He's small, he's scaly, he's Gon! This tiny Tyrannosaurus Rex may seem like nothing but a lazy reptile that lounges around and causes mischief, but he's also a pint-sized powerhouse filled with energy who can defend himself when the right kind of food is involved. Whether he's riding a sabertooth tiger like a horse, catching fish to make friends or trying to impress peacocks, Gon manages to get into trouble on every adventure he takes.
In late 1991, Tanaka Masashi published a silent manga consisting solely of art; it contains no dialogue or narration, with the exception of a special chapter with few text. A few years later, in 1994, the manga's main protagonist, Gon the dinosaur, made his debut on one of my favourite video games, Tekken 3, which is how I became aware of the manga's existence, like many others. People liked the manga because of its uniqueness and beautifully drawn and detailed illustrations, realistic depiction and exploration of the animal world, dark humour, and the few drama and tragedy, and most importantly, how it explores the hypothesis of how an overly strong animal and other animals would interact, whether in a competitive or symbiotic relationship, and those reasons are valid. I personally however did not enjoy the manga because it lacked plot progression and the comedy formula became repetitive and predictable after a while; in fact, I preferred watching the anime to reading the manga. However, if you liked the manga for one of the reasons stated above, be prepared to be disappointed because this anime lacks the appeal of the manga, the elements that made Gon a unique original manga. Sprite Animation Studios announced that Moto Sakakibara, co-director of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, had promised to make a theatrical CG Animation based on the Gon manga. The film was supposed to be released in 2007, but it has yet to be released and is most likely cancelled. Instead, we got Gon 2012, a children's adaptation of the seinen manga. The anime made a number of changes and loosely follows the original source, such as adding dialogue to supporting characters who were not even supporting characters in the manga, giving them personalities, development, and sub plots, and of course, the violence and dark humour were toned down to an appropriate level for a kids show. Animation It's computer-generated CGI animation, and the art style, from characters to backgrounds, is as vibrant as the cover art. It's good but not as detailed as the manga, but it's still enjoyable. I didn't like how little effort was put into creating more variety of backgrounds and locations in general; after ten episodes, I got tired of seeing the same forest, desert, and lake, and changing the time from day to night isn't a sufficient shortcut to fool the eyes. The animation is also good and does not feel robotic, though I expected more and longer action scenes, which were the show's greatest strength. Because the backgrounds were mostly static, it felt like watching low-setting real-time rendered video game cutscenes. If you liked the manga because of the visuals and level of detail, I can assure you that the visuals in the anime will be a huge letdown. Sound Expect goofy cartoony soundtracks appropriate for this over-the-top goofy anime, rather than the beautiful ambient background music you may have imagined in your head while reading the manga. The music directing is actually quite good for the most part, and there are some well-known Japanese talented voice actors among the cast, and in defense of the show, they have used a few soundtracks appropriate for the few drama scenes, which I liked. "A picture is worth a thousand words" This is the adaptation's biggest flaw; seeing is less effortful than reading and listening, so you want to relax and have an easy consumable manga with no dialogue, narration, or text, which is a similar concept to video games like Yume Nikki, which had its atmosphere ruined by dialogue in the appalling manga adaptation; the director of Gon also ruins the realistic atmosphere by making real animals talk, with the exception of Gon, who only speaks like a pokemon. Story In the spirit of Pokemon, here's a question that addresses the elephant in the room: do humans in Pokemon eat pokemons? Of course not, it would be cruel to show that in a children's show, just as it would be cruel to show Simba eating other animals besides bugs, well, except fish also known as Magikarp, because screw fish, fish are boring, similarly, and for the same reasons, Gon and his fellow carnivores are also on a pescetarian diet. Not only are the dark aspects of living in the wild lost due to demographic changes, but also due to budget, time, and animation technology and expertise limitations. For example, one of my favourite scenes in the manga was when Gon had an insect stuck inside his nose, causing him to become frantic, and the unfortunate scared hedgehog next to him assumed a defensive stance, only to make Gon happy to use his spikes to scratch his nose, eventually, the poor hedgehog is left with a clean shave. The scene was depicted in the anime, but due to the limitations mentioned above, it was not as amusing or violent as in the manga. Because this is a 50-episode anime loosely adapted from a silent manga with short stories, the creators were expected to try and fill the length of the episodes with whatever they can, so there was a pacing issue, they added useless dialogue, such as how the useless squirrel comments while observing Gon with other animals, they repeat the same jokes, such as Gon beating the bear and sleeping on him, or riding the lion for laughs. They did, however, include original jokes with new animals, and they usually follow a similar structure in which Gon is curious to childishly mimic another animal, causing them to become enraged, resulting in hilarious events. Finally, we have a few dramas and sad incidents that are resolved in a single episode; they are not as sad as in the manga where children have their parents killed, but they are as sad as having permanent injuries or being orphan. Character Unlike the manga counterpart, which had no sense of continuity, the anime had some plot continuity due to the characters interactions. For example, Gon 'befriends' a few animals that appeared in the manga for a single chapter besides a few recurring anime-only animals, most notably the huge bear Gon slept on and the lion Gon rode to hunt down preys. All of these animals were given one-dimensional yet distinct personalities, such as the bear being proud, the lion being stern, the wolf being arrogant, and so on. Gon is the only character who is the same or very similar to his manga counterpart; perhaps the only difference is that Gon's character is more lighthearted and cheerful, wanting to play, rather than a mere instinctual survivalist. As previously stated, Gon, aside from fish and a few insects, is the only character who does not speak but appears to understand other animals, though he rarely listens. Gon's purpose in the story, at least in the manga, was to explore how an overly strong animal and other animals would interact; however, in the anime, he is reduced to a Goku from Dragon Ball, except he is a full dinosaur instead of a half monkey; he was reduced in the sense that he became a mere walking running gag about an overpowered character beating down other supposedly strong characters. The focus in the manga was more on how other animals would react and how they would handle Gon, and how Gon would exploit them or choose to join them based on their capabilities and living style, whereas in the anime it's usually beating down foes or friending them, with a few exceptions such as Gon's interaction with an annoying camelion, but it's mostly about brute force and less about creativity. ValueAs much as I dislike how boring children's shows are, this one may provide a fun and positive experience for children because it is free of embedded marketing, hidden political or religious propaganda messages, as the only messages presented are that it is pointless to cry over spilled milk and how you must move on with your life, and that fish is the healthiest source of protein. However, for those looking for the manga experience, it's best to ignore this loose adaptation and instead consume other manga by Tanaka Masashi. EnjoymentWhile it's understandable to dislike producers who adapt manga but do a poor job and rely on big names to generate a large audience, I don't believe that was the intention of Gon's anime producers. The source material was aimed at a mature audience, but this adaptation is obviously for kids. Additionally, I don't judge anime adaptations based on how faithful they are to the source; I treat them as standalone works. It's true that this anime didn't provide me with the same experience I had when reading the manga. However, unfortunately for me, I didn't enjoy the manga as much as I enjoyed the slapstick humor and action delivered in the anime, which was the anime's highlight.
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