Why Do Anime Fans Care About Romeo Tanaka? — A Rewrite Post

I mean what he has done for you guys lately, let alone me at all?

It’ll be a little while before I get to actually reviewing Rewrite properly, but it should be very clear at this point that I found the experience of watching that anime incredibly painful. The producers of the show would probably burst in tears at what I’ve got in store for it if it wasn’t for the fact that they don’t know I exist and nobody who matters has really been defending that show anyways (and yet we’re still getting a sequel for some reason). And no, I don’t want to hear about how Romeo Tanaka had his creative talent held back by Key or whatnot. That logic may be true for the original visual novel, but I’m pretty sure that company wasn’t supervising the anime adaptation – which had a lot of potential to improve on the source material ala Battle Royale and flat-out wasted it. Even if he wasn’t the main writer for the anime, he was still one of the main supervisors according to all the anime database sites and news I looked at. And in a world where Danganronpa 3 was allowed to be good despite having a shit director and a shit studio attached because the original writer was supervising the scripts, stuff like Rewrite just doesn’t fly.

Really, I fail to see why anime fans care about this dude in the first place. I’m not denying that he’s the god of visual novels or anything. But the key word you have to pay attention to in regards to that title is that he’s the god of “visual novels”. I don’t see the word “anime” in that title at all, and as the long troubled history of video game to movie adaptations has shown, writing for a visual novel is completely different from writing for an anime. With the exception of some of Gen Urobuchi’s stuff and Kazutaka Kodaka as of now (again, moreso Future Arc than Despair Arc), every single original show written by a visual novel writer from Angel Beats to Punchline has made it clear that these guys have never been able to leave their “interactive storytelling” roots behind when writing for a non-interactive medium, always filling their stories with so much brainless character interaction that don’t have any momentum as a way to make you care about the actual substance coming up later when a good story writer would have the substance happen at the very start and make us care about the characters through that. And considering how Jun Maeda refuses to listen to his critics when they call him out on Charlotte’s many MANY flaws, along with every other VN-to-anime writer who’s not him getting supported because somehow people can’t see they share the same problem due to them not being associated with Kanon, I don’t see improvement on that field anytime soon.

Oh yeah, this scene was TOTALLY important to show. Not like we have a plot to worry about or anything.

It really annoys me that people like Maeda only listen to their fans because I grew up with constructive criticism and negative reviewing as the most helpful thing to do to a creator, and that position has only solidified with time thanks to the community getting more and more sycophantic over the years. Not that his haters do a particularly good job of being critical most of the time (anyone who says being generic is better than being bad can fuck right off) and who can forget all the reactions to Fuller House? “Lots of people watched it. It was a good show,” said Bojack when confronted on how it’s the cool thing to hate his old sitcom. But when we allow people like the writer of Humanity Has Declined to just make even more of an embarrassment to Key’s reputation than a thousand Angel Beats visual novels could ever hope to achieve, I’m pretty sure that’s when you have to open an ear to the other side.

You don’t have to be Shinkai in terms of humbleness, but you need to stand by your product, admit you made mistakes, and then work to make your next product better. Again, look at Danganronpa 3. The first Danganronpa anime butchered the games and sold like shit, so they learned not to make any more adaptations (hence no anime version of Super Danganronpa 2) and when they had to do the animated format because they couldn’t translate their new story into a game, they made sure to realize that they were writing an anime. But no, ever since he made a splash with that fairy show, Romeo Tanaka has become this sort of untouchable figure where so much as picking your nose in his vicinity is grounds for legions of fanboys to pounce onyou. He’s gotten some criticism lately what with the anime series he was attached to this year being more boring than watching paint dry, but a lot of the negative reviews I’ve seen have blamed the industry more than him. Okay fine, maybe the fact that the animation in both Wasteland and Rewrite were utter garbage didn’t help, but it’s not like Aura and Humanity looked all that nice either. What exactly does it take to make you guys realize that he, Forest, Naotaka Hayashi, and whoever wrote Saekano have not and will never be suitable for anime so long as they go into this medium with the same mindset the Ghostbusters team did when they tried to move from film to video game and we don’t call them out on it?

