"Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is . . . tomorrow."
- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Novels and Anime and Manga

This one's cross-posted from the Absolute Write message board.

I think novels and manga and anime can mix, but before doing so, you have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each form. I actually think of manga and anime as two separate forms, because while they are both more visual forms, anime has to show pretty much everything, while manga only captures the essence (by showing the picture that best represents the action, where as anime shows all the action).

The best example is Sailor Moon, mostly because of all the formats it can be found in (anime, manga, musical, live-action drama, and novelizations) In each episode of the anime, Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Scouts/Senshi have to fight the youma (or whatever the bad guy of the week happens to be). Each episode slowly advances the overall plot, but mostly it's about defeating the weekly bad guy. Then you get to the live-action drama (which is called Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon or PGSM), where most of the episodes are about defeating the weekly youma, but then as the story/plot advances, it moves away from fighting the youma to fighting the Four General who control the youma, to fighting Beryl and Metallia, Tuxedo Mask, and finally Princess Moon. But if you read the manga, there is no weekly youma to defeat. When Sailor Jupiter is first introduced, she wastes Nephrite the first chance she gets. (Note, however, that I have not seen the musicals nor have I read the novelizations. Yet.)

I have at least three stories that are heavily influenced by anime. The first was a magical girl story, much like Sailor Moon. I haven't wanted to unearth the novel since I wrote "the end", but I wrote a short story using the same characters and turned it in for a creative writing class. In it, my character had to fight an evil version of herself who was trying to take over her city (had it been set in Japan, she would have destroyed Tokyo, but she made do with destroying Red Wing, MN). And yeah, she and all the other characters used attack phrases, to which I got mixed results on. Some students in my class just didn't get it. One student said he thought the average American who does not watch anime wouldn't get it, and therefore I should take it out (when I never actually considered the average American to be my audience, since it was a YA novel about a 15 year old magical girl). Another student really liked that I used attack phrases because it reminded him of rpgs. And my teacher liked it because he tried to visualize what a "Shield of Lust, Bash!" looked like. Since then I've learned that a more or less direct translation of anime to novel doesn't work.

I have another magical girl story, only she's older (17), has some esper abilities, and uses a big sword to fight other supernaturals, including other espers, mages, mummies or "psychic vampires", constructs, demons, and shapeshifters (there're probably others, I just can't think of them at the moment.) I think she's more of a Devil Hunter Yoko kind of girl, but I don't know because I've never seen the anime (though it's on my list).

And the third story was inspired by watching a lot of the more boy/fighting anime (Bleach, Inuyasha, Naruto) where they would hint at a romantic relationship between two of the characters, but that's all they would do. So I developed a story around an Intragalactic Fighting Tournament that my heroine gets "invited" to. Every contestant gets a magical sword that they must fight with, but each sword has magical powers (that need an "attack phrase" to be activated). In addition to fighting all the other people in the tournament and learning about her own magical abilities (as well as those in her sword), she ends up falling in love.

I've probably rambled on quite a bit, but yeah, I think anime and novels can mix.

Also, I would check out SHOMI. Even though it's an "action romance" line, they're still striving to combine novels with romance, action, SF, and anime/manga. So at least someone in the publishing world thinks it can be done.

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