Correlation Between Modern Manga Writing and Short-Episode-Count Anime

Anime adaptations of manga are nothing new. Checking upcoming anime every season, there’s always an interest in discussing what manga is deserving of an adaptation. That said, while interests in different subgenres continue to crop up among modern anime, episode counts are continuing to drop. Long gone are the days when 50-100+ episode anime was the norm. Now more than ever, anime episode count is dwindling, and it’s been affecting manga-ka in an unexpected way, having them take different approaches when it comes to writing their stories in hopes of nabbing that sought-after anime adaptation.

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What’s Simple and What Isn’t: “Resurrection” and “Believe” Reviews

When trailers for Resurrection and Believe started to crop up, I started to get excited about American television again. It feels like it’s been forever since an American show wasn’t about a) comicbook superheroes or b) antiheroes—both of which have long overstayed their welcome. From their trailers, both series seemed to cover some kind of fantastical phenomenon without coming off as too comicbook-y. And if at least one of them was solid, then I’d be a happy camper.

resurrection dmncapThe good and bad thing about Resurrection is that you can get the gist of what the entire first episode covered from the trailers alone. People that have been dead for years are suddenly showing back up completely unharmed as if nothing ever happened and no one knows why. It’s a simple enough concept that’s shrouded in enough mystery to keep viewers wanting more.

What I especially liked about the first episode was that it took its sweet time with the story without coming off as too meandering. You’re introduced to Agent Bellamy, who escorts a lost (almost comically all-American-looking) boy, Jacob, back to the small town of Arcadia. During Bellamy’s time in Arcadia, he slowly takes in his surroundings as well as pieces together the inhabitants and their relation to the lost boy. Everything comes off as free-flowing as you the viewer explore and take in the town through Bellamy’s eyes, and yet a story and plot development seems to form so naturally regardless (or perhaps “due to”).

Definitely something I’ll be looking forward to keeping up with this season.

believe dmncap…Compare, on the other hand, Believe—supernatural drama about an escaped convict having to take care of a young girl with superhuman abilities as they’re on the run from a mysterious organization. Maybe if I remembered that JJ Abrams had a hand in this series going into it, I wouldn’t be so disgusted with the goings-on of its episode one. Then again, I feel like any amount of disgust had to be had regardless.

Unlike Resurrection, Believe practically hits the ground running and continually bashes the viewer over the head with plot in the form of overly blatant exposition from its characters. Every character seems to wear their heart on their sleeve if only for the sake of moving the plot forward. How do you demonstrate the main character is untrusting and hates kids? I guess having him outright say that he’s untrusting and hates kids is sufficient enough.

The overall writing throughout the episode was just so painfully straightforward when it came to “developing” its characters. Either that or it was ridiculously inconsistent. One of the first scenes has the token female eye-candy antagonist (who by the way, will no doubt end up having a one-one-one fight with the token female eye-candy protagonist) snap the necks of two innocents only to later show how inept and just plain unprofessional she is in her line of work when she asks for a day off for her mother’s birthday. You would think something like that would be played for a laugh, but the fact that it’s being used as an honest-to-goodness point to build off her character is just… no.

And in terms of world-developing, things just move too fast for comfort. Normally, something would slowly introduce you to a concept and build on it as it progresses: “When you start from the beginning, it acclimates you to the bullshit, so that once it gets to the really crazy bullshit, you’re like ‘eh, makes sense I guess.’” Not true in this case. With Believe, so much over-the-top nonsense happens involving the plot and it’s just too much to take in, not to mention accept. Why would a secret organization be willing to free a convicted killer, but be against using guns because “they’re the good guys?” How come said convict can hold his own in a fight against someone that seems to be who I can only assume is a mercenary? Maybe if it were a comic or animated series, I’d be more accepting of some of these points, but as it stands, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

Second to the writing is the actors. Even in the case that a show’s writing is awful, a well-cast actor can save what’s left of it with their performance. In the lead role as the little girl with supernatural powers is actress Johnny Sequoyah, who sadly suffers from child-actor syndrome. Absolutely every one of her lines is delivered with a sense of precociousness that is just unfitting for the character and takes me out of the moment every time. It doesn’t help that for some reason, as precocious as she is, the script mixes in some moments where she puts herself in danger in the stupidest way possible (seriously, they’ll buy you a new stuffed animal after they escape from the gunman).

