Netflix has come out with quite a few original anime series, including The Way of the House Husband, Cagaster of an Insect Cage, A Whisker Away, Drifting Dragons, Child of Kamiari Month, and Children of the Whales to name a few. And while these shows are fairly decent they all feel like they’re just not as good as they could be.
Some notable exceptions are Castlevania, Seven Deadly Sins, and Violet Evergarden, which are all considered to be wonderful shows. But there are no Netflix Originals with a rating of over 8.4, Violet Evergarden being the only one at that rank, and only seven with an eight or higher (Ratings from IMDB). So why is it that Netflix anime just aren’t as good?
The average Netflix original is in production for between seven and nine months. This is across the board, live action, anime, and skit shows, therefore it can be expected that animated series are on the longer end of that spectrum though it isn’t guaranteed.
On the other side of things, most animation studios budget around three months per episode. Successful anime movies can take even longer with Princess Mononoke being in production for three years. This rushed timeline is likely to be at the root of every other problem encountered, at the very least it will compound them to make the other issues more glaring.
Anime and Manga
Strangely many Netflix original anime are not based on Manga, A Whisker Away and Vampire in the Garden most noticeably. There are rumors that A Whisker Away may get a manga adaptation, however, this is highly unusual and the vast majority of anime are at least inspired by a popular manga source. This gives them structure, pacing, and arc guidelines that they may or may not choose to follow. This became a huge problem in Vampire in the Garden. Each episode felt like it rushed through an entire arc’s worth of content.
Had there been a manga first the animators could have learned from their mistakes, chosen which storylines needed more development and which ones could be as glossed over as they were. Shows that closely follow a manga source tend to do fairly well, or at least as well as the manga, Demon Slayer and Attack on Titan for example. While they aren’t perfect adaptations, having another source that helps them to stabilize the story, and allows fans to engage differently only strengthens the overall show.
Ideas and Details
Many Netflix animes are well animated, and do have unique stories, Drifting Dragons for example. But in the majority of these cases, it feels like Netflix forgot one important detail or another. In Drifting Dragons they forgot that viewers should like the characters, who are fundamentally whalers who hunt dragons just because they like to eat them and sell them.
In Children of the Whales, they forgot that there should be some happy moments to outweigh the sad. It simply jumps from massacre to death to heartbreaking moments with almost no respite between. These two shows are rated 6.2 and 7.1 respectively, probably this high due to the technical aspects of animation still looking decent and the stories being unique.
Laziness or Bravery?
In a few cases, Netflix does things with their animation that haven’t really been done before, it is unclear if they do this out of laziness or in an effort to experiment. The Way of the House Husband for example is depicted almost exclusively by still frames, almost as if one is having a manga read to them.
Drifting Dragons is done almost entirely through advanced 3-D modeling. Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn’t. The Way of the House Husband disappointed many fans of the manga, whereas visually Drifting Dragons is breathtaking. Both of these methods likely cut production costs for the show, and may even have helped them to meet aggressive production deadlines. It is also possible that Netflix is simply trying to pioneer new animation methods.
Netflix original animes are generally fairly low rated, and even more so on MyAnimeList than on IMDB, although this can likely be attributed to a slightly different audience. Regardless, audiences don’t seem to be as happy with Netflix’s lineup of anime as they do with the genre as a whole. Netflix seems to expect things to happen on a tight deadline that just results in bits and pieces falling through the cracks. This doesn’t however mean that the shows can’t be enjoyable.
While one may not like the characters in Drifting Dragonsit’s well worth the watch for the completely unique designs of the dragons themselves. Vampire in the Garden has a super rushed timeline, but every plot point is so good that it just makes you mad they didn’t take more time. You want more of the show, you’re just mad you didn’t get it. Netflix still has some kinks to work out with their anime originals, but they are well on the right path.
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