Manga and anime wars are common in the fandom, with anime adaptations often being preferred over their manga counterparts due to the extra pizzazz that animation, voice acting and a good soundtrack bring to the story.
However, the anime does not always capture the essence of print media, and even devoted anime fans often turn towards the original source material to enjoy the full flavor of the series.
Popular series where the manga is superior to the anime adaptation
Any fan of the Berserk series will immediately confess that the manga is indeed far superior to the anime. Be it in terms of art or narrative, any lover of the series will make a beeline for the original source, while enthusiastically praising the late Miura Kentaru’s stunning artwork.
Furthermore, the anime adaptations only cover certain arcs and one would have to return to the manga eventually to get a full grasp of the story. However, if fans really want to see Berserk before reading it, this is one of the rare instances when the older 1997 anime adaptation is far better than the 2016 one.
2) One Punch Man
There are few in the anime community, and even outside it who haven’t at least heard of One Punch Man, even if they haven’t seen it. The series is popular for being a satire of superhero stories, subverting almost every popular trope into a comedic moment.
But as good as the anime is, the manga is usually considered to be even better due to ONE’s brilliant artwork and vast amount of extra content that never got animated due to them being bonus chapters. And for those willing to go another step further, the webcomic is considered on the same level or even better for the comedy, if not for anything else.
3) Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul is iconic for its first opening theme, graphical content and memes. Furthermore, the anime adaptation has been heavily criticized by fans for ruining the original narrative. It is well-known that the anime changes several key details and steadily begins going downhill after the first two seasons.
The pacing was too rushed, glossing over or completely skipping several key-points of the narrative, which made the anime both confusing and less gripping. While the animation was satisfactory, for those looking to enjoy the plot's complexity, good character-development and emotionally charged content, the manga is a must-read.
4) Blue Period
Blue Period received an exclusive Netflix anime produced by Seven Arcs studio in 2020, thrusting the series into the spotlight. But a lot of details are lost in the process, barely managing to convey the nuances and details that the manga so painstakingly integrates into the narrative.
It fails to capture the technical aspects of the painting that Yatora is exposed to or the subtle character development expressed through dialog and offhand comments. Furthermore, the underlying drama that fuels Yatora rarely comes to the fore. The anime feels like a washed-out version, despite being quite literally, more colorful.
5) A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice is a beautiful movie with a heart-wrenching take on issues like bullying, depression and self harm. The anime adaptation is no doubt a masterpiece, featuring beautiful animation and a poignant soundtrack. However, the anime glosses over some details and slightly changes the ending, with the movie concluding on an optimistic note.
The manga is far more somber, however, and the ending is more realistic, hammering it home that not everyone learns or changes their ways. It also explores the events of the story and the trauma of the characters in more detail, which regrettably cannot be covered within the two-hour runtime of the anime movie.
One of the “Big Three” of shonen anime, Bleach is as popular as an anime can get. But as awesome as it is, the adaptation is extensively riddled with filler episodes and remains inconsistent with its pacing. The soundtrack of the anime, though in itself laudable, is placed at odd moments, which takes away from the experience.
The manga is much more solid in comparison in terms of art, pacing and plot. It also explains scenarios in greater detail, providing clarity to later events. The anime, left unfinished, also left viewers waiting. However, with the upcoming Thousand Year Blood War arc, this problem will hopefully be solved.
7) Soul Eater
Soul Eater is dark and edgy, while also featuring some vibrant animation. The plot of the anime is pretty interesting as well, and overall, makes for an entertaining watch. But it deviates from the original source material, which has a far darker ending.
Ardent fans of the series agree that the manga ending is far more compelling, though it might make the overall aura of the show darker. Both have their merits, but the original source material definitely triumphs because of the complexity imbued within the plot and theme, along with better pacing of the narrative.
8) Junji Ito Collection
Junji Ito is a household name for those who love horror manga, and fans were beyond excited when its anime adaptation got announced. But the anime proved to be a very weak imitation of the real experience. The adaptation fails to invoke the horror that Ito’s monsters are famous for, while the characters feel lackluster and unrealistic.
The soundtrack, too, is lacking and adds little to the anime's appeal. For those who are not acquainted with Ito’s horror might find it satisfactory, but for others, this renowned mangaka’s terrifying artwork is better enjoyed in the original.
These aren't the only series eliciting such comparisons, with similar debates having occurred over the years involving Fruits Basket, Fullmetal Alchemist, Black Butler, Seven Deadly Sins and Flowers of Evil among many others.