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.

it’ o.k…

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.

I’ve always liked this image

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.

no more Plartinum End!

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…

28 thoughts

  1. To be fair, this is actually something I’ve noticed with (non-manga/LNs) books a lot – because the cover does a lot of the selling, typically “From the creator of…:” gets slung around a lot. However, creators are people like you too – they have their own thoughts, feelings and backstories, which shapes their creations, and not everything /has/ to be agreeable to individual audience members (especially potentially polarising content like Death Note and Platinum End), which I find is an inherent downside of “From the creator of…” as a marketing practice.

    From what I know of the two series, they’re quite superficially similar, which is probably why marketing teams have to explain why that is too.

    I haven’t touched Platinum End because I’m knee-deep in seasonals from COVID – still *sweatdrops* – and the holo manga covers have attracted me, but I’ve always bought other manga instead.

    I do remember Death Note being one of the first manga I finished, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking while it’s controversial, it’s not entirely stuff that sets the world on fire (metaphorically). Bakuman was…fine…probably because I binged the manga. Thus, while the expectations do make me feel Ohba/Obata are suited for a death game series (because they essentially go back to being “they who made Death Note” to do it), I’m not going to be disappointed if it ends up sucking (when/if I get around to it) like basically everyone is saying here.

  2. I’m glad I made the right choice by dropping Platinum End. It was so awful that I can’t even review it.

    Due to my low opinion of Death Note in recently, Platinum End was sadly the nail of the coffin of my respect of Ooba’s work for me.

    Ooba’s writing style has clearly aged like milk today.
    From the Male enpowerment, horrible female character treatment to characters literally only existing to be disposable tools for the plot.

    1. You absolutely made the right choice but I will say the last 2 episodes were the best so far. Which for this show isn’t that impressive

  3. I find this really interesting since I was one of the people who read Platinum End cover to cover and liked it for the most part. I didn’t mind the characters being a bit flat, which they are, or the plot holes which I didn’t notice. I thought it was just that weird title after two ‘hits’ that Ohba/Ooba team made, and honestly they were bound to hit a popularity wall at some point.

    It sucks that Platinum End isn’t clicking with many. Honestly despite me wanting to watch it I probably won’t if it’s really this bad. At the same time, as much as I hate this phrase and where it came from “manage your expectations” is very much at play. It’s fine to have a creator whose works you love and that there’s more then one of them to enjoy. But at some point, for whatever reason, a creator will ‘disappoint’ you in some way. Seems like that happened here is all.

    Here’s hoping their next attempt lands a bit better.

    1. It’s not very good. Although to be fair, I’m having more fun with it now. Sometimes cinematic languages emphasise the bad parts.

    1. What do you think about people disregarding the source material justbecause of aname attached and getting their hopes up despite the fact that the manga wasn’t well received?

      1. Well after it aired, Death Note became one of my gateways to anime. It was the same for a bunch of boys my age — the story engrossed us all, for reasons best left for another day. I believe it still acts as a gateway for many kids today.

        As enthusiastic youngsters, we didn’t really have points of reference to ground our opinions, or the experience to anticipate the possibility of disappointment. If we liked something it was amazing, if we didn’t it was terrible. If people disagreed with us they were dumb, with their viewpoints directly consigned to the recycle bin. Who cares what Randos A & B said on some shitty forum? Who are they to besmirch the good name of based legend Ooba-sensei? Only a demi-god could churn out f*cking Death Note!!

        If there’s a demographic prone to brash impulse, tunnel vision & soaring optimism… It is younger fans. Unsurprisingly, they tend to be most inclined to feel crushing disappointment.

        Also, most of us knew far too little about manga, to engage with its wider community. We might’ve heard about certain mangakas being behind some other works. But gauging the fandom’s feedback to a particular manga… That fell way out of our wheelhouse. (That bit still applies to me, by the way.)

  4. There was definitely the disappointment given pre-airing lots of people were making a big deal of the names attached to this story and this anime was heavily pushed in promotional videos pre-season. But ultimately I would have walked away from it anyway at the 12 episode point because the story isn’t even just kind of dull or average, it is pretty bad and the characters (who at first had the possibility of maybe being kind of interesting) never seemed to get anywhere and their choices made such little sense. Basically watching each episode wasn’t meh so much as actively painful if you tried to employ any logic as you followed the story by the end of the first cour.
    And while it isn’t fair to dislike it because it isn’t good as the writer’s other works, it is always going to happen if you are hyped for something from an author you like and then you get something that just isn’t that great. Human nature.

