Should fan favorites always be revisited?
Dragon Ball Kai and Super. Sailor Moon Crystal. Rebuild of Evangelion. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc. Rurouni Kenshin: Hokkaido Arc. Peach Girl Next. Trigun: Badlands Rumble.
Yes, in the past few years, lots of 90s anime and manga have been revived. Some are a reboot of those characters’ worlds, others have been revisited in the forms of sequels and side-stories. Even shows from the 2000s are starting to re-emerge (FLCL, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion).
Reboots and Revisits
Of course, for most series, whether a sequel is made or not lies with the original creator. Since the majority of anime from then were based on manga, it’s no surprise that more of the 90s sequels are in manga format.
But why are authors suddenly opening the book on closed stories? In short: nostalgia sells. An author has five, ten, twenty or more years of fans they can reach out to by making a sequel. It’s also usually easier to create a story where a lot of the details are already hammered out: character designs, the city layout, speech patterns, family life. Plus a lot of authors are (or are borderline) one-hit wonders, and they want easy money.
But is it necessary to revisit these stories? Rurouni Kenshin and Peach Girl both already have had spin-offs, an alternate version of the Cardcaptor Sakura characters starred in their own series, and Please Save My Earth is on its second sequel in Japan. Are authors just going to keep bringing in new problems for these characters? Sequels also generally regarded are not as good as the originals, and they also usually won’t have as big of an audience versus a new, stand-alone series. So sequels are not necessarily huge boons financially.
But what about all those older anime titles? A lot of manga from 10 or more years ago have a different style or older story cliches. However, the creation of manga has remained the same: an artist or team releases a chapter on a regular basis. Only a small number of manga go on hiatus for more than a magazine issue or two. Making anime, however, has changed significantly. Computers and digital tools have made animation more vibrant and consistent, companies can gain extra funding from international licenses right at the start, and season breaks are an actual thing to allow shows to follow in the manga’s footsteps and give staff members a break.
So now that modern practices have changed, should all those older shows be given the modern treatment?
“Yes!” many of you are saying. “Ditch the filler! Make the art pretty!”
Certainly these are good arguments. As the television series approached the original manga, some anime went on wild tangents. Chibi-Usa met a dinosaur. Kenshin worked at a circus. Rock Lee gets drunk on curry. That doesn’t mean all the fillers were terrible, but they certainly add to the length of a series. Some people don’t want to sit through a show where half the episodes add little to the story.
Plus, there were plenty of off-model shots
And downright mistakes.
A lot of these shows are showing their age. They can’t even be remastered easily since their original masters have been lost or deleted. Movie and game studios are launching remakes all the time to fit modern audiences, so why not more anime? New fans + old fans = success, right?
“Those are older shows!” some of you may fire back. “What do you expect if there are some animation or story problems?”
On one hand, 90s anime tends to have a lot of filler and less-than-consistent art. Everything was hand-drawn back then, and the concept of season breaks was foreign to studios. But despite the original’s flaws, people still fell in love with the show. Even modern anime can still look downright ugly.
Besides, following the manga isn’t always a recipe for success. (Just as Sailor Moon Crystal.) Does anyone want to see all the chapters of Yusuke as a ghost animated? Do fans like the other Yugi’s penalty games on attempted murderers, or do they really only care about seeing him play Duel Monsters? In fact, a lot of people prefer the anime to the manga for shows like Magic Knight Rayearth or Trigun. Sailor Moon Crystal was criticized plenty for eliminating much of the original anime’s charm.
In addition, if a new adaptation is made, a lot of episodes will end up just being duplicates. The characters’ fates in the Fushigi Yugi anime are pretty much the same as the manga. Is it worth giving a makeover to the same story when there are hundreds of manga without a second season or even an anime adaptation at all? And will fans support watching or buying the series if they are already satisfied the original?
The Debate Rages On
Of course, there are a few anime that straddle this line. Most of these are movies like Rebuild of Evangelion and Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc that are alternate retellings but feature several familiar faces behind the scenes.
Perhaps no two series illustrate this debate better than Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura. Both were magical girl stories that were serialized in 90s in Nakayoshi magazine and now will have 10s anime. Yes, Sailor Moon was made years before Cardcaptor Sakura and was pretty much made with limited input from the author (and does not have a sequel), but it’s interesting how two of the most popular magical girl stories of all time are differing in their approach. Sailor Moon Crystal was remade to be closer to the manga; the upcoming Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Arc is a sequel. Crystal featured a young staff and recast almost all the roles; Sakura is bringing the original anime’s director and voice actors back. Crystal is focused on following the manga while Sakura will almost certainly be a looser adaptation.
But which is better? Should Crystal have brought back the original staff and included some more adventures of Usagi and her friends? Should Cardcaptor Sakura be remade to match the animation style of its sequel and not have Sakura suddenly using a smartphone? Is one a shameless cash-grab and the other a way to celebrate the series’ anniversary, or are they both one or the other? Do we revive these series to give them a new chance, or should fans encourage the next generation to appreciate them as they are? Team Remake. Team Remain.
What do we do about the 90s?