Focal Point – Reboot!
Well, it’s been about a year since I started (and soon afterward stopped) writing editorials for Random Curiosity. But, I’m back. It seems like I’m not the only one who has left and subsequently returned to write for Omni. Makes me wonder what sort of spell he’s cast on us… Regardless, I am once again here to grace you with overly garrulous, superfluously verbose, excessively long-winded, and TLDNR editorials filled to the brim with a cornucopia of inane hyperlinks, gross hyperboles, outlandish hypocrisy, and exaggerated opinions pontificated by yours truly. Oh! I also forgot to mention the ludicrously difficult-to-read run-on sentences that would probably sound a lot better if they were read by this guy. Yeah, it’s good to be back!
The “reboot” (as is used in serial works of fiction) should really be classified as a sub-category of the adaptation. After all, both take a previous piece of fiction and “butcher” it in a way that often upsets FANS (I capitalize to emphasize the type of fan that makes the rest of us groan with our foreheads nestled in our palms), while at the same time potentially enticing newcomers to an established series.
Truly, the only real difference between the two is that the reboot does not transcend different media. While an adaptation can go from a book to a movie or from a manga to an anime, a reboot (if we were to strictly define it in an objective way that appeases my nature as an obsessive-compulsive high school science teacher) may go from a movie to a movie or, as is the Focal Point (ooh! clever!) of this editorial, an anime to an anime.
While it’s only been fairly recently (in my opinion), that Hollywood has been trying to reboot movie franchises, such as Batman, James Bond, and Star Trek, anime has been doing it for a long time already. There is a natural reboot via the OVA-TV series transition. The rebooting can be in either direction, with the TV series rebooting what an OVA started (i.e. Kodomo no Omocha) or the OVA rebooting what a TV series has done (i.e Hellsing / Hellsing Ultimate). And then, there are those series that seem to just come with a natural reboot, like Digimon (after Adventure and 02), Gundam (Wing and the latest 00 are not part of the Universal Century timeline), and even not-anime-but-Japanese series, like the Transformers cartoons (Car Robots vs. the Unicron trilogy – and please, let’s not argue about whether Transformers is Japanese or not) and Super Sentai (Power Rangers) series. Now, that I think about it, the Japanese sure love to reboot! I mean, how many anime shows (let’s not even try to count live-action dramas or movies) are there for stories based on “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and “Journey to the West?”
I’m so glad all the filler from Goku’s journey down Snake Road was removed. That trip took 13 episodes originally and was cut down to 3 episodes
Now I must admit, I enjoy watching Dragonball Kai, which is arguably less of a reboot and more of a re-edit (cutting out the filler that wasn’t in the original manga and parsing down the ridiculously extended yet infamous power-up and fight scenes). I started watching Dragonball Z over a decade ago: some of it dubbed on Toonami (R.I.P.) back in its hey-day and some if it before that on old VHS tapes with Chinese subtitles. After some of the extended fights against Frieza, I really started to tire of the anime and switched to the manga, in order to quickly digest the story, which I found fairly delightful (yes, it’s shounen; yes, it’s formulaic; and yes, I like it if it’s done well… and, yes, you and I may disagree on what is to be considered well-done, but I’m write……….ing and you’re not). More than 10 years later now, there’s just enough nostalgia and a decent story line that I can sit back and relax after a hard day’s work of trying to educate emotional yet lazy teenagers with the attention span of a gnat by watching the show. Obviously, it’s not mind-riveting entertainment; Dragonball Kai is an anime I can still enjoy by letting it run in the background while doing something else, or it’s a show I can simply veg out to, in order to keep me from going back to the bottle…
I remember several comments in various blogs and news sites that applauded Dragonball Kai’s edits and wished this type of re-edit or reboot would occur with more modern shounen series like Naruto and Bleach (again, removing the fillers and extended fights). I see two problems with this. First of all, the shounen animators of today have learned from the past mistakes of the shounen animators of yesterday (for the most part), and nothing current comes close to the idiotically interminable power-up scenes or unnecessarily lengthened fight scenes of Dragonball Z. More accurately, animation of the super epic fight scenes in shounen shows today is (usually) done EXTREMELY well, often blowing the studio’s animation budget for that month and unfortunately resulting in poorer animation the next few episodes. But a second problem with rebooting Naruto or Bleach is very simple: neither series is over yet. Even if it was over, a series shouldn’t be rebooted within at least three years of its completion, because the series is still “too new.”
