Anime vs Manga. Which should get more of your time?
A friend was the one who incited the question, which one is best? The answer is not something that can be set in stone, as there are many differences. The following is my reply to her a bit expanded.
As far the enjoyment factor goes, it has to be anime. Compared to the static images of the manga it has motion, voice acting, and in many occasions a decent soundtrack, making it a complete audio/visual experience requiring little or no imagination from the viewer to be able to enjoy it.
The manga on the other hand lacks all of the above, it’s only weapon are the drawings of the mangaka and the power of the story it is trying to tell, while anime can rely more on things like fanservice and still be popular, the manga needs something more in order to keep you interested.
Another issue, manga has to depend a lot more on the individual’s imagination, something that differs a lot between people making it possible for big differences in how it will be perceived from person to person, depending of course on how it is designed. One thing that a mangaka can do however, is to expose to the reader the thoughts of the various characters without having them talk to themselves, a common practice in various anime shows that chose that workaround. In that context a manga have some similarities to novels, exploiting the same techniques.
Something that often happens is to start reading a manga after watching the relevant anime just to continue following the story, making the anime just a promo for the manga. Such an anime is probably Deadman Wonderland from the Spring 2011 season. Essentially very short leaving everything open, it could use a sequel but it’s real purpose was to promote the manga.
The opposite is not likely to happen, and if it does in most cases disappoints. I started the Bakuman manga long before it was made an anime, and having read the story in advance I could not find anything in the anime to enjoy as it completely lacked the element of surprise. Another example is the Mahou Sensei Negima manga, the anime adaptations of which were dreadful. The liberties the anime directors/producers take, more often than not usually degrade the story rather than helping it, take the ending of the Claymore anime which is an anime original and not up on par with the rest of it and the various fillers and deviations of the shounen anime which usually are clearly distinguishable even from those who never read the manga since they lack cohesion with the rest and the story is of lower quality. There are always exceptions, but that’s not the point.
Besides the basic comparison other factors come in, and the biggest one is the different media used. Anime is usually watched on a TV screen and computer monitors, while the manga is read in the traditional magazine form or in the computer monitor if it’s a scanlation, but with the requirement of being close to it so you can read. Those differences define, at least for me, when I will watch anime and when I will try to read a manga. Like many other people, I usually will try to read a manga at work (when I have the time) since I can do it in my weak netbook and it doesn’t require audio which may bother the ones around me. On the other hand, it is likely that I will choose to watch anime when at home since I have a personal home theater setup for such purposes and I do not have a device that is suitable to read manga, I just won’t sit on the desktop computer to do it.
All in all, I do no think there’s a real answer, both have pros and cons but which one is best is clearly up to the individual’s tastes and their daily habits. In my case, anime will get most of the attention and time both because I prefer the anime experience and because of my daily routines, in my friend’s case it’s the manga. You decide what suits you best.