Few things are more painful than seeing a beloved manga in anime form, only to discover the show fails to do the source material justice. It's also annoying to invest time in a bad or mediocre anime, then find out it was an excellent manga, but the full story spans hundreds of chapters. While good adaptations don't have to mirror their manga counterparts, they should retain the manga's merits and provide a coherent, enjoyable story.
Let's take a look at several of the worst manga adaptations ever made. Some, like My Little Monster, present romantic entanglements and vague hints at a backstory without a true resolution. Others, like Tokyo Ghoul √A, veer onto a different storyline, disregarding any of the elements making the manga great.
The Deadman Wonderland anime started off great. The show depicts the horrifying world of the Deadman Wonderland prison, where vicious murderers compete in dangerous and degrading games for onlookers' amusement. On a class field trip, the main character's peers die; he shoulders the blame for their demise. His sentence is death row at the prison.
From there, things start to go downhill. Rather than thrilling the audience with fresh horrors, as the manga does, this anime devolves into increasingly meaningless action sequences before ending with little to no resolution.
To successfully adapt a manga, the creators must resolve the central conflicts. Masamune-kun's Revenge is a romance anime with an interesting premise: the title character, Masamune Makabe, was brutally rejected by his crush, Aki Adagaki, when they were kids. To get revenge, he drops a ton of weight and becomes conventionally attractive, then tries to get her to fall in love with him so he can spurn her in public.
As he gets to know Aki, he feels less comfortable with revenge. There are brief moments of insight into his own low self-esteem and the impact of childhood bullying. He starts to deepen as a character - and then it ends. There's no resolving any of the tantalizing plot or character threads. He does a school play, and the show ends.
The manga, which is still ongoing, delves into Masamune's issues instead of skating on the surface. It also develops its other characters, unlike the anime.
Tokyo Ghoul √A
The anime version of Tokyo Ghoul √A makes a bold choice, and many fans aren't happy about it. Instead of having Ken Kaneki continue to fight against Aogiri Tree as he does in the manga, the anime has him join them.
These major changes have interesting potential if executed well, but it's a risky decision the Tokyo Ghoul √A anime fails to warrant. Several plot points are completely nonsensical, resulting in a dramatic change in the tone of the series.
Unlike the first season where they took deep dives into the characters' minds, the anime's creators focused on random action sequences, which may occasionally seem senseless without knowing the drives behind them.
Battle Angel Alita
Battle Angel Alita isn't terrible per se, but it had much better potential. Nine volumes of a complicated manga compressed into a two-episode OVA does not work. The anime introduces a complicated world of class division, an underground black market for spinal columns, and superpowered cyborgs. It also introduces a tragic, tender romance between a cyborg and human. But much was left out, including most of the details about the protagonist's past.
The manga artist, Yukito Kishiro, was too busy creating the manga to have any serious involvement in the anime. Neither, it seems, did the studio. The OVA existed to entice viewers to read the manga, rather than provide a full experience.
If the anime were a serious attempt at an original, independent piece, it could have been one of the best anime ever created - maybe standing next to giants like Ghost in the Shell - but it didn't have this opportunity.