As we shared in other articles here on Honey, we know that remakes/reboots are a hot topic of discussion. As it relates to Hollywood classics like Ghostbusters, that’s one thing, but in the world of anime, there’s more room to be open minded. For the past decade(s), we have seen some reboots/remakes to classic anime between the 1970s and 1990s. Some have been a hit, and others have been met with mixed reception. So, why make a remake to some classics that were great the first time around? As something to an extension to our Then Vs. Now series, please allow us to explain!
Changes in Society
Between the initial broadcasting of classic titles and now, the world has changed in more ways than one, and that includes Japan. With the present administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wanting to encourage more women to work, there are some anime remakes that (may) perfectly reflect that. One notable example is with the present remake to Space Battleship Yamato. In the original 1970s release, Yuki was the only female character on board the Yamato and the original anime was filled with what modern liberals would call “toxic masculinity.”
For the present remake of Yamato, fresh and original female characters have been included and they’re not just there for the sake of diversity, but they have their roles and significant contributions as well (while still maintaining faithfulness to the original source material). As for the “toxic masculinity,” as we shared in our Then Vs. Now article in regards to Space Battleship Yamato, Kodai’s brother refuses to retreat because it isn’t what a true man does while in the remake, he does it to cover Okita’s escape. Also, many of Shima’s and Kodai’s tensions in the original series over being the alpha are gone in the remake.
For the recent City Hunter movie, like modern American comic books and animated programs such as The Simpsons or Superman, it operates on a sliding timeline by upgrading the characters to present day society without having to age the characters. The new City Hunter movie heavily includes modern technology such as smartphones and tablets in order to show that the story and characters from the original series can be applied to modern day Japanese society and still be faithful to its original source material by still including Ryo’s perverted tendencies (which he now tries to exploit with drones).
Speaking of changes in technology, this largely applies to the present reboot of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. If you have seen the original Legend of the Galactic Heroes (which was released between the late-1980s and late-1990s), a lot of the computer technology portrayed there is more akin to how computer technology was back then as well. Data was stored on 5-inch floppy discs, computers were bulky looking, and “graphical depiction” of combat conditions on board command ships looked no different from a Space Wars game on an Atari. With the present series, you’re getting holographic projections and touchscreens like we have on smartphones and tablets.
Be More Faithful to the Original Manga
For some reboots/remakes such as Berserk, they were introduced at a time when the manga had more material to use. With the original 1997 series, it was caught up to the original manga (though it did have some significant changes and removals such as the removal of Skull Knight) and it couldn’t progress anymore than it could. Then 20 years later, fans were treated to a trilogy retelling the Golden Age, and two seasons of a TV series covering beyond the Golden Age. Though it does give more and original material, fans were very critical of its cel-shading animation (and the replacement of the original seiyuu cast and the removal of Susumu Hirasawa doing the soundtrack), and removing certain arcs such as The Lost Children Story Arc and rushing other elements.
Sailor Moon Crystal, the newer Sailor Moon anime, has been praised for being faithful to the original manga, but has been criticized for pretty much every other reason you can think of. Then there is also Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which premiered five years after its predecessor ended. In comparison to the 2003 series, Brotherhood is a series that is meant to faithfully represent the manga from start to finish. Like Sailor Moon Crystal, it has its share of controversies but not to the same severity.
Gives Something Fresh
Lastly, though some were remakes, there are some that are fresh reboots or homages such as Megalo Box is to Ashita no Joe. While it isn’t a direct remake to that classic series, it does use a lot of its elements beside the names, designs, and gimmicks. Like the original Ashita no Joe series, Megalo Box once again uses class warfare as a theme and uses a steampunk setting in order to express it. It still tells a tale of how no matter where you come from, you can still make it as long as you put in the hard work and sacrifice. With its new gimmicks such as Joe refusing to compete with the augmented gear, it gives audiences a fresh take to expressing its themes.
Remakes and reboots are not entirely new. And the present series to Captain Tsubasa isn’t exactly the first reboot/remake to that classic soccer series. It has had a version for the last three decades! With soccer being popular in Japan (and in other nations where the series has been a hit), it can still resonate with audiences. Sometimes, some anime are remakes for the sake of being a better representation of its source material, or present day technology can now better express certain scenes. While those changes are welcome, sometimes we lose other qualities such as the previous soundtrack and/or the voice cast. Either way, we should hope that it does encourage fans to watch both versions.