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Welcome to the NHK! – Anime or manga? Yawn

Anime or manga, one is inevitably better than the other – whether it’s just another case of elitism or not, you can always bet on the jumped up manga fans hating the anime adaptations of their favourite stories. This is because the voices you hear in your head will always sound better in comparison with the efforts of some cheap hack actor, because when reading that “damn slow” story can move as fast as you turn the page (in other words – running times are for losers).

Gonzo’s Welcome to the NHK! was an inevitable travesty in the eyes of the existing manga fans. But it is a train wreck that never happened; of the 11 episodes I’ve seen, this has been an outstanding and unique series, veering from bizarre surrealism to painful reality in an exciting matter of minutes. The characters – and especially Satou – are disgustingly sympathetic personalities, shining in their moments of disdainful human vulnerability. I haven’t read the manga – so my opinions aren’t tainted with deluded expectations based on art and imagination. But I can say that out of everything I’m following at the moment, Welcome to the NHK! is the one series I’ll often watch the same day it’s downloaded.

Can manga ever be compared with anime? Can the personal experiences and emotions felt reading a “comic” be judged against sitting through a TV series? Clearly not – film is by and large a passive journey, a voyeuristic indulgence, but reading invites imagination, essentially the reader will often find himself at the centre of that story, able to invent and fill in gaps for himself. Given this tight personal attachment, a film can never be compared with or subsequently become superior to its written source material and it’s unfair for the so called fans to expect their personal standards – inevitably set as high as possible – to be met by another mere individual. Welcome to the NHK! was not directed by god, so it’s not tailored to your imagination, but it’s a fine, thought provoking and entertaining watch. Enjoy it, anime fans!

Comments

Trunks378 says:

I have never read the manga but so far I have been loving the anime series and I’m glad to see this blog, it makes me feel a little better when reading constant comparisons with the manga.

Tallon says:

Meh, i read whats scanlated of the manga, and i dont think its all that great. If anything this is a rare case where the show outshines the manga just a little bit. The manga just completely fails to develop anything from the story to the characters. So you miss out on anything deeper then the little bit of dark humor everyone complains about not being in the show, by not reading the manga….but thats it. Atleast the show has characters that arnt just "Character A" "Character B" etc, they are developed and become their own people, rather then just being kind of….although it would make sense but it sounds stupid in this case – 2-dimensional.

Anyway, ive been more of a ‘they are pretty equal’, but as time goes on im definately liking the show better. Not to say the manga isnt really good, its just not its all talked up to be by the majority of people.

I’ve read what’s available of the manga (actually, I began right around when the anime was announced) and I do like it better, but the anime is by no means terrible. It’s a very good adaptation, and I’ve only really found fault with a few things. It would be nice if Gonzo shot more money its way, though.

Danny says:

Hmm, I’ve only seen the anime version of NHK ni Youkoso, so I can’t say anything, though I find that manga is usually better. Actually no, from my experience it’s always better.

Mac says:

I’ve been enjoying the anime, but I’m not some one who’s read the manga.

In most cases, I would immediately latch onto the manga to see the author’s original vision, but since in this case it’s based on a novel, the proceedure is different.

The question of which is better is not an invalid question, but I think any complaints that the anime didn’t *live up to* the manga aren’t really appropriate, because it should first be compared to the novel.

Martin says:

It’s a rare occurence when an adaptation improves on the original story but quite frankly when the adaptation is good in its own right, does this really matter? Take Miyazaki’s Nausicaa for instance: perhaps his greatest film but the manga is superior in just about every way. There were good reasons why the manga had a vaster scope, more complex story and more characteristation; within its constraints though the film is still well worth your time and because of these limitations judging them against each other is unfair on both.

Besides, the NHK manga is going to be released soon so we won’t have any cause for complaint then!

Michael says:

I’m glad that Martin mentioned Nausicaa – I was actually going to bring that anime-manga pair up as an example of the merits of adapting manga as source material.

And thank God you’re still blogging NHK! I love the show dearly (just watched episode 12, great stuff, as usual), and hope to hear more of your thoughts about it in future posts. The character development stands out above all, and hopefully the manga will live up to the hype.

Another anime adaption that, in my mind, truly captures the manga’s intent, is Karekano. Anno did a great job instilling true feeling into the characters without deviating from the story (practically at all – the anime and manga follow each other for the most part perfectly). And in my opinion, his work on Karekano actually outdoes the manga. The main reason for this, I’d say, is that Karekano is very much reliant on motion, and that motion is difficult to deliver in the manga format. The beautiful soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.

Overall, I’d say that Nausicaa stands as the best anime-manga pair out there, because it was created by the same person. Miyazaki’s vision is truly captured in the manga, which is so epic and grand that one cannot help but be supremely impressed by its scope and intelligence. Thankfully, he chooses not to attemp to capture the sweeping breadth of the story in one two-hour movie, but instead narrows it down to allow adequate character development. By no means is Nausicaa the best movie of his career, but the manga is his greatest work by far.

bateszi says:

I get the feeling I should buy the Nausicaa manga, then? I’ve seen the movie, and it’s probably my favourite Miyazaki directed film (having also seen 5 of his 9 efforts).

As far as this article goes, I suppose I was getting frustrated by the nay-sayers that are constantly ragging on the NHK! anime in comparison with the manga – to me its an unfair way to critique a show. It wouldn’t irrate me as much if NHK! really was that bad, but it clearly isn’t, and doesn’t deserve the sensationalist panning it’s getting from certain sections of the anime community. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, though one hopes that bad taste isn’t a requisite trait of being an anime fan; perhaps if it had been adapted from a porn game their reviews would have been tweaked?

wildarmsheero – I agree with you on the budget comment; if there is one real complaint I have about Welcome to the NHK!, it is the low budget animation. From a seemingly "popular" studio like Gonzo, it’s quite sad that animation is terribly inconsistent (but not as bad as Gonzo’s amatuerish efforts on Speed Grapher – really, that was scrapping the bottom of the barrell).

Martin says:

>>I get the feeling I should buy the Nausicaa manga, then? I’ve seen the movie, and it’s probably my favourite Miyazaki directed film (having also seen 5 of his 9 efforts).

If you only read one manga series in your life, make it that one!

Michael says:

Nice work overall but the idea that the idea that the anime can never surpass the manga (although well defended) isn’t one that I can agree with.

Case in point: Full Moon Wo Sagashite.
Songs are an audio perception. Unless you are a musician and the writer of the author actually uses musical notation the lyrics on the panel evoke nothing.

Moreover, the plot on rare occasions work better. Anime – Full Moon Wo Sagashite works as a sort of bittersweet Cinderella story. Manga’s Full Moon is basically a story that wants to be seedy but isn’t willing to go the distance and asking the reader to support Takuto+Mitsuki in the manga is a bit much given Takuto’s behavior.

Michael says:

edit: Please note my name doesn’t link to anything ie. I’m a different Michael than post no. 5 Michael.

Michael says:

Fuck, we have a lot of Michaels in here.

Anyway, I love NHK – even after reading the manga. If one thinks episode 13 was a coruscatingly brilliant episode … I wonder what they’d think if Welcome to the Starry Sky arrived.

alberto says:

hen i first started this series i thought id would be put off, but the excellent story and humor has kept me entangled and itching for each episode as it releases.

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