Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Houshin Engi - What was Skipped

Houshin Engi is one of my favorite manga so I was very happy to hear it was going to get a new anime. However, Houshin Engi is one of my favorite manga so I was very worried when I learned it was only going to be 23 episodes long.

As it turns out, my worries were not unfounded. The first episode skipped a lot of stuff. How much was skipped? 

Let's take a look.

Houshin Engi has a very long story. The 26-episode anime back in 1999 didn't even try to adapt the whole thing (the manga also wasn't over back then) and went with an anime original ending as was the usual back then. How was this adaptation going to manage it? 

Apparently, by skipping lots of stuff.

To put it in perspective for non-manga readers, the first episode of Houshin Engi covers the entire first volume of the manga. 

The backgrounds are very nice
The first half of episode one (minus the flash forward at the beginning) adapts the first chapter of the manga. Taikoubou gets tasked with the Houshin Project and fights Shinkouhyou. That's chapter one. It's rushed but okay. It's in the latter half where things get complicated. 

See in chapter 2, Taikoubou fights and defeats one of Dakki's underlings. This calls the attention of Dakki's sworn-sister, Oukijin, who decides to take care of Taikoubou before he becomes trouble.

Yes, Dakki has a (sworn) sister, two of them in fact. 

In chapter 3, Oukijin finds Taikoubou and they fight. Taikoubou outsmarts and defeats her. However, instead of sealing her, Taikoubou decides to do something else. Oukijin, who has turned into a stone lute (in-story mechanics. May do a post on this if the next episode doesn't explain it), has become a very valuable hostage against Dakki.

That's right. The main character of a Shounen Jump manga decides to take the big bad's sister hostage.

With Dakki's sister literally in his hands, Taikoubou walks into the palace confident that Dakki won't be able to attack him out of concern for her sister. This is a marked change from the anime where Taikoubou just walks into the palace without much of a plan.

In fact, it is Dakki herself who welcomes Taikoubou into the palace and gives him an audience with the Emperor. She's angry at what he did to her sister and really wants to teach him a lesson. 

Like that, Taikoubou becomes court musician. 

In the anime, Taikoubou immediately tries to take the Emperor away. In the manga, he spends days in the palace, trying to find a weak point in Dakki's security and growing more desperate by the day. 

Ultimately, Dakki outsmarts him and rescues her sister. That's when the snake pit scene you saw in the anime ensues. 

After reading this, I am pretty sure you can appreciate the differences with the anime. 

The intro arc does several things that I think are important. It's impact on the plot isn't huge. In fact, the anime could have easily skipped it which I feel would have been the better choice instead of adapting it like they did. 

However, this arc does establish a lot of things about our protagonist and antagonist. 

First of all, Taikoubou and Dakki are both very smart. He may act like a goof. She may act like a ditz. They are both tricksters who can run mental circles around most people. In fact, it's Taikoubou's intelligence that causes his downfall in this arc. He's so certain he can make up for his lack of power with wits that he's unprepared for someone who is smart and powerful. 

Second, it establishes how cruel Dakki can be while also making sure the audience knows there are people she gives a damn about (her sisters). 

Third, it shows Taikoubou is unconventional. He's far from the usual shounen protagonist (and I am not using that term negatively because I like shounen protagonists) and that is something to look forward to in this manga. 

The anime does not capture this at all, and honestly, it would have been better if they skipped the prologue arc. The next episode looks like it will have better pacing, and there is a chance this adaption will only go up to the Sennin War arc.

That's something be hopeful for.

Until next time!

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