuto losing blood through all the nosebleeds that he gets in the manga? Gone. The most enjoyable parts are gone. It’s like making a chocolate chip cookie but forgetting to put in sugar and chocolate chips or making an anime about alien frogs conquering Pekopon but forgetting the ego-driven, poor judgement, Gundam-crazed leader frog. Same thing with Hayate, where the gags are supposed to come fairly fast and furious with shots of Overwhelmed Maria in between. The anime executes painstakingly slow and has too much downtime between gags while Maria gets even less screentime. Inexcusable. Hayate is also skipping some great manga storylines (like the crossdressing one) to introduce characters faster.

That’s a fundamental problem with manga-to-anime translation… sometimes, the direction just completely misses out on why the manga was popular in the first place. I mean, did you really think people read Nagasarate because they thought that there was plot to be had? Nagasarete and Hayate are two of my favorite manga series, and it disappoints me to see them both get butchered, together, at the same time. It’s a double whammy… like finding out that it’s raining on your wedding day and your bride-to-be has slept with Flavor Flav when she was in college.

Unfortunately, their bombing brings back bad memories of それぞれの翼… I am an ああっ女神さまっ fanboy, but come ‘on… bagpipes? Belldandy working at the AMPM? I’m still ragging on it a year afterwards. And that’s the problem. When one does have a manga series that one really enjoys, the anime variant can be polarizing. It can be bad, like それぞれの翼, Nagasarete, or GTO… or it can be great like Keroro, Mushishi, or Mahoraba. There’s really no in-between. I’m either thinking, “Wow, they did a great job adapting this” or “They did a shitty job– did they even read the manga?!?” The difference is that the successful series brought why they were successful in manga form to the anime.

For example, even though there is fanservice in Keroro manga, that isn’t the major reason why it was so enjoyable to read… I’d say something more to do with the comedic aspects of the Pekopon occupation (not sure which is going worse… that or Iraq). So while the anime doesn’t have the fanservice, it’s still enjoyable because it retained the comedic aspect and paid some homage to the fanservice and Gundam tributes. I just don’t see that with Nagasarete or Hayate. They’re both disappointing, but, paradoxically, I can’t stop watching. It’s like Boston fans right now with Daisuke Matsuzaka… even though their star $100 million pitcher is putting up worse ERA, worse WHIP, and worse record right now than Jeff Suppan, they can’t stop watching Daisuke, hoping that he’ll break out of his funk and turn into a star pitcher.

Neither series, I think, are that bad, and maybe I’m just being harsh because I enjoy the manga. Sadly, there’s a possibility that I’m thinking this way because I can’t accept them both as failures. If you told me three years ago that Suzu and friends were being turned into an anime with Horie Yui providing lead vocals, well, that was as close to a sure thing as possible. I would have been acting like that kid who get an N64 for Christmas. Maybe I’m still in denial, thinking with each episode that “Hey, they can turn it around!” but, in reality, no. And maybe that’s what they want… in the end, I’m still watching. Gosh, I’m such a sap.

I’m trying to think of reasons why a manga would have to undergo changes for the anime. It could be censorship, like “We can’t show all the fanservice that’s in Nagasarete.” I call bullshit on that one, just because there’s shows on this season with nudity and a lot more fanservice (Kissdum Engage Planet and Nanoha to name two)… and that doesn’t excuse the plot changes. Sure, take out the bath scenes… but why add in the man-eating pensises? Maybe it’s a case where the director didn’t read the manga. Shocking, but possible. They can’t always find someone who loves the manga to animate the show… then again, they could have hired me for Nagasarete, and I would have been the Peter Jackson to its Lord of the Rings. But I think maybe it’s the director’s ego. “Hey, you know what, the manga’s cute, but I think I can do better!” It’s a typical mindset. The director can’t stop tinkering. Can’t stop imposing his will. Wants to leave his or her mark like a dog pissing on a tree. And, yeah, in the end, we get the director’s vision, and the mangaka gets the “Ursula Le Guin ‘They Wrecked My Books'” face going while the rest of us suffer through subpar anime while wondering what could have been.

To wrap up, any good manga to anime translation needs to keep what was successful before intact. If the manga is popular, well, there’s a reason why… and it’s just best not to tinker with it. Shuffling plot around… taking out key elements… messing with the continuity… just bad ideas all the way around. Just don’t do it and keep the manga to anime translation as simple and as unchanged as possible. Trust me on this one.