Lastly, since I couldn’t find any place to naturally transition to the subject, I just wanted to bring up the casting in the series. Normally, this is something you would pay absolutely no mind to, so the fact that I feel the need to even bring it up must mean something’s up with it. In total, the first episode of Believe had three women in it: the main kid, Jamie Chung in a protagonist role, and Trieste Kelly Dunn in an antagonist role. All three of them fall into the same category of having a petite body and cute face, which I just find odd. Give the child actor a couple years, and I feel like all three of them would be auditioning for the same role. This is nothing against the actresses themselves (even if Jamie Chung has one of the worst IMDB entries I’ve seen), but rather the casting decision. Usually a point is made when similar people are cast in certain roles, but in this case, it feels like it was done more on a whim than anything else.

If anything, JJ Abrams is a master at making shows that come off as “smart” for a stupid audience, and keeping said audience viewing on a weekly basis through sensationalized nonsense in his narratives. In that sense, maybe Believe will find a big audience. Just don’t count me as part of it. I’ll be on board the Resurrection-train, where things may be simple, but at least they’re better put-together.

Extended Tweets: Adventures in Making Informed Amazon Purchases Involving Old Nickelodeon Series

The Japanese version of this post would have been called “Crisis! The Missing 12 Episodes” which, oddly enough, is shorter than the actual title of this post.

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Initial Thoughts: Community Season 4; One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

dmncap00015Community is one of those shows that aired right around the time I was starting to give up on modern sitcoms. In an era where the laugh-track has overstayed its welcome, it felt as if sitcoms were settling for a safe middleground, treading on jokes and character archetypes that have been repeated time after time without giving any kind of unique spin, or at the least any sign of aiming for more than what the genre has become known for. Enter Community—a show that has essentially reached popularity by capitalizing on and mainstreaming the whole concept of “meta.” From the get-go, Community’s ragtag cast of characters were not only sitcom-status quirky, but were created with a certain amount of talent and grace that not only set them into an archetype (be it “jock,” “over-achiever,” etc.) but simultaneously broke said archetype, showing that their characters (and sitcom characters in general, really) can and should be developed to the point that they cannot be described with mere trope terminology.

And for the first three seasons of the series, that’s how things were.

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TV Block Progress Report: Toonami (2012)

It’s so weird to think that earlier this year, the twitterverse exploded on April Fools’ Day when Cartoon Network decided to bring back their Toonami block for a night… and what a night it was. Now ten weeks into the official re-birth of the ol’ action cartoon block and I must say that I’m enjoying the direction The Absolution’s being steered to.


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TV Block Progress Report: The ’90s Are All That

I’ll admit it. I probably stopped watching this block for a couple months by this point.

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So I watched Toonami last night

As an April Fools of sorts, last night’s [adult swim] block on Cartoon Network was replaced with a Toonami block as hosted by the last good iteration of TOM.

So what can I say about bringing back a block chock full of action anime sprinkled with bits of new game reviews and voice work for TOM from the Steve Blum himself? Just that last night will be remembered by many as the night that many ’90s kids watched actual cable programming for the first time in years. Even if this was just a stunt pulled by the guys at Cartoon Network, you could tell that there was a good amount of time and effort put into things, from the choice of episodes to air, to the general mix of all things old and new from the programming block.

I’m sure I’ll be repeating myself from my ’90s Are All That post, but whatever. In a time when DVR and boxed sets of every show under the sun is commonplace, it’s made the general concept of plopping yourself on the couch in front of the TV to watch “whatever” rather outdated. Enter Toonami–the programming block that was ahead of its time. Unlike [adult swim] which has become a mishmash of random animated shows with crude humor awkwardly mixed in with teen-centric action anime, Toonami kept its focus on the action cartoons. From this focal point, Toonami expanded outward, with a robotic host on board his spaceship The Absolution, with female companion SARA at his side. The entire world of Toonami was just so immersive and was just as essential a part of the programming block as the shows themselves.

