The Transformation of Time from Manga to Anime

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How much does time pass when the mighty Star Platinum punches an enemy Stand in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure? There are many factors to consider, such as how much time has passed in the show itself, as well as how time is being manipulated within the series’ universe itself. Another important element is the fact that the anime is an adaptation of a manga, where the flow of time is abstracted by manga’s existence as a 2-D paper medium.

As far back as Tetsuwan Atom, adaptations of manga have been a common mode of anime production. Manga act as a spring of new stories to present, and the jump from the comic book format to animation opens up many opportunities. An anime can try to forget its own path through interpretation or divergence from the manga (such as both the Ghost in the Shell films and Stand Alone Complex), or they can faithfully attempt to recreate what exists in the original. However, while the latter cases might often appear to be “direct transplants” of the manga to the screen, the act of having to take a physical and spatial image such as a panel and assign to it a finite amount of time can greatly change the impact of a given scene in spite of the desire for faithfulness to the source material.

In a general sense, having to time dramatic beats for an anime often requires playing around with the contents of the manga. For example, in an episode of Dragon Ball Z, filler sequences (such as the infamous minutes-long powering up spots) not only save budget, but can also be a way to make sure the episode ends on a cliffhanger. On a broader multi-episode scale, Initial D: Fourth Stage does something similar by reversing the order of the final two opponents. Originally, the manga has protagonist Takumi race against a man known as “God Hand,” while his teammate Keisuke races against “God Foot” afterward. In order to make sure the series ends with a climactic battle for its hero, the show has God Foot go first instead.

One consequence of this is that there can be moments when a series feels as if it’s dragging. Sometimes it’s successfully padded out or rearranged so that nothing feels particularly off, but in other instances it is possible to sense an uneven rhythm or pacing.

This notion also extends to the transform of panels into time. Consider that there is generally no specific amount of time that is said to pass in a given panel in manga, or indeed comics in general. What makes a panel feel “fast” or “slow” is partially about how long one’s eyes linger on a panel, and it’s dependent on the amount of content there and the flow of the page. But because time exists differently in manga, things that seemingly pass quickly on the page take much longer on the screen.

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A common example of this would be the frantic explanations of special moves in an action or sports series. Because we tend to read more quickly than we speak, it is possible to believe that an elaborate speech or thought is being made within the span of a ball being passed from one player to the next. However, commit that to concrete time in an anime, and suddenly you begin to wonder why no one is doing anything as they talk for 30 seconds. To appreciate those moments, it requires a viewer to understand that time portrayed is not literal. This is the case even with series not adapted from anime. It does not “really” take Voltes V two or three minutes to combine together, or for Erika to become Cure Marine.

So when what is a single, snappy panel in manga gets stretched out into an extended scene in an anime, it can dramatically effect how a person can feel about a particular title. I find this to especially be the case with comedy series. Take Azumanga Daioh, a four-panel series. In the manga, there will be a comedic moment that lasts for only one or two panels, such as Sakaki rolling on the floor while holding a wild Iriomote cat. In the anime, this becomes a full-on extended display of non-stop rolling with musical accompaniment. A small moment becomes a big one thanks to time. A more recent title would be Nichijou, where the staccato presentation of the manga’s gags are the equivalent of sharp, quick jabs. In anime form, however, the characters’ movements are exquisitely animated and exaggerated, and the result is a series that is in a way much more physical and almost “luscious” in a sense. While the Nichijou anime pretty much takes things directly from the manga, the two turn out to be pretty different experiences.

My belief is that the unusual handling of the (broadly speaking) space-to-time transition of manga to anime is a likely culprit of why someone might love a manga but hate its anime (or vice versa!) even if the adaptation process is largely faithful. It’s kind of like when an actor is cast in a movie based on a book; what was once a nebulous image reliant upon visual/mental interpretation becomes a little more solid and finite.

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The Entirety of Initial D Takes Place Over Two Years

I recently finished Initial D: Final Stage, which brings the story of teenager Fujiwara Takumi and his inhuman drifting skills to a satisfying conclusion. I had been keeping up with Initial D on and off for almost 15 years now, which is kind of crazy to think about, but what was even bigger shock for me was realizing (thanks to the show’s ever-present exposition) that all of Initial D, whether that’s over 700 manga chapters or its anime equivalent, takes place in the narrative over a span of two years.

It’s nothing to get worked up over, and there are series with even more drastic disparities between publication and in-story time frames (see Akagi and Megatokyo), but there’s something about Initial D which feels different. It’s almost as if there were indeed 15 years’ worth of racing action crammed into two.

Other facts I wasn’t even aware of are that the manga itself ran for about 18 years, and that the author Shigeno Shuuichi was born in 1958. Somehow he was able to maintain the racing manga for almost two decades, rendering his work about as timeless as the very Eight-Six Trueno that’s at the center of Initial D.

Top 5 Non-Twilight Zones

5) The

4) of the Enders

3) Death Egg

2) Fujiwara

1) Tezuka

The Changing Face of Takahashi Ryousuke

The Initial D character, not the VOTOMS director.

Takahashi Ryousuke, leader of the Akagi Red Suns, the White Comet, and the creator of Project D is one of the most prominent and important characters in Initial D and so inevitably he appears in every main Initial D anime. Now, each stage of Initial D has come out at different times, sometimes years apart, and even the art style of the original manga has evolved over the course of more than a decade. Character designs change according to the artist’s whim.

That still doesn’t explain how Ryousuke manages to look wildly different from one sequel to the next, while other prominent characters such as Takumi and Keisuke remain relatively intact.

Look at the guy. His face can’t stay the same size, his hair changes back and forth between blue and brown, his bone structure morphs as well. The only things that remain remotely consistent are his thick eyebrows and his full lips. Even his hair, which is roughly the same style until Fifth Stage, still undergoes some peculiar shifts. The closest he gets to looking similar is between Third Stage and Fourth Stage, and even that’s a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, I’m still trying to figure out why all of the anime have struggled to decide on a proper hair color for Ryousuke. Maybe it’s like how Raoh is blond in the manga but has brown hair in the anime?

If You Combined Azumanga Daioh with Initial D…

…Yukari would be the death of street racing. (Also the death of people.)

…Everybody’s favorite toy would be the rollacorolla.

…Osaka would try to block her opponent on corners by sticking her arms out.

Okay, I know there’s definitely better/worse ones out there. So now it’s your turn.

The Improved Character Art of Initial D

Initial D has always been ridiculed for its poor character artwork, though for a series like Initial D it doesn’t matter too much as long as the races are sweet and intense and there’s Eurobeat playing, real or imaginary.

However, upon actually viewing some of the recent chapters, I’ve noticed that over the course of many years the character artwork in the manga has become much better, though only in specific moments. And I think you know exactly what moments those would be, i.e. those scenes which are considered most important to Initial D.

Here’s Takumi from an early chapter.

Now here’s one from a later chapter where he’s just standing around talking.

Not so bad, right? He’s pretty similar to the one from many, many chapters back, so why would there be anythi-

WHOOOAAAAA! Apparently now when Initial D characters get to a car, their entire designs become 10x more intense. And really, if you look at when they’re NOT in a car, they look like the previous image. It’s only when there’s a race on the line that the character artwork makes this dramatic jump to match the quality of the racing.

It’s the kind of thing that tells you exactly what the artist and the fans care about most.