For the director of an anime site, I know surprisingly little about how the manga and anime industries work. I’ve pieced bits together over the years, but I’ve never been interested enough to take a deep dive. I knew even less years ago when my passion was higher and I was consuming every manga and anime I could find. Back then, a pattern emerged that I thought was relatively like a rule: A manga with good availability in the U.S. would inevitably receive an anime treatment. In my experience, that always seemed to hold true.
That’s why I found it so quizzical that a favorite manga of mine at the time, Pastel, did not have an anime adaptation. Like Love Hina and a number of similar series, Pastel was great at getting the reader to want more, to hope for relationships to bud and develop. And also like Love Hina, it was full of fanservice. So all things considered, I wondered, why was it not getting an anime? Surely, one would be coming!
Surely, I was wrong. The years came and went. Tastes in anime changed. And Pastel never got its adaptation.
I became almost obsessive about the issue. Why would this very good, no, great series, perhaps one even better than Love Hina (who’s anime adaptation I loved, by the way), not find its way to screen?
But a funny happened with my obsession—it went away. I stopped caring about Mugi and Yuu’s story, and never finished reading the series. That initial burst of love I had for for it not only slowed; it disappeared entirely.
This suddenly shift wasn’t entirely strange for me, but the thoroughness of it was. I never cared at all to read what happened. Unlike other series I took up and read, I never looked into how Pastel ended. Even as I write this, I don’t care. Why? I think it’s because I realize Pastel isn’t that good. While it excels at stirring one’s view of romantic young love, that’s about all it has going for it. Fanservice and plot lines meant only to reveal as much of the girls as possible only served to cover up a lack of story or anything else of importance. Pastel was a bad manga.
The funny thing is, I don’t judge people the same way. I’m often suspicious when one seems too good to be true, rather than falling straight for a charmer.
On the other hand, I go full Pastel when it comes to myself. I’m willing to see myself in a light that’s too good. I’ll judge others, not by a holy standard, but by my own imperfect one and conclude that they are bad at friendships or work or parenting because they’re not as good as me. Meanwhile, I fail to keep up with friends, laze off at the workplace, or needlessly yell at my kids. At times, I fall for my own charm, for the fanservice of reveling in myself, at the risk of taking a good look at the story underneath.
The risk in doing so is that one day I’ll discover I’m just like Pastel, and just give up on this story that started with promise and ended up being fluff. Thankfully, if I’m a little more introspective now, critically looking at my life as often as I can, I can do something with it that was unavailable to me while reading that manga—as a mangaka of my own story, I have an opportunity to make it better right now, something that rises above fanservice and simple storylines.
In doing so, I can hope to become someone who lives up to a lofty standard as a husband, father, friend, mentor, and Christian. In other words, I can create a good story, one that even I can see is truly worthy of adaptation.