Manga and anime: how can you say that one is better than the other? Well, it is mostly a matter of opinion, but some manga are clearly way ahead of their on-screen counterparts. Great works like (my personal favorite) Death Note — written by an individual under the alias of Tsugumi Ohba — and Rosario + Vampire were excellently penned by their authors.
However, apart from the aspects of the genre, style and art of the creations themselves, a major difference is that one had a terrible TV adaptation, while the other was so successful that it spawned not only an anime, but also no less than six spin offs!
The identity of the latter, quite clear by now, is Death Note. Its creation dates back to 2003 and it still garners so much hype that the latest live-action movie is under development and is slated to release next year.
However, when we take a look at Rosario + Vampire (of which I first watched the anime), it failed to gather even a semblance of attention from me, and I just formed a mental block about it. The anime did not express any sort of emotion whatsoever. In fact, with the exaggerated sizes of the characters’ butts and busts, Rosario + Vampire‘s very purpose is to get you aroused.
Rosario + Vampire and Death Note are the perfect comparison, since I watched the anime first in both cases. So when I watched Rosario + Vampire, I could only perceive that the manga would be just as mundane, dumb, hopelessly romantic and desperately thirsty as the show was, whereas Death Note‘s TV adaptation gave a strong signal of mystery, enigma and suspense. The anime (and a friend) simply urged me to read the manga, which is delightfully refreshing due to minor plot changes. Later, however, I found out that Rosario + Vampire is an equally interesting read.
What you are exposed to first, be it manga or anime, is a gateway to a new world, a new universe. This universe involves the manga (which presumably came first), the anime, the movie(s), the light novels, even the action figurines! The quality, the quantity, the art, style, finesse, everything matters. And your first impression of the universe is crafted by how you perceive the part you are first exposed to.
If you did not like that manga you read last month, you probably are not going to watch the anime version that released the previous day. Therefore, the creator has to play a major role in the making of any products parallel to the manga or light novel he has written. It is his craft which he has to protect — it’s reputation, which he has to protect. The producers can be viewed simply as middlemen, looking to ooze some money out of the deep, meaningful universe the manga artist has created, and in that process, the intensity gets diluted or exaggerated as they pander to the diverse audience worldwide. This is a very difficult task, but one which benefits everyone involved in that universe.
So the producers of anime should see anime not as a tool of fan-service (kind of defines Sword Art Online now), but as something that could be a gateway to the manga itself. They have to concentrate on appealing to the manga readers as well as newcomers to the series, it is only going to help them after all.
We as consumers should be able to decide whether to pick up a manga based on its anime or going the other way round — even though that is not how it should work. It is human nature after all, to judge non-stop, and it is up to the creators to make sure that they get their share of glory and not let an unimpressive, unimaginative, unrefined, money minded and fan serviced show reach the audience.