“Read the Manga” Endings and the Failure of Adaptations

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I remember the first time I sat down to watch the show Btooom! It had peaked my interest after reading the plot description, so I opened up my laptop and began watching. By the last episode, I was hyped. The show up until that point had a great story, solid pacing, and looked as if it were going to come to a decent conclusion. Except, it didn’t. My hopes were dashed as soon as the credits rolled and the two main characters were left still stranded on the island with a helicopter floating above their head.

This failure, now more commonly referred to as “read the manga” endings, have not only ruined what were otherwise great shows but have now become commonplace in an industry that is known for its unpredictability of sequels. Why provide a concrete ending to a show we could potentially make more money off of?

This isn’t just a problem in anime either, although it is widespread throughout the industry. In fact, this same problem exists within American movies as well. Movies that are otherwise finished and don’t necessarily need more worldbuilding get sequels, whereas ones that desperately need more detail are left unfinished. This is of course because it is a much safer bet to produce a sequel to an already popular franchise then it is to take a risk on a new title.

 

*stares*

 

But this is where the capitalist elements of both industries fail. The need to maintain a profit promotes the ability to expand on an already existing property, and because of that writers leave space open to continue a story even if it does not need to be continued.

This is the failure of the modern anime adaptation as we know it today. Instead of trusting in the audience to be satisfied with a self-contained story, the industry manipulates the source material and writes a story that they know they will not finish in the hopes of making a bit more money.

Another good example of this is No Game No Life. While the movie did adapt an important segment of the story, as of today we have no confirmation of a direct sequel series to the original. The team at Studio Madhouse decided it was more important to leave open room for a sequel they have zero plans to make and instead decided that it would be better to leave fans in the dark.

It is one thing to have a “read the manga” ending and have plans to make a concluding sequel that get announced shortly after the season airs, like the case with My Hero Academia season three, but most studios do not do that. It seems as of recently that is starting to change, but it still currently an industry standard.

It is a shame that material that is otherwise superb gets treated as unimportant when studios fail to conclude the series in one go or give even a hint at a sequel.

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16 comments

  1. I definitely prefer stories that feel planned and are ultimately self-contained as I’m not the biggest fan of long running or in complete stories. It would be really nice to know at least that however many series and what the story will do was mapped out before they started but I guess that is too much to expect from industries interested in making money and not necessarily in creating quality stories.
    It is nice when you find something that does seem like it was made with the intention of just telling a complete story and being done with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. Spice and Wolf is another one I didn’t mention in the article. I love it to death, but the ending of season two left me wanting more. I did give in on that one and I started reading the light novel.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What is the light novel like? I like the idea of Spice and Wolf but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the anime and felt it would probably read better. Still haven’t actually tried the book though.

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        1. The light novel is great. I’m only half way through the first volume, but it has a lot that the anime doesn’t. I think you’re right that you would like reading it a lot better, cause it gives a lot of detail that otherwise isn’t there or is only slightly hinted at in the anime.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I might have to add it to my wishlist for next year then. I’m hoping for a big after Christmas sale otherwise next year is going to be expensive with all the titles I’ve now added to my wish list.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I can definitely understand the frustration, but I’d rather have an ambiguous ending than a quick rush job that is anime only. Pandora Hearts, for example, had a bad ending that felt out of place for what the story was building up on. It was a clear cut ending though, but then I read the manga and found out that the final episode never happened.

    But at the same time, I hate cliffhangers, so I don’t really know what I’m talking about here lol.

    Maybe the studios want to capitalize on something popular, even though the source material isn’t done yet. We may get a sequel to BTOOOM though, since the manga ended recently.

    Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem is that the entire industry is becoming about capitalizing on the success of the source material, and that’s what leads to the rushed, not well thought out endings.

      By the way, thank you.☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Really surprised I hadn’t read this before! I agree, read the manga endings are not great. I don’t mind leaving a story open to continue, but I want at the very least the core issues in the current season resolved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s for this reason that I prefer endings which run out of adaptable material and give a conclusive ending after however many seasons they need to finish (which you can, in most cases, easily tell apart from the “bookends” and/or “read the manga” ending).

    Then again, lately reboots of old series have been popular, so in 10 years’ time who knows what might happen to anyone’s favourite series?

    Liked by 1 person

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