Bigger is better…

Bigger is better…

It was a long haul, but Boys Over Flowers was worth it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how more than just the plot or genre of an anime or manga will influence whether people will take a chance on a series. I’ve often found that my friends won’t bother with a series if it’s too long. As this blog post points out, it can be intimidating to start a 20 volume manga series because it will take so much time and money to pursue one series when you could be reading several short series instead. But as for myself, I’ve actually found that I prefer long series, to the point that I’ve actually dropped series when I found out they were only a few volumes long (the three-volume manga Punch! comes to mind). And though there have been short series I’ve enjoyed (for example, the 13-episode anime Paradise Kiss, as well as Gravitation‘s anime, which is 12 episodes), I feel gypped that these series are so short. (And as a side note, while  what counts as “short” is in the eye of the beholder,  I consider manga series under eight volumes and anime series under 24 episodes to be short.)

There are a few reasons why I generally prefer long series. First, I’ve found that longer series generally have more time for character development. Watching or reading a longer series gives me a chance to really get attached to the characters. The best example I can think of is Boys Over Flowers, which has a 51-episode anime and a 36-volume manga that ran for 11 years in Japan. Even though not all of the plot points in the series were necessary, by the time I read the final volume of the manga, I wasn’t thinking “It’s finally over!” Instead, all I could think was “I wish there was more.” But when I watch a 13-episode anime series, by the time I start to care about the characters the series is over. Longer series have simply stuck with me more, and the majority of my favorite manga are more than 15-volumes.

Longer series also give the author a chance to develop amazing overarching plots. For example, in Fushigi Yugi, there are many story arcs that all lead up to a grand finale that wouldn’t be so emotionally moving if the characters hadn’t been through so much to get to that point. It’s especially great when you read a series and you can tell that the author knew exactly where he or she wanted the series to go and how it would get there. The best example of this to me is Nana, in which Ai Yazawa’s use of narration sets a foreboding tone for the series. As the series progresses, it’s intensity builds, until finally tragedy strikes. Such multilayered, engossing experiences aren’t completely absent from shorter series, but they are much harder to find.

5 thoughts on “Bigger is better…

  1. Thanks for the link! There are a handful of long-running series that have a special claim on my heart, but I admit that I’m not very patient, so I tend to favor series that run 8-12 volumes — enough for the author to create interesting characters and situations, but not so long that the author repeats herself.

    Nice site, BTW–I had fun browsing your older entries on friendship in shojo manga.

  2. Thanks so much for the compliments! I actually love a lot of series that are 10 or so volumes (Kodocha and Sand Chronicles come to mind), and while I love the characters in those series, I was very satisfied with their outcomes and didn’t feel like they needed to be any longer.

  3. Hm, I can’t say I have a preference. Although I do appreciate it if a manga series isn’t longer than 50 volumes. I’m still unsure if I want to finish collecting a few series that go over that limit…but I do agree longer usually is better. Some authors can create a memorable experience in a shorter length, but I usually find anything less than 5 volumes has a lot of undeveloped potential. Pretear manga, for example, didn’t really develop anyone outside the two main characters. While I did enjoy it, I also felt the author should have taken her time and gave us more to see about Himeno’s family and the other Leaf Knights.

    1. I actually felt the same way when I watched the Pretear anime, which was 13 episodes. Even if a short series is good, when I enjoy a series I’ll generally want it to continue for as long as possible.

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