Let me tell you what lead to this post. The short of it is: Platinum End!
Actually, I am currently watching the second cour of the show and I think I’m one of the very few people that hasn’t already dropped it. It got me thinking: what happened with Platinum End? Why is it so bad? Not in the sense of why is the show itself so bad, but why is it leaving such a bad impression.
In my opinion, Platinum End isn’t good. Like in an objective way. I think the characters are flat and mostly dull. The pacing is really off which is hurting the development a lot. And even the technical aspects of the show are unimpressive. But you know, there are A LOT of anime out there that I could describe in the exact same way. And they aren’t seen as a failure, at least not in the same way.
The immediate and easy answer that came to me is disappointment. People were hyped for this show. It was one of the most anticipated series of the season, if not THE most. Everyone was eagerly awaiting for the show to premiere and already saying how amazing it was going to be.
So when it did air and it turned out to be ok at best, people were let down big time. All that excitement that amounted to nothing turned bitter. And as such, the backlash was more intense than it would have been for a random show someone just decided to try for no particular reason.
I get that. And that would be a reasonable explanation. Except that Platinum End, like most anime, isn’t an original story. It’s adapted from a manga that was readily available in most languages for years now. And the manga is also considered to be ok at best by most readers.
I haven’t read the manga myself but I did read reviews and impressions of it when Platinum End was announced, before the first episode, just to get an idea of what everyone was talking about. Those reviews pretty much outlined the same issues that the anime has. They pointed to weak characters, plot holes and a generally lacklustre narrative.
I personally think there are plenty of anime that elevate the source material. So this wasn’t enough to deter me. But most people tend to believe the opposite. That generally, manga is the better medium for storytelling and if you have the means and time, then reading the manga is always the way to go.
Here’s my question then, if the manga was already considered unimpressive, and the majority believe the manga to always be better (hyperbole but you get it). Why were so many people so sure that Platinum End was going to be this exceptional not to be missed anime? It makes no sense. Every indication was that the anime would be average at best.
And really, the only thing I can think of, is that it was based entirely on the fact that the manga was written by Tsugumi Ooba. Or to be even more specific about it, because it was written by the same author as Death Note.
When I reviewed the very first episode, I had about a dozen readers telling me that. Variations of: “This was written by the same “guy” that wrote Death Note so you know it’s going to be amazing” were all over the comments section. I put guy in quotes there because I know Ooba is a pen name and as far as I know we have no idea who the actual author is.
In any case, hopes were high for this series, seemingly entirely due to Ooba’s name being attached. And this, regardless of what Platinum End actually was.
And it got me thinking, was this fair? By all accounts, Platinum End the anime is delivering what it was supposed to. The rating for the manga and anime are almost the same on aggregators. Most of the comments I have seen from readers of the manga seem to confirm that the show is being true to the story and faithful to the experience. This was what they expected a Platinum End adaptation to be. So why are we mad?
OK, maybe people aren’t mad. But the way bloggers seemed relieved, almost elated to drop the show and readers quickly stopped caring or talking about it was very telling. You always have certain people who vocally dislike specific shows each season. But it’s rarely this unanimous and definite.
Part of me thinks that this is because of unreasonable expectations created by the Ooba name. And it’s not like it was heavily advertised as a show like Death Note or Form the Creator of… That’s just something we fans found out by ourselves and then it spread throughout the community. It was unavoidable for the show to create expectations unless they completely changed the title and somehow kept the source material a secret or something.
And I don’t know if that’s fair. Maybe fair isn’t the right word. On the one hand, I do think that a number of people who dropped the show unceremoniously might have watched it till the end if they came across it a few years from now and started it without expectations. On the other hand, I think that nowhere near as many viewers would have picked it up in the first place if it wasn’t for the whole Death Note connection.
So even though I think the comparisons of those two shows actively did Platinum End a huge disservice. I think it was also the best advertising they could have hoped for.
Still, it was not completely fair of the viewers to expect the two shows to be similar or on the same level. Not that it isn’t a completely reasonable reaction.
I know for a fact that if Yuki Midorikawa ever decides to start a new series, I expect it to be fantastic. I don’t care what it is, my expectations are already sky-high and I also expect to love it. So if she just happens to choose a topic I have no interest in, I will be highly disappointed. And I know that’s neither rational nor fair but it is what will happen.
So here’s a question for all of you. Do you think it would have been better if Platinum End had somehow been more subtle about the connection with Death Note? Like changed the title for instance. Not just Platinum End, do you think that in general, anime should be careful about creating expectations from the public based on authorship and nothing else. Or do you believe the interest it creates in a new show is more than worth the risk?
I wrote this before episode 15 aired and with my luck, the second cour is going to be amazing. People will pick it up again and in a month everybody will be leaving me comments about how his post makes NO SENSE! Oh well…