Guide: How to Not Be an Annoying Source Material Fan

(Guy’s preamble: This was originally posted on my, where a Fate/Stay Night fan asked what sort of behaviour I’m anticipating from F/SN fans that’d impact the fun out of non-fans’ viewing. I edited some of the specific references out or added others. And sad to say, all these things I predicted did indeed come to pass, and with double the vigor once full series/cour reviews had come out by people who were not True Fans. Of course, this is relevant in any season where a popular franchise is adapted, which is basically every season. I’d like to reiterate that this behaviour is understandable, and even I sometimes engage in it, but as always, we can strive to do better, especially if in our zeal to convince people to love our favourite shows as much as we do, we rob them of the opportunity to engage in it as we had.)

A lot of it is down to the same sort of behaviour that is prevalent when any adaptation comes out, or when people read/view one part of an interconnected universe, or even when people read the first part of a series you’ve read the entirety of. It just happens that the more “hoops” you have to jump through in a specific work (in terms of word-count, how many interconnected series there are, etc.), or rather, how artificially high the barrier of entry to “true fandom” is, the more this behaviour is prevalent.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun anime Episode 6 - Wakamatsu Hirotaka promises to stay out of Hori Masayuki's way

In a nutshell.

So, what to do or not do, right?

Don’t give spoilers. Don’t tell, “You think X was cool? Just wait till next episode!” or when someone makes a prediction, don’t go, “Ho! Just you wait….” and that sort of stuff. It’s not actually fun, and ruins the fun of trying to predict stuff. That’s actually one of the highlights of consuming material where not everything is spelled out from the get-go, and what spoilers, even “hinty spoilers” rob people of, rather than the “story-beats”.

Don’t tell us we don’t understand stuff because we hadn’t read or watched this half-dozen related sub-series taking place in the same world in order to explain the in-world logic to us. The show needs to stand on its own, in your attempts to defend it, explain stuff to us, you’re sucking the fun of actually watching the anime adaptation. The series fails to explain something that can only be understood if you’re willing to pour 50 more hours into the world? That’s a failure of the work, pointing it out will not erase it, but only reaffirm it.

“The original material did it better.” “I was disappointed by seeing how they chose to handle X compared to that scene in the original material.” – First, a disclaimer that’s important for all of these, replying to one person who compares to the original material with this is cool, starting your own discussion where you do it is cool, replying to someone who’s only interested in the adaptation, isn’t. This is the biggest point fans of original material don’t get – when people keep saying what you’re watching is shit, they don’t make it more fun to watch it. “The original material is better” is an attempt to get people to give the original material a shot, which is usually going to fail – if I think this is shit, why would I watch the original material? Fans of a series are also not a trustworthy source.

Another thing “The original material is better” often is, is an attempt to deflect criticism of the series. With Mahouka, I can personally attest a lot of times that people brought it up, but the exact same issues existed in the original material as well. Furthermore, it’s just shutting down discussion of the adaptation.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind – we can all read/watch those other series/content. We chose to view this. So treat it as a work that has to stand on its own, and stop comparing it to other stuff, and stop spoiling this, and spoiling other stuff in order to explain this material. So, Tsukihime (or The Silmarillion) explains Kara no Kyoukai (or Lord of the Rings)? Cool, but why are you spoiling Tsukihime in order to belabour and suck the fun out of Kara no Kyoukai for me now, while also ruining my enjoyment of Tsukihime in the future?

The simplest thing is, if you’re a die-hard fan, don’t actually engage with the anime-only watchers, take a step back, let them have their fun, and limit yourself to discussing with other die-hard fans.

Let’s try to make it productive: How do you engage with people who are watching something you care for deeply, while not annoying them overmuch, or shaping their viewing? Or perhaps you wish to shape their viewing The Correct Way™?

34 comments on “Guide: How to Not Be an Annoying Source Material Fan

  1. prodef89 says:

    I agree with your stance about the source material. An adaptation should be able to stand on its own. Most of the times a comparison of manga/VN/LN and a tv show doesn’t even make sense in the first place as they are vastly different media.

    When I engage with people I try to only talk about the stuff they actually saw. And if I really want to discuss connections with later material I’ll give a “I’ll get back to you when you are later in the series”.

