There isn’t much to talk about this week’s episode’s adaptation differences, so I’m going to talk about the original source a bit — mostly because there seems to be some confusion where it comes from. I recommend reading that part the most in this post.
This may come as a surprise to most people but episode 1 and 2 have actually adapted the whole entire first volume. Yep, all 262 pages. And yes, episode 2’s ending is literally how volume 1 ends. And yes, volume 1 has zero baseball. 2 doesn’t either. I won’t be surprised if the volume I’m reading 3 doesn’t have it either. As I said previously, most of the Battery novels are packed with introspection, different perspectives, and all that good stuff you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else but a novel. The anime has cut most of it out and focused entirely on Takumi, even taking out perspectives from Gou. I imagine anyone picking up the novels after the anime would be surprised by the depth. I’m also impressed that for the people who haven’t read the novels, this much cutting is untraceable. The series composer did an extraordinary job.
I also mentioned that episode 1 adapted the first half (131 pages). I’d say it probably adapted 180 pages-ish, which is why this episode doesn’t cut much (at least according to my memory). For the most part, this episode feels on point — a faithful adaptation of the last few pages of the first volume.
There are two things I’m going to talk about with adaptation differences in this post.
The first one, I already mentioned it in the previous post. I mentioned this salaryman guy being a somewhat big subplot in the first volume of the novel. I’m too lazy to grab my iPad and look up his name, but he’s some dude who worked for some corporation. He used to be one of the best baseball players when he was in middle school under Takumi’s badass grandfather coach. But he has given up on it because of an injury, I believe. After seeing Takumi and Gou play (he also participates at the night event from afar), he decides to restart the corporation’s baseball team and play for real. It revitalizes him and he sees the world differently. I don’t recall the subplot much because he hasn’t appeared again from what I’ve read, but I remember liking the subplot at least. Cheesy but I’ve always enjoyed reading adult perspectives in a novel with adolescents as protagonists.
There is also a teacher who will definitely appear in the next episode of the show. He actually appears in this volume, but I honestly don’t remember where he appeared. I don’t recall much of the first volume, though I am surprised I can remember certain “off” things. I need to remind myself to take notes.
The other big difference is anything related to family. I feel like I’m going to beat the dead horse in future adaptation posts, but it is a big deal in the novels. Gou has a bad relationship with his mother who especially wants him to go to cram school. There is a scene where you see Gou sneak out from his mother and the reason the night play ended is because his mother finds him. And because Gou’s mom and Takumi’s mom are friends, you also see those two interact with each other. The whole family difference thing is the main draw for me.
And that’s all there is to it with the adaptation differences.
Now, I feel like explaining the “origin” of Battery. I was surprised that people, especially certain esteemed anibloggers and critics in the West, called this a “light novel”. Most people who have followed me for a while will know I snark on the concept of “light novel writing”. Light novels, at this point, are a marketing term and you can find so many “adult novels” that have “light novel plots” blablabla.
But this, I think, is a bit more serious than the usual prejudiced shitpost by jaded people.
Battery is children’s literature.
Unlike Americans who have finally discovered the wonders of young adult literature but feel embarrassed reading it in public, Japanese readers love reading books written for adolescents. 児童文学 is a giant, serious, and very literary market. Films, J-dramas, anime, and a whole lot more rely on these books lately because they have broad appeal.
I’m not exactly qualified to talk about 児童文学 at full length because I’ve read too few and this is a post on Battery after all. But I do feel like it is worth outlining how big and influential the market is.
You may know, for example, Miyazawa Kenji. 銀河鉄道の夜 (Night on the Galactic Railroad), for all its philosophical explorations on the universe and death, is considered children’s literature. Why? Because he wrote his short stories for kids.
In the contemporary world, you have novels like 西の魔女がしんだ, Colorful (this novel got an anime film adaptation in 2010), and Red Data Girl (if this rings a bell, it’s because its anime adaptation is the first anime to stream on Nico before going live on TV). All children’s literature. I’m sure some of people’s favorite works are based on children’s lit or in some way influenced by these novels.
This isn’t a “japan is wacky” thing either. People who study novels like The Hobbit are really studying children’s literature. I doubt anyone would claim that The Little Prince is anything but bad.
Battery is part of that rich tradition of fantastic children’s literature and seeing it entangled in the usual writings of some Western anime fan shitting on “light novels” is disturbing. People who bash on “light novels” don’t know much about books and Japanese writing, but you have to be completely out of your mind to consider a kid’s book like Battery in that argument.
Sure, I know the Western anime community loves shitting on the imaginary form of “otaku media”, but let’s leave kids’ stuff out of this. Yes, Battery is adapted as a Noitamina show. Yes, Battery has always had fujoshi appeal. And yes, people should feel comfortable judging the book without a disclaimer that this is a children’s book.
But if you want to call light novels “cultural filth”, at least have the decency to point your finger at the right thing. If not, you’re not even hiding your prejudice and ignorance. You’re just being silly.