The Ups and Downs of Following Manga (Part I)

I did a post back in 2010 titled Are you Anime Only? about how the medium embodies several other mediums, however essentially most fans preferring the anime medium as their main choice.

From partially finished to ongoing to new titles following manga has its ups and downs like any other medium. Reading manga next to light novels are the mediums which come before anime version are made. There are titles that are only available as manga for many years before they become popular show. There are stories that simply won’t be animated soon. For me reading manga is getting into stories, reading stories that won’t be animated in a few years, finding rare gems, and whatnot. Same as any other medium there are some plus and minus.

It might be

Not many read it and not much

Anime is the medium that attracts the most attention. Chances are that if you’re reading this post you watch anime. You watch anime, I watch anime. We both probably watch more anime than we read manga. Most new and future fans of the medium (the whole medium) also get into it via watching anime, manga can be one thing that comes afterward after they become more interested in what else the medium has to offer. Anime has a bigger reach and attracts the attention of anime fans more easily than manga because it has more ways to do so. There is no manga season or ‘Manga Charts‘ (what idea would that be?) each season. Anime has commercials, DVDs, OSTS, video games associated with the franchise. Manga on the other hand doesn’t have that great type of advertisement on its own. It has monthly magazines and the like. A series really becomes “popular” when it is finally animated.

TV versions encourage the audience to become interested in the ongoing manga. This can be seen in anime previews when they announce x manga volume is out for example (see. Kaiji). Compared to anime, manga significantly pales especially when new anime seasons get the spotlight every season.

Sometimes they are only one or two chapters for year

Be it because the authors are extremely busy, have a writer’s block, health problems, or are on vacation. Manga chapters that are released sparely remind me of Anime OVAS or movie sequels that are released after many months or once a year and no one is sure when the next one will be. It is common for me to “put them on hold” because there are so few chapters available at the moment to follow it weekly or even monthly. Putting a manga on hold is a rather common occurrence when one is reading semi-new ongoing manga.  In several cases it is better to temporary forget about them and come back months later (sometimes many months) when they are more chapters released.

< May have just wasted months and years (or not)>

A Manga may be randomly discontinued

A great advance in picking up anime is knowing that the original story is either completed or is still ongoing. When an anime is created the people involved come up with a project/plan of how long they plan on running it, and what chapters or parts of the story they will covering. They made a plan before they created the TV project. Just knowing that is enough to guarantee at least the season will face little problems. With reading manga (especially new manga) is about following as it is released. Complications may arise, people may get fired or quit, problems with the publishers or problems between the very authors of the story are some negative factors in an ongoing series. It doesn’t feels any better knowing that after reading +100 chapters of a story one finds out the manga will never reach an ending because of complications between the authors or publishers resulting in the manga being discontinued. A series like Unbalance x Unbalance had an unknown hiatus and was almost discontinued yet it managed to end last year. On the other hand, there are also titles that do get discontinued and never come back. It’s worth mentioning licensed titles that are dropped because of publishers going out of business before the stories have ended.

Not remembering what was about—————————< Volume 9.. Volume 7..>

I had several manga titles put on hold for roughly two years because there weren’t new chapters released. That’s why moving on to other series is quite usual. After many months (and sometimes years) forgetting what chapter one was on isn’t unusual either. It’s funny because actually I do remember what the main story was about, who the main characters were, and very much the core of the plot. The thing is that I wouldn’t remember the chapter I was on, I wouldn’t remember the volume (or out of how many) off the top of my head, I wouldn’t remember the last scenes I was reading or who was (or wasn’t in it). It sounds like a memory loss problem, but it’s not. It’s actually time taking its toll after so many years of not touching those stories in a long time. It’s also getting into other stories and basically not thinking about said manga after a long while.

On the other hand with anime the process can be easier. I tend to follow ongoing anime weekly so there’s little chance of forgetting any crucial information. If you don’t have a MAL/Animeplanet or haven’t been keeping track where exactly you stopped reading things may get complicated. With anime it is a lot easier – quickly skimp through a few episodes until you find the scenes or better yet go to Wiki and look for episode list summaries. Dealing with ‘episodes’ instead of chapters is way easier.

Manga art is better than animation——————————–“Quality animation”

One thing where often manga beats anime in is the art department Too obvious? Quite. Anime has lights, special effects, color, and with a high budget they can do anything. On the other hand, manga has white and black and what else, great art when applicable. I spend a great deal of time designing and drawing structures. As a past time I also enjoy drawing and some painting. I enjoy admiring art and consequently enjoy seeing the mastery of those who decided to make a career in drawing. There are manga more centered on the story than the art then there are manga which do both. Manga artists do so much better than animation which are restricted by their budget and the studio. There are great artists whose detail is so great than it is enjoyable to read it every time. Sometimes not to even read it but just stare at the drawings. Compared to animation where lighting and colors play a huge part in “how good a show looks”, in manga is all about the manga artist’s skill before anything. Gantz, Berserk, even the likes of Sekirei look so much better in their original forms than their TV counterparts.

