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Friday, 15 July 2016

Editorial: Four JRPGs That Would Make Great Anime.

Editorial: Four JRPGs That Would Make Great Anime.

A new season of anime has started, and that means there's the inevitable smattering of low-budget video game adaptations and lower-budget video game tie-ins. This summer, Danganronpa has not one but two tie-in series; while Tales of Zestiria, Puzzles & Dragons, Show by Live, and a handful of other video games have gotten adaptations.

So, as the four-times-yearly deluge of animated video game adaptations starts, let's look at some JRPGs that actually would make pretty good anime.

Stella Glow.

Stella Glow was a Nintendo 3DS RPG released earlier this year, best described as 'mostly great, with a strong and persistent kernel of creepy, and not in a good way,' and if there's one thing we know that producers in anime like, it's a persistent thread of creepiness (and not in a good way) in an otherwise fun, interesting narrative.

Handily, Stella Glow is already structured more or less like a fifty-episode anime, with discrete arcs involving finding all four of the Witches needed to sing a magical song, preparing to sing that magical song, and dealing with the horrifying aftermath of doing so. It has a decently large cast of colourful and layered characters, some of whom could probably be cut out (such as Keith), and a lot of climactic battles to give the animators something to have fun with. 

(Or, well, probably less fun and more hair-tearing frustration.)

Stella Glow is not the most original or imaginative story, but it is a lot of fun and has a lot going in its favour, and a decently long, well-animated adaptation could capitalise on all of its strong points, and maybe even cut down on some of its weaker points (by which I mean, it could maybe cut down on the creep factor).

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.

Only just out in Europe - and I admittedly haven't even finished it yet - but Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is definitely one of the more interesting games that have come out this year. It's colourful, apparently stylish (apparently), interesting, with a weird fusion of celebrity, magical girl genre conventions, Fire Emblem plot elements, and elements grabbed from every part of the Shin Megami Tensei series.

It also has absolutely gorgeous pre-rendered cutscenes. I'm presuming Intelligent Systems, the people behind Fire Emblem, did those, since they're stylistically a perfect match for Fire Emblem's (also gorgeous) cutscenes, and I have to wonder why Intelligent Systems hasn't just done an anime series already.

If they were going to do one, though, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE seems like it would be an interesting one to work on, especially given that Atlus has seen significant success with (rather low-end) anime adaptations of its own games.

Final Fantasy XIII.

Final Fantasy XIII is a terrible, terrible game, and a large part of that seems to be that Square-Enix deeply resented having to make it a video game at all. While they approached their beautifully rendered cinematic cutscenes with care, thought, and enthusiasm, the gameplay was lacking and poorly thought out. You spent most of the game going through pretty, monster-filled corridors to get to the next cutscene.

So why not just cut out the middleman? Square-Enix has long prided itself on its beautiful CGI, so why not just forego the gameplay elements, which in this instance they clearly didn't want to spend all that much time on anyway, and instead make an anime series?

Final Fantasy XIII doesn't actually have much in the way of a storyline, so twelve to twenty-four episodes should be sufficient to tell the entire thing, which would help keep costs down and let Square indulge their need for pretty, dramatic, ultimately pointless cutscenes.

I just feel like Square would be much happier that way. Also, I feel like we would be much happier, because we wouldn't have to play through a dozen hours of a terrible battle system to get to the entirety of the (mostly incoherent) story.

Breath of Fire IV.

Breath of Fire IV is to date the only Breath of Fire game that I've seen anyone play any kind of significant amount of, and I did like it. It has an interesting setting, a fun fantasy plotline, a diverse and intriguing cast of characters, and a dude with blue hair transforming into a dragon. Everything anyone could need.

Breath of Fire as a franchise unfortunately barely exists these days - the most recent entry in the franchise, after fourteen years of nothing, was a smartphone game that, if ratings are anything to go by, people have kind of hated - but an anime adaptation of one of its most popular entries might be just what it needs to get back on its feet.

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