    On a slightly off-topic note I’m just glad I don’t really care much about spoilers. I’ve been spoiled and spoiled myself on lots of shows that are now amongst my favourites (Madoka, Utena, TTGL, HxH and more).

    • Guy says:

      If you check my point about spoilers, I started out not caring at all about spoilers, but this was mostly when it was “plot spoilers,” but then people started spoiling my expectations with “just you wait” spoilers, or spoiling my fun with drowning the threads with references to stuff the adaptation did “wrong”…

      But even though plot spoilers don’t trouble me overmuch, there is still that element where I regret not going into some stuff blind. Y’know? Slowly uncovering or being shocked by what happens is only the first layer, and is worth less than what happens later, perhaps, but you can never get it again. I knew going into the OreImo finale how it’d end, and I can’t help but wonder what I’d have thought, or felt, had I gone in blind.

      We can always rewatch a show, or rewatch it a second time. We can never really get the first impression of it again. And even if spoilers don’t bother me as much per se, I am, at the back of my mind, constantly busied and distracted when rewatching a show or watching a spoiled show, about whether I’m having my own “experience”, or watching myself and wondering how it’d have been different had it been the first time.

      And tying it all together, I’m glad there are plenty of shows I watched without “being spoiled” on them in a meta-sense. Watching them without really knowing how the anime world at large views them, not in terms of plot-beats. I’m glad I watched Fate/Zero, TTGL, and many other shows without knowing that I’m “supposed” to like them, or not like them.

  2. Sephyxer says:

    That’s something that happened recently to me! As of now I’m a super fan of Undertale, and I’m suggesting the game anytime I can. While this may look like an annoying behavior, I can say in my defense that I always ask if someone wants to play it and, if they refuse, I won’t push further.
    I understand what it means to love a thing so much that you want to share it with everyone, that’s why I try not to become too pushy. I don’t want people to associate something I like with unpleasantness, and I sure don’t want it to be my fault.
    When I do manage to persuade people into trying the thing, I’m proud to say that I don’t tell them the “right way” to enjoy it, something that’s happening a lot with fans of Undertale.

    P.S. Do you want to try playing Undertale?

    • Guy says:

      P.S. Do you want to try playing Undertale?

      I’ve decided since it was released that I’d rather wait for it to go on (steeper) sale. As it is now though, I might wait a year or two. The media blitz on Twitter…. sure, the experience of watching or playing something for your own can be quite different than reading others’ thoughts of it, but when you get a bunch of screenshots and/or breakdown of every single beat in the story, and when it’s all about the story/moral, rather than the mechanical playing of the game, I’m all burnt out on Undertale for now, without having played it for a single minute, and I’d rather not engage with the game while feeling that.

  3. JekoJeko says:

    These are very solid and important thoughts on a wide-spread issue with many casual critics.

    I would also add that an anime is allowed to be ‘worse’ than the source material as long as it remains entertaining to a new audience; that way it’ll work as a good advert for the source (which is usually the point of anime adaptation) while also allowing the source to retain done original impact. Gakkou Gurashi!’s adaption is a prime example of this; the writer turned down the ‘dark’ quality from the manga in order to keep the manga feeling fresh and different from the adaptation, letting the audience enjoy the same story twice over through two different tonal lenses, rather than have the anime as a carbon copy of the manga as many ‘true fans’ erroneously desired.

    • Guy says:

      I wonder if that’s the goal, of trying to make the work is enjoyable again. I also wonder how many people who watch the anime to completion, rather than picking up the original material as it airs (because original material spikes usually begin way before the show concludes), actually go back and re-read the older material. I can tell you that when I turn to the manga/LNs after an anime adaptation ends, I never return to the older material, for instance.

      I suspect the director/writer just changes the adaptation because the original material might not work as well when adapted, or attempting to appeal to a different crowd, or just the fact that each person thinks different things are the “True Heart” of the material, and the director filters the work through his own vision, and what matters to them, and that results in a different work than how each of us would view it on their own.

      These are very solid and important thoughts on a wide-spread issue with many casual critics.