And another thing, what’s with this obsession of wanting your favorite video game characters and stories to be animated anyways? Not only do I not see the point since anime video games are plenty animated by themselves and (these days) it’s pretty easy to play them in the States or Europe or whatever, in what way is an anime going to be better than the game, or even live up to it, assuming the game is good? I’d understand if the game sucked and the adaptation was a sort of reinterpretation that focused on the potential for good buried underneath the garbage like with the movie version of Air, but Super Danganronpa 2 was fun, with interesting (if unfair at times) puzzles and quirky dialogue that wouldn’t be nearly as engaging if you weren’t in control of the guy who’s receiving said dialogue. An anime adaptation could never match up to my personal bonding experiences with Sonia whilst casually ignoring Soda’s very existence. And it certainly isn’t going to capture all of Komaeda’s eccentricities, what with how many he has in the game and the fact that unlike video games, an anime has strict guidelines regarding how long or short it has to be.

Do you see scenes like this working in an anime? Yeah, me neither.

Also, I find it very strange how despite the clear separation between anime video games and anime TV series that makes fans desire to see adaptations, they sure seem to treat them as inseparable when it’s convenient for them. There’s this kinda popular MAL reviewer named Veronin who basically talks up his favorite visual novel stories whenever he reviews a VN show and how much better they are by comparison despite the fact that the examples he listed have never been made into anime and would most likely suck if they ever were, given how I hate the “visual novel anime” that he seems to like. While I can understand the PA Works stuff since Maeda wrote those shows himself, a lot of people seem to see the Clannad TV series as more his thing than KyoAni’s considering how many fans of the studio seem to conveniently forget those shows (hell, there are people who are blaming him for Rewrite despite Maeda not having any involvement with that show at all). Unless someone can point me to an online contract or something, I don’t recall anyone ever saying that KyoAni had to follow the original visual novel down to the letter. Obviously it was the best business decision for them (especially when the show first came out), but so what? Most reasonable fans would have gotten over it as long as the adaptation was entertaining.

Is it really a wonder that I don’t bother to read the original source material or even look up who makes an anime these days? With all the big-name nerds promoting the latest talents and masturbating over their works before they’re even out because they really impressed before, whilst flat-out ignoring those who wronged them in the past despite anime as a medium always going to be hit-and-miss even when Tetsuro Araki is more credible as a director than most, it’s like people prematurely set tolerance levels for how much shit they’re willing to tolerate and how much they’re willing to blame certain names when things go wrong. It’s pretty much the only explanation I can think of for how people could have stuck with Durarara so long even though they’ve set lots of anime on fire when their first episodes had way less problems than that shit. Don’t have an explanation for why Durarara is still ranked relatively high on certain anime sites despite it being so bad that Japan gave up on the show, but what the hell do I know about anime fans anyways?

Excuse me sir. Please forget about our terrible comrade and pay attention to us instead.

And of course, there’s the opposite end to when people pay too much attention to what goes on behind-the-scenes in regards to anime. Danganronpa 3 is one thing since it’s a sequel to a bunch of video games the big anime community probably hasn’t played, but I notice that Planetarian never seemed to get much attention when it aired, even when compared to fucking Rewrite. As of right now, its MAL ranking is in the thousands, which is fucking lower than Plastic Memories for god’s sake (don’t even get me started on the difference in popularity) despite both anime being visual novel anime from well-known names dealing with AI and their feelings and whatnot. None of the big-name bloggers seem to acknowledge its existence (yet still paying attention to Thunderbolt Fantasy for some reason, even though it has nothing to it besides the puppet effects that got old after five minutes) and the few people I know that have checked it out thought the first episode or so was boring despite the fact that unlike most VN anime, it started its story at the very beginning. But I happen to like it. I liked how its net format allowed it to overcome the usual VN pitfalls and despite the mawkish nature of its ending, I thought it had some cool things to say about the inevitable despair that comes from living in a post-apocalyptic world and how technology can survive in it. And yet even putting the guys who made Jojo behind the project couldn’t drum up much interest. What, was the net format itself a problem? Is it the same kind of hive mind that caused people to dismiss Concrete Revolutio whilst being enamored by One-Punch Man?

