” Anime VS Manga! “
A rivalry almost as old as the mediums themselves. Which version of the story is better, and which is the “Proper” way to engage with said stories? Truth be told, the majority of anime series are adapted from other works, and, from a marketing standpoint, are meant to advertise the source material.
Does that mean the manga is inherently better than its anime adaptation? Not necessarily. It’s a case-by-case basis, and we’re here to explore 10 cases in which the anime improved and even surpassed its manga counterpart.
This list will be focusing more on aesthetics and how well the manga was adapted into an anime that requires motion and sound. When it comes to storytelling and pacing, a lot more factors have to be considered, and analyzing the differences deserves its own list. I’m here to highlight the artistry, the times when anime has really given manga a run for its money.
So, with that said, here are, in no particular order, 10 Anime Better Than the Manga!
ATTACK ON TITAN
Story and art by Hajime Isayama, Animated by Wit Studio and MAPPA What can be said that hasn’t already been said. From Season 1, Attack on Titan captured our hearts with high-flying combat against literal giants. Everything, from the physics of the ODM gear, to the size and weight of the Titans, made an impression far beyond what the manga could do.
The action is so much more satisfying when you can see it play out in real time. Isayama is an incredible illustrator, no doubt, and his ability to express movement with strong line work is impressive. The anime capitalizes on its strengths to transform that line work into moving pictures with the added benefits of color and sound. It’s so much easier to tell the characters apart in the anime and the sound of a transforming Titan is iconic.
All in all, Attack on Titan is a prime example of elevating the manga to new heights.
Story and art by Hitoshi Iwaki; Animated by Madhouse And this entry is a prime example of how modern animation can breathe new life into an older series. Parasyte the manga was serialized from 1988 to 1995 and the anime adaptation, Parasyte -the maxim- was first aired in 2014.
Comparing the two versions side by side, it’s like comparing night and day. There are similarities, but the anime appeals more to modern tastes, and for many fans, will be easier to sit through. And what a series to sit through. The anime improves upon the manga’s unique body horror and does not hold back on the violence and gore. Seeing the parasites in motion and how far they can contort the human body is much more disturbing in the anime.
It’s safe to say that the manga owes a lot of its visibility to the anime, proving once and for all that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA
Story by Nagaru Tanigawa, Art by Gaku Tsugano; Animated by Kyoto Animation You know what doesn’t get old? Cute girls doing cute things, KyoAni’s specialty. In many ways, the anime adaptation of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya pushed the boundaries of what KyoAni was capable of.
Cute designs, mind-bending backgrounds, and punchy action, all surrounded by mundane reality gives the anime an identity wholly unique from the manga. Also, the anime overall feels better paced. That may be a hot take, considering how much the anime rearranges events and the infamous Endless Eight arc, but hear me out.
Haruhi Suzumiya was originally a light novel series, so it’s naturally very wordy. The anime handles this very well by not only punctuating dialogue with nice visuals but also by allotting moments of silence and space.
It all boils down to how well the themes, emotions, and story are conveyed and the anime succeeds in every category.
Story and Art by Yusei Matsui; Animated by Lerche A classic example of “ be careful who you call ugly in middle school, because that middle schooler might have been taught how to assassinate an all-powerful being hell-bent on destroying the world. In all honesty, the manga of Assassination Classroom is a bit rough.
It improves as the volumes go on, but the line work can be a bit shaky, and the character designs look just a tad off. The anime adds much-needed polish while still respecting the original vision. It’s a lot cleaner and more consistent with the added benefit of motion. Koro-sensei is so much fun to watch move and contort and change color. The fast-paced action and assassination attempts are fully realized. Everything gets a chance to shine.
Much like how Koro-sensei helped his students realize their full potential, this anime adaptation helped its manga do the same.
LAND OF THE LUSTROUS
Story and Art by Haruki Ichikawa; Animated by Studio Orange Never mind making the jump from the panel to the screen, this anime adaptation made the jump from one dimension to the next. Fully 3D rendered anime has always been met with skepticism, but then came Land of the Lustrous, shining just a brightly as the gems it stars.
The manga is impressive itself with incredible attention to detail, especially in how the gems shatter. It can only convey so much, though, and a story about personified gems needs coloring, lighting, and rendering to fully deliver on the vision. The addition of a moveable camera POV makes the action and combat feel alive and dynamic.
