Remake and Sequels, Anime Ver.

Making up reasons why anime remake and sequels exist looks like a fun game. Here’s my try. Going to avoid using paragraphs (as much).

Underlying observations, concepts and assumptions:

Many anime are based on existing material. They are adaptations. Furthermore many anime suck badly when they “run out” of material to adopt within the context of a single adaptation effort (tho what are notably excepted are “filler” material that can expand on existing material in the context of filling in gaps or providing better fanservice. Even so, mileage vary on that. It is just there some very notable exceptions like K-ON and now, Fate/Zero).

There are more sequels than prequels. As usual Ask John begins with a question that is probably not too well-phrased.

Both sequels and prequels have good commercial viability.

Things like copyright law exist and companies and IP owners generally plan their businesses (eg., anime production) according to those business practices. I mean, this is a no brainer; I’m just writing it here to raise this fact. (Actually that is what I want to see in that Ask John article. Except he totally didn’t get into it.)

Similarly, production companies are sometimes organized into umbrella pipelines. For example Aniplex is much more likely to use other companies associated with Sony for shows Aniplex produces. Companies will plan their adaptation plans around this fact as well (but that is just a guess).

I’m going to assume that in soliciting funding for anime/media-mix projects, the fact something is a direct sequel versus a reboot versus a hybrid, has an impact in terms of how a work is solicited, how the funding may be determined on past performance of not only the production committee, but the franchise itself. (I.e., “Did the first series do well? Can we do it again better?”)

Discussions:

One good talking point (and not so much of an example, as you’ll see) of this sequel versus remake discussion is in the case of the Rebuild of Evangelion. Let us take big, clear, red, highlighted note that Evangelion is not an anime adaptation. It is also Gainax’s baby in that they own it (which bypasses what John said about WMFH). And now it’s Studio Khara doing the production. I think it is best to ignore this specific example when talking about this subject because it is more like a Batman or Superman reboot, where copyright, artistic consistency, branding, etc., are all at issue. It is very different than, say, why they’re remaking Hunter x Hunter (nobody knows why). I mean at least we know why Columbia wants to reboot Spiderman, for a long list of reasons, some of which do not have to do with how profitable the Sony ones were.

Actually now come to think of it, is this why the new Saki is a reboot too? Anyone knows?

There are plenty of artistic reasons as well to make reboots than sequels, besides the wider-audience kind of thing. Let’s talk about that for a moment. John’s pretty spot on in that we would watch (for example) a reboot of Yamato, as I don’t know if we can find enough people under age of 30 who can sit through all of the original to fit in a bus. I mean, it’s classic but dire stuff. He didn’t explicitly say, simply, that there are a lot of reboots today that are based on some really, really old shows. I mean there are reasons based on physics why we have ST:TNG and ST:Enterprise, etc., and not just more footage of Shatner goofing around (he does that enough on the side)–people age, retire, get fat, and, in some cases, die. Until we all become seiyuu-cogs for robot actors, those are problems in which reboots and remakes can overcome.

There’s another artistic reason; it’s the one Tomino applied a few times: retcon. More precisely, it is about how you can remake a work as a second draft. It’s much easier to sit through 3 Mobile Suit Gundam movies today than watch that in the TV format. Trust me. Doubly so for Turn-A Gundam. And let’s not even get into the ZZ films. Even more drastic examples include Do You Remember Love, Utena the Movie (RIP Kawakami), and even one of my all-time favorite examples, Futakoi Alternative.

Conclusions:

Undeniably, reboots are created today because there’s a market gap for it. In a linear narrative kind of sense, it makes more economic (and other sorts of) sense to redo some shows and sell it again, since the old version may have some limits purely as a result of the long time that has elapsed. In a technical sense, it avoids some problems sequels have, such as copyright ownership and production consistencies. In a creative sense, it frees the reboot from the character, plot, and setting limits of the original work. So when I read this:

Reboots may generate more revenue, but they limit creative progression. However, if creative evolution is the ideal goal, then even sequels are less constructive than focusing effort on creating entirely new franchises and new adaptations instead of resurrecting older titles for either remake or continuation. […] However, right now, when titles like Dragon Ball Kai seem as popular, if not more popular, than Dragon Ball Z, and anticipation is high for the forthcoming Berserk theatrical remake, consumer support seems to validate and encourage the continued production of remakes and reboots in place of sequels.

I’m like, cool story bro. But creative progression? LOL? I mean, didn’t they finished adopting Dragon Ball Z? How can it “creatively progress” any further? Oh wait there are how many movies now? What do the letters G and T spell? Seriously give me a break. In DBZ’s case, we’ve already depleted “sequels” entirely (from an economic perspective) and now we’re moving into reboots since there’s nowhere else to go, and it’s about time for it anyway.

Wanting sequels over reboots is pretty much the purest instance of otaku fetishism in my opinion. Because, why, it’s somehow socially okay to crave for narrative constructs without want of the creative integrity of the original work, over concepts like “artistic freedom” or “creator’s expectation to copyright”? Or even over the notion of fixing-your-mistakes, to improve on an existing work in an in-place effort? I see that no better than craving for breasts or panty shots, if not worse in the sense that those things are pretty open-ended, where as fans are fickle as hell when it comes to “their” stories and characters. It’s like the snake that devours its own tail; that they crave the thing that slowly destroys the essence of its original existence. Remakes may be one one method to get out of that trap!

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4 responses to “Remake and Sequels, Anime Ver.

  • cucuc

    Off-topic:

    Have you spared some time to read Neojaponisme’s big articles “The Jimusho System” and “The Great Shift in Japanese Pop Culture”? As with nearly everything on the blog, they provide valuable info, and the discussions in comments are constructive.

    http://neojaponisme.com/2010/04/05/the-jimusho-system-part-one/

    http://neojaponisme.com/2011/11/28/the-great-shift-in-japanese-pop-culture-part-one/

  • omo

    Yeah I have read those two articles. They are good starting points to discuss various issues; a lot of the impression laid out for Marxy’s cases are basically what is the best things about his writing. It consistently bothers me that how a lot of people out there blogging can’t even reach that level, let alone begin some actual discussions on the issues.

  • Fencedude

    Boy sure is fun responding to month old posts.

    Anyway, just wanted to note that Saki Achiga-hen isn’t a “reboot”, its an adaption of a sidestory manga (by the same name) written by the Saki mangaka (who’s name I am suddenly unable to recall and don’t feel like looking up) and illustrated by the Bamboo Blade Mangaka (see previous parenthetical).

    Its being animated now because there isn’t enough new mainline Saki manga to animate, and they want to keep the franchise floating till there is.

    But it is decidedly not a “reboot” in any way that term is normally used.

    Just thought I’d put that out there, if you even see it.

  • omo

    Ah, side story. Thanks for the clarification

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