There are two terms we have to learn now. That is "story" and "discourse". Think of story as WHAT and discourse as HOW. One clear-cut example where we can differentiate the two is in Suzumiya Haruhi, where the episode numbers are messed up. You can think of the messed up sequence as the discourse, while the actual chronology of events is the story.
Now we can move onto the actual points.
The pictures were placed randomly, in a bid to provide some relief from the wall of text. I shall attempt to make a funny joke every caption, but fail terribly. Note this is a parody of Impz and his THAT animeblog.
People whine, "This anime is sooo slow-paced compared to the manga!" even if the story were exactly the same. This is because the discourse time, the time it takes for us to watch/read the medium, is fixed in anime. Unless you watch it in fast forward or slow-motion, then you are a nutcase. Manga is just the opposite naturally, since it is read. The discourse time is free to be set by us, the readers. If we want to read it faster, we can do so. If we want to slowly stew in the suspense and mysteries of Detective Conan, we can. Otherwise, we can skim through and find out who the murderer is.
This fundamental difference is a major factor in why people say "The source material [manga] is better!". You can adjust the pace at which you read manga, but you most likely always spend 23 minutes on an anime episode. A great example is in the use of flashbacks. In manga, flashbacks (note: the type which re-use old scenes), can be skimmed through in half a second and the effect still achieved. Anime, when using flashbacks, tend to show sequences in full and the user has no ability to skim through them if he’s watching it on TV.
Ok I failed. I can’t even think of one funny joke. But ending here would be too short because Impz always has an extremely long caption which detracts from the main article, so as a parody I have to do the same and write a lot about nothing.
All stories comprise of events, it’s like a building block. Manga, sequential juxtaposed images, is drawn such that each frame can be considered an event in its own right. Anime, on the other hand, is continuous and event boundaries are marked by factors such as actions and goals of the characters. Now the difference between the two is, in manga, the reader has to mentally link each event in his mind to form the story while in anime, it gets served on a pan to him.
It’s not normally a big issue except for rare people who cannot perform this link. But it becomes significant when the scene is chaotic, or mangaka lacking skill in marking out each frame. One example is the early battles in the Naruto manga. It is very difficult to comprehend what was going on, because Kishimoto preferred having a chain of really close-up shots which showed only certain body appendages (no not the penis). This was on top of his artstyle of having little tones. Hence, many readers find the anime battle scenes easier to watch.
Some mangaka make use of the frames to strengthen the punchline of the joke. An example is the Hayate no Gotoku manga, where the punchlines generally come on the next page, to prevent viewers from subconsciously skimming ahead and ruining the joke for themselves. Many fellow bloggers have commented that manga versions are generally funnier than anime ones of the same content, such as Keroro Gunsou. This I do not know too much about and hence cannot comment, but I do know that event and comic timing has huge differences in anime and manga. I wish somebody would explain.
Did you know? Mecha musume can be created in real life. That is why sailors in the past have avoided bringing women on board ships, for they know that over the course of a sea voyage, which used to be years, women are able to fuse with the vessel due to their double dose of the X chromosome and high amounts of luteinising hormone. Thankfully, with the improvement in sea transport these days which have shortened journey duration, women can now board ships without fear of fusing.
The way characters are portrayed are different in anime and manga. In manga, there are no voices and what you can learn about the character is decided by the author. He is all-powerful when it comes to deciding how a character is portrayed. In anime, there is an added layer of characterisation, which comes from voice actors (seiyuu). Voice acting is like live-action acting in that the actors do make a difference as to how the audience portrays the character. While a seiyuu has less control compared to a film star, he/she does influence the character. This is made more significant if the seiyuu is a star and viewers have associated her with a certain character type.
Think Kugimiya Rie. She is famous for her roles of a little bratty tsundere girl and when she does play one who does not have such traits, viewers may still associate them with that character. Some fans of a manga may take offence when a seiyuu they feel is unsuited for the role gets it, and proceeds to add her own style.
In manga, the mangaka is the author. He may get feedback from his editors and assistants, but he does most of the story himself. In an anime, this is not the case most of the time as there are a lot more staff working on the project, including director, screen play writer, actresses, sponsors and many more. All of those mentioned have the ability to apply change to the anime, sometimes not always for the betterment of the show.
You could say the implied author of a manga, and the implied author of an anime made from the same manga, are vastly different. A recent example is Bokurano. The director of the Bokurano anime is a happy cheerful guy who likes kids while the original mangaka likes to kill kids. Hence a conflict occurs and Bokurano anime will not follow the manga, which will piss off lots of fans.
You know men always take short cuts across grass, and not just keep to the pavement like women? Why is this so? Because women wear high heels and the small surface area of the shoes causes great pressure on the ground (no, it’s not their weight). Hence women walking on grass would sink into the ground and we can all laugh at them. That is why they avoid grassy areas and stick to asphalt.
Most manga are black and white. Almost all anime are coloured. This just illustrates how anime leaves less to the imagination than manga. Anime brings across what the author had in mind a lot more clearly, specifying the voice, colour etc of the characters and story. This is not always good, as it increases the restrictions and constraints of viewer imagination.
The scale of imaginative constraints are as follows: written text (novels etc), comics, animation, film. If I’ve been reading some Kenichi manga and imaged that Kenichi would have a deep gruff voice, and then finding out the anime Kenichi was voiced by a glass-breaking Tomokazu Seki, I may be sorely disappointed.
Translation and Subs
This is not related to manga and anime inherently, but to the translated forms. Most of us read manga translated, be it in English or Mandarin. The translation process involves deleting the original text, so we cannot know what the raw text was. This sometimes undermines some series which rely on linguistic jokes, such as Gintama. I didn’t like the Gintama manga, I read it in Chinese and didn’t find any of the jokes funny. Later I watched the anime and found it hilarious. I attribute this to my hearing the jokes in their original language and still understanding because of the subs.
Right, so we’ve seen some differences between anime and manga. But despite knowing all these, we will never stop complaining about XXX manga being better than XXX anime. Perhaps because it is true.