(PS: As a pre-emptive strike, for whomever gets to direct High School of the Dead, here’s a hint– the reason it is enjoyable is not how cool the zombies are.)

35 Responses to “it’s not hard people”

  1. You know… Anime adaptations of manga (or adaptations of anything else for that matter) had always been hit or miss. So much so, that most of us took that as a fact of life.

    Maybe it is the inner KyoAni fanboy speaking, but as of late I have the same opinion about bad adaptations as you do; that it is entirely possible to make great adaptations of original material no matter the subject matter, but only if the production team cared to do so. All it takes is effort, and perhaps the original author’s phone number.

    So when an adaptation fails, I now no longer think “Oh well, it happens. No one said it was easy.”, but instead think “The animators were sitting on their asses and didn’t care how the show turned out!”

    How would you like KyoAni to remake Hayate? ^_^

  2. >>> like how Ikuto is supposed to eventually realize, that, hey it’s really a ghost

    no he isn’t
    the whole gag is that ikuto will deny anything supernature even it stand right in front of his eyes, like how he will always refer the kappa as the turtle

  3. Yeah Ikuto never “gets” it. From what I have seen of the current season the worst manga>anime is Monster Princess, while the best would be Seto no Hanayome.

    In M.P. they take out the gore wich was part of many jokes/characters, in S.n.H. they expand the jokes a bit especially the Masa-first-Kiss-running-Gag.

  4. At first I thought maybe Nagasarete had a bad timeslot compared to Nanoha, but they are both aired after midnight, so that can’t be the reason. Hayate would have to be as bad as Lovely Idol, before I would stop watching, ’cause it has an Allstar Seiyuu cast that can’t be ignored.

  5. I think it’d be easier to get a cast of 50 fanboys by saying “We don’t feel like reading the light novel or manga. Direct this for free or we’ll hire some pompous jerk at $30,000 who might take a peak at the flow of the manga and probably have little attachment to the job or series.” Sure, you’d probably end up with 30 dead fanboys from all the in-fighting but the end product would probably be worth more.

  6. I’ve been ranting about Nagasarete elsewhere on the interwebs.

    I had only minor complaints before (like Rin being portrayed with sinister faces like the rest of the girls), but overall I was really impressed with the energy the managed to put into the show for the first two episodes.

    The whole mushroom thing didn’t bother me (aside from just being kind of boring and rehashing old points) until I saw episode four and realized that they didn’t just use the mushrooms to pad out episode three, but they used it to REPLACE Machi’s “introduction” to Ikuto, which was an important piece of character exposition. Without that story, Machi’s character seems “flat”. On top of that, they took the “Ayane chase” story, compressed it and gutted it of its points (introducing her mother and revealing that Machi was her older sister), instead taking more time than animating that would have required to awkwardly mash in the (needless in terms of plot) story of Ayane searching for Machi’s weakness. They’d clearly been planning on this since Ayane referred to Machi as “oneesama” in the second episode. Why? Who the **** knows?!

    Then, to top things off, not only did the ghost story lack the energy of the previous episodes, but the running theme of Ikuto refusing to believe what was in front of his eyes is reduced to a single gag (two, in a stretch).

    The bottom line is that some one had to plan meticulously and work very hard to produce this sort of incompetence.

    This is going down in my book right next to the missing clock scene in Kanon 2006. (Although it doesn’t incite as much rage since it doesn’t trip my Nayuki-Protection Switch)

  7. Yeah. So where were you when Pia Carrot had the sex scenes removed in order to gather more fans?

    Plus: Where are the complaints of the original creator of NA and Hayate the “Combat Punching Bag?”

    Manga-to-Anime adaptions had always been hit-or-miss. Is it better for anime companies to stick to the flow of the manga and not change anything at all? 1- It depends on the manga. 2- Then everything borderline-H would end up playing at midnight.

    Ask me: I chalk it all up to the incompetence of the people within the anime business, the vehemently constant outsourcing in order to save a buck or two, and the collective desire of the fanbase to rape children.

  8. Jason himself wrote “Hayate the Combat Butler knows its audience. It’s plugging along delivering the same brand of low impact comedy that made the manga popular… everything delivers” regarding episode 3. Did it really fall so fast? There’s still hope I would think.

