Nothing's new anymore. Everything is the same old ideas rehashed and remarketed. Well, almost everything. Many anime find a way to tap into the untouched ideas that linger in the back of the human psyche.
Sometimes, it's hard to provide this new content. Now, even anime is finding itself digging into the pot of used ideas and throwing a new coat of paint on what's pulled out. The idea of a remake, retelling, or reboot, however, isn't new to anime. But, sometimes, it's not needed. Here are our Top 10 Anime That Didn't Need a Reboot.
10. Dirty Pair
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 1985 – December 1985
Dirty Pair is the 1985 anime based off of Haruka Tachiho's Dirty Pair light novel series. It's about Kei and Yuri, two Trouble Consultants for the World Welfare Works Association, a corporation that helps members of the United Galactica with their crimes. Kei and Yuri refer to themselves as "Lovely Angels," but the rest of the universe knows them as the "Dirty Pair," due to the destruction they're known to cause. The original Dirty Pair was a fun, futuristic action sci-fi anime that, although it wasn't received well at the time, followed the original manga closely.
Dirty Pair Flash is the remake of the 1985 classic series, set in an alternate dimension. Taking place in an alternate universe, the characters all have different backstories, but in this version, Kei is still feisty with a 'shoot first, ask questions later' mentality, made notably different by her now tomboyish personality. Yuri, on the other hand, while, still the more feminine of the two, is shown to be prone to violence. The character interactions and roles in Dirty Pair Flash are all the same. The visuals are an improvement from the original, but that can be attested to the fact that it was produced 10 years later.
Dirty Pair Flash is one of those alternate reality episodes, that every TV show has, drawn out into an entire season without setting itself apart from the original.
9. Tenchi Universe (Tenchi Muyo!)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1995 – September 1995
Tenchi Muyo! is as classic as you can get when it comes to harem anime. In fact, due to its strong sci-fi plot, actually gripping story, vibrant cast, and naivety (if we're being honest) it doesn't even feel like your typical harem. Tenchi Muyo!, which is actually a retelling and expansion of a preceding OVA, tells the story of Tenchi Masaki, a 17-year-old whose life becomes unbelievably complicated when he release the space pirate, Ryoko from her 700-year imprisonment. Suddenly, Tenchi has 4 other space girls living in his home and gets wrapped up in a galactic battle for power, while learning about his family's hidden secrets.
Two years after the premiere of the OVA and series, Tenchi in Tokyo was released. This alternate version of Tenchi Muyo!, although differing in many ways from the original was very similar, with a different backstory and plot. Despite these change, Tenchi in Tokyo, still has the same space-opera feel that made the original Tenchi special to it. In 2014, another retelling, Ai Tenchi Muyo! was released. This reboot, featured completely new character designs, completely new characters, and it takes place in a high school because why not?
8. Rozen Maiden
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2004 – December 2004
Rozen Maiden tells the story of Jun Sakurada, a young boy who spends his days at home ordering things online, only to return them before he has to pay. One day, he makes an order he can't return, and finds himself in the possession of a living doll, Shinku. As Shinku is tasked with taking care of Shinku, he is cast into the Alice Game, a deadly game between other Rozen Maiden. Throughout the show, Shinku and Jun help each other, as without Jun Shinku is unable to partake in the Alice Game. As for Jun, his time with Shinku helps him to overcome his hikikomori ways.
Rozen Maiden: Zurückspulen, from 2013, tells the story of Jun as it would have happened if he hadn't gotten involved with the Rozen Maidens. This, of course, isn't a very interesting story, so Zurückspulen features a Jun who gets caught up in the world of the Rozen Maiden during college. This reboot of Rozen Maiden starts off on the wrong foot, as it begins with a recap of the first series. All the things that helped to make the first series a success, are missing. The action, the emotion, even the Rozen Maiden, themselves, are missing when comparing it to the original Rozen Maiden.
2004's Rozen Maiden and its sequel did a good job of adapting Peach-Pit's manga, and a beautiful well-paced and enjoyable manner. While it is an adaptation of Peach-Pit's follow-up manga, as an anime, Zurückspulen didn't add anything to the series and was best left in its original format.
