And here’s why:
I wrote the first draft for this about two months ago, when the Noblesse anime had just started airing and I was about one third of the way through the God of Highschool webtoon. When I finished writing it I wasn’t quite confident in what I wrote so I decided to put it on hold. Now that I’ve caught up with God of Highschool, and the Noblesse anime seems to be coming to an end, I feel more confident in my opinions, and my thoughts on certain parts have changed as well. So today I want to talk about each of the three webtoons that recently got anime adaptations, this being; Noblesse, God of Highschool and Tower of God. I will talk about each of their strengths and why I believe the adaptation failed to do the source material justice.
Let’s start with the one that I have the most straightforward opinion about; Noblesse.
Noblesse’s story is kind of bland. I’m sorry, it just is. It has fun characters, and the cast works great off of each other, but the actual story has never been very interesting in my opinion. Group of bad guys show up, Frankenstein and or Rai defeat them without any real effort, some of the bad guys join the good guys, and we go back to the status quo. All while they look stunningly handsome doing so, obviously. The anime focuses on the story, and rushes through the source material because of it. I’ve been reading the webtoon alongside the anime, and after a 30 minute OVA + 11 anime episodes it has covered roughly 190 webtoon chapters. That translates to about 17 chapters per episode, although it is a lot closer to 9 or 10 chapters per episode if you consider the fact that the OVA covered 90 chapters.
Then what was cut? Good question, with a simple answer. They seem to have cut a small arc that is honestly not important depending on how many sequels they plan, but was quite funny. The second thing they seem to have cut is a lot of the comedy. The Noblesse webtoon is funny. It is very funny. Frankenstein and Rai as characters shine when it comes to funny moments. Later on Seira and Regis add a lot of humor to the story as well. I regularly found myself chuckling on the 7 am train while reading this webtoon, which is something I don’t often do. I think getting good comedy done in a comic isn’t easy, and Noblesse delivers on this time and time again. To me, this is the biggest reason why the anime feels as bland as it does. It lacks humor. I think this show would have been a lot better if they went for a slower paced story, that didn’t cut the jokes in favor of quick action. Now it’s just a generic action flick with handsome vampires.
The second webtoon I want to tackle is God of Highschool. That’s right, I’ll be your contradiction! (cue the dubstep.) No? Alright, moving on.
God of Highschool was… confusing. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. I was constantly amazed by the fight animations, especially the fight that turned into calligraphy, I love creative stuff like that. I believe the official term for scenes like these is ‘sakuga’ or a scene that has considerably higher quality animation than the rest. It’s great because your eyes get treated to art in motion. I think this contributed a lot to me deciding to read the source material after watching what was a disappointing anime.
The webtoon also has some issues. There is some questionable pacing here and there, and especially the later arcs feel like the story is just repeating itself to an extent. I also think some of the villain writing is weak, but the villain of the current arc, on the other hand, is absolutely fantastic.
Then where did it go wrong in the adaptation? I mentioned it earlier, but GoH gets confusing. There are a lot of different factions, characters with different allegiances and strange but interesting power systems. The anime dumps all of that information on you very quickly and from then on assumed everything was understood. The webtoon spends more time with some of these concepts, and explains them better. It was a lot more clear to me who the Six were, and who Nox was and what they represented. At least the amount we are told early on. I think the verdict on this one is the same as I would give Noblesse; watch the show and if the concept seems interesting read the webtoon, because it’s leagues better.
The third of three beasts to tackle is Tower of God. Tower of God is fantastic. I can honestly say I haven’t been this excited while reading a comic since I originally read One Piece. But let’s take it one step at a time and start with the adaptation. Now I didn’t think the adaptation was bad at all. As a matter of fact, I thought it was one of the better shows that aired that season. But reading online about the gripes people had with it, I couldn’t say I didn’t agree at all. Bam is not a very interesting character. The pacing is a bit fast, and there isn’t a ton of story yet. It feels like a prologue of sorts.
I agree with all of those points, but I enjoyed the show regardless of those issues. Bam is boring early on, but this is kind of the point. A large theme in the story is Bam exploring who he is, and gaining a sense of self. What does he care about, who is important to him. This doesn’t happen in the anime because, as stated above, it only covers the prologue. It’s an introduction of the world, characters and powers. After that the characters are actually thrown into the real world, and out of the tutorial area.
Looking back on the anime now, after reading the source, I think the criticisms are very fair. I honestly think the anime would have disappointed me as well, had I read the source material ahead of time.
I will now be heading into minor spoiler territory, so be aware.
Bam is a special boy. That’s fairly obvious with him being in a cave and everything, but there is something behind all of this. There is also a reason why he was chosen as an irregular, that doesn’t happen often. As the story progresses, we see Bam get stronger, but more importantly, get a real personality. It takes him a while, but he starts to think for himself, gain a sense of morality beyond being a simp for Rachel, and have real goals. But the tower is a cruel place, and staying alive is a hard thing to do. Having to grow stronger at a fast pace in this world is a tough challenge to face, but Bam is special. Not only is he special, he is very kind, which helps him in gaining allies. He works hard for this, and very few things ever go right immediately. Although I don’t think Bam will ever die, as most protagonists are meant to make it to the end of their story, I do think the dangers of the tower are actually scary sometimes, and it wouldn’t surprise me if main characters die on the regular.
I want to mention two more things about ToG that I think level up the quality of the story.
The first is that characters move in and out of the story naturally. People are always climbing the tower, and sometimes characters will just leave and not come back for 300 chapters. They never seem to be forgotten though, and the world is ever moving. This gives a sense of depth to the world that I think isn’t really rivaled by many shows.
The second is arguably the most minor but it really helps me believe the story. Characters change clothes a lot. There’s no Natsu wearing the same stinky clothes for 400 episodes, or Naruto switching ninja garb once or twice a decade. Almost every time we see characters again they are wearing something completely different, and it’s so refreshing.
I feel like I’ve been rambling again, which tends to happen with these kinds of posts. As you might have noticed at this point, I’m quite passionate about these three series. I think all three are very good, and on par with some of the best manga out there, especially Tower of God. What I would like to suggest is that anyone who likes reading gives them a shot. The anime of each of these are definitely watchable, they’re not terrible by any means, but if the concept of each show attracts you, then the webtoon is definitely the way to go. Tower of God is completely free on the webtoons app, and God of Highschool is free barring the latest 3 chapters. Noblesse is a bit more tricky. You can do what I’ve been doing, and read 2 free chapters a day, or you can pay to unlock the whole thing. It’s honestly worth it to show support to any of these authors, as they are all very talented.
If there is anything I want you readers to take away from this, is that Tower of God is fantastic, and anyone not reading it is missing out! Please let me know your opinions on these Webtoons, as well as any suggestions, I’m really hoping for similar gems!