Visual novels are an unconventional storytelling format that blends the best elements of literature, anime, and video games to create an immersive and interactive experience unmatched by any other storytelling technique. Visual novels are a natural source for adaptations due to their strong relationship to anime.
Many times without realizing it, anime fans have praised several amazing tales over the years, like Steins;Gate and Clannad. Sadly, not every fantastic visual novel works well in an anime setting. Some of the worst visual novel anime has been produced as a consequence of challenges such as condensing tens of hours of gameplay into a one-hour show or picking the incorrect path for adaptation.
10. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, one of the most well-known visual novel adventure games, is renowned for its charming characters, original twists, and exciting courtroom confrontations. However, whereas the game portrayed being a lawyer as being a never-ending source of fun, its anime adaptation did the exact opposite.
It’s hard to fit two graphic novels into a 24-episode animation without compromising part of the material. The show chose to drastically quicken the pacing, omit key character exchanges, and simplify the cases, stripping away everything that made the original outstanding.
9. Fate/Stay Night
Fate/stay night, the most well-known visual novel created by Type-Moon, had a difficult time convincing anime viewers of its brilliance. Studio Deen attempted to adapt this dark fantasy masterwork in 2006, but it wasn’t until the widely praised release of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works that it was successfully completed.
The original Fate/stay night anime, in contrast to later renditions of the Fate franchise, was at best average, combining elements from many visual novel paths while eschewing the aspects that gave the series its distinct identity. In favor of its more narrowly focused and interesting sequels, most Fate fans ignore this entry.
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8. Majikoi: Oh! Samurai Girls
Majikoi, a very straightforward slice-of-life visual novel, has become a fan favorite because of its charming and well-developed characters and innovative use of samurai culture. The game is about a group of seven best friends whose dynamic is abruptly changed by the arrival of two new girls. Kawakami City, where the game is set, is well-known for its historical association with samurai.
Although there were some erotic themes in the original Majikoi, they never overshadowed the story or the characters. Unfortunately, the anime adaptation turns an impactful slice-of-life drama into a forgettable harem movie by treating every female hero as fan service.
7. School Days
Whether you love it or detest it, School Days is still the most notorious visual novel adaptation of all time because of the way it handled the original content. The main plot of the original video game is basically Makoto Ito’s harem drama. Depending on the player’s choices about Makoto’s love life, the game’s endings for him can vary.
But Makoto the anime has a shockingly gruesome ending. Sekai executes Makoto after he spent the entire show misleading and controlling his love interests. The reactions to the conclusion range from wrath to true acclaim and appreciation.
6. DRAMAtical Murder
Fans of the genre will find plenty to like in the sci-fi visual novel DRAMAtical Murder, including a captivating future setting, virtual reality exploration in the online game Rhyme, turf battles, and enigmatic disappearances. However, the BL components of the game were what drew in the majority of players.
Fans and newbies didn’t appreciate the choice to eliminate the romance elements in the anime adaptation of DRAMAtical Murder in order to appeal to a wider audience. Without its primary means of character development, DRAMAtical Murder turned lifeless and uninteresting.
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5. Umineko When They Cry
Umineko, the third entry in the renowned When They Cry series, is a murder mystery visual novel like its predecessors. This time, the narrative centers on the wealthy Ushiromiya family’s struggle for survival while stranded on their own private island and terrorized by a murderer who may or may not be a ghost.
Unlike Higurashi, whose anime version was a hit, Umineko’s gripping tale could not be successfully adapted into another format. Umineko failed to duplicate the successes of its predecessor due to poor art, disjointed pacing, and weak character and plot development.
4. Muv-Luv Alternative
The first chapter of the original Muv-Luv graphic novel features Takeru Shirogane and his harem of prospective love lovers in a basic romantic comedy. Muv-Luv Unlimited, on the other hand, is a sci-fi drama in which aliens known as BETA attempt to exterminate the human race.
The only game in the series to be made into an anime, Muv-Luv Alternative, is a sequel that completely bypasses the first game in favor of concentrating on Takeru’s efforts to alter the course of Unlimited. Without modifying the foundation of the first game, Muv-Luv Alternative devolves into a disjointed mess that lacks meaningful context.
3. Dies Irae
Nobody is to blame if they are unable to understand the Dies Irae anime without first having played the game. The series hurries through the game’s plot without any of the content and nuance featured in the original, switching between a mind-numbing harem drama and an absolutely perplexing action thriller about the revival of a World War II cult in contemporary Japan.
Dies Irae is hampered not only by its illogical reasoning but also by its poor animation. Unfortunately, this takes the fun out of action, which is its main distinguishing feature.
There is no Tsukihime anime, goes a well-known inside joke in the anime world. Sadly, the Tsukihime anime adaptation does exist and regularly serves as a reminder to viewers of its unrealized potential, no matter how much the fans would wish to forget it.
Shiki Tohno, a youngster who has the ability to perceive Death lines, is featured in the first visual novel, which chronicles his adventures with magic and the paranormal. The anime, however, loses the anime’s tight and gripping plot and makes it confusing and contradictory. The protagonists of the source material were handled even worse and reduced to pale imitations of who they once were.
The first game in the Science Adventure series, whose most well-known installment is Steins;Gate, was ChäoS;HEAd’s visual novel. Unfortunately, its anime version fell well short of the caliber of its highly regarded successor. The idea ChäoS;HEAd examines is the function of reality-altering delusions in the Shibuya serial murder cases.
The anime mishandles the next sci-fi horror narrative that the visual novel executes masterfully. The series collapses under the weight of its own ambitions after being forced to finish a big and complex tale in only 12 episodes, doing the graphic novel no respect.
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