If you’re an anime fan, you’ve noticed some sort of recent trend over the past five years. While animated films have always been popular, they weren’t prominent or canon overall. For those who do not know, the expression “canon” is short for “canonical” and refers to any content that is part of the continuity of the official story. As an example, fill arcs such as the Arc of Life Curry in Naruto are not canon. Great shows like Naruto, A piece, and Dragon ball z have had many non-canon movies (like the original Broly trilogy). And yet, it’s only in the last five or ten years that these movies have moved on to adapting manga arcs or expanding things with the help / blessing of the creator to create a new cannon. In my opinion, canon animated films are strong enough for the medium as a whole.
Minor spoilers for Konosuba, Demon slayer, and My hero university forward.
Canon animated films: an explosive success
To get started, let’s watch some of the great animated movies. In the past five years, three animated films have stood out as the most successful. First up, we have everyone’s favorite comedy isekai: Konosuba. It takes the classic ‘rebirth in another world’ trope and turns it into a Futurama-esque satire. While the main character Kazuma may be very lucky, his group is anything but capable. Konosuba: the legend of crimson took place immediately after the second season and had several canon elements. From callbacks to earlier plot points to the secrets of Megumin and the Crimson Demons, it all had it all. With an extremely impressive budget to boot, he’s taken the world by storm.
Not to be outdone, Demon slayer produced a movie this year. Title Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, it focuses on the Mugen train manga arc. It garnered incredible success and praise, becoming the # 2 animated film of all time. Ufotable has a reputation for producing beautifully animated works, and a movie budget has made that even better. We were introduced to the flaming Rengoku as Tanjiro collides with another of the twelve Kizuki from the antagonist Muzan. No wonder it works so well.
We even saw trends of My hero university create films that are addressed as canon, even if the events do not occur in the manga. Both Two heroes and The rise of heroes the films are confirmed as canon by author Horikoshi himself.
With so much on hand regarding budgets, skills, etc. Let us take this opinion on canon animated films in the pros, cons and conclusions that can be drawn.
Pros: Better budget, good for small bites
There are a lot of advantages to an anime movie these days. While animation studios have reached new heights with regular cartoons, they usually cut corners to make up for it. This is seen in the rise of 3D computer generated image for background characters or enemies that are difficult to animate. However, with a movie budget, this problem goes away. Not only do these small animation studios get a huge budget, they also have more time to prepare. This budget and this room for maneuver can go a long way. Take Demon slayer for example. An anime that focuses so much on visuals and sound mixing can only benefit from a cinematic experience. In turn, the impressive hard-working studios put together can translate into higher buzz for the film. All of this translates into better reviews and more viewers in theaters.
Another thing to consider for canon animated films is that they are the perfect medium for modern anime. The era of popular manga of over 500 chapters is long behind us, with only A piece above that line now. Many finish before the 400 mark. Demon slayer finished in the 200 lineup, and My hero university is currently in the 350s and is preparing for the end. Modern consumers love to binge, so reading or watching 1000’s of anything is a lot. Hence the need for canon animated films. If an already short story arc can be told in two to three hours instead of twelve episodes, that makes it more digestible. However, this can lead to time issues or missteps.
Cons: too rushed or too easy?
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of animated films is based on previous positive opinions. There’s an ugly side to the beauty of a succinct anime movie arc as well. To put it simply, it can be rushed. Many popular manga have side scenes or subplots that enrich the environment and the characters. With a film, at least according to the studios, no one has time for that. We are propelled through the main points of the story to understand the gist of the arc. As a perspective, a normal anime season has 12 episodes per arc, with the movies only having enough time for about six to eight episodes. Konosuba is the only movie to fit well, but only because their arcs last a maximum of five episodes.
The other downside to canon animated movies is that they can make real anime suffer. Demon slayer, in a hugely controversial move, actually spent the first half of Season 2 recapping the entire movie. This means that eight different episodes were wasted. Even though it was nice for those who had reservations to see it in theaters, it was still a mess. In addition, My hero university spent many episodes last season on setting up for the The rise of heroes movie. This seriously damaged the main plot and the fan-favorite My Villain Academia arc. This does not bode well for the industry.
Final conclusions: films should stay, with limits
Canon animated films may be the perfect way to wrap a bow, but they’re not perfect. Their impressive budgets and deadlines give the studios time to fully exploit their magic. It is also perfect for modern manga and the modern anime viewer. That said, a big stretched manga wouldn’t fit the model. With such a short time frame to tell the story, it can be easy to cut content or just introduce entirely new content for easy money.
In my opinion, canon animated films are a new way to bring the media to the masses. With the overlord confirmation of a new movie Along with their upcoming fourth season, it certainly won’t stop anytime soon. As consumers, however, we have to be careful, because it’s our fervor for these films that drives them. If we allow lazy work as described in the against section, it could possibly mean the end of an era. With that, good viewing and / or binging!