Anime and Manga, much like any art form, is subjective. Truth be told, there are series out there that are both loved and hated depending on who you ask, and we all have our own individual favourites. The chances are that somewhere among these favourites you probably have at least one Manga that you always wanted to see become an Anime, but for one reason or another, it just never happened.
Today, I’m going to talk about four series that fit that category for me. Unlike my normal reviews, I will be keeping my description of each series brief, and I won’t be going too far into the pros and cons of each one, my aim is just to show some potential missed opportunities. Just to show a variety, we’ve got one shōnen, one shōjo, one seinen and one old school series.
Psyren: Running in Weekly Shōnen Jump from December 2007 to November 2011, Toshiaki Iwashiro’s series focussed on a teen named Ageha Yoshina. One day, after beating up a bully for 10,000 yen, Ageha finds a phone card baring the word ‘Psyren’. It turns out that the card is part of an urban myth that has been circulating and there is currently a reward of 500 million yen up for grabs for anyone who can solve the mystery of what Psyren really is. Ageha discovers that his classmate Sakurako Amamiya also has a card, but she disappears shortly after, leaving Ageha with the message ‘Save Me’. What follows is a twisty-turny plot about time travel mixed in with some special abilities and a large cast of colourful characters.
As I understand it, the series was always popular but just not popular enough to maintain its existence, and so it was wrapped up early. While satisfying, you can tell that the ending is rushed and there was likely a lot more that was planned. This in itself is a shame as, although the characters veered a little towards being copies of mainstays from other series (most notably Bleach), the series as a whole was a lot smarter than it seemed. Above average art, an intelligent storyline, and high octane action scenes should have made it an obvious choice for adaption to Anime, but somehow it never came to be. The real potential here would be for a studio to get Toshiaki Iwashiro involved with the scripting and let him tell the story as he originally intended. If you want to check it out, the entire series has now been translated and is available in tankōbon format.
W Juliet: is a shōjo romantic comedy written and illustrated by Emura. It ran from 1997 to 2002 in Hana to Yume and was subsequently collected into 14 volumes. The title roughly translates to Two Juliets, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a Yuri series. Makoto Amano, while appearing to be a beautiful young lady is in fact a male. While he dreams of becoming a successful actor, his Father views this as folly and wants him to take over the family dojo. By way of a compromise, he agrees that Makoto can follow his dreams, but only if he can go through high school as a girl without anyone finding out. Unfortunately, on his first day at his new school, tomboy Ito Miura accidentally discovers his secret.
Now, this is far from a slow burning romance. Ito and Makoto quite clearly like each other and hints start being dropped remarkably early on. Instead of relying on that particular plot device, it goes for a combination of over the top set pieces that threaten to reveal Makoto’s true gender and some genuinely heart-warming moments between the two leads. On the downside, the series does have a habit of occasionally dropping into repetition: whole books can sometimes be all too similar, with only the odd chapter advancing things significantly. If it were adapted though, this could be easily resolved by only running the story arcs that are actually necessary. Like Psyren, this is readily available in English, though you may have to hunt around for second hand copies of some of the books.
Octave: Akiyama Haru’s seinen/slice of life/Yuri series is different to pretty much every other Yuri title I’ve seen. For starters, there’s no high school in sight. Instead, we are introduced to 18 year old former idol Miyashita Yukino. Thrust into the spotlight at 15, her idol group failed to break it big and she returned home in disgrace. Now older and unable to entirely put her idol days behind her, she has returned to Tokyo to work as a talent manager. It is here that she has a chance meeting with a songwriter (and fellow failed idol) named Iwai Setsuko.
Yoshino and Setsuko’s relationship grows organically throughout the six volumes and it really is a joy to behold. Even scenes where little more than everyday tasks (such as cooking) are happening become intriguing, and you soon find yourself laughing and crying along with the two leading ladies. The really sad thing is that by taking a serious approach to showing a lesbian relationship and then avoiding the normal high school setting, Akiyama Haru probably scuppered any chance of an Anime adaption from the get-go. This is a real shame because it’s probably the most natural portrayal of same gender relationships that I’ve come across in Manga, and I honestly think it would do wonders for public viewpoints if it were to be released. Unfortunately, Octave is yet to receive an official translation, again probably because of the lack of perceived commercial viability.
Orion: I have long loved the works of Masamune Shirow, with the likes of Dominion Tank Police, Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed sitting happily in my ‘most viewed’ list. Oddly though, this 1991 science fantasy tale is yet to be given the Anime treatment. I should probably point out that trying to describe the basis of the plot in a short space like this is pretty much a lost cause. What I will say though is that is an absolutely bonkers mix of cyberpunk, mysticism, Gods, particle physics, Taoism and a near non-stop thirst for insanity.
But then, I do like a challenge … OK, let’s try this. Susanoo, the arrogant and homicidal God of destruction is summoned by the Fuze Clan to help stop the destruction of the world. Along the way, he meets many challenges, including both The Galaxy Empire and the other main character Seska (who just happens to be not only a bratty sorceress, but the daughter of the Fuze Clan’s head). In many ways, this combines a lot of things that long term Masamune Shirow fans will recognise, in particular with the way certain characters speak and the general bent towards technology. Why no studio has signed up to do a movie of this (rather than yet another mixed back of an Appleseed adaption) is beyond me, but for now we can make do with the readily available single volume translation.
So what about yourselves? Do you have any favourites that you desperately want to see as an Anime? If so, feel free to comment below.