With today’s announcement from DC comics regarding plans for releasing prequel comics to the highly famed Watchmen series, much talk has surfaced regarding the concept of prequels in fiction. Its usage as a supplemental origin story goes as far back as Homer with the events of the Cypria preceding those of the Iliad, but is commonly found in many works throughout history and modern times.
By nature, prequels are initially looked at with immense skepticism due to the potential for retcon, the tendency for supplementary stories to be of much lesser quality, as well as the tendency for western media to milk franchises with an absurd amount of sequels and spinoffs in general. In anime, however, prequels (even sequels, to an extent) are not as common. Fate fans were treated to a highly successful prequel series last season with Fate/Zero, which is set to resume this Spring. Various mecha franchises such as Gundam and Macross naturally have prequel series as well.
Sadly, my opinion remains that anime could use a few more Zeros and Gaidens, since season 2’s are becoming more common in the industry. Here are a number of series that have sufficient potential for prequel expansion, in which I would be very interested.
In Samurai, Fuu, Mugen, and Jin, go on a search for the Fuu’s father, the Sunflower Samurai. In the prequel, we get insight on the origins of the Sunflower Samurai, as well as the history surrounding the Shimabara Rebellion and the Hidden Christians of the Edo Period. While the original series is wildly anachronistic, it still retains a sense of historical legitimacy in its inclusion of a large number of historical features of Japan, depicted in fascinating contexts. My personal favourite part of Japanese history is that of the christians in Japan, which is something that was only mildly hinted at in Champloo.
By centering the prequel on the Sunflower Samurai, there’s an opportunity to focus specifically at this aspect of history, creating a radically different approach to the depiction of history that its preceding series used. Having read Shusaku Endo’s Silence, which is highly detailed and interesting but surprisingly bland in its presentation, infusing those accounts with the stylistic champloo for which the anime is well-known could potentially result in something riveting to watch. Also, inclusion of Nujabes’ posthumous album would be icing on the cake.
Garden Gaiden! Heartcatch PreCure!
Heartcatch PreCure was nearly perfect as a series due to its ability to play a large number of magical girl tropes straight, yet still ride on the execution of those tropes, fantastic animation and unforgettable characters, to a highly enjoyable climax that still sits well in the hearts of its fanbase. However, there still lies potential for supplementary story, particularly with regards to the previous generations of PreCure. As the only continuity in the franchise that contains cross-generation of PreCure, I’d love to see a spinoff series that delves into the life of Tsubomi’s grandmother, Kaoruko Hanasaki.
Kaoruko is a fascinating character in her own right. In Heartcatch, her eyes show wisdom beyond her years, and her abilities as Cure Flower are largely hinted at (and even fully realized towards the end of the series). I’d love to see GGHCPC showcase her beginnings and development into a strong PreCure warrior, coupled with development alongside her fairy Coupe, as well as her future husband. We’d also get to see the backstory of Dune, one of the more interesting (if not most interesting) villains of the PreCure universe.
Simply put, Garden Gaiden would catch people’s hearts!
Puella Magi Cleopatra Magica
From a straight-up magical girl series in PreCure, to a highly
LOLGRIMDARK subversive show like Madoka Magica, we have a series here that, through only a few seconds of footage in the final episode, opens a window to infinite potential. When it was revealed that Magical Girls and Witches have existed for centuries, the fandom went wild with speculation as to how these historical women lived. One interesting piece of fanfiction even pursues this idea, and presents some highly interesting possibilities. However, instead of the multi-angle approach that the fic takes, I would like to see a spinoff series that focuses solely on a single character in history.
And what better character to examine than Cleopatra VII? Considered the greatest of the Egyptian queens, the idea that her contract with Kyubey’s species turned her into a magical queen is remarkably fascinating. What was her wish? How was her relationship with Antony while she was a magical girl? There are a multitude of ways to inject the Puella Magi element into this little slice of history, including a sphinx-like Kyubey that speaks in riddles, witches that take the form of animalistic monsters similar to Egyptian gods, and story of Cleo’s death, caused by a bite from a Cobra (or in this case, a Cobra-themed walpurgisnacht).
I would definitely make a contract just to have this series come to fruition.
Last Exile: The Grand Stream
Even though my wishes for a sequel to Last Exile were answered with Fam, the Silver Wing, there’s still plenty of room to examine the historical continuity of Last Exile in general. This just goes to show how vast the world is, and how effectively it was fleshed out in detail throughout the entire series. How great would it be, then, that we look at a prequel that follows the lives of Hamilcar Valca and Georges Head, the fathers of Claus and Lavie?
One of the main connections between Claus and Lavie are that of their dads, which results in their dream to one day cross the Grand Stream. Unlike Fam, which heavily takes a “cute girls doing cute things
in space with steampunk” approach to the story, Grand Stream would involve a younger Ham and Geo in an utterly bro-tastic cast. Slash pairing from fangirls is a foregone conclusion, which is something that this franchise doesn’t see a lot of outside of Dio and Lusciola. A historical look at Anatoray-Disith relations would be also rather interesting.
Even though the K-ON franchise still continues in manga and movie formats with its currently-running university arc and “British Invasion” film, there still lies a prequel idea that I’ve always wanted to see back when the first series ended. Death Devil, the gothic heavy metal band in which club advisor and school alumna Sawako Yamanaka performed as the lead guitarist, is an extreme musical departure from the pop-rock stylings that Hokago Tea Time is known for. While two of Death Devil’s songs, Love and Maddy Candy, are featured in the original series, this number is two too low for my taste. I want more.
Sawako as a high school girl is an interesting story that was told in dramedic fashion in the original series. I’d like to see the same approach taken with this pre-generational iteration. The same slice of life format can still be used, but as some bits in Nichijou have proven, dramedy can be used to full effect in anime. Sawako’s heartbreak and downfall into the “dark arts” can be played for laughs, resulting in a very intriguing depiction of Death Devil as a combination of Hokago Tea Time andDetroitMetalCity.
Links to the Past
The prequel can be an effective storytelling method due to the inherent benefits that it provides. It can make use of dramatic irony, since the audience already knows the consequences of the story’s actions, and it can also make neat references to the original work, which can be highly appreciated by the fanbase of the original series. As Fate/Zero has generally shown, prequels have potential to be even more popular and successful than their source counterparts. All that is required is a fresh, interesting approach to the canon, as well as precise execution through effective animation, character design, and even voice acting.
I only mentioned a few series here that I would personally like to see prequels of, but they certainly aren’t the only ones that have viability. Which anime prequels would you be interested in?