「滅びの歌」 (Horobi no Uta)
“Song of Ruin”
Once in a while a much beloved piece of media will get an anime adaptation, for whatever reason. Perhaps they need to sell more copies of manga. Perhaps there’s tie-in potential for other merchandise. Perhaps some producer thought it’d just make a good TV show. No matter the reason and no matter the source, though, there’s usually already an established fanbase of the original material that will already be supporting it. They’ll spread word of mouth about how much they enjoyed the source. They’ll get hyped about seeing one of their favourite stories portrayed on screen. They’ll remember how the source moved them oh so long ago, and want the anime adaptation to make them feel once again.
Properly jaded anime watchers like you and I know that it’s never going to happen. Few adaptations end up equal or superior to the source (though it’s not impossible), and even for those they are it’s hard to inspire the old emotion emotion in a fan. The experience is always better the first time around, when it is new and can wow. Still, even if fans dream of perfection there is such a thing as ‘good enough’. There is such a thing as objective standards, and even if an anime doesn’t please everyone it can still be a great show. Why, then, the hate from the more vocal fan? Sometimes, fans will disown an adaptation entirely. A show is so bad, that they refuse to even recognise it as a representation of the source. There is no Tsukihime anime.
It’s a matter of opportunity cost, I think. Usually for an anime adaptation, there’s one chance to get it right because who’s going to remake this stuff, at least in the immediate future? And there’s also the matter of an experience being best the first time around. There the feeling that if newcomers are exposed to the inferior anime first, their experience is essentially spoilt. Forever. And they’ll never know any better. And that is a horrible tragedy. So the anime is worse than bad. It is poisonous. It would be better if it was never made in the first place.
Now, I’m not trying to insinuate that the Rewrite anime is so bad that it taints the entire franchise, or that we should start pretending it never existed, though I’m sure there are arguments to be made for that. But I do recognise that there are real frustrations with this show, some of which I’d even agree with, and wanted to make a case for where they come from, for some time the complaints of an established fan may sound awfully hyperbolic. Whether they are in any specific case I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader, but I think we can all agree that the Rewrite anime doesn’t really have enough time to tell the whole story, that it has to make judicial cuts, and that when an anime does so often it leaves some of the quality of the original source lost in translation. Take for example, how in this episode Rewrite tries to run through a lot of its characters’ backstories, knowing that it’s about to end. See this Midou guy? The one who suddenly gets a lightsaber? He’s supposed to come from a bad place, and it supposed to be an angry nihilist because he’s had a hard life. But when he rants about how content civilians his foes don’t know what real war is like, but brings out a dinosaur… well, that’s almost comical. He’s certainly not done enough to earn my sympathy. How about Kotori, the bigger star of this episode? She’s nothing but unfortunate. Sure, her sob story is still there, and Saito Chiwa still gave a damn good performance. But it’s undeveloped and heavy handed. In the visual novel, we got to interact more with her mother, saw more of her act as the happy-go-lucky childhood friend, experienced how she was supposed to be a source of normalcy and stability for Kotarou. But, of course, no time for that in the anime.
I know how I said before that it’d be a shame if the anime skipped over the events of the Kotori route, and how they really shouldn’t because it’d be important development for later. This is all still true. But after watching this episode, part of me wished they really had skipped it. Am I being a over-demanding fan? Perhaps. I think though, that I’m afraid that there will be those who watch Kotori’s story and, because of mediocre execution, find that they don’t care. This is an important part of the Rewrite experience though; I care, and I want others to care as well. It’s what being a shameless nerd is all about. So is it better, instead, if viewers didn’t get exposed to this anime, and instead experience Rewrite in a ‘proper’ way? Elitist wishful thinking, perhaps. But it’s a hard mindset to get out of once you’re in it.
Due to personal circumstances, next week’s Rewrite post will be late. Apologies for the inconvenience in advance.