Yeah yeah, I know. It’s all subjective. People have different approaches to how they watch anime. Blablabla. But I’m not going to just sit back and say nothing when the general fandom goes in directions that are both too loose and too unfair towards all these artists that work hard to entertain us. Even if they are hacks or whatever (I fucking hate that term), they’re still artists and anything they make will always be art no matter how much people try to deny it. And it’s our job as fans of said art to rein them in when they can’t seem to find the way and just do things for the sake of it even though we don’t like it. This includes the existence of visual novel anime in general, as well as telling guys like Tanaka to stay in the interactive medium (in fact, I think Maeda is the only guy we ever say “no” to). Why exactly do we keep allowing them to exist when it’s clear that interactive and non-interactive don’t mix, and the ones that do understand this dish out products that people flat-out ignore? And if these VN anime are just glorified commercials, all they seem to do is turn us off from the games. I’d be surprised if people wanted to play Rewrite after this insipid abomination.

Besides, what’s so special about visual novel storytelling to begin with? Aside from the non-linear nature (which I don’t see as a positive in any conceivable fashion) and the text-based gameplay that Japan really enjoys for some reason, what makes them so high-art? Not denying there are a few gems in that medium, but are they really worth praising the genre as a whole, or are they just good in spite of being a visual novel, like how I personally feel with those Danganronpa games at times? And is it really worth making us anime fans learn of their existence through these shows so that we can share in the love like you VN fans do? Surely all we’d do is get repulsed by this strange medium if the studios continue to showcase that the only thing that seems to exist in it are shitty “kids want to make their own visual novels whilst acting out those dumb cliches” shows, cut-and-paste time travel stories, increasingly forgettable Fate spinoffs, and retarded angsty dramas that use a high-concept as a crutch for go-nowhere character development. If there’s a visual novel that doesn’t fall under those four categories, please enlighten me. And keep in mind that there have been several critically acclaimed manga that have absolutely failed to impress when they became animated despite mostly staying faithful to the source material’s plot, so your special visual novel has a good chance of not shining in the one-in-million chance Madhouse or whoever decides to bring it to our attention.

How I wish I could have been turned into a glowing orb too after finishing this show.

So in case you need me to summarize this post: fuck Rewrite, fuck Romeo Tanaka, fuck visual novel anime in general (shhhhhh, don’t worry Planetarian and Danganronpa 3. I still think you’re the best anime of the season), and fuck the fans who can’t seem to understand the difference between an anime and a video game and allow this shit to happen! My god this show sucked harder than an elephant that won first prize at a lake-drinking competition!

Minor Quips

  • Incidentally, I hope Maeda never writes an anime or anything not-music related ever again.
  • It is of questionable necessity whether I really need to write an actual Rewrite review after this post, but I didn’t stick with that horrible show only to not talk about what actually happened in it.
  • So how well were Planetarian and Danganronpa 3 received in Japan, anyways?

9 responses to “Why Do Anime Fans Care About Romeo Tanaka? — A Rewrite Post

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. Rewrite was a steaming pile of crap.

    I knew that the Rewrite anime would suck from the moment it was first announced. I didn’t mind the VN however, so I would be very happy if Tanaka just stuck to VNs.

    Also, if a VN has any chance of being a good anime, the VN needs to have a linear plotline (like Umineko and Planetarian) and not non-linear like 99% of other VNs. The good news is that just two days ago, Key released a new VN called Harmonia, which is a short, linear science fiction story like Planetarian so when they inevitably decide to make that into an anime, I will have higher hopes.

    Oh, and Japanese people like non-linear stuff because they think it’s really clever and sugoi, and they think that it adds so much more ’emotional depth’ to the overall story.

