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  • The manga and anime versions of Tokyo Ghoul are wildly different entities, and while there’s benefit to experiencing both, you should pick the manga if you can only choose one. The reason is Tokyo Ghoul √A, the second season of the series.

    Tokyo Ghoul √A makes some major changes to the original series. In the manga, Ken Kaneki continues to fight against Aogiri tree, but in the anime he teams up with them instead. A departure from the source materail isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a major risk that in this case, did not pay off. The season was rushed, confusing, and more focused on cool fight scenes than on setting up the reason behind them.

    If you want to have a clear idea of what Tokyo Ghoul is supposed to be, skip out on √A and just read the manga.

  • Deadman Wonderland has a great premise, and if it had actually finished its story and delivered on that premise, it might have stood out as one of the best anime of the 2000s. The anime brings viewers into the terrifying world of the Deadman Prison, where vicious criminals compete in life-threatening games for their audiences’ pleasure. When Ganta Igarashi’s class is taken out during a visit, he’s blamed for it and sentenced to the prison. What’s more, the person who is actually responsible is someone who Ganta has been connected with since childhood.

    Sounds cool, right? Sadly, the anime doesn’t actually capitalize on its intriguing premise. Rather than resolve its many dangling plot threads, the show just peters off into nothingness and doesn’t provide a satisfying resolution. By reading the manga, you’ll get everything good about the anime while also experiencing a fully realized story.

  • Photo:  GEMBA / Kentaro Miura

    With one series that aired in the 1990s, a series of movies, and a sequel that didn’t air until 2016, Berserk can be a confusing series for anime viewers to get a handle on. Even if you watch every bit of animated material the series has to offer, you’re not going to get the whole story – much of it is skipped. If you’ve read the manga already, you can fill in the gaps, but without the background the anime can be a bit baffling.

    Worse, while the ’90s series was well done, the CGI animation used in the 2016 sequel was visually unpleasant. While most of the more bizarre looking animation was cleaned up in the Blu-Ray release, the fact that it ever looked as creepy and unnatural as it did in the TV release is hard to ignore. Truly, you’re better off just reading the manga if you want to jump into the dark and violent world of Berserk.

  • Photo:  Gonzo / Akihisa Ikeda

    Rosario + Vampire is often described as a directionless, fanservicey anime. This isn’t inherently a problem – fanservice is popular for a reason – but even the most diehard fanservice aficionado is usually looking for more than just that in their anime experience. The manga provides more. Characters who are flat in the anime have detailed backstories and complex motivations, and the sketchy plot is significantly better developed. What’s more, the series actually comes to a satisfying conclusion.

    If you really love sexy monster girls, watching the anime could still be fun – but if you want to really understand those monster girls, read the manga.

  • Junji Ito Collection

    Photo:  Studio Deen / Junji Ito

    Junji Ito is one of the most respected manga artists working today, which is why it was so exciting to hear that his work was going to be adapted into an anime. Unfortunately, the Junji Ito collection left a lot to be desired. Ito’s work is known for its extreme attention to detail. While some of that will naturally be lost in an animated work, animation quality can often make up for that. In this case, the animation was stilted and flat.

    Also, the anime never reaches the level of visceral horror that the manga does, which is kind of the point of Ito’s work.

  • My Little Monster

    The problem with the anime version of My Little Monster isn’t that it’s poorly done – it’s that it isn’t finished. While the initial thirteen episodes offer a tantalizing look into the beginning of the complex relationship between Haru and Shizuku, it barely has a chance to scratch the surface.

    The two romantic leads have polar opposite personalities, which means that getting them together is going to take some serious character development. In the anime, this barely happens. There are vague references to Haru’s difficult family situation and Shizuku’s personality quirks, but none of these things are explored in any significant detail. The show ends with them on okay terms, only vaguely indicating that they might end up together some day.

    If you want to see their story fully developed, just read the manga. The anime will only leave you unsatisfied.


  • Photo:  Manglobe / Kohske

    If you watch the anime version of Gangsta, you’ll get an introduction to the world of Ergastulum, its residents, and their conflicts, as well as to the concept of Twilights and a little bit about the protagonist’s backstories. Unfortunately, though, that’s pretty much all you’ll get. Possibly due to the fact that it was the last series produced by Manglobe before they went bankrupt, the series ended by bringing up a bunch of potential future intrigue while resolving pretty much none of it.

    The series is fascinating, but that’s exactly why it’s so frustrating – if you want to know how the story actually gets resolved, and learn more about Worick, Alex, and Nicolas than the anime has time for, you need to read the manga instead.

  • Photo:  Madhouse / Junya Inoue

    Btooom! is a gritty tale about a hikkikomori who is forced to participate in a real world version of a first person shooter game he loves playing. Unlike in many series, he isn’t transported to another world or given magical powers – he’s taken to an island and told he has to fight for his life if he ever wants to leave.

