Prejudice Against Video Game Adaptations

Let me start by saying that I am sorry. It has been exactly two weeks since I last posted something, something that was only a simple preview post on the spring 2012 season. The truth is that school has been getting in the way and naturally that is my main priority, as it is my last year in high school. In the little free time I have, I want to take a breather, so sadly blogging has been put a bit on a hold. It is the first time I have felt this stressed and there are a lot of things going on emotionally because of it. No, wait, that sounds worse than it is. In any case, I am starting to feel a little better and will do my best to continue with roughly a post per week!

…Oh, and before I forget, let us get to the actual post! Just click the fancy “Continue Reading”.

Video games, the wonder of today. Even though it is in its early stages, we see some truly experimental titles out there, showcasing not only creative gameplay, but also new and different approaches to storytelling unlike what any other medium is capable of. Video games are unique in that aspect, as it has no real limits of telling stories, since you, the player, are mostly in charge of what is happening. The story could be long and ambitious with battles every now and then, such as any JRPG, or short and different, like Bastion and its real-time narration. Because the way of telling a story is so different, it is very hard to do a proper adaptation of a video game. Or, at least, that is what I think, which is why I try stay away from those adaptations in anime as if they were the worst thing ever created. And this is all because of me having a slightly unjustified prejudice against them. As for why I have this prejudice I cannot say, as there is no particular reason besides me believing they will always fail to properly adapt the stories.

Not too long ago I finished Tales of the Abyss for 3DS (also out on PS2), a wonderful JRPG with a surprisingly engrossing story, lasting for a good ~60 hours. In fact, it was so absorbing that I was eager to check out its anime adaptation, if only to spend more time with the lovable characters. But before I let my feelings completely overthrow me, my brain came to the most rational conclusion: the anime would most likely suck. How would a long and huge game, with lots of battles, fetch quests and more, be able to be good as an anime? Even if they removed the aforementioned battles, the fetch quests would have to be included somehow, as they are an integral part of the story. But that would be dull. And if they were removed, the story would not work. But, and, and, but, but. So I reached the conclusion that it would suck. It would be impossible to adapt it to a satisfying degree.

But, yet, here we have the currently ongoing and appreciated series called Persona 4 and Amagami SS+ Plus. To further add successful video game adaptations, we have every visual novel by Key, including the widely acclaimed masterpiece Clannad. Why not add The iDOLM@STER to the group?

Not that liberal, though.

The thing they all have in common, I believe, is called liberty. While I cannot utter anything about Persona 4, as I have not watched it, I hear it is not trying too hard being the same thing as its video game counterpart. As for the rest of the mentions, they are liberal adaptations that, while staying true to their roots, do their best to function as an actual anime.

Amagami SS+ plus? Restart the story with a new heroine instead of making it a harem fiesta! Clannad? Only focus on one heroine, while giving backstories to the other characters! The iDOLM@STER? Create a series based on the concept of young idols!

Thanks to them being liberal, they result in enjoyable series. Taking what makes the video games good and only focusing on that, makes video game adaptations work in the end! So if it is possible to adapt Persona 4, a game with a lot of content, then surely you could do the same with Tales of the Abyss.

So here I am, having proof shoved in my face telling me it is safe to give the Tales of the Abyss anime a try. But I cannot let go of the feeling that it will suck. This is precisely why it is called prejudice: unreasonable beliefs.

Do you also have any prejudice regarding anime?

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24 thoughts on “Prejudice Against Video Game Adaptations

  1. Cholisose says:

    Ah, I watched the first few eps of Tales of the Abyss and enjoyed them, but then got hold of a copy of the game, and started playing it with my roommate. Who became too busy to continue after a while… I need to go back and finish it some time. XP From what I had played, it was a fairly unique story for an RPG. (I had already experienced Tales of Symphonia beforehand though, which also subverted a lot of classic tropes.)
    If I enjoy the rest of the game, I’ll probably go back and finish the anime. The characters really are a lot of fun.

    • Marow says:

      The story and the characters are really refreshing and is what really made me love the game. This is my first Tales of-game, so perhaps the rest are just as good 🙂
      Hope you will continue playing!

  2. Ty-chama says:

    Does this include VN adaptations, ‘cause Steins;Gate was totally enjoyable!
    I’m not sure what to think about video game adaptations. When I think of some of my favourite games’ adaptations into, say, live action blockbusters, e.g. Resident Evil, I can’t help but feel they just can’t win. Make it totally different but, keep the concept and it’ll be criticised for not being anything at all like the game it is supposed to be based on or try to mimic the game and be criticised for not being as good, whether that’s ‘cause of it having left certain aspects out, not capturing the game’s characters well or whatever. I, personally, prefer video game adaptations to go down the former route- it’s interesting to see another side to the game but, once again, I’m sure I’m in the minority on this!