7. Gegege no Kitaro
- Episodes: 65
- Aired: January 1968 – March 1969
Gegege no Kitaro is the famous youkai anime about Kitaro, a young boy born in a cemetery to his previously deceased parents. Kitaro is the last member of the Ghost Tribe and fights to protect humans from the nefarious youkai.
Throughout the 40 years that Gegege no Kitaro has been on-air, it's undergone several reboots—almost one per decade, in fact. Instead of continuing the series into the decade, it was remade anew, complete with repeated stories and plotlines. Perhaps in an attempt to end the cycle of rinsing and repeating Gegege no Kitaro, the 2007 series features Kitaro's friend, Neko-Musume, usually a supporting character, as a main character alongside Kitaro.
Despite the attempt to shake things up by adding Neko-Musume as a character of focus, the new series still fell into the trap of telling the same stories as previous Gegege no Kitaro entries had done. Maybe Kitaro can save us from the undying spirit that is his own show.
6. Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy)
- Episodes: 193
- Aired: January 1963 – December 1966
Astro Boy is almost as iconic as you can get when it comes to anime. The masterpiece of the idolized Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy tells the story of Atom, the robot creation of Professor Tenma. Atom is eventually adopted by Professor Ochanomizu, who inspires the robot, who had been created to always be good to be a hero.
Astro Boy's airing was so well, received it's reported that its debut was watched by 27% of Japanese TV owners at its time, and was watched by 40% at its peak. Astro Boy tackled hard issues at its time, and made itself accessible to a wide range of viewers, all the while, having a pure, true hero at its center. Atom and Tezuka have been cemented in the annals of anime and manga.
Throughout the years, Astro Boy has been remade by Japanese studios twice over the years. Each incarnation featured slightly different backstories and relationships between the characters. Atom's characteristic is fairly consistent throughout the series. In this way the new additions didn't take the opportunity to add to the series' value, likewise, the response to modern problems remains absent from the reboots. Astro Boy is undoubtedly a classic anime, and while the reboots have found themselves a place in Astro Boy's history, they don't necessarily enhance the spirit of the classic series. Perhaps the 2017 reboot will be able to truly add on to its legacy.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog: the Movie (Sonic the Hedgehog)
- Episodes: 2
- Aired: January 1996
Rolling around at the speed of sound! Everyone knows the little blue hedgehog that is Sonic. What many don't know is that Sonic received an anime movie in the mid 90's. Right around the height of Sonic's popularity, Sega tried to cash in on this and released a 2 episode OVA. However, it only found mild success, with its story, humor, and voice acting proving to be its downfall.
Perhaps this was the beginning of the hedgehog's slow decline, as over the years, Sega continued to release Sonic the Hedgehog games that failed to meet expectations. The legacy of the speedy hedgehog continued to live on, powered by Chaos Emeralds and memories of its heyday. In 2003, Sega once again tried to capitalize off of the series' name and success, with Sonic X.
Sonic X featured Sonic transported to Earth, and a cast of new human friends. Eventually, Eggman wasn't even Sonic's enemy, instead appearing as his ally from time-to-time. The whole thing was just weird and given the success, or lack thereof, of the original OVA. And since we're on the topic of Sonic's animated adventures... actually, let's not even talk about the American series over the years.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 1997 – April 1998
The original Berserk anime followed closely to its source material and was a dark and gritty tale about Guts, a warrior who has lived his life on the battlefield. Guts' skills on the battlefield attract the eye of a group of mercenaries. As he rises in the group's ranks, he begins to question his role and place in the world.
Berserk was a dark, gorey anime with deep philosophical implications. The story and characters from the manga were displayed and reflected perfectly in the anime. While it did remove some parts of the manga for pacing, it was done in a way that left the anime still feeling complete and like a success.
The 2016 anime was received with hype from fans of the Berserk series. It was met with only disappointment. Nothing from the original was to be found to the level of quality with which it was present in the original. The art style, in an attempt to keep the original feel, while making it modern, was a blend of 3D and 2D animation. To make this worse, the quality of the animation leaves much to be desired. The plot has also decimated, leaving many plot holes and parts of the story to feel extremely rushed.
Many were excited about a new Berserk anime, but the new 2016 version has left many people thinking, "You know what on second thought... no, thank you." Here's to hoping the second season improves on what the first messed up.
