Manga vs. Anime

"Some of these things are true and some of them lies. But they are all good stories."
-Hilary Mantel
I am very open about my opinions regarding books vs. movies. In fact, I did a whole post about it previously. Essentially, because books and movies are such different forms of art, I don't believe that they can translate effectively. That is to say, I think that books should not be made into movies, and movies should not be made into books. A story meant to be told in one cannot be effectively told in another. However, I've come to a roadblock when I reach manga and anime. Shouldn't the same philosophy carry over? Shouldn't I refrain from watching any anime that's based on a manga series? Not necessarily. In today's post, I'd like to go over manga vs. anime, and ask why this is a different discussion from books vs. movies.

The main similarity between the two discussions is that one side is in a literary format while the other is in a video format. And at first, this may seem to be the entire discussion. But when we look more closely at the reasoning behind the issue, we see that anime and manga are actually far more similar to eachother than movies and books are. Books on the teenage and adult level typically have no pictures. Juvenile fiction will have a few, and children's books will have many pictures, but the books that are made into movies are generally told with words alone. Contrast this with manga, which is comparable to a graphic novel. Already, this removes one of the major barriers between books and movies- narration. Movies, as opposed to books, rely on the visual to show what's going on. But manga does the same, making the stories more easily translatable.

Having seen how books and manga are different, let's next see how movies and anime are different. This one has to do with the time involved in telling a story. Movies often have to cut things out, change events, twist personalities, and make any number of other distortions in order to fit a book-length story into a movie-length format. But because anime is shown in an episodic format, this doesn't need to happen when translating this type of story. They have a much longer amount of time overall to tell the story. (If we assume twenty-minute episodes, two hours of story could be conveyed in six episodes. A short anime series is typically around twelve episodes, which already gives twice the amount of time that a long movies would have.)

We should also keep in mind the similarities between the art styles of manga and anime. Because both use actual images, and because both are animated instead of using live actors, characters in one can look exactly the same in either format. Because of this, one the two differences that I have found between manga and anime is diminished drastically. That difference is that the images move. But because the images in the two formats are essentially the same, the motion isn't a very important aspect. The pictures in the manga are often drawn in such a way that it makes it obvious how they would be moving if they were animated, and this can be directly mirrored in an anime.

The final difference that I've found is, obviously, the addition of sound. This is a bit larger of a difference. But sound effects are often drawn into manga to begin with, and mood music doesn't really take away anything from the story- it just adds another layer. The only thing that could be seen as a problem here is the voices. This is primarily a question of whether the voice acting is any good. However, because I watch subbed anime (and don't speak Japanese), even this difference is heavily diminished.

As a person, I generally tend to prefer manga over anime. But when deciding whether to read or watch a story, I often decide based on which one I saw or heard of first, rather than which one was made first. Because manga and anime are so similar, the stories will tend to match up very closely, and I don't have to worry about whether the adaption is accurate so much as whether the translation is. Of course, there are exceptions, like the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, which caught up with the manga as it was being published and went in an entirely different direction. For that, I obviously would lean towards reading the manga (or watching the remake, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood; for me personally, that choice went to the manga over the anime once again). But barring exceptions like this, they're so similar that any differences can be pointed out within one or the other and not really affect the story in the same way that books and movies do when translated into the other.
"Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen."
-Leonardo da Vinci

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