When ‘quality animation’ (in its negative form) is mentioned it usually refers to quality (studio) animation instead of the original manga being of poor quality.

The story you’ve been reading may be received negatively
<Here comes the bashing>

The reality of it hits, it crits. (and you ignore it). And the classic retorts the A scene was better explained or that B scene wasn’t animated well as well as it should be (or in some cases the whole series.) Or that C scene was not animated at all in the TV version. There will be forever arguments about that the manga version being better – in many cases because it actually is. Because it is what the author meant to create instead of a producing “a compressed version in x number of episodes” from the director’s eyes.

It’s not strange that most manga readers who have fully followed a manga and then proceeded to follow the TV version show disappointment and they equally hear the massive amount of harsh critiques regarding that story. True, there is plenty of ‘Deal with it’ when it comes to adaptations especially when all versions are thrown in the same group instead of referring to them as TV version and original version respectively. In my experience I’ve lost interest in a number of series two main reasons. The first being that I had already fully gone through the manga hence it was not a new experience. The second reason being the TV versions being handled so badly.

Playing catch-up is the most common thing ———<part of a complete breakfast>

Catch-up anime marathons is a frequent thing especially with ongoing shows. Manga titles put on hold are resumed months later after new chapters are released. Reason? Mainly because how rare new releases are. Waiting seems to be the proper course of action. Sure, reading one chapter at a time may work, but I rather marathon a dozen of chapters than checking back on it every week. In my case I do it plenty with titles such as Gantz where the developments can be seen and appreciated after many chapters rather than a few. Compared to anime where a +20 minutes of story is used manga has chapters to tell its story. Some titles need many chapters to tell their story.

Knowing the “True Ending” of the story—————————<It’s here (for real)>

One of the most rewarding parts of reading manga is going beyond the animated version. When one likes a story or an author they want to read more of it. If there is a continuation then that’s even better. The conclusion of a story can come as sequels, movies, or ovas. TV versions usually get around covering the whole manga but when that is not the always case (which is not unusual at all) that’s when the original material comes in to continue where the TV version left off – to continue reading.

The long waits, the long waits leading to forgetting what the story was about, the fear of a manga getting discontinued, opting out for not watching the TV version, drop of quality replaced by so-so animation. There’s ups and downs to following manga titles same as there are in other mediums. The upsides of following manga is reading a story in its original format, the polished and professional drawings, and I think more than anything knowing the true ending of a story which the TV version may never cover. In many cases it is worth picking up some manga to satisfy the curiosity, know the final ending of a TV series, moreso in the cases where they won’t get sequels anytime soon due poor sales and original endings.


5 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Following Manga (Part I)

  1. Hmm certainly. I had read quite a lot of manga with top notch art and ironically, it’s the anime counterparts that are ultimately ruining the manga’s art. I’m also one of those types who “put on hold” for a lot of manga due to the fact of needing to wait weekly or monthly. In fact, I had been “planning” to read D.Gray Man for years, and I haven’t started it yet.

    • It’s basically up to the studio how the animation turns out. Average studio – average animation. Great studio – great animation.

      In some cases the TV version do look better than the manga counterparts too. To name one, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei art is quite simple, black and white with no shadowing. I like the story but I probably wouldn’t get much into the manga. In some cases adaptations polish the manga art more by adding a certain depth to it that wasn’t found in the original material. Also, sometimes I find it that anime is easier to digest as far as dialogues go too. I’m sure there is a number of titles I would find easier to watch than to read.

      Eh, I think I’ll start it calling those titles that are hardly released – Forever on Hold Manga

  2. Could pictures 3 & 5 be from Kurokami and Elfen Lied? Kurokami was the ultimate “ongoing” manga, apparently it’s ending now but i totally forgot where i was reading… And both of them are manga i found from the anime version, your post really is dead-on.

    • It’s actually Unbalance x unbalance, but yeah the author of both series is the same – Im Dal Young. The artists of both are different but the art style is strikingly familiar.

      I liked Kurokami better as manhwa more than the anime when I was reading it. There were many details in the anime that didn’t do the series any favors. I never finished the TV version either but for what I read I think it also got an original ending for the TV series.

      You’re completely right. The 5th pic is Elfen Lied manga, which goes way beyond and takes a different route from the TV version.

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