Sequels: Do They Suck?

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Blunt, as always; but it's something that's often true among all forms of entertainment, whether it be movies, video games, or anime. Somehow the second, or third, maybe twentieth installment in a franchise just doesn't seem to match up to the previous in the series.

Today's whining is specifically brought to you by the second season of Da Capo, which is found by a lot of the anime community (again, a lot meaning what two places I could dig up posts on such an ancient series, plus whatever comments) to be inferior to the original, for whatever reason, whether it be a predictable outcome, annoying characters, or repetition.

For the most part I find this verdict to be true, and I can think of a few other shows that fit the bill. Shuffle! Memories can barely even be considered a sequel, rather being more of a clip show. To Heart 2 is not a sequel per se, but still very much "more of the same".

But are these sequels really as amazingly mediocre as many fans put them out to be? Not any specific show or game in general, but rather, as a whole, are sequels held up to a higher standard, and thus, rated lower? Or is it just the fact that the producers ran out of ideas?

Or, hey, are sequels a good thing? Asking the tough(ish) questions around here is the most fun...

Quite simply one of the reasons that sequels, at least in the anime world, are judged more harshly is because they already have a devout fanbase. Similarly to how visual novel conversions get judged pretty harshly at times, sequels begin with established content and characters, so if the storytelling and character portrayal doesn't match up with a fan's view of the series, some serious rifts are going to form.

Fans, especially in the anonymous age of the internet, are a very judgemental species, and as such hold many series to a high standard; sequels should be as good as, if not better than, the original, and when the original was a very well-recieved anime, it's a tough bar to clear.

Not to mention, opinions can be distorted very easily; a fan's "first love" of sorts is often tough to unseat, as shows catering to a fan's taste or exposing them to something new and exciting are often rated perhaps much higher than they should be.

Haruhi, for one. Now I enjoy Yukiiiiiiiiiiiiiii the adventures of the SOS Brigade as much as the next guy, but it is quite simply a show that's been overhyped to the moon and back. No show, no matter how amazingly good it is, can match the hype and unconditional love that The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has recieved. There is no touching it.

Which is why the second season of Haruhi worries me very much. I have no doubt that Kyoto Animation will pull off a solid work off a very solid light novel series, but the fact of the matter is that Haruhi is no longer a gem in the rough, no longer a series that no one had heard of before hearing it. Now it and KyoAni are big names in the anime industry, and so there's going to be big expectations.

But on that tangent, it's not just the fans raising the bar for sequels that causes many sequels to be panned. The shows themselves get somewhat out of shape.

As many judgemental, critical fans of a show as there might be, there's an equal amount of ones who will simply lap up anything with their favorite show on it. You know the type, the one that lives, breathes, and eats the show unconditionally.

These are the people that often spur a sequel because they are the ones that buy it to death, in every single media form imaginable. And so, companies being companies after all, want to push the shows that make the most money.

Companies also being companies, sometimes want to spend the least money to make the most money. This may not be as prevalent in the anime world, but those who play video games know what I'm talking about: the yearly redrawing of the title art for Sports Game 200X is seemingly the most work that goes into the next year's edition.

And so some anime may actually drop in quality, since the advantage of having a fanbase with what amounts to a crush on your show is that they will see it through rose-colored glasses. Sure, the plot sucks and the animation quality dropped, but isn't Character X so hot/adorable/etc?

The opposite end of the spectrum applies as well. Companies who don't want to just air more of the same might change the show too much in an effort to keep things fresh. Fans who are loyal to a particular Shirakawa character might feel miffed that the show now has introduced Aisia all these New and Exciting characters to the point where the characters and plotlines that they liked the most from the original now take a backseat to inferior, tacked-on characters.

It's the same idea as New Coke. It may actually be better, but the followers prefer the original over a radically different formula. Maybe that says something about our tastes.

So, sequels are both judged harsher and made poorer, by the looks of the argument. Why bother?