    • Marow says:

      Yep, it does include VNs (Clannad and Amagami are actually that!). I completely forgot about Steins;Gate… thanks for reminding me 🙂

      When I came up with the idea for this post, I mostly thought of Western adaptations and became depressed. Besides being bad overall, is the fact that it is live-action what ruins it the most? Any idea?

      It depends on what they adapt, but I feel that they should stick with what made the original source… the original source (Dragon Ball without dragon balls would be weird, for example). So I’m with you ^^

  3. Whatever the game is, I just want the real ending. I certainly don’t want them to take their time with early endings.

    Amagami SS does a good job with each girl. It’s a good way to make an anime based on many endings and doesn’t have the harem factor.

    • Marow says:

      The real ending… yes, I agree. But if it is commonly agreed upon that the ending is horrible, I wouldn’t mind a change. But that’s me~

      As for Amagami SS, you’re completely right. It was a very nice take on the genre, even if it meant lack of development. The second season was even better 😀

  4. Mushyrulez says:

    There’s a difference in genres. With long, storytelling battle games (Final Fantasy?), there’s a reason those are games – so that you can interact with the characters and, y’know, do stuff. In an anime, you can’t interact with the characters, you can’t do whatever you want to do.

    With light novels, there are less choices, no battles, or interactive things like that. It’s basically just a story with no interaction. Well, if it’s a story already… wouldn’t adapting it into an anime be successful? You’ve already got a story!

    The funniest adaptations are MMOs, things like Maple Story or Ragnarok Online. Since in an MMO, there is no plot at all, the anime differs wildly from the original game. Yet, I think those were somewhat good as well.

    tl;dr: I guess what I’m saying is, if it gets made into an anime, it’s probably half-decent. Bad things don’t get made into anime. Then again, Black Rock Shooter just finished airing…

    • Marow says:

      Good point! Perhaps it’s just that some things aren’t meant to be adapted. Otherwise they would stray too far from their origins.

      “Bad things don’t get made into anime”

      Bwahahaha 😀

  5. Leap250 says:

    Similarly, this is like the prejudice on how movies turned into games end up being extremely bad, lol

    I haven’t seen many console game adaptations I think, but like you said, it would be hard to turn them into a series. Persona 4 and to some extent the .hack// series get away with it by having a story-line not directly affected by battles, quests, and all other jRPG must-do’s. Which is also the same reason why games like say Final Fantasy would be extremely hard to animate (though, FF VI would make for a wonderful series if done right)

    As for a personal prejudice regarding anime, it would have to be an all-girl cast. Not that I won’t watch shows that have ’em, but I’d be a bit more hesitant to, which is why I still can’t get myself to watch The Idolm@ster >.<

    • Marow says:

      One day, I will make a great game out of a movie. One day. Jeez, I got a lot of thing to improve under my lifetime. Another thing added to the list. 😛

      .hack is lovely, I fancy the idea a lot (make a MMORPG already!). Wasn’t it both released as a video game and anime at the same time? I thought so, but maybe I’m wrong.
      How come Final Fantasy VI would work? :O

      All-girl cast usually means copy-paste anime right now, so you’re wise to be hesitant. Regarding Idolmaster, I actually dropped it after 3 episodes. Heard it only got better, though ^^’

  6. tsurugiarashix says:

    “Your absence is most disappointing” Arashi says with a poised look. Anyway…

    I do not hold a personal prejudice against video games (or VN’s for that matter), but rarely do they stack up to the games they are based off. If you have a RPG, their is no possible way or at least neat way to correct myself (as Persona 4 is beginning to show) to pack all the details in.

    I can understand this, however, is a limit to how much you change, edit, add or leave out details before the original is not even recognizable.It does not have to be a perfect fame to fame adaption, but changes should at least add to why I enjoyed the game, not subtract from it. On the other hand, games like Idolm@aster and Amagami SS were done a service as Anime. In some cases like this, it just comes down to judgement, writing, and execution. Too bad it is not a catch all rule, since some games are not really Anime material. Period.

  7. mikazuki says:

    Hum I have the opposite problem ^^ I watched Tales of Abyss without knowing that it is adapted from a video game. I hardly played a RPG videogame in my life so… But i can say that, from non videogamer point of view, Tales of the Abyss is worthy of watching. Beside some fight scene and almost old that scenes in wich there is Tartaros ( I really like this ship ^^) it’seems an “usual” anime. The characters are quite develped (except, maybe, Ion and the “enemies”), the relationship between Asch and Luke is slowly but clearly explained. What was quite hard to understand for me is all the fonim affair, and the way Luke is so peculiar to save the world and exactly how all this happened. I think thare is some major differences between the game plot and the anime plot ( and of course here we have an unique end). Nobody clearly know what exactly happened to Ash…the fight are quite interesting. The major fault is the intersting theme of “the written future” seems not weel developed ( and this is the reason for wich I starting to watch the anime).

