This is a new series for this blog comparing a manga and its relevant anime adaptation, discerning which version is ‘better’. These posts will be spoiler-free comparisons helping to inform people on which version is better—in my opinion of course. Also, this post contains some NSFW imagery.
What’s the important information? Shomin Sample (full title: Shomin Sample: I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner) is a series originally based of a Light Novel series that ran 11 volumes from November 2011 to July 2016 however we’re strictly talking about the adaptation from manga to anime here. The manga is ongoing, starting in July 2012 and as of August 2018 has 14 volumes. The anime adaptation aired in the Fall 2015 anime season and ran 12 episodes.
What’s it about? Shomin Sample is a harem/romantic-comedy series about a high-school boy Kimito Kagurakaza who is abducted by the faculty of an elite and secretive private girl’s boarding school in order to be their ‘sample commoner’. This school is filled privileged girls who’ve spent their life isolated from the outside world in order to preserve their “innocence”, however this isolation often leads the girls to become inundated and over-stimulated by the ‘real world’ once they graduate. Kimito’s influence is intended to prepare the girls for the ‘real world’ as a “common man” but seen of no actual threat to the girls as the faculty is under the false impression that he has a ‘muscle man fetish’—hence why he was chosen.
Which has the better art? The character designs of the anime feels a bit looser than the manga, obviously the vibrant colours help to offset any deficit in the line-work but overall I feel the manga has the edge strictly from a detail perspective however it’s very close. My vote however will go to the manga in this instance.
Which has the better comedy? Some of the best jokes in this series almost completely miss their mark in the manga, whether it’s because of difficulties translating a very specific reference or running gags going under the radar the anime has the advantage as the blatant ‘jokes’ have more attention pulled to them in the anime. Something like “gets” a very Japanese reference that feels almost lost in the manga is brought to the forefront in the anime and becomes one of the funniest and most quotable parts of the later half of the season. The anime wins this category.
Which has the better characterisation? With regard to characters neither show nor manga feels short-changed, with the exception of some minor adaptation changes the characters more or less feel the same in the anime as they did in the manga. I’m calling this one a draw.
Which has the better pacing? In any adaptation pacing can significantly change the overall ~feeling~ of a piece of work. While the manga has a certain charm about it’s deliberately slow pacing the anime accelerates what could be seen as ‘plodding’ and transforms it into ‘energetic’. The manga is never boring but often longwinded whereas the anime is occasionally repetitive but never dull. The anime edges out the manga in this instance.
Which has the better fan service? If fan service is what you’re here for—and let’s face it, it’s a harem series so it’s going to be a part of many people’s reasons for reading/watching then you’re best to stick with the manga. While it’s nice to see these girls in action, there is zero full-frontal nudity in the anime with the majority of the fan service relying on underwear shots and suggestive outlines. The manga on the other hand contains frequent (in context) nipple sightings as well as detailed artwork, the manga is therefore superior in this category.
What specifically is better about the anime? In a word, performances, as much as the manga tries it’s best to give unique personalities to all the female characters in Kimito’s new world—there’s nothing quite like perfectly picked voice actors to bridge the gap from paper to screen. Among the best are main girl Aika—whose vulnerable performance is among the best tsundere’s I’ve seen in an anime and Hakua, whose cute, minimalist line deliveries are almost the rival to Kanna from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. These two performances alone are worthy of watching the series through.
What specifically is better about the manga? The manga isn’t beholden to run-time or budgetary restraints and thus paints a world far grander and can spend more time with things that might be considered superfluous in an adaptation. Likewise the attention to detail is increased in the manga as are the references to other manga, which for an otaku such as myself is a real plus. The protagonist is a fan of Yuriyuri and seeing pages dedicated to talking about that series in this one was a real joyous experience whereas in the anime its relegated to a brief passing mention.
Shomin Sample, Anime vs Manga—which is better? The anime captures the spirit of this manga very well which is something not to be ignored it is absolutely a worthwhile adaptation of the core things that made the manga so enjoyable. However it is by no means a perfect adaptation, several clever jokes and references are dumbed down for the anime to make for more broadly “enjoyable” sequences (changing the interesting all-female Street Fighter arcade game into a simple DDR game is a particularly goading example). Also, while it’s an entirely subjective alteration—the lack of any real nudity in the anime robs the series of a certain ~salacious~ quality that the manga had throughout. You can watch the anime and not miss too much of importance and that’s definitely a selling feature in favour of the adaptation but personally I prefer the manga as it feels just a bit more authentic to the general aesthetic of the series.
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