[AniFemTalk] Adapting classic manga

Over the weekend it was announced that Banana Fish—a crime manga from the 1980s that was one of the few to feature prominent gay characters (albeit in some problematic ways)—will be getting an anime adaptation in 2018. Let’s open the doors a little wider.

  • What classic manga would you like to see adapted, whether for the first time or as a full series rather than an OVA?
  • Do you think older works should be updated even if parts of it have aged poorly?
  • What barriers should a crew consider (older art style, genre conventions that are no longer popular, etc.) when making an adaptation?


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  • Champ Buch

    Just rambling here but you made me think of Year 24 Group mangas. On the one hand I enjoyed the anime adaptation of Terra E enough to run out and buy the then new edition of the English translation, which I also enjoyed. On the other hand, should something like Kaze to Ki no Uta, which, like Banana Fish, includes rape and pedophilia, be adapted now? Or are they better left for literature and fan studies classes where one can expect a more mature and careful discussion space? (I shudder at the level of discourse these titles will inspire in Western fannish spaces) And yet, do these kinds of discussions need to happen in fannish spaces now more than ever? It’s so easy to instantly condemn the presence of rape and pedophilia in media, but I do think that the motivations behind including them and how they are read can be far less straightforward than “I want to promote rape culture and pedophilia” or “I get off on these things so they should be created”. For example, some women and girls find it easier to process their own traumatic experiences by having these things happen to men and boys.

    I don’t know if there is a right answer here.

    In the end, I might trust someone like Sayo Yamamoto to do such stories justice (I don’t know the director slated for Banana Fish so I have no idea whether she’s a good choice or not) and not turn dark, even bleak, stories into little more than violence and porn fests for the titillation of straight women.

    • Black Emolga

      Kaze to Ki no Uta and the works of the Year 24 Group were originally made for a teenage audience without literary degrees who were able to tell these stories were supposed to be dark tragedies not porn. And are still recognized as such in Japan. I’m pretty sure adult women in the west are capable recognizing the same thing.

      • Champ Buch

        My caution is due to extensive experience with fans esp on Tumblr (many of whom are female) where you can get some very black and white reactions to the depiction of rape and pedophilia in fiction. Yes there also are nuanced interpretations, but they tend to be older (30s+) and have grad degrees and/or lots of experience with writing.
        Add in the linking of queer desire to pedophilia and it gets even more complicated. Many of us in the queer community who grew up with that connection being “in the air” and are tired with the emphasis being on predatory queer characters. And yet, like in any community some do exist!

        Again although there are a few who try to discuss this like you would in a class, but on social media, nuance is often drowned out.

        As I said above I’m not sure if there is a clear good answer beyond not censoring and media making more positive stories about queer folks, rather than relying on negative tropes and stereotypes. Once there are lots of those (and believe me they are hard to find in the West, so there’s almost no high ground), then I’d hope that people would be more open to darker stories.

        • Black Emolga

          I’ve seen what it’s like on tumblr. Tumblr fandoms are pretty polarizing so I’m not sure if I would use them as the best example of how most people would react to a work of fiction. Kaze to Ki no Uta was created before BL was established as a genre and doesn’t have any of the tropes that have became associated with BL. It treats rape and child abuse way more seriously than most modern day BL. I don’t think it would receive the same type of reaction
          as something that’s blatantly for fujoshi.

  • Roman Komarov

    I would like to see a proper “Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou” adaptation covering the whole manga, but I doubt something like that would happen. Then, again, a proper adaptation of “Horimiya”.

    But maybe the thing I’d really like to see adapted would be “IS: Otoko demo Onna demo nai Sei”. How many media we have about intersexuality? And this one is really, really nice depiction of what its like.

    • AsteriskCGY

      YKK was kinda jumpy when you think about it. A lot of time skips because robot lifespans. But it’s what got me into slice of life stories in general.

  • Elena M. Aponte

    Oh my gosh I read Banana Fish and was hip to its scene for sure. But there is absolutely a lot of problematic content in it, especially when it comes to race, not to mention sexual assault. I am very interested to see how they interpret this manga for this time period. I think it’s a good idea to revisit things like this that could use a new coat of paint, to put it oddly haha.

    I think older manga/anime should be revisited, especially if they have themes like this that would be very interesting to explore in the current political climate. I think a reboot of Banana Fish would do very well, but I am cautiously optimistic about it.

    I also love the Salinger reference and it was one of the many reasons why I wanted to read it. 🙂