What’s Your Take On Anime-Original Endings? | I’m Curious!

Hoo boy. Here’s a loaded question if ever there was one.

Endings have a lot of power. Obviously. In many ways, they can make or break a story. Depending, of course, on the story itself. Some series out there, I’m sure, it’d be almost impossible to imagine ending any other way. We all have our favorite endings. But then… then there’s anime. Now, anime tends to deviate from the original source, all the time. It comes with the territory of doing an adaptation. There’s always going to be some transformative element when it comes to moving a work from one medium to another. That is, itself, a much broader topic, probably not suited for the tiny post format of this series. This is a question specifically about endings. Put simply, what do we all think of anime that have endings differentiating from the original source?

For those curious, the catalyst of this was We Never Learn, which ended the series’ anime run rather conclusively. Meanwhile, the manga is still going. And it’s kinda weird because… I don’t see how the manga can go on for a whole lot longer, considering the timeframe that the story has to exist in. So they probably could’ve squeezed another season out of it. And let me be clear. I’m not mad over the conclusion that the ending came to. I like it when a harem anime actually has the nerve to choose a definitive girl by the end and I don’t really get bent out of shape over who’s chosen, provided they did a good job of setting it up. But when I watched that ending, I couldn’t help feeling a bit… cheated. Because the series didn’t feel like it ended. It felt like it just… stopped. It was unsatisfying in the extreme. Especially given how much stuff they just kinda skipped over in an honestly lame montage in the last 5 minutes. There was no real conclusion.

Captured from Crunchyroll

And all of that is leaving aside much more famous examples like Toradora and (uy…) Soul Eater. Bones is well known for taking some pretty egregious liberties with the source material, in general. But the point here is endings. I do think they have their place, actually. Creative license exists for a reason. And I think it can be interesting to see different interpretations of where a story might conclude (I love me a good “What If?” scenario, after all). And I know a lot of the time it’s because the source is still going and the studio can’t sustain making the anime forever, so they just try to end things on their own terms, as gracefully as possible. But I know there tend to be a looot of examples of series that go the way of the anime-original ending that people roll their eyes at. Which is fair. As I said, they can kind of destroy a story if not handled well. So what about you? What’s your take on anime-original endings? Are there any you particularly enjoy, perhaps even more than the ending of the source material? Perhaps any you think should’ve been left alone?

20 thoughts on “What’s Your Take On Anime-Original Endings? | I’m Curious!

  1. It really varies. Claymore disappointed me because they only adapted about a third of the manga and gave it a pretty poor ending, while the manga ending is far superior. I did enjoy bother version, however.

    Another one that springs to mind is Akame ga Kill where the anime overtook the manga and the author ended up changing the ending due to the reaction from the anime. In truth, I enjoyed both endings but there were parts that I would like to take from both and mash them together to create the perfect ending.

    It’s almost best to consider the two media forms as separate stories. That way we get to enjoy all formats and not worry about which one is the better version. After all, there aren’t going to be that many that will watch/read both. That’s more for the super-fans…

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    • I see. I know I tend to jump around from one to the other. I usually read the manga/light novel is the anime’s on break or if there’s no announcement of a new season. But there are other examples where I’ve picked up a manga because the anime’s ending bugged me in some way while I still enjoyed pretty much everything else. I do think it’s important to view the two in a separate context to a point. But the comparison is useful, I think. Because there are points where I think the anime is better. But also points where I think the source is better. So I totally agree that it varies.

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      • And of course, it’s going to vary for the individual too. I think we can all agree that it’s awesome that we have so many options, especially if you start to include light novels and visual novels.

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      • Absolutely. You can basically take your pick, at that point. If they all played out *exactly* the same, there’d be a bit less point to there being so many. There’s still the strengths and merits of the mediums themselves, obviously. Though I guess that could arguably be used as a point against it, if I were to play devil’s advocate. Some people who might not *like* one medium for a particular reason might be annoyed that they get what is, to them, an inferior ending to the ending in a different medium.

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  2. I don’t read manga so I would never ever know if an ending was anime original. Although the people that do read manga tend to be very vocal, so pretty much the entire world knows shortly after whenever this sort of thing happens. No opinions on it either way, the manga may as well not exist in my mind.

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  3. I don’t mind as long as they feel natural. Soul Eater, which you bring up, is one of the worst examples I can think of as it tanks the show quite a bit. Either way, an adaption is just that, and as such, some licences should be given to creators to create the best product with the circumstances available. Shows like The Count of Monte Cristo and K-On! are great examples of this.

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    • Fair. Though just to play devil’s advocate for a bit, what of cases where the anime passes the manga’s current point? Or, if we talk about further extremes to where more than just the ending is changed. One could argue that those differences in events could fundamentally make the character into someone different than who they were made to be by the original creator. So should the ending therefore still be the same, even if it wouldn’t really add-up, based on the newer circumstances? Or should it go for an ending that’s better suited to this new version of the character? I, as a writer, would also argue that while I may understand a character I’ve made more than anyone else, someone else is entirely capable of coming up with circumstances for those characters that I may not have ever thought of. What then? Like I said, just a bit of devil’s advocate play. Some theory questions to throw around. ^_^

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      • In those cases it’s not the same story. It’s like with Full Metal Alchemist, the two anime series had the same name but they are different. And, that’s how I see anime adaptions. But, while some may be 90 to 99% close to the source material, those with big changes and different endings are pretty much alternate dimension takes on the story and should be treated as such, whether or not they’re good or bad.

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      • In other words, like an Elseworlds story! Or a weird sort of Twilight Zone offshoot, for people who might not read western comics like me and get that reference. That’s an interesting way to think of it, for certain!

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  4. If the ending is inconclusive (and not the kind that amounts to “we’re going to have more adventures”, which is a valid ending) then of course I’m not going to be happy unless I know there was meant to be more somehow (such as Stars Align, in which case I can only hope for the continuation to show up in a place I can access it). The worst ending is the type Nanbaka falls into – clearly not finished and ongoing source material, but given a second chance nonetheless (even if it had to become an ONA to do so).

    My favourite anime-original ending is for Noragami s1, which clearly anticipated the need for an anime-original ending and did that in 2 episodes. It ends the series neatly and you can tell where the deviation occurred due to the presence of the one (anime-original, of course) character that got introduced.

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    • Noragami is one of my favorite anime period, so I’m right with you on that one. And yeah, I’m right with you. “Wait, there’s more!” endings are perfectly valid but an ending that’s unsatisfying because of a lack of conclusion is nooot a way to go out.


  5. I think anime only endings can be interesting, even when they’re not perfect, and I’d rather get some kind of a conclusion rather then have the show just end with nothing resolved. I’m not necessarily reading the source material for all of the anime that I watch, so if the show doesn’t wrap up the story in some capacity I may never get a conclusion to that story at all.

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