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10 Manga That Will Never Get An Anime Adaptation (And Why) – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Popular manga almost always get an anime adaption, but some notable manga would either be too difficult or too controversial to recreate faithfully.
In Japan, the most popular manga series always receive anime adaptations. The two mediums go hand in hand, and the moment a manga gains the public’s attention, the anime studios get to work on bringing the story to life. Many cult classic manga series, like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, One-Punch Man, and Attack on Titan, skyrocket in popularity because of their masterful adaptations.
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Anime has the power to elevate its narratives by adding stellar voice acting, fitting soundtracks, and breathtaking movement to the still manga panels. Yet, there are many series too tricky for the animators to tackle. Be it the unique art style or the unconventional story structure, some of the most incredible manga series will, most likely, never get an anime adaptation.
The psychological drama manga Ultra Heaven transports the audience into a surreal future, in which synthetic drugs become widely available and legalized. The story chronicles the otherworldly experiences of an overstimulated addict Kabu after he’s introduced to the new mysterious narcotic, Ultra Heaven. The drug’s effect is rumored to be the most robust hallucinogenic experience one could undergo, and the manga’s unorthodox art style conveys that brilliantly.
Besides the questionable themes, the outstandingly distinctive artistic direction of the series is something that cannot be replicated in any other medium.
Nejimaki Kagyu is a manga series that takes full advantage of its medium by bending the space of its every panel. The spiral motifs and unorthodox character designs of Nakayama Atsushi’s masterpiece create a visual world that flows together with the pages of the manga. Nejimaki Kagyu’s plotline is quite straightforward.
It follows a school teacher Negizawa Kamo, who possesses a mystical ability to attract every female in his student body, and his childhood friend Juubei, motivated to protect Kamo with her impressive martial arts skills. However, the series’ over-expressive art stops it from being faithfully adapted into an anime.
The creator behind A Bride’s Story, Kaoru Mori, is the most impressive illustrator in the industry. The storyline of her 2008 historical series takes the audience along the Silk Road during the 19th-century Russian conquest of Central Asia.
While the soothing narrative of A Bride’s Story could become a masterful anime, Mori’s art style might be too detail-dense for the medium. The manga features clothing patterns worthy of being displayed in art galleries. Unfortunately, the anime industry has to come a long way before attempting to capture Mori’s art in action.
Vagabond is universally considered one of the best manga series in existence. Its magnificent story revolves around Takezo Shinmen, a skilled warrior traveling around 17th-century Japan searching for strong opponents to challenge. While the narrative qualities of Vagabond are outstanding, the manga’s most impressive achievement is its immersive, almost lifelike art.
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Along with its mediative, slow plot progression and iconic legacy, the visuals make anime studios doubtful of adapting Vagabond. A mediocre adaptation of such a brilliant and beloved story would be much worse than no adaptation at all.
The Climber’s somber, mature storytelling is very unique for the world of anime and manga. It deals with the psychological turmoils and self-reflections of an introverted solo mountain climber Buntaro Mori, an apathetic high school student whose soul-healing journey starts with a discovery of climbing as a hobby.
The manga takes the audience on Mori’s path from an amateur to a professional climber. The Climber’s art style stands out by its hyperrealistic aesthetic, which complements the story’s grounded themes. Nevertheless, the manga’s ideas and visuals don’t play into current anime trends and strengths.
The fans of the slice-of-life genre don’t expect their favorite shows to impress them with thrilling animation or breathtaking battle scenes.
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Nevertheless, even the minimalistic stories of routine life can benefit from immersive voice acting and intricate animation of its cast’s day-to-day adventures. However, the iconic slice-of-life manga Yotsuba&! would, most likely, have no value being transported into an anime format. The short panel sequences that make up Yotsuba&!’s chapters consist of barely any movement or tension, so animating it will not bring anything new to the story.
Memories of Emanon follows the breathtaking journey down the memory lane of the Earth’s first witness, an enigmatic girl whose experience dates back billions of years. After Emanon encounters a young man during his ferry ride home, she decides to take him on a world-altering adventure through her past, which chronicles the history of the planet from the moment of its creation.
The intricate storyline of the manga possesses the infinite potential to be an outstanding anime. Nevertheless, its unorthodox story structure and hyper-detailed art style would make an adaptation infinitely challenging.
Rojica to Rakkasei is a surrealistic avant-garde manga series that beautifully utilizes its childish character designs to tell a dark, disturbing story of a faraway planet. At first glance, it is a bizarre yet charming sci-fi comedy with a heartfelt premise. Nevertheless, as the world of Rojica to Rakkasei continues to expand, the narrative’s direction becomes more and more sinister.
Rojica to Rakkasei falls into a category of underground manga that would struggle to gain a following if ever adapted into an anime. Its conflicting art direction and themes work well in the manga world. However, the same immersive effect is difficult to achieve in motion.
The infamous South Korean manhwa Killing Stalking depicts a disturbing relationship between a mentally unstable young man Yoon Bum and his abusive captor, Oh Sangwoo. While the disquieting story has myriads of dedicated followers, its popularity wouldn’t lead to the manhwa’s adaptation to the screen.
The dark take on the BL romance genre consists of many scenes that make the readers shiver in fear and disgust. Moreover, the story’s moral ambiguity would put any studio with the potential to adapt Killing Stalking in a rather uncomfortable situation.
Inio Asano’s psychological horror manga Goodnight Punpun has been adored by readers ever since its debut in 2007. The tragic coming-of-age narrative of Punpun Onodera follows the naive protagonist as he discovers the most atrocious sides of adulthood. While the manga was praised endlessly for its relatable characters and unorthodox themes, the series was never animated.
The story is so emotionally complex and visually unique that turning it into a worthy anime would be a monumental task. Another reason why Asano’s masterpiece is difficult to adapt is Punpun’s silent protagonist. Onodera never speaks, which is tricky to portray in an audio-visual format. Yet, making Punpun talk detracts from his narrative effectiveness.
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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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