    • Marow says:

      Sounds like it will be interesting to watch then 🙂
      Weird to hear that some of the most important parts in the game aren’t clearly told in the anime

  8. mikazuki says:

    Yes It is I enjoied it, at least it have a quite understable plot, a good character design, really fluid movements, many dynamic scenes, very good seyuus…
    About Ash…what exactly happened at the end? It’s unclear, we have hints but he never appear again. And didn’t he…and after it didn’t his body….(avoiding spoilers^^)
    About the fonim thing some things are explained others no. Maybe it’s normal. But who is the creature in the last episode,?Is all this thing of the prefixed future a foolishness (in that scenario of course)? Why and how either Luke or Ash have to disappear? And so on. Now I’m curious to to know what about it in the game,XD

    • Marow says:

      Regarding the ending, it wasn’t really touched upon in the game either. It is up to the viewers’ imaginations! 🙂

      Fonons on the other hand, is explained rather well (you also use it in battles!). Let me quote a wiki:

      “A fonon is a basic particle of all elements which compose the planet of Auldrant. Ever since the beginning of existence, fonons have existed within everything that can been seen or interacted with. Fonons are split into six different categories, each representing an element. Each of these fonons is associated with an aggregate sentience, a spirit which embodies the element as a sentient form.”

  9. mikazuki says:

    Be Aware that that would be SPOILERS here 🙂

    Oh so also in the game is not clear, well I’read in the wikipedia that x (name removed due to spoilers//Marow) dies but it seems that wikipedia is speaking about the game
    (citation removed due to spoilers//Marow)
    Well anyway, if you’ll watch the anime I’d like to ask some questions.
    Thank you for the answer about the fonim question.

    • Marow says:

      I hope you don’t mind, but I removed the spoilers! We still understand what we’re talking about, so it’s no worry.

      I know the Wikipedia tells you that, but after beating the final boss, it is all very vague. While what it says about “x” is somewhat true, we also know something happened after that. We don’t know what, however.

      We’ll, if I do finish the anime, I’ll be sure to do a blog post about it. So if you’re still around by then, just ask away 🙂

      • mikazuki says:

        It’s fine, I put the “aware spoilers” just to avoid peoiple that didn’t watch the anime or played the game to be spoilered 😉
        Of course you you’ll blog about the anime when you finished it I’ll ask some question specifically about Luke and X ( this misterious guy :))

  10. Overlord-G says:

    The answer is no. This prejudice mostly applies to live-action adaptations. Anime are more or less safe from disgracing their source material…usually. They alter the plot a little bit or add some usually pointless characters that never appeared in the game but for the most part, it stays true. At least that’s what I think.

    • Marow says:

      But we all love those Resident Evil movies!

      I wouldn’t say anime is safe from that. However, since it is animated, it has a chance of looking less stupid. I mean, if we take Dragon Ball Evolution. It looks cool in the manga and anime, but in live-action it looks stupid.

      To be honest, Visual Novel adaptations such as Clannad or Air aren’t perfect. They try to stay true in the sense that they do every character’s story, something which creates a lack of focus. So, nah, anime adaptations aren’t perfect.

      • Overlord-G says:

        I liked the first Resident Evil movie. The sequels left me feeling bitter. The second one had Jill and Nemesis…and that’s it.

        Like I said, anime adaptations aren’t perfect, but for the most part, stay true to the source material with some alterations. The KEY anime adaptations follow one specific route if I’m not mistaken. I am curious as to how the Little Busters adaptation will fare. I haven’t played any KEY Visual Novel so all the anime I’ve seen of them I’ve gone in blind, which for me was a good thing.

        Marrow good sir, or madam, let us never speak of the atrocity that is DB:E ever again. No, bot Street Fighter Legend of Chun-Li either. The Van Damme one’s so bad, it’s good though.

      • Marow says:

        What I meant by bringing those adaptations up, is that they focus on each girl. In Clannad, we did not only have Nagisa, the “main story”, but also Tsukasa, Tomoyo and whatnot. This bogged the pacing down a little, since it tried to please everyone. An example of trying to stay too true to its roots, I’d say. (not that it was poorly executed, just not as good as it could’ve been)

        Also, I’m curious about Little Busters and JC Staff. It will create a shitstorm no matter what happens.

        Oi oi, don’t go there. Don’t mention those. You don’t want us to die here, do you?

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