3. Sailor Moon (Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon)
- Episodes: 46
- Aired: March 1992 – February 1993
Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight, never running from a real fight, she's the one named Sailor Moon. If those words didn’t raise goosebumps on your skin, then there's something wrong with you. While not the first, Sailor Moon is without question, responsible for the reemergence of the magical girl genre in the 90's. It was based on the shojo manga of the same name but was loved by boys and girls the same.
So, when a new anime series was announced for 2014, fans of 90's anime rejoiced! The original series, though dated, was still loved and adored by fans across the world. Like many other classic anime, Sailor Moon had passed the test of time, so there was no cry for a new Sailor Moon during the nearly two decades since the original and its sequels went off-air. But, it was a new Sailor Moon anime, so fans were excited nonetheless.
Sometimes, it's best to just live in the past. Despite following more closely to the manga, and even using artwork that resembled the source, Sailor Moon Crystal, proved to fall quite short of many people's hopes and dreams for the series.
2. Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 291
- Aired: April 1989 – January 1996
Dragon Ball Z, who doesn't know what is arguably the greatest shonen manga and anime series of all-time. Even for those who would argue against its place as the greatest, the influence it has had on generations of the shonen and action genre is undeniable.
Dragon Ball Kai premiered in 2009, in celebration of Dragon Ball Z's 20th anniversary. Instead of a new series or even a remake, Kai simply a remaster of the original Dragon Ball Z. In addition to the remastered visuals, Dragon Ball Kai featured new music and re-recordings of the voice acting. Intended to update and give fresh new feel, this, instead, took away from what made Dragon Ball Z feel like, well... Dragon Ball Z.
Not only did Dragon Ball Kai receive stylistic changes, changes to the story were also made, in an attempt to bring it closer to Akira Toriyama source material. This resulted in a loss of almost 100 episodes. While this did cut down on the incessant "Find out next time on Dragon Ball Z," caused by the drawn out battles, which, again, is classic Dragon Ball Z, it did also remove many other memorable scenes, filler or not. And in a perfect example of sticking to a source not always being the right route to go down, future generations of anime fans will now know the infamous saying as "It's over 8000!" That's not okay.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 1995 – March 1996
Due to its overly philosophical and religious overtones, the complicated and downright confusing ending, Neon Genesis Evangelion remains to be a very polarizing anime. For those same reasons, however, it has also found itself the topic of college courses, dissertations, the subject of countless discussions, and debates in the anime world. 20 years after its conclusion, anime fans continue to talk about the show that is Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The Rebuild of Evangelion series is a retelling of the original series, with the first two movies in the tetralogy covering the first half of the series before branching off into a new story. The new movies feature improved animation as well as additional scenes that were not present in the original. They are also meant to make the series more accessible to the new viewers of anime, but new anime fans will most definitely be pointed towards the original when being recommended Evangelion.
Series creator Hideaki Anno announced in 2007, that he would be remaking the series in a set of films, hoping to appease many desires. He desired to 'fight the continuing trend of stagnation in anime,' also stating that in the '12 years [since Evangelion's premiere], there has been no anime newer than Eva. All of the reasons stated, about adding and showing the art of anime could have been done just as well, without revisiting the classic anime.
Every artist wishes to revisit their work and wants to find a way to improve it, but Anno's choice to actually do so, may tarnish the legacy of a classic series. The Rebuild of Evangelion series is not yet complete, so let's hope Hideaki accomplishes his goal, with the new series. The jury's still out, however; with three of four movies having been released in the last 10 years, and no discernable change in the dialogue regarding Evangelion’s legacy emerging from them. It seems as if, contrary to Anno’s beliefs, we really didn’t need a reboot. Who would’ve thought?
Anime is following along in the recent trend of becoming stale and boring. Predictable. New ideas, even in anime, are few and far between. Some artists look to copy proven ideas and themes. In a brazen fashion, more and more great works are simply finding themselves being remade. Reboot.
Many people have different feelings about the announcement of a reboot: disgust, boredom, disappointment, excitement, ecstasy, curiousness, etc.. After the reboot, those same feelings are present but for different reasons. It is because of this that a reboot can be unnecessary in many ways: it was never asked for, it didn't add to the source material, or it even ruined the name of the original. Whatever the way, it leaves you feeling something.
Let us know what reboot, successful or not, was needed in the comments below.