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10 Anime That Make No Sense Without Reading The Manga – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Some anime failed to properly adapt the manga, resulting in a story that doesn’t make any sense without reading the source material.
The medium of anime has always coexisted with the manga industry closely. Most anime are adapted to screen from popular manga series, which brings more attention to the source material as a promotion. And while the industry continues to experiment with original works as well as visual and light novel adaptations, manga remains the primary foundation for producing anime. When adapting a story from one medium to another, the creators try to make the narrative comprehensive and gripping enough to stand on its own. Nevertheless, some anime fail to capture the essence of the original when bringing it to screen.
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The result is an anime that makes no sense to the new viewers without preexisting context, and even they usually prefer to stick to the manga that tells the story better.
The science-fiction manga Blame! astounds the audience with its intricate art and captivating setting. Despite having close to no dialogue, the somber journey of Killy through The City’s massive labyrinth of artificial structures tells a moving, immersive story.
Blame! is notoriously difficult to adapt due to its unorthodox visual style and story structure. Nevertheless, multiple anime based on the manga exist, none of which are beloved by fans of the original. Most notably, the 2017 Netflix adaptation misses the mark by trying to combine unrelated pieces from different arcs of Blame!, confusing the audience, and failing to capture the original’s appealing sense of mystery.
Upon viewing The Junji Ito Collection, the audience members with no prior knowledge of the original creator’s work will fail to understand Ito’s popularity and influence on the genre. The iconic manga author Junji Ito is the unrivaled master of body horror. His work has the power to deeply unsettle the audience with disquieting, repulsing imagery and disturbing themes.
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The anthological adaptation of his short stories fails to make its viewers shiver. The limited animation and basic art style of The Junji Ito Collection are far from horrifying, mostly earning unintended chuckles from the audience.
The mass hit series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure had an OVA adaptation in 1993 before David Production began to bring the show to screen from start to finish. The OVA jumped straight to the manga’s most popular part, Stardust Crusaders, and was clearly aimed at an audience familiar with the source material.
1993’s JJBA wasn’t a cohesive adaptation, only tackling a few key fights and story points, and while the OVA had incredible battle animation and a charming 90s’ aesthetic, it only made sense to preexisting manga fans.
The multiple attempts at adapting the Air Gear manga have not been successful. The thrilling plotline of the manga follows a middle schooler nicknamed Ikki, as he competes in various futuristic skating events known as Air Treks.
The action-packed narrative of Air Gear seems ideal for an anime adaptation. Nevertheless, both the 2006 TV series and the 2010 sequel OVA fail to stand on their own in terms of covering the manga’s story. While the series tries to follow the original faithfully, it stops abruptly without giving the viewers a comprehensive ending. The OVA skips multiple crucial story arcs, adapting only key elements and leaves the audience confused.
Berserk’s magnificent manga series has been praised by critics and beloved by fans for decades. Its gripping dark fantasy setting combines beautifully with tragic themes and character development. However, Berserk fans have always been denied a truthful, completed anime adaptation of their beloved story.
While the 1997 TV series does a good job adapting its portion of the story, it ends rather abruptly without even scraping the surface of Berserk’s extensive plotline. The second attempt at adapting the story in a TV anime format came almost twenty years later and was notoriously despised by fans. Berserk 2016 suffers from jarring pacing issues that make the plotline nearly impossible to follow.
Battle Angel Alita is a cyberpunk franchise popular both in Japan and overseas, yet it has never received a proper anime adaptation. Despite the massive success of the manga series, Alita’s creator Yukito Kishiro never planned to adapt it into a different medium.
The 1993 2-episode OVA based on the manga wasn’t a priority for the author, which is quite apparent in the anime. The OVA adapts a short story portion from the manga’s second volume and applies significant changes to the plot and the characters. As a standalone piece, Battle Angel OVA hardly makes any sense. Despite this, there are no plans to ever adapt Alita into a proper anime.
The brutal storyline of Gantz is beloved by many fans for its unconventional setting and mature themes. The manga follows a group of people who have died only to get brought back to life by a mystical force. They are now forced to participate in a violent “game” of exterminating aliens, even if it costs them their newly reacquired lives.
The tremendous potential of Gantz was waisted in its rushed adaptation. The anime rushes through the story and focuses too much on shock-value gore and violence instead of fleshing out Gantz‘s compelling characters and world.
Deadman Wonderland presents its audience with an incredibly immersive death game premise. After a massive earthquake brought chaos to Japanese society, Tokyo’s center was replaced by a prison that doubles as a theme park. Inside the walls of Deadman Wonderland, death row prisoners compete with each other to prolong their lives for the entertainment of their observers. Unfortunately, the thrilling story of Deadman Wonderland wasn’t graced with a worthy anime adaptation.
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The creators tried to compress its complex narrative into just 12 episodes. They also gave the show a completely original ending, which disappointed the manga fans and left the viewers with more questions than answers.
Tokyo Ghoul is infamous for being one of the worst adaptations of a community-loved original work. The story of Ken Kaneki’s metamorphosis into a flesh-eating monster presents the audience with an intriguing narrative that wasn’t well-portrayed in the manga’s anime iteration. Nevertheless, the show’s first season got many fans into Tokyo Ghoul manga, and they still view it as an acceptable adaptation of the source material.
The series’ continuation, titled Tokyo Ghoul √A, was much less well-received by the manga readers. It strayed away from the original completely, reimagining the plot and characters in a manner that left anime viewers only confused and dissatisfied.
Mochizuki Jun’s Pandora Hearts is a tragic fairytale that’s left many fans trembling in tears. Its Victorian-era-inspired narrative focuses on Oz Vessalius, who gets cast into a terrifying dimension called Abyss and makes a contract with one of its monsters, a Chain named Alice, to get out. During Oz’s time in the Abyss, ten years have already passed in the real world, indicating that the shadow dimension holds more secrets than assumed originally.
Oz’s heartbreaking quest of uncovering the world’s mysteries didn’t leave a lasting impression on the anime watchers. Pandora Hearts’ adaptation barely scratched the surface of the bigger narrative and was forced to give a show a confusing original ending, as the manga was still serializing. The dedicated fans of Mochizuki Jun’s heartfelt magnum opus are still waiting for a faithful adaptation of their beloved story.
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Maria Remizova is a writer, reader, filmmaker, and media analyst based in Los Angeles, US. After working as a journalist for a major television network in Russia, she moved to the United States to study filmmaking. A graduate of Full Sail University’s Film program, she now writes for CBR’s Anime Lists and works as a screenplay analyst. From childhood, Maria was enthusiastic about Japanese media and culture and has watched over 2500 anime in her lifetime. Her favorite flavor of ice cream is coffee.


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