      I have to say, you keep opening your comments with criticism on anime critics. I’m not sure that mindset is all that productive. Moreover, the issue here is usually less about “critics” and more about the discussion you have with fellow watchers, such as with replies to one’s criticism, or just on fora. I actually think a blog-post, where only those who wish come and read it, where you make it clear that this is what you’re going to do is fine.

      Yes, you sort of miss the point of adaptations if you look at them only through the lens of the original, and don’t even try to understand what was gained and lost from the adaptation choices, and why they were done – I’ve done some of that with Mahouka, discussing what was gained/lost with some changes, and why I think those changes were had.

      But, in spite of all of that, there are people who look for this sort of stuff – other source material fans. And so long the source material fans have their fun without infringing on the adaptation fans’ fun, it’s all cool.

      • JekoJeko says:

        My constant thoughts on anime ‘critics’ are just a natural habit formed from being interested in reader response theories and translating that into how I look at anime communities. I’m not elevating someone’s responsibility or assessing them against a standard when I call them a ‘critic’ – if you criticise, that’s what you are. By practice, if not by profession.

        I do wonder if, for many source material fans, they subconsciously, or consciously, add a prerequisite to satisfaction for the adaptation regarding how ‘faithful’ it is, which would really mar one’s viewing experience. If you’re going to analyse that, and it is really useful to do so, wait until the end; you can’t tell what changes will result in until you’ve seen their results.

  4. gedata says:

    I don’t really have a problem with source material fans so long as their posts aren’t always riddled with spoilers from said source material (either from stuff that was changed/skipped, or hasn’t been covered yet). Such rhetoric is not only annoying, but alienating. I mean, to say “well the source material didn’t have these problems” isn’t exactly a point from which I can continue the discussion if I have no idea if what he’s saying happens to be true.

    Sometimes to the credit of some source fans, when I can see how directorial choices didn’t do the premise or characters justice, it might be nice to know that there is another, possibly more promising version of the story out there. But that shouldn’t shape the conversation as a whole. I read a lot of manga to stuff that’s either currently airing is about to air, but I exercise enough will power to not go crazy with said knowledge. It can be a bit tough, like you have a gag order on you, so I can see both why this is a big problem for people who mainly stick with anime as their primary source for stories and why source fans often trouble keeping their lips tight.

    • Guy says:

      You know something interesting that’s been happening to me over the past year? I’ve read a lot of complaints over changes directors have made to shows, and then I went, “Wait, why are you complaining? All of these read as changes for the better to me!”

      I guess as an adaptation viewer, it’s all about how you view the adaptation work on its own – if you’re happy with it, you don’t really need to know what the adaptation changed, and some of what those unhappy voices are unhappy about could be exactly what you like in the show, so what they like is what you don’t.

      And if you’re unhappy with the show, or with a specific aspect, it can be nice to hear “it’s actually better than that,” but if the show doesn’t grip me in its adaptation, let’s be frank, I’m unlikely to actually check out the original. Especially when usually such “defenses” rely not on what the material that was covered did, but how it’d be important 20 volumes from now, hue. And of course, it doesn’t actually fix mistakes with what I’m viewing.

      But yes, it can be really hard. Somehow it’s much easier when someone is reading/viewing something I already watched, where I nod politely and keep my mouth shut and watch as they progress, and only say “It gets better” or “you should get to point X” if they drop it, and only if I actually consumed it in the same media as they are. When people watch something currently airing I read the original material for, it’s so much harder.

  5. John Samuel says:

    Well said, and I’m pretty much in agreement with you.

    I haven’t had many encounters with those sorts of fans (thankfully), but I have noticed occasions where adaptations don’t fully stand on their own. This generally does not amuse me:

    • Guy says:

      On the plus side, I can definitely see you’ve come a long way since writing those pieces! On the other side, I’m not sure I agree, or fully follow you there. That piece keeps saying “edited” as if it’s synonymous with “cut down”, and furthermore, as if it’s a negative thing.

      I do agree with you that an adaptation absolutely has to stand on its own, unless it’s clearly marked as a sequel, and the “prequel” only exists in unadapted format. That’s bothersome, but so long you know ahead of time it’s not meant to actually stand on its own, it’s sort of fine. But how many times do we really get that? Even Fairy Tail Zero or Ga-Rei Zero are supposed to stand on their own, even if fans of the original material should find more to like there.

