Watching the anime adaption really sheds light on who did what in the manga adaption. The manga was written by Huang Jin Zhou, which is a unit composed of Arakawa, Studio Flag and Genco. I’ve only read the first four volumes of the manga- (I keep waiting for the price of the fifth to go down on Amazon but that’s never going to happen apparently so I might go ahead and order it…)- and there’s a looooot more predictable, shonen cliche than there is in any of Hiromu Arakawa’s other work.
Not to mention in the manga, the story is sort of rushed and all over the place. I guess that’s a side effect of multiple writers. There’s a huge cast of characters, we barely get to know any of them, things happen really quickly and there wasn’t nearly as much love given to the female characters as I expected. There’s even a scene where the boys basically send Laila and Rinmei off when the group attacked. I mean it makes sense for Laila because she doesn’t have superpowers but why Rinmei? I would assume she was sent off so she could protect Laila, but the manga didn’t even bother giving a justification for it beyond “hey, the two girls are ordered by the men to leave the fighting to them! And so they do!”. And Rinmei decides to stay out of the final battle because she’s with child. Which would be fine because it’s shown to be her decision, and I guess she didn’t want to risk a miscarriage- but considering we barely got to see do her Divine Warrior stuff before this, it’s a bit of a letdown to have her shuffled off and *waiting for her man*. And while Laila can take down most mooks on her own, she’s constantly damsel-in-distress’d so her brother and Housei have someone to rescue.
But there are a few fresh things about the manga that, along with Arakawa’s great artwork, kept me reading. Laila has a really strong personality in the manga, and I really like her arc. In the fourth volume, there’s a bit where the triple whammy of witnessing her father’s death at the hands of someone who informs her it’s because of her brother, Taito, that this happened, finding out her brother is not related to her by blood and her mother basically died because they adopted her brother, she feels so betrayed she falls into the trap of the resident mind-whammy dude and attacks her bro, But she can’t bring herself to kill him because “I can’t…because we’re family…without you, I really would be alone…” and snaps out of it on her own. She makes Taito some clothes later since she ruined his old ones by like…slashing him repeatedly with a knife..by way of apology.
So the manga has some things going for it, but the anime is basically 100% shonen cliche. Laila’s always just standing around while everyone’s fighting and has no character arc at all- she’s 100% there to be the little sister in peril. It really bothered me in episode 18- all Laila does when her temple is attacked is stand around. In the manga, she and Rinmei singlehandedly drove off the army and evacuated everyone. And instead of the dad’s death being quick and brutal in the manga, it becomes a really standard death scene in the anime where the dad makes a dramatic speech to everyone and dies slowly and then Taito gets angry and blahhhh.
And instead of Laila being manipulated into nearly murdering a loved one under extreme circumstances we have…her yelling at Taito for not saving their dad even though she was right there not saving him either and then like, she gets over it I guess but never apologizes for saying that. Which doesn’t make sense and has no purpose for Laila’s development, but was just a throwaway scene to pile more manpain on Taito I guess. Even the stuff in the manga that stood out as not completely standard (I mean, the hero getting lashed out at by someone close to them and being like “I’ll allow you to kill me bc I love you so!!!” “oh great now I can’t do it” isn’t exactly the most original, but I liked the brutal way it was done in the manga and what it meant for the characters) is turned super standard in the anime, and it’s a shame, because the anime has more room to develop the characters and plot, and therefore the girls get much more screentime. Even though she was often a damsel in distress, Laila is always such a dynamic character in the manga, but her job in the anime is to stand by and react, when she’s not angsting over her brother’s manpain.
Basically what I’m concluding looking at the two versions is all or most the trite shonen cliche in these stories comes from Studio Flag. Studio Flag produced the anime on their own, which is why the anime is basically straight-up predictable shonen cliche when the manga has it’s good points- those good points came from Arakawa and possibly the other person that was involved in the writing team (or he may have just contributed cliche as well). Looking at the difference in the adaption makes that abundantly clear.
THE MORE YOU KNOW.
I’m basically just watching the anime now because I like to finish things I start.