    Having read the first three volumes of Nagasarete Airantou, I do lament the lack of fanservice in the anime, although at least in the anime I can hold on a bit longer to the delusion that Machi has a delicious flat chest like her younger sister.

  9. …Oh, I’m sorry, Vallen Valiant mentioned a KyoAni Hayate remake and I started thinking about how WIN Rie Kugimiya working on a KyoAni production would be…

    Back to the sbject at hand, I imagine you’re probably not going to eventually enjoy Nagasarete. If the things you love the most are the “fanservice and kinetic and sweet humor,” well, obviously they’re fiddling with the humor, and if they were going to have anywhere near the fanservice of the manga, they would have had it already. Luckily, I haven’t read the manga, so I can enjoy the show as the generic harem anime fluff it is, and hopefully by the time the anime has finished, someone will have started up scanlating the manga so I can enjoy it as well. (and probably say “My God, Jason Miao was right—they did butcher this”)

    As for Hayate, your outlook for that one is better. Obviously they’re advancing faster than the manga, so that they can introduce all the characters, but once that’s done, it could settle back into the Maria-fest it’s supposed to be, and they could even rework in some of the stuff they skipped. The overall plot is obviously going to be based on later storylines, but that doesn’t mean some of the earlier, non-plot stuff (read: gags) can’t be used elsewhere. Again, this is one that desperately needs a scanlator. (to any scanlators reading this, I say “hint, hint”)

    And speaking of Rie Kugimiya… “The Familiar of Zero”? WTF? Geneon, are you on crack? I mean, yeah, that is the exact translation, but it’s not the only exact translation. God invented the apostrophe for a reason.

  10. @quigonkenny

    Although “Zero’s Familiar” does sound better, I think Geneon chose “The Familiar of Zero” for clarity. “Familiar” can be used as an adjective, as in “Yes, Zero is quite familiar”. By using “The Familiar of Zero”, it is more clear that “Familiar” is a noun.

    And though the complaint about the “Zero” title is quite valid, it is interesting to note that there would be even more complaints if “Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu” was translated as “Haruhi Suzumiya’s Melancholy” instead of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”.

    Finally, about the Hayate comic, it is licensed by Viz, the first three volumes are out, and they’re freaking amazing… although I wouldn’t know where Viz butchered the content, if anywhere.

  11. I agree, both are bleh compared to the manga. But it is nice seeing them animated and in full color.

    Oh by the way, check out Digg, there’s a full-blown riot going on about this hex 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41- 56-c5-63-56-88-c0

  12. HSotD animated by the tenjou tenge people would be nice. i’d rather hand it over to the keroro people before the ikkitousen guys get their hands on it, though..

  13. Well, this (kinda) explains why I haven’t been able to get into Hayate to the same degree other people seem to have; maybe I should read the manga.

    Adaptations will always change some stuff, but when you mess with the core of the original, then why to bother? It would be better to make an original project rather than butcher a good source.

  14. I saw someone post on a forum that people don’t read HSotD for the story. Which was surprising, because a battle for suvival in a zombie apocalypse world is totally my type of story. I keep waiting to see the next type of DOOOM that will befall our protagonists next.

    Sure, fanservice has an appeal. But the main appeal? Ehh, that seems strange.

  15. Shortly before the anime started running, I read what was available of Nagasarete from ATT (about 25 chapters). Although I didn’t rate it too highly, I thought it was enjoyable in an empty-headed way and had some good lols here and there – that is, it was about as good as I expected a harem comedy manga to be. The anime on the other hand… I agree that they’ve taken about everything that makes the manga good away, and inexplicably gloss over or drop some key points. In short, it is made of fail and AIDS, and I’ve dropped it.

    Hayate the anime, on the other hand, I am finding reasonably enjoyable. Some of the best jokes come from anime/manga references so I can see how it wouldn’t be so funny to someone not well versed in the culture. I haven’t touched the manga, but once the anime has finished its run I might feel inclined to #lurk moar and run a comparison.

    > PassinGass Says:
    > 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0
    I see what you did there.

