A common trend in ecchi, and sometimes even hentai, anime is to pull the story and characters from a dating simulator rather than a manga. These games are sometimes even the source of romance anime as well, even if they aren't ecchi or hentai! And even if you have never played a dating simulator or romance game, you likely know that there are many different "paths" that you can take in the game.
This means you have many different girls or boys that you can choose to pursue as your player character. You're likely to interact with all of them and discover the different archetypes that each one fits into, and then choose your favourite to try to "win" and successfully have a romance with. This means unless you play the game several times, you're only going to see one ending. It’s a similar situation when you play through a visual novel.
When one of these games is adapted into animation, it's hard to just pick one character for the main character to pursue - you would clearly have angry fans that didn't see their favourite character "win" the romances. So anime has created a wonderful solution to this - the "omnibus." This means that every possible path is explored in the anime rather than favouring one, and the main character has a chance to be with every other character. And the magical part is that they aren't cheating; the other characters don't even know about it. Rather, the story resets every couple of episode and starts again, this time with the main character following a different "path" with its own ending. All the characters are likely to be featured in each path, but only one will be romanced at a time. So all the stories exist in one series, but are separately happening from one another!
The omnibus method is definitely confusing if you aren't expecting it to happen, or are experiencing it for the first time, which might be what led you to this article. So please allow us to show you a few examples of what omnibus is, and how it is done in these two very different anime - but both with this method in common!
So many girls, so little time
The most common place in anime that you can find the omnibus method is in ecchi anime based on dating simulators for people interested in girls. The romance game with plenty of females to choose from for the player has traditionally dominated the market and still remains very popular to this day in anime. There are plenty of harem anime to enjoy, both ecchi and not! But when one of these anime is based on a dating game and using the omnibus method, the typical harem style is changed - rather than all the girls at once, the leading (usually male) character has a chance to explore each girl's story individually. And we as the viewer can sit back and enjoy them all!
1. Yosuga no Sora: In Solitude, Where We are Least Alone
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: ct. 2010 – Dec. 2010
Yosuga no Sora is the story of twins Haruka and Sora Kasugano, who have lost both of their parents and so are returning to their grandparents' home in the countryside to try to start a new life. Upon returning to the small town, they're faced with new and old faces from their childhood. Some things haven't changed at all, and some things have changed a lot. Between Nao and Akira, two childhood friends, and Kazuha, a new friend, Haruka and Sora at least are not alone. But were they ever really alone, when they always had one another too....
Yosuga no Sora is based on a visual novel and is a great example of a traditional omnibus ecchi. Haruka is faced with four different girls to choose to romance, including his own twin sister. The show dedicates a few episodes to each of these paths, and each time resets as though the other stories didn't happen. It allows the viewer to see all possible romances and endings with each of the girls, without Yosuga no Sora being another harem anime. Haruka is never with all the girls at once; each romance exists separately from the others. Of course be warned that Yosuga no Sora does have an incest romance path in case you don't like that, but it is a great way to check out how the omnibus idea is used if you have never experienced it before!
All aboard! Don’t forget the boys
Of course, the idea of reverse harems and romance games targeted at a demographic interested in boys has been growing exponentially! And while there might of be as many omnibus anime that feature one girl and a lot of boys yet, it's only a matter of time before more come into the market. The more romance games are made with boys to romance, the more chances there will be for anime, too! So if you're more interested in handsome boys than sexy girls, don't worry - the omnibus method is used for your enjoyment as well! You don't have to settle on one character archetype for your dream man; you can see them all.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2013 – Mar. 2013
Amnesia is the story of a girl who, you guessed it, is suffering from amnesia. Turns out she lost all her memories when a magical boy only she can see and hear names Orion entered her world, and because of what he did to her, Orion promises to help her get her memories back. In the meantime, she has to go through life surrounded by a lot of men that she should know but doesn't, without worrying them about her condition. Besides her closest friends Shin and Toma, there's also Ikki and Kent - and a mysterious fifth man that always seems to be watching from the distance. Just what has she forgotten, and what will she learn when she remembers?
Amnesia is based on a romance simulation game where the leading girl can choose any of these boys to pursue in a romance while trying to get her memories back. Using the omnibus idea, the anime gives a few episodes to exploring each of these paths as well, covering most of the major romance scenes from the game. Amnesia is able to make use of the omnibus solution in a very unique way because of its story - instead of resetting to a new path with no warning to explanation, it conveniently uses the heroine's memory loss as a reason she starts over each time. It makes Amnesia a great first omnibus anime to check out because it's easy to follow the changes. It's also an illustration of an omnibus anime that isn't ecchi and focuses on a lot of different boys instead of just girls!
Next time you're watching an anime that is using the omnibus format to translate from a game into animation, hopefully, you will understand what is happening! Of course, it's confusing to reset the story every few episodes, especially with no explanation, and to forget that what happened in the last episode has no bearing on this one necessarily. But it's the best solution that writers have found to ensuring that all the fans of the original game are happy to see their chosen loves on the big screen - and to let new fans see all the different characters as well instead of picking favourites!
Omnibus is certainly a unique concept that has some getting used to, to be able to enjoy it, but look at it this way; instead of just one romance, you get to experience many. And in a fraction of the time of playing the original game! So if you like girls or boys, there’s bound to be one out there for you – and don’t forget if you’re a hentai fan to also keep your eyes open for omnibus stories, too! It’s not just limited to ecchi and romance anime.
Have you ever experienced an omnibus anime before? Were you confused the first time? Do you like this style of translating a romance game or visual novel into animation? Do you have a favourite story that you would love to see animated in an omnibus anime or ecchi series? And of course, are there any other subjects you would like to see a similar “What Is?” article about? Please drop us a comment below and we would love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have!