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Why it took the last episode of the Gintama anime to finally make me think about this is amazing. After watching it, I started thinking about anime series based on ongoing manga series that end before the manga stopped serializing. There’s a great deal of series that follow this path besides Gintama. There’s BLEACH, Blue Exorcist, Beezlebub, Black Butler, Claymore, and a slew of others. I often why sometimes anime watchers don’t bother to read the manga for the continuation of any manga-based anime series they actually like. Is there something about reading manga that doesn’t seem worthwhile when compared to watching anime?
Former Tokyopop editor Daniella Orihuela-Gruber even asked "Why Not Manga?". Reading some of the comments posted on her article suggest that fans find anime to be more immersive, animation is more marketable than comics, certain types of scenes done in anime are more appealing, watching a series requires little attention, and/or people generally just don’t like to read or never were interested in comics in the first place. It sure is rough out there in the West for manga, isn’t it?
I wonder about those who do read manga after watching anime series. How many of you are out there? I find myself to be one of the minority that does this. When I was in my early 20s’, there were two series that made me believe that manga was more awesome than anime: Rurouni Kenshin and Great Teacher Onizuka. I heavily watched both anime series and I later found out about the manga series they were based on. When I found out Kenshin ended in filler hell, I began to explore manga summaries on fansites of the later volumes that were never animated. The same was also said for Onizuka’s grand tales.
There were a couple of characters that I heavily enjoyed: Saito Hajime from RK and Urumi Kanzaki from GTO. I grew attached to their anime incarnations over time and eventually learned of their happenings in the non-animated manga volumes of their respective series (Volume 17 of GTO had a BIG revelation about Urumi, which got me emotional). I truly believe in the idea of the manga being the “true story”. Perhaps that’s why I read the manga of series that are animated. Why would I watch anime when I know that it’s not going to capture all the moments of the manga (for the most part)? This belief started after I bought all the volumes of RK and GTO.
Am I saying that anime fans who love manga series that are animated aren’t “true fans” of the series because they are not reading the manga? To me, they are still fans of those series. I do admit that reading a volume of manga does require a bit more attention than watching an anime episode and things can look messy. However, fans are missing out on certain details that never get explained (or changed heavily) and/or interesting characters that never get introduced in the anime storyline.
A good example of this is in Blue Exorcist where the anime ends around the end of Volume 4 of the manga. Volume 5 and onward is where you learn more about the possible origin of the Koma Sword, the pasts of the Kyoto-raised students (Ryuji “Bon” Suguro, Renzo Shima, and Miwa Konekomaru), and some pretty cool new characters that have an impact in the story. If certain, passionate fans wonder more about the Blue Exorcist universe, I’m sure they would like to know more about further developments if manga readers decide to tell them about it.
Though honestly, I think that one needs to have some experience reading comics as a kid growing up if you want that person to consider exploring manga. Should we be asking how can manga be made appealing to an anime-watching audience in the Western side of the globe? What would be nice is when certain anime series end, there would be a PV teaser to read the manga/visual novel/light novel of the respective series it’s based on. It’s also up to us as manga readers to try and provide some incentives to our anime-watching-only friends.
Reading manga is just as enticing as watching anime. Why wouldn’t you want the best of both worlds? I guess books really are complicated for some people….