As a science teacher, I thought it was totally cool how he used his blood as a weapon!
While I am devoutly watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I am (at least right now) not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. The first episode with its original material had me really pumped, even though some people complained of its lack of relevance, since this reboot was supposed to be a more faithful telling of the manga and the first episode had anime-original material. Yet, now that we’ve passed episode eight, I feel my attention is wandering while I’m watching; in fact, I find myself doing other activities or vegging similarly to how I watch Dragonball Kai (and I’ll admit it’s a crying shame for me to put Fullmetal and Dragonball on the same level). My first rationalization for feeling this way is that FMA is too new for me. I watched the first anime series about 5 years ago, and I have been reading the manga as it has been coming out in Japan. So maybe this reboot is too soon: all the information is too fresh in my mind that I feel Brotherhood is a rehash.
I have to admit, though, 5 years is still a half a decade, and to teenagers trying to get out of the house as soon as possible, 5 years is an eternity (I guess to a grumpy, crotchety old man like me, 5 years seems short, but let’s not talk about relativistic time periods…in THIS editorial…). So, at least for me, the show is too new to be rebooted. Even though the anime is moving at a much more brisk pace than the first iteration, I know too much of the story from reading the manga, and much of the animation from these early episodes feels like a Xerox copy of scenes from the original anime. I’m hoping that when we get to the parts where the people from Xing start to enter the fray that I’ll start to enjoy the anime more, because even though I read it in the manga, at least I have yet to see such scenes animated (at the very least, I love the new opening and ending).
Wait, who the hell are these guys?
Still, I had to ponder more, because
I’m a self-loathing masochist (as is obvious by my employment) I remember watching and enjoying The Incredible Hulk: a reboot of Hulk, which came out 5 years earlier. Hulk was not a good movie, but since I had watched it before The Incredible Hulk, my expectations for the reboot were lowered. Thus, even though I can objectively critique The Incredible Hulk as a good movie, I know that my experience watching Hulk beforehand made me enjoy the reboot that much more. It’s like if you’re a poor college student eating nothing but ramen and chips for a month, before you go visit your family to do your laundry and eat a decent piece of fruit. That piece of fruit (at least should) taste like heaven, because you’ve pretty much eaten crap beforehand. However, if you were treated to an intoxicatingly sweet fudge brownie, then immediately eating a piece of fruit afterward might taste awful (Natron-e? The Science Teacher’s Try It Yourself Home Experiment: take a bunch of sweet candy or chocolate treats, eat them, and try eating a regular piece of fruit afterward! It’ll taste much more tart and sour than you’d expect, because you’ve already saturated your mouth with sweetness!). Likewise, watching FMA gave me higher expectations for FMA:B, and as of right now, those expectations are not quite being met. I can still objectively state that FMA:B is being done well, but I’m not enjoying it as much as I could or should, simply because of the influence from FMA. I think I appreciate Dragonball Kai, because it had some time to settle and get hazy in the back of my memory.
And this is so very, very sad.
So, what should you take away from my rambling? Don’t judge a reboot by its predecessor, or at the very least try not to. I know it’s hard, but here I am just feeling like I’m trudging through Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, waiting and hoping for the newer parts that have yet to be seen animated (but were seen in the manga) and knowing that my high expectations for them might be my own downfall for not enjoying them as much as I could. This is not to say every reboot is going to be better. You still need to appraise a piece of entertainment fairly, and just like there are some bad adaptations (insert your favorite link to a bad adaptation here), I’m sure there are some bad reboots, although, I’m having a hard time thinking of them, to be honest (I don’t doubt some of you will write a comment with one you can think of). Still, in some ways, I wish I could wipe my memories of Fullmetal Alchemist, so I can watch its reboot unhindered. At the very least, I know I’m not as bad as some FANS who hate the idea of a reboot defiling their holy work of art.
who wonders if writing this editorial is really a reboot of my old way of writing editorials…