  16. That censorship imp thing really annoys me. Hayate in manga form is far to full of references and suchlike to be directed at kiddies who won’t get them in the first place. So give it a proper broadcast time and cut the annoying crap >_> And don’t cut the Maria scenes as Jason said ;_;

  17. And that’s why Kyo Ani does what it does.

    On the other hand, Gonzo… I liked it’s interpretation of The Count of Monte Cristo but Romeo x Juliet I can see becoming another Samurai 7. I pray to Haruhi not.

  18. You don’t have to settle for shitty adaptation by studios who don’t get the mindset of its fans. There’s loads of great anime this season.

    * Darker than Black looks to be another Cowboy Bebop
    * Gurren Lagann is Gainax back on form again
    * Seirei No Moribito episode 3 has the best fight scene I’ve seen, and the story is not too bad (unlike Chevalier)
    * Lovely Complex’s main leads are good fun together, and the main male lead doesn’t suffer from typical loser male symptom

    Claymore, Bokurano and Nodame are worth a watch too. This season is the most fun I’ve had from anime for a long time.

  19. I´ll once again suggest Seto no Hanayome.

    The Hayate anime is fine imho since they replaced the old references that i didn´t get with new references I don´t get either, lol. Manga or not, the point is if it is fun to watch. Since Hayate relies heavily on it´s references the fun is higly tied on how much of them you get and more importantly if you like that humor at all.

    But references aren´t the only jokes in Hayate and the Anime took these “neutral” jokes 1:1. The anime didn´t butcher the manga but adjusted it to the TV medium. The censor guy is supposed to be a running gag but no one seems to like it.

  20. well at least there ARE anime versions of Nagasarete and Hayate.

    the only director for HSotD would have to be Zach Snyder, and music would have to be done by Tyler Bates.

  21. Eh, if you want to speak about bad anime adaptions, let’s talk Negima.
    For god’s sake the manga was adapted into anime TWICE, but both times they screwed it up. First adaption was a extremly poorly animated romantic comedy minus the comedy and fan service, the second is moderately well-animated, but filled with forced comedy, boring plotline and misinterpreted characters.
    Is it so hard to understand that Negima was great because of its generous fanservice and drop-dead gorgeous fight scenes?

    Rants aside. I’m enjoying Hayate and Nagaraste… I read glimpses of the original manga and while I agree that it really doesn’t do the original much justice, they’re entertaining enough (“enough” being the key word here) to have me eagerly awaiting the next episode.

  22. Hayate is more that a string of parodies and that is what they are doing, parodies and cutting the rest.

    Nagaraste seems to be doing some odd cuts.

    Seto no Hanayome seems to be doing well, they made some alterations here and they but it seems to have the same soul as the manga.

    “History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi” surprised me of how they exactly they keep true to the manga … sure there are some deviations but some episodes are exactly as the manga chapters.

    The questions that comes to “manga-to-anime” usually are “is the manga better” and “why they changed things?” …

  23. Well, i do think part of your view is clouded by the fact you’ve been reading the manga and expect it to be a certain way. But it certainly could be worse, as both Negima shows have proven.

    I dunno about Nagasarete, which to me is somewhat amusing but I can kind of see some of the problems with it when I look over your changes, but I don’t really see them doing that bad a job with Hayate. Certainly, it isn’t exactly like the manga, but it’s all in how the change things, since you’ll never have a perfectly exact replication.

    For example, you mentioned how they’ve skipped over some of the earlier chapters (which I do agree are quite awesome), but if they animate them later I don’t really see the problem. Now, if they don’t do the crossdressing chapter, I’ll personally lead a revolt against them. Also, I forget if it was mentioned here or not, but they do introduce some of the main characters several volumes into the manga, which can get awkward in a tv show. I just have a little more faith that the show will do well (plus the voice actors are uber).

    On the mention of the censoring thing, I don’t think it’s really a “we’re being forced to censor stuff”, but rather is just a silly running gag. It’s very clear that a couple of the times it’s appeared there was really no reason for it if it was actually supposed to be censoring something.

  24. You know when you talk about bad manga adaptations GONZO has to be given a honorary mention. Those guys just CAN’T do a manga adaptation right.
    Chrno Crusade – the ending made me feel like I just wasted 13 hours of my life.
    Black Cat was fine even with the altered storyline until they ended the plot four episode before the end and added a ridiculous final arc that made no sense.
    Hellsing – same as above …
    NHK ni Youkosou – I gave up on the second episode because the black humor that everyone was praising in the manga version was nowhere to be seen.