Coupled with strong sound design and vocal talent, this anime is the full package. A true diamond in the rough.
WAVE, LISTEN TO ME!
Story and Art by Hiroaki Samura; Animated by Sunrise In terms of translating the style and artistry from manga to anime, Wave, Listen to Me! is pretty standard.
It adapts the manga with a very modern-feeling aesthetic with frenetic comedic energy, where the punchlines come more from the framing than the actual joke. The highlight is the voice acting. It’s only natural that a story about radio broadcasters would be told with real voices behind the characters.
The manga gets that across just fine, but it’s one thing to read dialogue and another thing to hear dialogue. Listen to any excerpt of the lead heroine talking and you’ll be left either bewildered or entranced. That’s really the best way to describe this anime, a perfect storm of wacky words.
Story and Art by Rei Hiroe; Animated by Madhouse Much like the previous entry, this anime adaptation doesn’t stray far from its source material, but it takes full advantage of the unique soundscape you can only find at the brink of civilization. The action sequences are second to none with just the right mix of realism and death-defying stunts.
Guns, explosions, car chases, fist fights, all are brought to life in ways manga can only depict through visuals. Not to mention the stellar soundtrack. For even more spice, watch the English dub. As strange as it sounds, it is a treat to hear these characters cuss up a storm and the accent game is on point to sell this multi-national cast.
The anime brings to the table so many things that are straight up lost in the manga and it’s not afraid to embrace the gritty dark tone of the original.
CELLS AT WORK AND CELLS AT WORK: CODE BLACK!
Created by Akane Shimizu and Story by Shigemitsu Harada, Art by Issei Hatsuyoshiya Animated by David Production and Liden Films (respectively) I’m including two-in-one here because both anime series take a similar approach to adapting their respective manga.
They both heighten the unique qualities of their source materials by playing on the strengths of the visuals. To start, both series add much-needed color and vibrancy. Color goes a long way to streamline the visuals and make sure everything is as clear as possible. It’s like a science textbook brought to life. Then, the two series take different approaches to animation.
Cells at Work combines David Production’s style with bright striking visuals to sell the overly eventful lives of personified cells. Code Black, on the other hand, goes out of its way to convey how hopeless and dirty the setting is with cross-hatched shadows and lower saturation.
There’s really no right way to adapt a manga, but these two series show that developing even one aspect the manga doesn’t have is enough to deliver stellar results.
Story by Yuto Tsukuda, Art by Shun Saeki; Animated by J.C. Staff Speaking of aspects anime does better than manga, let’s talk about food. Food in anime always looks good, and Food Wars would be nothing without its incredibly rendered food items.
Props to Saeki for providing such a tantalizing base, but the combination of color, animation and reaction shots is almost too much to bear. In addition, the cooking sequences are just as fun to watch.
The anime adds so much flare and motion when the characters cook. Add to that the sounds of a working kitchen and it delivers such a visceral edge. It seems the characters agree, as well, from the abundance of fan service and man service. Who needs clothes when you have great food?
The manga provided a strong base, prime ingredients if you will, and the anime took those same ingredients, put a new spin on them, and served up a delectable feast for the eyes and ears. Not for the stomach, unfortunately.
Story and Art by Gege Akutami; Animated by MAPPA Last but not least, an anime series that takes full advantage of the medium to great effect. With good direction, animation, and composition, any action sequence can go from great to incredible, and Jujustu Kaisen has action aplenty.
The characters themselves are designed with such dynamic silhouettes that even watching them play baseball is entertaining. With the addition of horrific cursed spirits and beautifully animated cursed energy, it’s no wonder the action looks as good as it does.
By the way, that cursed energy was a stroke of genius, vibrant colors outlined by pulsing brushstrokes. It really sells the ethereal otherworldly aspect. Without a doubt, in this case, the anime far exceeded what the manga presented.
Without a doubt, in this case, the anime far exceeded what the manga presented.
That concludes our list, there’s no right or wrong way to engage with stories. There are plenty of manga that are better than the anime and there’s no shame in sticking to one over the other. It all comes down to preference.
- Do you agree with any of the entries?
- Which anime/manga do you think are better than their counterparts?
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As always, have fun, stay safe, and get your WEEB ON!