Why are anime adaptations of video games so bad?

There have been plenty of anime adaptations based on video games over the past few decades. Sometimes they are made to promote a new game, while other times they are made due to the very popularity of the game itself. There are plenty that are still being produced every year as direct adaptations, tie-ins, prequels, spinoffs, or even side stories. This year alone saw the release of the second Sonic film, the announcement of the animated adaptations of Deny automata and twisted wonderlandand the release of the Petite Sekai shorts based on the characters from Hatsune Miku: Colorful Scene.


However, while there are plenty of these adaptations on the way, very few of them are considered legitimately good despite the fact that the games these anime are adapted from aren’t inherently bad. In fact, many of them are lauded for containing excellent writing – so what about the video games that make them so hard to adapt to an anime format?

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good animation

For some reason, many animated video game adaptations only have passable to not-so-passable animation. Despite its great popularity, the two Persona 4 and Personas 5The anime adaptations of were notorious for having subpar animation that often made the characters look off-model. persona 4 animation in particular has become somewhat notorious for using actual photos for backgrounds. Persona 4 The Golden Animation was also known for having ridiculously bad animation, with only the first episode and the opening and ending sequences featuring relatively good animation.


Only the Persona 3 the movies seem to have avoided this issue, but that was largely due to it being a movie project instead of an anime series. This is because movies usually have a bigger budget and more time to produce, which leaves more time to check and recheck to make sure there are no out-of-model images. Anime adaptations for the Personage games are not the only ones to suffer from this scourge. the ace lawyer the anime often had characters moving very stiffly and wearing flat expressions. One would be hard pressed to find a screenshot of an episode that actually looks decent.


character designs for Escha and Logy workshop have been simplified and do not do justice to character designer Hidari’s original artwork at all. They look very generic in comparison, with flat colors and simpler costumes. With the exception of its opening sequence, the animation for this adaptation looks incredibly poor, with characters often not only off-model, but unrealistic with proportions that don’t match their body types, especially for the characters. feminine. As for the Caligula Effectwell, it would be easier to list the moments of this adaptation that doesn’t look bad.


Poor animation can be attributed to many factors, ranging from scheduling issues and insufficient budgets to the series itself simply being treated as a very time-consuming and expensive advertisement for the game it is based on. That said, having a good animation does not always guarantee a good adaptation. Tales of Zestiria the X has absolutely stunning animation thanks to ufotable, but the writing and pacing are truly abysmal. It’s usually not enough to have a nice animation – the writing has to be just as good.

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Live up to the story of the game

Most video games are very long. Even discounting optional side quests, most games can take up to 80 hours. Anime these days are usually 12-26 episodes long, and that’s often not enough time to go through the game’s entire story. As a result, anime adaptations often cut out parts of their stories in order to adapt to the runtime of the series, leaving behind only the parts considered most important to the plot.


This often leads to many important details being omitted, whether it’s a backstory, additional lore information, or something central to a character’s development arc. Removing some of these crucial parts tends to lead to not-so-faithful adaptations, and sometimes even a completely different product. Some adaptations even go so far as to completely rewrite the story, so much so that the characters appear to be completely different people from their in-game counterparts. Others may completely remove important characters, locations, and plot points. .

Tales of Zestiria the X is one of the best examples of this trend in recent years, doing just about everything mentioned above. Much of the show’s runtime was focused on crafting just two characters, Alisha and Rose, instead of the actual protagonist and most of the supporting cast. As a result, only Alisha and Rose felt like complete characters by the end of the series, with the rest of the cast remaining essentially the same. Additionally, much of the anime’s story went against the lore of the original game in order to accommodate the many changes, including Alisha’s elevation to main character status as she was only very briefly playable in the original game.


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In fact, many of the anime’s original characters ended up getting more screen time than the game’s existing characters. It would have been forgivable if these new characters had managed to add the necessary to the story. Instead, it led to a very different story and setting than what was featured in the game it was named after.

Are there good adaptations?

Although rare, there are many good anime adaptations of video games. Tales from the Abyss managed to fit all the main story elements from the source material into 26 episodes without ever feeling too rushed. It was even able to include additional story details not present in the game, and unlike Tales of Zestiria the X, this new material did not contradict the existing tradition. While the animation produced by Sunrise was nothing spectacular, it wasn’t inherently bad either. Overall, it was a very useful adaptation that did a great job of bringing the characters and their stories to life.


The world ends with you animation is a more recent example of a decent adaptation. The game the anime is based on is shorter, so despite only having 13 episodes, the anime still managed to cover most of the important story elements. This adaptation in particular was considered a treat for existing fans since the original video game had very little voice acting, so it was a whole new experience to hear the characters speak for the first time. Which is why it’s such a shame that Funimation didn’t recast the original voice actors for the English dub.

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the Pokemon the anime is an interesting case in that it became a hit because it was not a direct adaptation of the games. By acting as a standalone series that includes elements from the games, it doesn’t feel compelled to include all of the necessary story elements present in the games, and fans don’t expect that. As a children’s series, it’s also not expected to have outstanding animation, although it did have its fair share of sakuga moments. As an anime tied to not just one game but the entire franchise, it also allows the anime to periodically introduce new characters and locations so the story never feels outdated despite following the same eternally ten-year-old protagonist.


Animation and story go hand in hand, and that’s what will ultimately lead to a good adaptation – not deviating from the script, not favoring certain characters over others, and not focusing more on the animation than on the story. However, as Pokemon proved, there are ways to make an adaptation work without it being entirely faithful to the source material. It all comes down to how the series is marketed and produced – whether it’s marketed as a faithful adaptation or a series that adds more life to the world introduced by its source material.


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