Well, for one, to be blunt, it still sells. Lovers quarrel because they care about each other (hopefully at least partially true) and anime fans complain about a series because they want it to be good. If they really didn't like a series they wouldn't bother with a sequel, and so it's out of an inner hope that the series turns out well that they voice themselves.

And there will always be the rabid fans who will follow series devotedly without question. Sometimes their actions are a bit questionable but to each their own, so if perverts like watching the same rehashed lolipedoshows and fanservice-fests over and over, people like me can watch the same rehashed harem shows or the same rehashed shonen shows over and over. It's all about personal enjoyment. (Such an American view, no?) One may be less socially acceptable but from an economic standpoint it's the same deal in that there is a committed audience with wallets that talk; sequels aren't going to stop anytime soon.

And, yes, sequels occasionally DO work as well; Haruhi should not be one to worry about, as it does have a solid base to work off of (the visual novels; although, the question of loyalty to the books definitely will be risen) and a dedicated animation team. Kanon 2006, if you can consider it a "rehash" of the 2002 version, was a solid show in every regard, being mostly well-recieved by the anime community. And in the end, there still are Da Capo shows coming out and there still is a solid siscon fanbase for the show, and I don't blame them.

While the second season may not be the best of shows, it's still very watchable, and opinions always tend to differ from person to person. Just because one person or a few people lambast a show doesn't mean that it's a show lost beyond hope.



Sagacious C (transferred by CCY) said...
September 22, 2007 at 1:15 PM

I guess it is a general rule of thumb that sequels do indeed suck, but it has been proven wrong at times.

Case in point, Full Metal Panic! < FUMOFFU < The Second Raid.

Seeing how KyoAni did wonders with GONZO's mediocre work, I have high hopes they'll please us with their next installation of Haruhi. And, you said, Haruhi has got some good source material to work off of, too...so it's got that going for it as well.

I have a feeling Gunslinger Girl II will also rock. There's just so much untapped material that they can work off of. I thought Season 1 ended appropriately, but it definitely could have been better. Season II now has that opportunity to cap it off with the closure many of us wanted the first time around.

You forgot about one category, remakes. But yes, sequels suck. Sensing is more interesting at the first derivative level, the changing of something, brain is no exception, if you don't change the input significantly it becames dull and goes unnoticed after a while.

"Sequel" is mostly used in a wrong context, most anime are anything but original and based on another source (manga, game, novel). You have a clear, mostly long, well laid out story for you, which goes for the most part unused because the source is either much longer or not finished yet.

Haruhi is one long story, a second series is still the same thing, it's not a sequel per se, same goes for Seikai no Senki, Ah My Goddess, Honey and Clover and many more works, to raise a few examples. A sequel would be a new story written after the original story has already finished. Adding something new retrospectively.

If people complain about Full Metal Panic and its "sequels" being better than the original series, they are forgetting, that it's all part of the same story and GONZO did heavily edit on it (with animation drop after the first third of the series) while KyoAni stayed true to it (with overall quite good animation).

One has to realise that the problem is not "the sequel is bad", it is "this part of the story wasn't as good adapted as the former".

Anonymous: Nice catch on remembering that sequels quite often aren't "sequels" but just "continuations". I didn't take that into account. The arguments about higher standards/cheaper adaptations, though, still are valid, I believe.

Sagacious C: Yeah, wouldn't say that all sequels are bad. Just that some are quite dissapointing compared to the original. In that case, I'm a whiny fan. XD

gabest: Well put in a scientific manner - "we like new stuff," I kind of read it as. Would explain sometimes why if you watch a lot of one genre it begins to get boring after a while.

A certain Shirikawa character needed more screen time !! Aisia's personality in the manga was better imo, her whole "MASTER! TEACH ME ^^" attitude didn't run with me.. Yeah sqeuals are often worse or seem worse because of expectations from the previous work. Still not all sqeuals turn out bad I guess