      But that piece feels as if it got overly influenced exactly by the people I am speaking about here, because all that talk about Sword Art Online is nonsense, because it stood on its own, and the time-skips existed in the original material as well. It’s just a deflection. I did explain in my Mahouka write-ups how some things were cut and which made following some scenes much harder, but the solution could’ve also been to cut even more, so you won’t be left with half an explanation.

      The other part of that piece is, I see many instances where people feel the adaptation does enough to explain things to them, until people point out how much was cut, and then people retroactively change their opinions to “rushed” and “I wish not so much was cut.”

      And then you have situations such as OreGairu S2, where people complained they didn’t get stuff, but I think getting it chewed out for you by way of a narrator beats the purpose, and it’s an untrustworthy narrator, and half the LN readers’ “explanations” were very much incorrect, because they had “more information”, but didn’t actually parse it better.

      To summarize, yes, if a work doesn’t stand on its own it’s bad, but cutting and removing details is something that must happen for a work to be good, and ultra fans will reject the cutting of any details, and I think the example of Sword Art Online provided in said piece in particular is wrong, and it masks that this failure, or lack thereof, depending on where you’re standing, existed in the source material as well, and is exactly the sort of “original material fan” mentality I’m speaking against. They got you! :P

      • John Samuel says:

        On the plus side, I can definitely see you’ve come a long way since writing those pieces!

        I’m not sure what to make of that… I’m still reasonably happy with both those pieces.

        1/2 or 1/4 opponent of the weeks will tend to bore me quickly: too little time, too much anime.

        Mahouka or OreGairu I haven’t seen, I suspect that they may be on AnimeLab in Australia now though.

        In both cases I suppose I was groping towards the balance between sufficient information to understand what’s happening, and excessive infodumping or padding that wastes my time.

        Unless of course wasting my time is whole point (cough ARIA cough). :)

        That said… Escaflowne remains my go to series as an example of where editing turned a good story (and it still would have been good at 39 episodes) into an astonishing one.

        • Guy says:

          I’m curious, have you read the Escaflowne manga? Looking now, it seems the anime adaptation came out two years before the manga concluded, so now I wonder. I also often wince a bit when discussing Escaflowne, cause no matter who I discuss it with, I seem to like it less than everyone else, though it has been like 8-9 years since the last time I watched it (I own it, so I’ve watched it several times).

          Mahouka is very much not recommended. It has infodumping in the extreme, and that’s after the anime cut away about half the infodumping in the books :P

          I did fear it might’ve come as too backhanded compliments, but they were intended as compliments, less about content and more about flow.

        • John Samuel says:

          As far as I know Escaflowne was an anime original, and it hit JAFWA like a thunderbolt when it came through on VHS fansubs.

          At the time I was running the loaner library and borrowed the tapes early to show to friends.

          If you ever hear me say “they’re only 22 minutes, we can stop at any time, when did the sun come up?” that’s what I’m referring to. :)

          I’m a big fan of Escaflowne and it’s one of the few shows I’ve done full, and detailed, episodic reviews of. :)

        • Guy says:

          I see, the manga began release in 1994, and was based on the production notes and the plot for the anime’s original designs, but was quite different from where the anime ended up, according to Wikipedia, because the anime itself changed directions as well.

          That actually makes it more and less relevant to discussing “adaptations” at the same time, because the manga and the anime both sprung up from the same source that doesn’t actually exist in released form – the original notes for the series.

        • John Samuel says:

          That’s true, but in a sense it remains relevant in my eyes because of the core expectation that an anime, original or adaptation, stand on its own merits.

          In terms of tight, story focussed, editing that doesn’t lose any key details, Escaflowne still stands as the example to live up to IMO for adventure/coming of age type stories. I’ll happily admit that different standards apply to different types of stories. :)

        • John Samuel says:

          The other question here is: which manga? I believe that there were two – a shoujo and a shounen – each with its own focus whilst the anime took the middle road between the two.

