Yesterday, Gainax announced that Gunbuster was receiving a manga adaptation. I find this interesting in more than a couple of ways. First off, it’s a manga based on an anime, when the norm is clearly the opposite. In Gainax’s case, we’ve seen this phenomenon happen a few times, with adaptations of Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, and FLCL (among numerous others) receiving manga adaptations after the anime release.
However, the second (and more interesting) factor is the source material’s age. Gunbuster is twenty two years old. That’s two generations, two eras of disconnect in the scope of the industry. And, be it in Japan or America, it will is a highly unusual release. Granted, Gunbuster received sequels, with the latest being 2006’s Gunbuster vs. Diebuster. However, to base a manga on the original Gunbuster seems pretty risky.
Of course, there’s a good reason that I’m overthinking the situation. Gunbuster is still a classic of anime held in high regard in the home market. I have no doubt that the name will have some resonance there, among old fans who saw the original and new fans curious about the franchise. We’ll have to wait to see just how far that will reach, though, since the launch is only a month away at this point.
However, I don’t think I’d be too forward to say that efforts to bring it west will (probably) fall flat. To many fans, especially the later generation, it’s just an old anime – a relic to know but little else. I imagine that people would show some excitement on the announce, since it’s a Gainax property. However, we probably wouldn’t see a huge surge in sales, since well… it’s old! I can’t sugar-coat it, but American anime fans as a large mass, tend to avoid older shows and older titles. It’s actually a very interesting phenomenon that I’d love to look into further once I get a larger amount of data But, the stigma of the older title, combined with the lack of exposure to the previous manga (Gunbuster got a manga release in 1989) will serve as a form of repellant to the market at large.