When Your Favorite Anime Series gets a Movie

When Your Favorite Anime Series gets a Movie

Are Anime Movies Really a Good Thing?

The idea that anime movies might actually be a bad thing for anime-only viewers is one I’ve had for a very long time. I simply never got around to writing about it, until today. And with a fairly decent number of anime series receiving movies recently, this seems like as good a time as any to discuss it.

So, my basic argument is that either movies don’t matter, or they mean the series is coming to an end (as far as the anime is concerned). And the reason for this is that anime are, largely, viewed as advertisements for the source material. Who do you think finances anime series? The publishing companies.

They make a lot more money off manga, light novels, and merchandise than they do off anime. And this was the case even before a large percentage of oversees anime viewers used piracy sites. Even within Japan, this is generally how anime are viewed by publishers.

Now, there are, of course, exceptions to this rule. For starters, there are anime original series, but they tend not to receive movies as frequently. There are also series like Monogatari which have had movies incorporated into them just fine.

But then there are series like No Game No Life, which I’ll discuss in more depth later on, for which this is not the case. The movie effectively killed the series off (but not really).

Non-Canon Movies

Boruto: Naruto the Movie anime poster
Boruto: Naruto the Movie

So let’s first cover non-canon movies. This would be things like the One Piece movies, or even most of the Naruto movies. You know, movies that don’t actually affect the main plot of the series. Even the Fullmetal Alchemist movies fall into this category, though one of them is a bit iffy.

Non-canon movies are actually much less of a problem than canon movies, specifically because they’re non-canon. They’re seen as extra content; a bonus for fans of the respective series. But there is still a problem, and that’s the fact that they don’t really matter.

Why should I get invested in a movie that I know has no real effect on the story I’m already invested in?

There is one good way to solve this problem though: make the non-canon movies canon, but flashbacks. For example, I’ve only seen like two of the Naruto movies despite being a huge Naruto fan, but in one I remember Naruto fighting someone inside a volcano — that’s all I remember of it and I don’t know which movie it was.

Rather than having a story like that, involving Naruto in the current timeline, but doing something that doesn’t affect the story, why not have a flashback movie? I would have much rather watched a Naruto movie based on a period of time we didn’t get to see much of, such as when the Second Hokage was in power.

I get it, then a bunch of fans would be mad because the protagonist of the series isn’t in the movie. But I see it as a great way to build up portions of the series’ world which are currently a bit cloudy. That’s a better way to make a movie for a series if it can’t directly affect the story.

Canon Movies

No Game No Life: Zero anime movie cover art
No Game No Life: Zero

However, canon movies are the main topic of this article because they seemingly kill off the series they’re meant to promote. As mentioned before, No Game No Life: Zero is a prime example of this (though it does actually go the route of flashback movie I just said was good). The series was very popular, it got a movie, and then nothing.

And there are many other series you can see this same pattern with. No Game No Life is just one of the most well-known examples. So why is it that canon movies seemingly send their series to die?

Well, it all goes back to the idea that anime are merely advertisements for their source material. No Game No Life was a popular light novel which got turned into an anime. But, the anime only covered a portion of the full story. This is done purposefully so that viewers will then go buy and read the source material to find out what happens next.

However, there’s an even better way to ensure your viewers will purchase the source material, and that’s by creating a canon movie after the one season anime series.

Okay, so you got a lot of people to buy your light novel thanks to the anime series, but there are still a lot who didn’t make the jump. A movie, with its increased production, will serve to push even more of those fans off the edge into the world of your source material.

And once that’s done, you pull out of anime altogether. This is key, because if you continue on with making anime after that point, there’s no reason for the viewers to seek out the source material.

Conclusion

So what about some popular anime series which have recently received movies or are going to receive them? I think Demon Slayer is already confirmed to have a second season after its canon movie. But what about series like KonoSuba, Re:Zero, and Goblin Slayer? As far as I know, we haven’t heard about future seasons for those series.

Have any of your favorite series fallen victim to the movie and bail strategy publishing companies like to take? Let me know in the comments. For me, Madoka Magica was almost that way. I mean, it was an original series, so the one season and a movie was more expected. But luckily we’re getting a new anime based on the mobile game this winter.

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