        • Guy says:

          Exactly ;-)

  6. Artemis says:

    I’m not sure there’s any one “correct way” when it comes to shaping or helping to shape someone’s viewing experience – although there are a few golden rules I always follow in what I think people definitely shouldn’t do. That’s mostly just what I’d consider common sense stuff, e.g. no spoilers, no “well if you read the manga you would know that…” comments, etc. By and large though, I think it probably depends on the relationship you already have with the person watching – for example, whether you know them only in passing from a blogging site or whether you’re really good friends with them IRL can make a huge difference in the best way to go about it. I’d also say that there’s a pretty big difference in saying “You think X was cool? Just wait till next episode!” to someone when it could be taken smugly or self-righteously, as opposed to someone squeeing with their friend over a shared love.

    • Guy says:

      There’s definitely truth here. When it’s people you know in person, if you tell them “Watch up to episode 3 and then decide” or “I know you dropped Code Geass 49 episodes in, but I think you’ll really enjoy the last episode, enough to make it worth it” then they’re more likely to trust you, and it’s more likely you’re going to consider whether it’d be true for them, rather than just project your own feelings and try to make them feel what you feel.

      But part of it is because you can have a discussion about it, it’s more about, “So, what did you think? What exactly didn’t you like?” but then again, it’s also related to how one gives recommendations at this point, and whereas for strangers most people online seem to recommend what they’d like, I always try to match people with what I think they’d like, even if I myself didn’t care for the show. Likewise, sometimes I know some people just won’t enjoy a show I love, so I don’t recommend them, or agree it’s a good call when they drop it.

      But, I tend to say “Wait until episode X” or “Watch 1 more episode” only while recommending the show so they could make an educated decision, or when they appear to drop it though I think they’ll still like it – if they watch a show and enjoy it, and are going to keep on watching, I’m not going to say “Just wait till next episode!”, though I understand the logic, what I usually do in such instances is bite my cheeks, employ my legendary patience, and ask them what they thought of next episode after they’ve watched it :)

      But yes, with some friends, it can work well. The above is in general aimed at people talking to strangers, or “mostly-strangers,” as I assume friends won’t be assholes to one another ;-)

      And yes, I realize most of the “crazy fans” aren’t realizing they’re being assholes, which is part of the reason I made this post.

      • Artemis says:

        That’s true as well – assholes probably usually don’t realise they’re being assholes in the first place. Though I also suspect that that’s not strictly limited to those “crazy fans”, in that we’ve all been assholes once or twice before without realising it. Or been thought of as assholes because of something we’ve said that’s been taken out of tone. It’s hard to read for tone when you don’t have a voice to go on – I don’t doubt I’ve said some things that were meant in honest fun or simply in a neutral way, but were assumed to be sarcastic, bitchy, or condescending by the reader. That’s something of a different issue though I guess.

  7. anonymous says:

    Ok, I’ll bite.

    Fate/stay night was meant to be read in sequence – Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven’s Feel one after the other.

    “The show needs to stand on its own”

    Would you really consider someone who, let’s say, started with episode 7 of a 12 episode series to not have done it wrong? UBW relies on the material from Fate being established so that it doesn’t need to bring up Saber’s entire deal when she chooses to watch from the sidelines (because you know her ideals and Emiya’s run parallel), etc etc. In Japan the Fate route was released for free prior to UBW’s airing for this reason. You seem to consider it some kind of elitism to suggest that the source material should be read, but that’s just how this story you referenced in your article was designed in the first place.

    So yeah, for the Fate series specifically, telling you to ‘read the VN’ is legitimate advice.

    • Guy says:

      “I’ll bite”. Except this whole piece is on how sometimes you need to know to take a step back and be quiet. As always with such pieces, those who need it the most are the ones least likely to act on it.

      I’ve heard all of this shit before, and I’ve heard this sort of thing when I watched Fate/Stay Night, and Kara no Kyoukai, and all the annoying mega-fans are still there for scenes where nothing is missing to provide “”context”” such as on Caster dressing Saber with that dress, and so on and so forth. “Read the source material” not just as prequel, but as ultimate deflection, and not just as prequel, but to understand the scenes you just watched, etc. Why do I need to read the VN for scenes the anime did adapt? And all the bad F/SN examples and arguments here are ones I’ve seen countless times and will politely snort derisively at (the oxymoron is very much intended).

