This post is an reply of sorts to Nuuance’s Rant Equals: Is Reading Manga before an Adaptation Foolish? For those who won’t spare the time to read it, Nuu is of the opinion that it really is foolish. He likens the situation to reading the book before watching the movie. In either case you won’t be watching the adaptation with fresh eyes – you will already have your idea of how it should play out, you will compare the two and both, following the source work panel by panel (word for word) and taking liberties with it, are likely to backfire.
Whether you have read some of my First Impressions or just used common sense, you surely understand why I’m writing this post. I happen to be one of those people who tend to research their anime beforehand, which includes reading the source material (if available). The same goes for films adapted from books, e.g. Lord of the Rings. Nuuance also mentions this tends to afflict “serious fans or critics,” which in the case of otaku often means those, who care to blog about it. He saw straight through me!
What are the pro (et contra) of this foolish behavior?
I sneak around at the beginning of each season following my congress with neregate’s quarterly chart, looking for more facts than the short paragraph in the chart. While Zana does a great job and I am eternally indebted for the charts, only the most important information makes its way into the small rectangle. For example with above-mentioned Miyakawa-ke no Kuufuku I only realized that it was a web-series of shorts after researching it more. Oftentimes I decide whether to watch a series or not based on the original material I find or promotional videos. (Note: Zana takes the time to mention if the series is an original or adapted and when that is the case, lists the form of the source.)
On the other hand I was glad I read it as the anime made a bit more sense to me that way. Which is where I get to the second reason. Sometimes the adaptation just doesn’t give you some crucial facts or, in better case, something is omitted due to time constraints, thus robbing the viewers of character development et cetera. In effect a character decides something on the basis of experience gained in an omitted arc and you are confused until by chance you stumble upon the explanation in a discussion thread.
My last reason is very much related to the fact that I write about these series. When I decide to write a First Impressions post, I first collect all available data (and lament my nonexistent knowledge of Japanese) and read some source materials. This is generally why those posts are longer than episodicals. Comparing and contrasting, snipping panels from the manga here and taking screenshot from the anime there,… Aniblogging is hard work!
The downside is just as Nuuance mentioned, I spoil the anime for myself. Take RDG: Red Data Girl – having read some of the manga, I was bored to death by the first episode. Another is that if I decide based on the original material and the studio adapts it in a very original way, I’ll be missing out (or enraged/let down.) An example from this season is easy to pick out, Aku no Hana. The liberties taken with the visuals are really something there…
Feel free to (dis)agree in the comments or even write a post on the subject yourself~