This year has been full of excitement with the release of One Piece Film: Red, Spy x Family, Kaguya-sama: Love is War – Ultra Romantic and many more. Most of these anime are adapted from their original works such as manga or light novel and if you didn’t know, shazam! Now you do.
The process of a title getting an anime adaptation is by luck. Nah, I’m just kidding (technically not wrong though). The way for a title getting animated is usually an animation studio will look at the most popular manga or light novel at a certain time and they picked which one will sell the most. Anime is serious business after all.
Of course when you’re talking about adaptations, you might hear the word ‘faithful’ and ‘source material’ thrown around casually as if snowballs flying in a snowball fight. Anime are said to be ‘faithful’ if they followed the ‘source material’ closely and not cut a whole lot of the story that a single season ended up covering 5 volumes for example.
If I’m being honest, most anime adaptations that have been released in the last couple of years are bad. I’m talking series like Arifureta, The Promised Neverland and God forgive me for uttering this cursed name, Ex-Arm.
Sure you’ve got series like 86 that is adapted successfully but most of them are just lacking in some way. Be it from the animation, the story getting cut to fit the constraint of a single season or lack of budget thrown into these thus resulting in a mediocre anime adaptation. The worst thing you can do is be mediocre.
There exists Anime Originals, anime who are designed from the very start to fit the limitations and constraints of the animation format. But that’s not relevant for now so let’s take a look at some of the worst anime adaptations in 2022.
- Classroom of the Elite Second Season
First released in 2017, fans of the series finally got their second serving of Ayanokouji puzzling the minds of everyone with the genius plan he concocted. Except, he kinda didn’t. What I mean is that his strategy can be figured out if you rub two of your brain cells together. The storyline and animation quality has also dropped from the first season, it went from great to just alright.
This is a classic example of a bad anime adaptation. Classroom of The Elite’ light novel is straight up a piece of art, for instance Ayanokouji is not as edgy in the anime but rather is a normal person with hobbies and clubs that he joined. Whereas in the anime, he changed into a cold and calculative mastermind who won’t mingle with friends and the likes. If you’re interested in the story, just read the LN, don’t bother with the anime.
- Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs
One heck of a title but sadly not the animation. It feels like when you’re watching one of those scrapbook animation videos, Trapped in a Dating sim or MobuSeka is exactly that but spanned over a 12 episode long series. The character designs too are sometimes just horrendous to watch, a shame considering the manga’s gorgeous art.
Good thing to say is the story, it manages to adapt from the LN and manga source closely albeit the pacing is a bit faster than what I would like to expect. This is not the worst offender on the list but it could have been peachy if the studio had more budget thrown into the series. With its limitations in mind though, you could watch the anime but I feel the manga itself is a better worth of your time.
- She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man
Quite possibly the worst anime adaptation of 2022, Kenja no Deshi is your generic overpowered power fantasy with a twist of genderbend. While the manga and LN are fine but the anime adaptation…. The word bad is an understatement. There’s a whole slew of problems regarding the anime, mainly the animation, excessive and pointless use of CGI, story pacing and general quality control.
If you think Mobuseka is bad already with its scrapbook animation, imagine that but in CGI. Terrible CGI. CGI is a wonderful technology although when you’re budget constrained, it ends up being a double-edged sword. Not to mention the first episode’s missing dialogue sound in the last five minutes and the entire show’s audio is a mess in general. If you’re digging for some OP loli protag, read the manga.
- Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 3
Ahh, Ascendance of a Bookworm. I love season 1 and partially season 2 as well but I still appreciate it. Season 3, not so much. The animations took a dive but it’s still watchable (unlike the previous mention in the list), storyline as well is a downgrade compared to the earlier season but it’s still tolerable. What’s not however is the pacing. This is the biggest issue for Honzuki no Gekokujō.
It tried to accomplish so much but done so little. Granted that it was originally supposed to only have eight episodes but the director, Mitsuru Hongo, fought tooth and nail to get two more episodes added totaling ten for season 3. Personally, they’ve done a great job with what they have and this is on the more forgivable side of bad anime adaptations, read the source material to find out what they cut in order to make the anime.
- Overlord Season 4
Overlord is a series about a guy transported to another world by virtue of VR games akin to Sword Art Online and Log Horizon. It presents itself with vast worldbuilding and various characters with charming personalities. The light novel is a joy to read and it’s such an experience. The anime tries to do it, tries to recapture that magical feeling yet time and time again, there’s only so much you can do in the span of 13 episodes.
The animations are top notch considering it’s produced by Madhouse, the art is also superbly done. The pacing left much to desire unfortunately. It left out crucial worldbuilding and character developments that would make the anime that much more colorful. It’s a pity that it’s such a normal anime adaptation for an otherwise great light novel.
What to do?
With all of these, there’s two words that keep repeating again and again, that is not enough budget and time constraint. That’s just the sad reality of adapting a manga or light novel that has more chances to expand on its plot and the cheap budget it needed compared to making an anime.
If your manga tanks on the sales, publishers like Kodansha can axe the series and replace it with better ones. For anime, things are more complicated. First, anime has a steeper price which according to Anime News Network, an average 150 to 250 million yen or USD 1 million to USD 1,8 million is needed for 13 episodes in a single season. Meanwhile manga only takes about 1,3 million yen or USD 12 thousand per 10 thousand copies, a fraction of a typical cost of anime would run you.
Second, it involves the brand of the publishers and studios. Between bad manga and bad anime, the latter holds a greater deal of influence over a company. Look at J.C. Staff, it is one of the many animation studios, was once beloved and now after releasing several mediocre anime in a short period of time like Shakugan no Shana, A Certain Magical Index and One Punch Man season 2, J.C. Staff is known for making bad adaptations.
That’s why when there’s an anime adaptation, it’s best to lower your expectations and take it with a grain of salt. Not all the various nuances and sub-context that the format of text gives are going to be represented well in a visual format like anime. If you keep your expectations low, then someday when an awesome adaptation releases, you’ll be in a much happier place.
Nuruddin Ihsan Affandi