  25. Chrno Crusade was probably one of the more depressing anime i’ve ever watched. so much so that i’m still on the fence about finishing the manga.

    i found NHK ni Yokusou to be so boring in anime form, that even after trying to watch it twice, i got rid of it before even reaching the half-way point.

    Hayate started winning for me when it parodied MGS3:NE and Shakugan no SHANA (couldn’t stop laughing with Nagi going the Shana quick cosplay).

  26. Actually Shuichi, Hayate is on a morning time slot and not in a late night slot … I doubt its a “running gag” but censorship because of its aired time require then to do so.

    And Unscrupulous Sousuke, go read the end since Gonzo ending is VERY different that the manga ending, its not “they lived happy ever after” but its not as absurd as what Gonzo did.

  27. Maybe the director wanna do it just like KyoAni did for FMP and Kanon. Tinkering around, messing up the plot, but turned out amazing.

  28. You know KyoAni is known by how they stick to the source material, not of how they change everything and make stuff up.

    Minor changes are understandable, CONSISTENT changes over the source material is not.

    I give you a good example of how changes can be a bad thing, Love Hina.

    Kentaro Sakata was added to the anime as the “rich boyfriend” and it his contribution was … the “idol filler episode”, using him did more damage that good.

    Also there is Mokoto that suffered a lot of changes to her character (she also loves Keitaro) and does not progress at all as she does in the manga.

    Changes can be good or bad but many times they are bad because the anime is simply a cash-in of the manga/novel/game popularity.

  29. Drakon: I’m not sure a sunday morning slot really means anything truly censor wise, considering Gurren-Lagann airs an hour before, and I’d think they’d be censoring that before they would censor than Hayate. (in terms of truly being required by the tv station)

  30. Why no one has mentioned Initial D as a show that has done the manga justice is beyond me.

  31. Well Jason doesn’t seem to blog Initial D, so by inference you can assume most people haven’t seen it or it’s not high on their favourites (not meaning they dislike it)

    Aside from that I totally agree with you.

  32. I think the reason the fanservice is toned down in Airantou is that it’s airing on TV Tokyo–they have a fairly strict policy on fanservice supposedly (no bare breasts, no panty flashes, etc.). I heard TV Tokyo was also the reason Mai Hime ended up with a lot less fanservice than its promo video had (since I guess the promo was out before the network it was airing on was decided).

    Before the season started the three manga-to-anime adaptations I was really looking forward to were Airantou, Hayate, and Seto no Hanayome–of the three, I think SnH has been the most faithful to the manga and may be the funniest overall. I still have hope for Airantou though–it’s a little different from the manga but to me at least it’s still laugh-out-loud funny at times.

  33. I have been watching three episodes of Hayate. To be honest i was quite disappointed with the anime version. The jokes were not as consistant with the manga version and it seems that we will enjoy less other minor anime crossover than Lucky Star. At any time, it is going to be Negima no.3…..

    Other not so good adaptation(in my opinion):
    1. NEGIMA!!!!!!(man can’t they just give Love Hina Style quality?)
    2. Black Cat ( to be honest, it wasn’t that bad but the final Chapter is a bit lame)
    3. Can’t remember, they are just plain bad….

  34. For “Hayate,” I have made sure to avoid the manga at this time to enjoy the anime. Since manga is becoming more accessible before anime releases to English-speakers, I’ve noticed how anime adaptations have really ticked me off — “Negima!” and “xxxHOLiC” are two chief ones as well as the two “Ah! My Goddess” TV series.

    Still, I’ve read what folks who’ve not read those manga’s have said about the anime adaptations, namely that they liked them (for the most part). Some who’ve read the manga had some problems, but not to the extent I had.

    So, with that in mind, I watched “Hayate” with no knowledge of the manga story and I have enjoyed the wacky humor, enough to wish FUNimation to license it (though that’s a long shot I admit). I figure once the anime is done, I’ll read the manga.

  35. I like Hayate the anime quite a bit. I mean, Hayate even wears the Piyo Piyo apron that the Kanrinin-san wears in Maison Ikkoku!
    I remembered. Her name is Otonashi Kyoko.

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