  2. Honestly, the desire for faithful adaptation makes no sense what so ever. If I want the original experience, I will play/ read the source material. Did you see how many Berserk fans said that they need to watch the anime no matter how bad it is, just because it’s Berserk? Why torture yourself and then bitch about it?

    Guy wrote a guide about “How to Not Be an Annoying Source Material Fan” a while ago. Almost no anime fan listened, which I find depressing. So many fanboy dismissed stuff like Bokurano and Planetes just because they’re different from the the source material. Most anime only fans, and people who usually don’t even watch anime loved them. This said a lot about warped perception.

    • Did you see how many Berserk fans said that they need to watch the anime no matter how bad it is, just because it’s Berserk?

      Not online, but my RL friends watch it and have mentioned to me that that’s the only reason they’re doing so.

      • ….and yet people keep wondering why anime adaptations are bad. The fan eat it up no matter what, so why bother trying?

  3. I think if you exempt the possibility of a writer being adapted solely due to the amount of bad adaptations that writer’s work gets – you’ll find that Shakespeare or any other literary giant would be exempted as well. Yet artistic directors have always been aiming to adapt a lot of works of Literature no matter how writerly they get. Kubrick himself has already gotten his hands on things as flowery in their style as Lolita, as avant-garde in their prose as A Clockwork Orange, and as pulpy in their horror as The Shining. People have touched works as plain crazy to adapt as In Search of Lost Time & War and Peace.

    Of course there are definitely works where the source material is flawed – and I don’t think Kubrick could have gotten his hands on any of the most harem-exploitative Light Novel adaptations and made it into a masterpiece (or maybe he can, somehow). Usually though that comes from a work that is lacking too much in anything to provide, which is the opposite case for Romeo Tanaka – since he can pull off better psychological characterizations of outsiders than people like Hideaki Anno with less of the painful self-seriousness, and also has a stronger poetic style than probably 90% of writers out there.

    On the other hand, I’m definitely sure that with the current standard of the anime industry, they definitely won’t be able to adapt him well, since they’d have to accommodate for his immense writerliness by creating an adaptation that thinks outside-the-box. The schism between Romeo’s best works and the adaptations of his works is not even comparable to a mere bad adaptation of a good writer – it’s the equivalent of having someone like Tarantino suddenly make something like one of the bad superhero action flicks coming out lately. The gulf is so glaring that you’d instinctively feel as though some Hollywood executive was blackmailing him to do it. Since you’ve read the Rewrite Visual Novel, you can grasp the difference between the quality of something like Moon versus the 70% of the novel that came before it. His other works read in the original would be equivalent to having that kind of atmosphere and writing level for the whole novel rather than a mere fragment of it – which would mean 30 to 50 hours of that kind of writing mixed in with all sorts of poetic ruminations and sci-fi stuff as well as his ridiculous comedy. Furthermore you can see that sort of thing as not really unadaptable – but it would require a person of maybe Anno calibre (just look at what Anno did to the adaptation of the Romance Comedy Manga His & Her Circumstances). Jun Maeda’s Clannad Adaptation is viewed as his thing because it is excessively genuine towards the Visual Novel in its melodrama, emotional manipulation, and overall tone. The Rewrite adaptation is not even that close to Romeo’s domain as compared to something like Humanity has Declined – which is also not really that close. AURA’s movie condensed 100 pages of text into the opening 5 minutes.

    I’d definitely fucking rather see some crazy company try to adapt Romeo with all his excesses, having voice-overs for his best prose lines, and adapting all of his ridiculous exaggerated comedy – rather than a lot of other bullshit out there. I don’t think a medium can grow unless you have as many of those kinds of works out there. What would cinema be if it didn’t have weirdos like Bela Tarr who did 7 hour long films with 1 minute long shots, or weirdos like Godard and the French New Wave? Even Shaft’s majestic attempt at trying to adapt the Monogatari Series with all of its verbal excesses, no matter how overwrought those excesses can be, is still more developmental to the medium than a thousand well-made & well-animated but safe works. To ask the question as to why people would want to adapt a work like that is to ask the same question as to why the heck would Kenneth Brannagh want to create the full 4 hour version of Hamlet even though directors of Shakespeare usually trim off quite a lot of story – because he was entranced by the power of the original and wanted to recreate it in as much the original feel as possible.