Today when you’re skimming through titles online, or even scrolling through sub-menus on your DVR, you might be presented with recommendations of other shows based on your search history. But at the end of the day, it’s ultimately your decision to decide to click on whatever item was recommended to you. While the same could be said about choosing to watch whatever comes next in a programming block, you have slightly less control in that the following program will play regardless of whether you like it or even if you even know of its existence. When watching Toonami last night, I was bombarded by its lineup, some I knew and some I didn’t. I was able to bask in the familiarity of the shows I grew up with, while also being put in a good enough mood by the block itself to be willing to take a chance on the shows I was previously too young to care about. Being dropped in an episode in what was clearly the middle of a story arc had me trying to figure out the basics of the world in order to better appreciate the action scenes that flashed before me on screen. It’s a feeling that most people are rarely able to experience nowadays since we’ve been given a more active option in picking and choosing exactly what we want to watch, whether it be through streaming or direct purchasing of series.

It’s these exact feelings presented through such an immersive programming block experience that made Toonami what it was. And whether or not the stunt pulled last night was for kicks or for a serious testing of the waters in terms of viewer interest may still be up in the air, I sure hope that it’s the latter. I’ve lived in a time where the sun rose in a world without Toonami for far too long.

Initial Thoughts: The ’90s Are All That

If you were to tell me ten years ago, that Nickelodeon made a programming block solely for their ‘90s hits, I would slap you in the face for trying to make me believe such lies. Well the day has finally come. I have just watched Nickelodeon’s first airing of their programming block appropriately called “The ‘90s Are All That,” and I must say… aw cheah.

Ever since Nick’s failed attempt at bringing some of their better known titles to DVD under the title of the Rewind Collection, my main complaint about Nick’s handling of their older titles wasn’t just acknowledging them, but acknowledging them as well as hyping them up properly. Let’s be honest. Who actually heard of the Nick Rewind DVD line? Or Nick’s half-assed attempt at Nicktoons Season sets via amazon exclusive “burn on-demand” DVDs? What Nickelodeon needed was to hype up their older series in this newfangled time when everyone knows everything about something through the crapton of news being spewed out through our various warring social networking sites… and that’s just what happened.

At the start of the month, my twitter feed had a forum-buddy of mine mention the ‘90s Nick block, linking to a commercial for the block on YouTube, and subsequently leading to their facebook page. It’s this crazy-stupid way the internet works—one site repeating what several other sites already repeated—that word begins to spread and how many other Classic Nick fans got word of the news, marking July 22 at midnight Eastern, 9PM Pacific, on the TeenNick channel as the returning time of their good ol’ memories.


Promos for the block continue to show that their marketing campaign is taking a disgustingly yet understandably large amount of hype to the internet, trying to get the word out via hashtags (#90sAllThat, #thingsclarissadidntexplain) as well as linking to their facebook and main website. Their tumblr and official promos also seem to be geared to internet-type humor, with things like pie-charts and screencaps followed by captions in that oh so familiar Impact Font. For years people have been voicing their disappointment with Nickelodeon on their treatment of their older shows via the internet, and it finally looks like they’ve started to pay attention.

So far, the programming block is two hours long (short, but respectable) and contains in this order: All That, Kenan & Kel, Clarissa Explains it All, and Doug. While that’s good for a start, checking through future airings, it looks like those are the only titles we’ll be seeing for a while. However, it has been suggested that future airings will rely on fan opinion, and trailers for the programming block already contain footage from a plethora of other ‘90s Nick shows. The extreme (and ultimately desired) goal would be for the TeenNick channel (consisting of endless blocks of Ned’s Declassified, from what Comcast schedules say) to turn into what everyone expected the Noggin and Nicktoons channel to be prior to their extreme overhaul, consisting of nothing but ‘90s Nick shows 24/7 (:drools:). A more believable short-term goal would be to get something along the lines of an alternating schedule going for “The ‘90s Are All That.” Hell, even Toonami in its prime didn’t consist of solely Dragon Ball Z all week (well, there was the one time, but that was more like fan outcry resulting in the most homogenous thing possible). They could perhaps get something along the lines of a theme going, with Nicktoons and live action shows alternating to every other day, or even just get each day to have a good grab-bag of shows.

Regardless of what they do, it does seem like “The ‘90s Are All That” has taken a good first steps into the world, bringing in enough material to whet everyone’s appetites and leave them craving for more.

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