Classroom of the Elite: Light Novel vs Manga – What Went Wrong?
We previously discussed the manga adaptation of Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e’s first volume (Classroom of the Elite). We weren’t sure how many creative licences the manga was exercising with the tale at the time because we hadn’t read the original light novel.
We’ve had time to read the first volume of the light novel since that article was written. We consumed the entire thing in only a few days since we loved it so much! However, after reading the book, we have a very significant query.
What went so badly wrong with the manga?!
Today on Honey’s Anime, we’re reviewing the manga because we’d have plenty of insightful things to say if we got the chance to do it again. It’s time to contrast Volume 1 of the light novel Classroom of the Elite with its shoddy manga adaptation.
Vent Mode: On. Salt Levels: Maximum.
The length of our English translation of Classroom of the Elite’s light novel is 384 pages (we have the Seven Seas 2019 edition). In addition, the manga volume we read contains 195 pages in the digital form.
The manga should therefore have about half the content of the novel, according to elementary school math, but it feels like only every fifth page was adapted. The manga’s creator wrote down the key plot details they needed to cover in a frenzy of torn-up pages and half-written notes before moving on without ever looking back at the original source.
To be clear, we’re not discussing eliminating visual descriptions; in a manga adaptation, that is a given. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. No, we take issue with how much of the background for character interactions just vanishes into thin air. All of this turns Ayanokouji, our main character, into a story device who serves no purpose.
Ayanokouji has a very difficult time making friends at this weird new high school, maybe because he is always trying to “avoid problems.” Contrary to Horikita, his classmate and walking tsundere stereotype, who frequently gets in his way, he is not a loner despite this. The most of their dialogues at least made it into the manga, although Ayanokouji’s vain attempts to make friends are shelved into unimportant single panels.
Horikita switches into mother mode and organises a study group when our class of misfits and failures, Class D, discovers that their academic futures are imperilled due to their terrible behaviour and test scores. This incident is condensed to just four pages in the manga, and Ayanokouji’s actions are completely ignored. In the light novel, Ayanokouji goes to considerable lengths to assist Horikita in creating the study group; but, when he ultimately fails, he turns to the vivacious (though deceitful) Kushida, whom Horikita appears to despise.
While Horikita’s confidence appears to have been betrayed without hesitation in the manga by Ayanokouji, it is a “last-ditch” effort in the novel. The relationship between Kushida and Horikita is actually not especially evident, which undermines the character development that the book spends a lot of time establishing.
Overall, reading a light novel after a manga is similar to reading a book’s real text after reading its CliffsNotes. Or, to put it another way, it’s like reading the book after reading a sticky-note-sized CliffsNotes synopsis; it makes us feel like we were sold a terrible, watered-down version of something very magnificent.
Everything Has a Place…Right?
So far, we’ve come off sounding rather sarcastic. We are not upset with light book manga adaptations; that is something we well understand. Since some light novels are fairly hefty and can be dense to read, we actually occasionally prefer the manga adaptations.
Take a look at Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou, for instance, which is subtitled “Arifureta: From Common to World’s Strongest.” The adventures in light novels frequently entail a lot of travelling and camping out, with lengthy visual descriptions that the manga may simply eliminate or reduce. We have stopped reading the Arifureta novels in favour of the manga since it has more comedy and has more intense fight sequences.
The same is true with OreGairu, also known as Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatte Iru (My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected). In contrast to the manga version, which takes a step back from the intensive mental processes and lightens the tone, the narrative of the inveterately antisocial Hikigaya can occasionally be opaque and a touch too psychological. Simply put, it makes reading the story more entertaining, and it is clear what the manga is trying to accomplish.
What the Classroom of the Elite manga is attempting is a mystery to us.
Possibly a plan speed-run The manga has drastically reduced the amount of character development and replaced it with instances that are ludicrously out of character. One particularly striking instance is when Horikita is questioned by Ayanokouji in the novel about her prior “experience” (and yes, “experience” is an intended euphemism here) with high school clubs. The joke is over and the story continues, but in the manga, it is depicted as an ecchi vision of Horikita engaging in some very mature behaviours that are obviously inappropriate to conduct while holding a popsicle.
Again, we have nothing against include components in an adaptation (such ecchi drawings). All of us support some much-needed fan service, but any additions or deletions must make sense. The manga adaptation of Classroom of the Elite somehow manages to completely miss the mark, in contrast to Arifureta’s manga, which uses humour to lighten the mood, or OreGairu’s manga, which mutes the psychological melancholy.
We recognise that converting someone else’s work into a new medium is a very challenging task and not one we’d want to undertake! The art of adaptation, however, lies in finding a way to take the original text and faithfully adapt it to a new medium.
We were able to compare Classroom of the Elite, Volume 1’s light novel and manga versions, and we honestly couldn’t suggest the manga unless you don’t like reading lengthy texts. The manga will technically cover the same “plot points” as the novels if you don’t have the time or resources to read them. At best, you’ll miss out on important character development, and at worst, you’ll leave with an inaccurate impression of the characters.
Phew. Now that we believe our sodium levels have stabilized, the floor is open for discussion, dear reader! Do you know the book Classroom of the Elite?
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