      And this is the last comment on Fate/Stay Night that will be permitted in this comment section.

      I’ll say it one last time, if you “bite” here, you’ve already failed. What is your goal here? It’s not to ensure other people are having more fun, but are having it the right way, and don’t cast aspersions on what you like based on “faulty adaptation” or “missing information”, and there you go, sucking fun out, so there won’t be new fans. “I’ll bite”, says someone, as if they’re being baited, except they do so by replying in the exact same manner spoken against, and which led to such posts being written.

      Fate/Stay Night fans are something else alright.

      Again, any other comment on the topic will be promptly removed. Cheers.

  8. Frog-kun says:

    I remember having a conversation with Bless about this the other day. When source material fans talk about adaptations, they tend to focus on changes to the plot more than anything. But adaptation is a way more involved process that that. There are genuinely interesting conversations to be had about changes in adaptation, such as differences in visual framing, directorial vision, etc. That all gets ignored when source material fans fixate on just the obvious changes or what was “lost” in adaptation, though.

    (Film Crit Hulk called this a fixation with “tangible details”:

    I know you’re talking mainly about the attitude of source material fans towards anime-only watchers, but I rarely find “source material versus adaptation” discussions interesting even when I am familiar with the source material personally. Case in point: Oregairu.

    • Guy says:

      But I rarely find “source material versus adaptation” discussions interesting even when I am familiar with the source material personally.

      It’s very much like “Is RahXephon a Neon Genesis Evangelion wannabe show?” discussions – (to which the answer is very much “yes”), because such discussions don’t look at these questions as the beginning of a discussion, but as its end, “What was changed?” is what they ask, rather than the much more interesting “Why?

      But it’s not at all surprising. You paint it this way about adaptations, but 95% of the discussions you can find about any anime show, or any live action series or movie deal with its plot. Even thematic breakdown which I engage in is mostly “plot-driven”, and here in “plot” I include everything we learn of the characters and world through the writing of the material. I mean, of course people focus on plot-discussion and changes in adaptations, because that’s what they focus on everywhere.

      And it’s actually even more prevalent in adaptation talk for good reason. You can’t really comment on “the framing of this shot” as a choice of the director unless you have the source material open in front of you to make sure it’s not something that existed within the original as well, and most people aren’t going to do such comparison outside of academic settings – you compare the material in front of you to your memory of the original, which, for almost everyone, including me and you, is going to focus on the plot.

      And then there’s another part, most shows just don’t have anything I’d call interesting or worth noting in terms of “scene composition”, “framing”, etc. Most shows are pretty bland there. Which leave us with, well, the plot/story/characters. And that’s true for both adaptations and non-adaptations.

      • Frog-kun says:

        Looking back on my comment, it was imprecise of me to complain about people discussing “plot”, because you’re right. That’s what everyone does, and it’s not a bad thing at all. You go on to explain what I originally meant with my comment much better than I could, though:

        It’s very much like “Is RahXephon a Neon Genesis Evangelion wannabe show?” discussions – (to which the answer is very much “yes”), because such discussions don’t look at these questions as the beginning of a discussion, but as its end, “What was changed?” is what they ask, rather than the much more interesting “Why?”

        So yeah, thanks for that!

        And then there’s another part, most shows just don’t have anything I’d call interesting or worth noting in terms of “scene composition”, “framing”, etc. Most shows are pretty bland there.

        I disagree with this part. I think that there are some interesting things to unpack, especially from anime that present strong narratives, characters, themes and so on. They’re effective because the visual storytelling helped make it so. And on the flip side, when an anime is bad, it’s usually not just the script’s fault. I think these things are worth commenting on, even if it’s just a brief note. It doesn’t to take place in some stuffy academic discussion.

        That said, your view is perfectly reasonable, especially since you seem to have come to that conclusion by noting the visuals and making judgements.

        • Guy says:

          Many of the best shows indeed have a lot to be said about in terms of presentation, and it’s often what elevates a show from “great” to “masterpiece”, but most shows aren’t great, or even very good. And most shows, anime or otherwise, are often bland in terms of presentation. Sure, you can make a brief comment on them, but that’s not very interesting, especially when it repeats between shows.