    The problem with the anime version is that the story doesn’t end. While there’s some indication that the protagonist might be able to escape the island, it doesn’t actually happen – and there’s no other resolution, either. The series ends with the game still ongoing. It’s possible that this will be resolved in a sequel, but right now the series is frustratingly open ended.

    That being said, if you want to experience the story in full, you can read the manga. Not only is the story actually resolved, there are two seperate endings – a light one and a dark one – so that readers can choose the fate of the protagonist. That’s the kind of cool experimentation that’s worth supporting.

  • Flowers Of Evil

    Photo:  Zexcs / Shuuzou Oshimi

    There are two reasons why Flowers of Evil is best experienced in manga form.

    The first is the controversial animation choice. Flowers of Evil is the first anime to be completely rotoscoped – a technique that involves tracing photographs onto film. While it was certainly a creative choice, the anime community is divided as to whether or not it was a good choice. If you find the art to be too unsettling, stick to the manga.

    But it’s not just the art – the other issue is that the anime doesn’t adapt most of the original story. Out of eleven volumes, it only adapts four of them, with a few scenes from volumes 5 and 6. If you want the full story, read the manga.

  • Samurai Deeper Kyo, which is an anime about two powerful swordsmen in the 1600s, is a great manga. Unfortunately, the anime adaptation failed to do it justice. As was typical of Studio Deen in the early 2000s, the studio attempted to adapt the series long before the manga had enough material to work with. While this didn’t create the gigantic filler arcs that characterized longer series, the show still had a startling amount of aimless filler for only 26 episodes. Very little of the anime’s storyline made sense – why, for instance, was there time travel? Also, the artwork just doesn’t hold up when compared to the original manga. The manga is great, but maybe the anime should stay in 2002 where it belongs.

  • One Piece

    While One Piece is an excellent anime that’s worth the time if you have it, many people don’t have it. No matter how awesome One Piece might sound, jumping into the 1,000+ episode series means that you aren’t going to be watching anything else for the next few years. Either that or you’ll have to sacrifice something else important, like sleep.

    Some people do find the time for the anime, but if you don’t have it in you right now and still want to experience the story, Eiichiro Oda’s original manga is a wonderful way to do just that.

  • Photo:  Madhouse / CLAMP

    Both versions of Chobits tell the same story: a college student named Hideki finds a Persacom (a humanoid computer) that is unable to function the way a typical Persacom would, but seems able to experience genuine human emotion, including love. Both versions ask deep, philosophical questions about the nature of love and humanity.

    The big difference between the two versions is the pacing – while the anime spends the first half dedicated to fan service and silly jokes and only delves into the more serious content later, the manga provides a more balanced experience, and it does so with a lot more depth. While the anime isn’t bad, the sudden tonal shift in the anime can be a little jarring. If you’re into the comedy and the fanservice, you might not be down for the serious stuff. Meanwhile, if the deeper content is what appeals to you, the first half of the anime might feel like wasted time. By starting the series with both, the manga avoids falling into that trap.

  • Yu-Gi-Oh! is a beloved anime that’s 50% card game advertisement, 25% upbeat shonen adventure, and 25% nightmare fuel. The manga is a vastly different experience.

    The series was one of many long series from back in the day that is so choked with filler arcs that it’s hard to figure out what parts of the story are even worth paying attention to. But even the parts that are manga adaptations can feel confusing and disjointed.

    In fact, it’s arguable that the filler is better, because the filler isn’t trying to force the original story to be something it’s not – it’s just a different story. The original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga is violent, disturbing, and heavily reliant on torture as a plot device. It’s also genuinely well done.

    Chances are high that you’ve already seen the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, and if you haven’t, it’s worth it for its nostalgic place in anime history – but if you read the manga, you’ll probably have a much better time.

  • A Centaur’s Life

    The difference between the anime and manga versions of A Centaur’s Life is one of depth. While the twelve episode anime hints at the fascinating details of the world its set in, it can do little more than hint at them in the space allotted. This is a world in which humanity has evolved into multiple subspecies, all of which must somehow learn to live in harmony. While the anime touches on the fraught history between angels, devils, centaurs, and other species, little is discussed in depth, and about 75% of the show is solidly in the ‘cute girls doing cute things’ genre.

    The manga has all of the cute stuff, but it also has an in-depth look at how racism and xenophobia impacted the history of this strange and fascinating world. Also, there are some totally wild scenes like the centaur protagonist being teleported to the real world during the medieval period. It is a truly epic manga, but the anime makes the story seem lukewarm and dull.

  • Wandering Son

    Unless you’re already familiar with the original manga or are the type of viewer who pays a ton of attention to the original series, the anime adaptation of Wandering Son will be confusing. The anime, which is about a young trans girl’s journey to discovering her identity drops viewers right into the middle of a complicated story. Past events are referred to as if the viewer is already familiar with them, and new characters are introduced as if they’ve already been established.

    This combined with an enormous cast filled with characters who look very similar to one another makes it difficult to track what’s going on. The manga, which has the time and space to complete its story, isn’t nearly as confusing.

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