  5. Speaking for myself…

    Sequels aside, I’ve learned to go into shows with zero expectations. Honestly, it’s how I try to approach the less important things in life. If you expect nothing, you never get disappointed. And if anything good happens, that’s a net positive! I mean, why get upset over your hobbies? Aren’t they supposed to bring you joy, provide a brief respite from life’s little letdowns?

    While I did greatly enjoy parts of Death Note, that played no role in my experience of Platinum End. It simply bored the hell out of me! No need to stick with something you don’t enjoy.

    As for your question… The entertainment field feels so overcrowded in our time. Gone are the days when my illiterate elders only had their yellowed deck of cards to pass the time. If a show use any minor detail to catch folks’ attention, that’s perfectly fine. But past quality is no guarantor of future quality. And given enough time, I think most of us come to realize that.

    1. I tend to be clueless about shows so I also go in with no expectations except when I’ve loved the source material. If I didn’t care for the manga, then it makes no difference but when I really love the characters and story already, no matter ow hard I try, expectations sneak in,

  6. I did watch episode 1 of Platinum End, but mostly out of normal curiosity based on the premise rather than on who created it. I watched both Death Note and Bakuman back in the day and enjoyed them, but neither have ever been on my top 10 anime of all time or anything. In general, I do agree that people should probably try to temper their expectations based solely on the original creator/director/whatever – in fact, this has been a complaint of mine before relating to Kunihiko Ikuhara’s work (in that I think people would’ve had very different reactions to, say, Yurikuma Arashi or Sarazanmai if these titles had been created by someone with no name recognition).

    1. I am a big fan of Ikuhara and I admit, my hopes do go up when I see his name. I’ve been lucky in that so far even the anime I enjoy less I have still enjoyed on some level. I should be a bit careful about it

  7. Well the thing is, if you create something as impactful as Death Note has been and then create something like Bakuman which, while not on Death Note’s popularity level, was a success, to have the Ohba/Obata combination again in manga definitely would create expectations. It’s essentially if you’re following a long time author, they’ve created enjoyable work after enjoyable work, so when they create their newest work, you’ll have expectations. So for Platinum End, if you’re marketing this work, you’re basically obligated to mention what these two have worked on before. So in theory, it’s not really wrong about anime creating certain expectations.

    But aside from that, I agree with Scott — a bad work can be sussed out regardless of who’s working on it. Another example would be Orient, which across the board (manga & anime) doesn’t appear to be so well liked…and that’s the work from the creator of Magi, a fairly successful series. There’s just something that doesn’t work, and if they were from unknown creators, I think fans would still figure out the work is just bad.

  8. Much like Scott, I never really was a fan of either Death Note or Bakuman. I enjoyed both, to be sure, but not enough to cause any expectations for Platinum End. That said, expectations can definitely impact your enjoyment of a show negatively, if they’re not met. I don’t tend to have that problem often, since many of my favourite creators had stuff I didn’t like very much as well, so I tend to think “oh, well, missed opportunity,” and move on.

    For some directors, most notably Shin Oonuma, it’s like playing a game of dice: win: enjoy the show, lose: don’t enjoy the show. High potential in both directions. It’s… interesting.

    1. I also don’t like all the works of my faourite creators. Except one… In thisase, the disconnect for me was the a lot of the fans were already saying it wasn’t great and we jus ignored them.

  9. I don’t really have any high opinions of Death Note or of Ooba’s work in general, which is why I avoided this one. I do think that a bad work is bad regardless of who did it and how famous they are, but I don’t think it would make as much of a splash if there wasn’t a famous name attached to it.

    1. I share the same thoughts expect I ended up dropping Platinum End after the first cour.
      Granted I grown to really dislike Death Note after my recent re-watch before Platinum End aired due to the writing and tone falling out once Misa gets introduced.

      Platinum End is a boring, poorly written and outdated work that it’s frankly carried by Ooba’s previous work in name only.

      Truly a shame.

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