          And directing is more than just picking these things out, the visuals, and also has to do with the pacing of scenes and conversations. But that’s not really for this discussion, and again, most shows don’t have a lot to say about them in this regard, a couple of sentences, which could be copy-pasted between shows, “bland presentation, uninteresting background, fades because plot and character-interaction are only thing the director cares about. No budget/time/energy, so it feels phoned in,” and I can copy-paste this about 60% of the shows I watched, easily.

  9. EatzAce says:

    I’m reminded of the days in which I didn’t know what was going to happen next in the Game of Thrones TV show. Oh such blissful days of ignorance – forever lost to the sweeping tides that are my book-reading friends.

    While I feel your advice may ultimately fall on deaf ears, I do appreciate this piece and the discussion it brings up in the comment section. I, for one, hate spoilers of any kind and of any scale in subtlety (if I wanted to hear a dumbed-down summary of everything that will happen in a TV show, why in the world would I be watching said TV show).

    However, looking back in hindsight, I’ve actually spoiled quite a few shows for my friends as well. Sometimes it’s just the unintentional, “Oh damnnnnnnnnn, you’ve almost reached that part.” Other times it’s fueled by petty revenge: “remember when you spoiled that XXX dies in Game of Thrones? I hear you’re watching Shinsekai Yori. Good show. Oh, by the way, Squealer’s a XXXXXX. Enjoy the show^^^^^^^biatch.” At this point, I think we’ve spoiled so many shows for each other that’s it’s become a question of ‘the chicken or the egg’ as to who spoiled what for whom first. And, while you do relish the euphoric moment when you see the look of barely-contained rage and utter disgust on your friend’s face and revel in the satisfaction that justice has been done… the moment ends, and you realize you won’t be able to discuss any book, show or anime that you are currently watching for a very long time (and he probably won’t want to join you for a friendly game of ranked 5’s for a while as well).

    • Guy says:

      Dunno, I don’t relish the look of rage on people’s faces. Much more I prefer the look of agony and shock when they come upon material without any preparation. So when my friends started watching the show, or when people read the books, I keep a neutral expression on my face and simply ask them where they are, then each time they get to one of the “Oh shit!” moments, then I ask them what they thought of it, or smile as I see their expressions.

      Like the S3 videos of book-readers eating popcorn as show-only watchers get to that episode.

  10. EatzAce says:

    Regarding the issue of shaping someone else’s viewing of an anime or tv show, I think there is merit to clarifying confusing plot threads or character backgrounds as long as it is fairly grounded within the evidence presented within said anime or show. I think your weekly notes on Concrete Revolutio is a good example. Without your calendar that tracked and ordered the events of the show as well as the accompanying write-ups that provided additional observations and insight that I may have missed or never thought of, I may not have been able to fully enjoy some of the exciting climaxes that were scattered throughout the show. I most certainly would not have enjoyed the finale that brought together all of the various plot and thematic elements of every episode prior, on account of how utterly confused I’d have been. Your weekly notes, while it did slightly shape my viewing of the show, helped me achieve a much more satisfying overall experience as a viewer.

    • Guy says:

      It’s true, there’s more thought to be had on this. But, I’m mostly suggesting other reads after you consume the material yourself, not prior. I wonder how much this distinction matters, but it’s there for now.

  11. Corbenik says:

    I haven’t read through all the comments and to be fully honest I never really participate in anime discussion anyway, so most of this article really doesn’t matter to me. I also think it’s pretty spot on.

    I will argue that an adaption doesn’t always need to be stand alone. I’m a big fan of the pre-GU .hack stuff, and if you didn’t watch sign but played all of the games you would have some questions about characters and events, if you watched sign but never played the games you’d be left on a cliffhanger, and if you watched liminality without going through the other two major pieces of the franchise you’d be basically clueless. Imo, the .hack story is best told by combining those and some other works. On the same wavelength, in the Fate/Stay Night VN the Stay Night route sets up the world and asks some questions which the plot rotates around, UBW answers some of those questions, and Heaven’s Feel answers the rest while working as a philosophical counterpoint to Stay Night. Imo, this setup adds something to the work.

