Storytelling is a complicated thing. Change even one small thing and it can create an entirely different work of art. Its one of the reason that alternate history stories are so compelling, because with one a small tweak we can see where our history might have been.
So as a thought experiment, I wanted to propose the changes to the anime that might create new and more compelling stories. From shifting ending points to altering character arcs, these are the alternate anime stories that I would want to see told.
Our Top Changes to the Anime
The Anime – Dragonball
As I covered in my Dragonball waifu review, Toriyama is not known for his skill at writing convincing or compelling women. Unless you’re named Bulma, chances are he is going to cast you aside the moment you get pregnant (or, in Launch’s case, forget you exist entirely). Which is frustrating because on the surface, there are some potentially great female characters in Dragonball. If I could make more changes to the anime, it would be to simply teach him to like writing women. Chi-Chi is particularly interesting, but she peaks during the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament.
During this time, she fights Goku in the tournament, frustrated that he has forgotten that he promised to marry her years before when they were children (Goku thought marriage was a kind of sandwich). She shows impressive skills, keeping the eventual champion on his back foot in the initial outing before being thrown from the ring. Despite this reintroduction to fans, Chi-Chi never again seriously fights in the series. She is relegated to the role of nagging wife and mother to Gohan.
If Chi-Chi were to continue training alongside Goku, she not only would have been a more relevant character to the plot in the coming years but it would have given Goku a more realistic and interesting home life. Chi-Chi could still be a mother to Gohan, raising him to study hard as well as embrace the legacy of his parents. Perhaps she would have also been killed by Raditz in the opening fight of Dragonball Z, forcing the couple to travel Snake Way together to train under King Kai.
Or she would have joined the others in facing off against the Saiyans. Would this motivate Goku to get there faster to save his wife? Would he be able to let Vegeta live at the end of the fight if he’d had a hand in Chi-Chi’s death?
There is a whole wrinkle to Goku’s character that we never get to explore because Chi-Chi is done so dirty by the writer. It could have paved the way for Videl to have more impact in the series, becoming similar to her eventual mother-in-law. Like most changes to the anime, it is something small that results in an entirely new and more exciting story.
The Anime – Death Note
The whole first season of Death Note is a great take on the cat-and-mouse detective story. We know who Kira is and how he is killing. We just don’t know how he will eventually be caught. That task of taking down a seemingly limitless killer falls to L, a legendary detective with a sweet tooth and questionable posture. For every move that Light makes, L has a counter and vice versa, until the climax and Light discovers the means to kill his enemy moments before he discovers his identity. It’s a haunting twist, with evil winning out over good with the help of a magical notebook of doom.
And then the second season hits and we get not one but two ace detectives on Light’s trail, who eventually catch him before he is killed by the powers that he wielded so selfishly.
Of all the changes to the anime in this article, this is the most drastic. Just finish it with L’s death. It never sits well with me when you replace one character with a carbon copy of them. It cheapens their death and sacrifice and the character in general. Besides, it creates a totally different philosophical ending. Let evil win and the story is suddenly more haunting and devastating, forcing the viewer to reflect on the state of the world around them more intently. The ending is suddenly a warning about putting too much power in one person’s hands because once you do, you cannot easily take that power back.
The Anime – Trigun
I’ve talked plenty about Trigun and why it is one of the best anime of all time. It is the story of Vash the Stampede as he avoids the insurance company, outlaws, and bounty hunters hot on his heels while trying to do the maximum amount of good. In it, his arm can turn into a devastating weapon capable of levelling cities and even puts a hole on the moon above the planet Gunsmoke.
There don’t seem to be any real limits put on Vash’s power or his ability to use his Angel Arm. He avoids it because of its lack of precision and tendency to level the surrounding areas, but other than that it is simply something at his disposal whenever her would like it to be.
This is less a change and more something I would include from the manga. In the original, Vash’s blond hair turns darker each time he uses this devastating weapon and, should it become entirely black, he would die. The Angel Arm weapon uses his own life force to function and by the end of the manga’s run he is left with completely black hair with only a small lock of blond, showing that he has almost exhausted his life force with his attempts to save the world.
Including this element of the manga into the anime would give a great limit to Vash’s power but also give a reason why his brother Knives needs him around. Knives wants Vash to use his Angel Arm instead so that he doesn’t put himself at risk. There becomes more of a reason for Knives to prefer to fight from the background. He would prefer Vash use his precious and limited energy instead. It adds a sinister, manipulative layer to the villain and limits Vash’s own resources at the same time.
So those are the changes I would make to some classic anime. Do you agree? What changes to the anime would you make instead? Let us know in the comments or on the usual socials!