    You can critique the TV series itself – but what’s the point of arguing about the adaptation fidelity of a writer, and a whole medium, whose work you’ve only viewed through lackluster directorial efforts and shoddy translations? That’s the equivalent of living in Africa or something and seeing school-play versions of Shakespeare’s lower ranked plays (like maybe Titus Andronicus rather than Hamlet) with translation by a person who only barely understands English – and coming to the conclusion that this silly British guy from overseas must be unfit for theatre – and in extension, that the entire British Theatrical tradition must be extremely overrated. That’s not even criticism or honesty. That’s merely making a grandiose denunciation without seeing the whole. That’s total high school bullshit where some Chinese teacher gives you something like Romance of the Three Kingdoms for some Chinese Literature class and you decide to watch a Hong Kong adaptation with Wuxia Actors and question why this is considered one of the 4 classics of Chinese Literature – and start ranting about how the classics suck. Even someone like Tolstoy had to read Shakespeare entirely in both Russian and English before he even made the comment that he didn’t like him.

    Of course I don’t like the adaptation, and I also don’t like it if the fanbase is happy with this level of adaptation rather than pushing for a more innovative and exuberant take on it. I agree with a number of points, but using the adaptation to make grand decrees on the medium is about as one-sided as it can get.

    As for a Visual Novel that’s good and with a translation okay enough – I guess you could try Hanachirasu by Nitroplus. Quite a good Visual Novel to Anime adaptation would be the not really well-known adaptation of Urobuchi’s Phantom: Requiem of the Phantom

    • You can critique the TV series itself – but what’s the point of arguing about the adaptation fidelity of a writer, and a whole medium, whose work you’ve only viewed through lackluster directorial efforts and shoddy translations?

      Because every fucking visual novel anime I’ve seen has that stupid “build up the characters first and then start the story once you’ve got the audience attached to them” method that only works in a video game and doesn’t work in TV at all. Never forget that Steins;Gate took eleven episodes for something interesting to happen and until then, I have to watch Okabe make jokes towards the girls whilst “hinting” at a grander plot that wasn’t guaranteed to deliver. I don’t enjoy world-building and character-building for their own sake in a non-interactive medium, and in visual novels, that’s pretty much the entire point of them.

      The only way I can see VN adaptations are as those godawful video game to movie adaptations. Which they are, only animated and the average one is better than Mortal Kombat Annihilation or Hitman or whatever.

      Jun Maeda’s Clannad Adaptation is viewed as his thing because it is excessively genuine towards the Visual Novel in its melodrama, emotional manipulation, and overall tone.

      You know what it doesn’t have though? The most important thing that separates the anime from the visual novel? Player interaction. Of course Nagisa’s tears and the show’s non-linearity are going to look dumb if you’re not the one embracing the experience. Besides, Tanaka is actually attached to the writing team for the Rewrite adaptation, so therefore, I have more incentive to put this shit on him than KyoAni’s Clannad adaptation on Maeda.

      Usually though that comes from a work that is lacking too much in anything to provide

      Battle Royale is a shit book, and yet the movie adaptation is one of the most critically acclaimed Japanese films of all-time. Clannad: The Movie is a thousand times better than either the original visual novel or the KyoAni adaptation and all it has in common with them are a few plot points. Then there’s the most famous example, Stephen King. All of his books are shit, and yet about half of them have led to some very successful movie adaptations (the other half, not so much).

      Yes the source material is a major part of what goes wrong with a lot of bad shows, but there are very few cases I can think of when they’re the only reason.

      Even Shaft’s majestic attempt at trying to adapt the Monogatari Series with all of its verbal excesses, no matter how overwrought those excesses can be, is still more developmental to the medium than a thousand well-made & well-animated but safe works.

      The only thing Monogatari progresses is that stupid mindset that animation is not a necessary component for an anime to work, especially since it’s been safer than most “safe” works for a while now.

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