    The rest of this comment is only tangentially related to the above paragraph. It’s just rambling.

    A lot of times people new to a franchise try to point out plotholes or take issue with something they consider stupid in an adaption in which the answer is actually there, but kind of glossed over for time or is something that gets explained later. I think sometimes people just don’t give the author enough credit and don’t bother trying to find an explanation from the adaption.

    I watched the first seven movies of Kara no Kyoukai pretty young and years before I saw anything else from Type Moon or even knew what Type Moon was and what they did. Mind you I had to rewatch a couple of them to really understand, but I never needed to see anything else. That’s not a criticism of your work, I’m just kind of curious what people thought you needed Tsukihime for.

    It can also be really frustrating to see someone form an opinion about a series based on its worst adaption. It’s pretty universally known that the Tsukihime anime is nowhere near as good as the VN, and it would really bother me to see someone form an opinion on Tsukihime as a whole based on viewing the anime. Since I like .hack a lot, I think a lot of the later attempts to retell the quadrilogy in manga format did a massive disservice to the artistic vision of the original team and I hope that people read the manga after the see the original stuff.

    I thought about it a bit, and if you take away comparing the adaption to the original there really isn’t much left for source material fans to talk about.

    • Guy says:

      I thought about it a bit, and if you take away comparing the adaption to the original there really isn’t much left for source material fans to talk about.

      And maybe the source material fans should talk about these things, with one another, while them not having more to talk about with the anime-only watchers is fine? Who said the source material fans have to talk to the anime-only watchers, regardless of how the second group feels about it?


      .hack was designed as a “multimedia franchise” from the get-go. Yes, you can’t really talk about it without addressing it as a whole. But it doesn’t mean that a specific work can’t be weaker because of it, because it’d likely be. And the people making these shows certainly tried to make them “good enough” on their own, and you can still address where they failed that. There’s a price to pay for taking this approach, and this is part of it.

      and it would really bother me to see someone form an opinion on Tsukihime as a whole based on viewing the anime

      This is the big deal. It honestly shouldn’t. An attack on the anime is not an attack on your person. An attack on the VN is not an attack on your person. If someone watched the anime Tsukihime and said “Tsukihime is badly written,” do one of two things: 1. Append “The anime” before or after the word Tsukihime. 2. Realize you being “really bothered” isn’t rational, and unlikely to lead to a good discussion that follows, and just don’t engage with the person who made said point.

      A lot of times people new to a franchise try to point out plotholes or take issue with something they consider stupid in an adaption in which the answer is actually there, but kind of glossed over for time or is something that gets explained later. I think sometimes people just don’t give the author enough credit and don’t bother trying to find an explanation from the adaption.

      The anime adaptation also has an author. They’re calling out the author of the anime for it. It is stupid/glossed over in the anime, and it is a fault. That it has a solution in the source material doesn’t improve my opinion on the anime, and doesn’t improve the subjective experience I’ve had while watching it. Furthermore, watching an anime, if it has a “plot hole”, it can be well for me to sit and think about it, but why should I go and look at external material to “solve” it for me? That you expect it of people is exactly the sort of nonsense assumptions that source material fans need to knock off.

      Let’s say I read a book. It has a story. I think the story sucks. Then I find out it was a political allegory for a 16th century France. Perhaps then I’d appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the story, and would understand it more. But I’d still think the story sucked. And if I came for the story, why am I to be expected to research the political climate that birthed the story? I’m not. Not unless the story was given to me from the get-go as such, alongside the context.

      And I’m going to ignore the Fate/Moon paragraph entirely. If you want to know why, the answer is in some of the other comments. I truly find it ironic where people make comments that champion checking the context of things without seeing the context ;-)

  12. […] Earlier today, I started a new feature series at Crunchyroll called Novel vs Anime. Basically, I compare novels to their anime adaptations, commenting on things like prose, art style, adaptation decisions and so on. My plan is to combine my love of Japanese novels with my appreciation of the animation side of anime. In short, I’m trying not to be that guy whose sole contribution to the discussion is “the source material is so much better!” […]

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