A Japanese novel, which became a light novel, which became a manga, which became a movie, which became a video game, which is naturally of a genre that the novel was designed around in the first place. Yes, it's complicated.Wataru is a fairly ordinary 10-year-old boy living in Japan. He lives with his mother and father in an apartment complex, goes to cram school, tries to impress the new kid in his class, avoids bullies, obsesses over video games coming out, hangs out with his best friend—nothing big or out of the ordinary. He's heard rumors recently about an abandoned construction site and ghosts, but nothing else to report on, right?Wrong.His father runs off with another woman after getting her pregnant. His mother tries to kill herself and him by suffocation. Two of his classmates get beat up and then vanish—at the hands of the new kid.But while visiting the supposedly haunted construction site, he discovers a magical portal to the world of Vision—the place where people's hopes and dreams come to life, magic is real, and brave Travelers—such as himself—have a chance to meet with the Goddess of Destiny, who will grant those who reach her one wish. Wataru knows exactly what he needs—he needs his father back, and his mother kept safe. Setting off with only a tiny sword—and the assistance of a jovial lizardman and a cute Cat Girl—he makes his way across the strange world of Vision. But not all is right in Vision. Another Traveler is in Vision—and he looks suspiciously like the new kid. And rumors abound of dark things going on in the sky, of an ancient ritual, and of sacrifice...Naturally, the Vision parts of this story borrows quite a lot from JRPGs, even a simplified two-option version of the Class and Level System.
This book and its direct adaptations provide examples of:
One absence does actually remove an important plot element, though: Wataru (the main character) and Mitsuru (The Rival) are both racing to reach the Tower of the Goddess and receive a wish from her. In The Film of the Book, it's never explicitly explained why it's important who gets there first, or if it is. In the book, it's much more clear: Whoever makes it last will be sacrificed to keep the land of Vision in existence.
That idea is not even IN the movie, so, no harm done.
Adaptational Heroism: Mitsuru in the movie. He's still far from being a hero, but definitely a lot more sympathetic than in the novel.
Beam-O-War: In the movie, one takes place between Jozo the dragon child and Mitsuru.
Bittersweet Ending: Vision will exist forevermore, but Mitsuru's dead, never to fix his screwed-up life, and Wataru will never again get to see—and will probably forget—the friends he gave up his wish to save. Oh, and his mom is still sick, in more ways than one. The movie mitigates some of these factors, including Mitsuru's death.
Well, we aren't completely sure Mitsuru died in the real world, considering the fact that Wataru came back the moment he left for Vision. We're just told that he moved, but if that is the truth might be debateable.
Captain Ersatz: All of the PSP game characters are slightly altered and renamed versions of the book's characters. To make things more confusing, you meet the book's characters as guest party members in the game, and they all have exactly the same moves as their counterparts.
Class and Level System: Travelers get one of two classes depending on personality. Sorcerer, which uses elemental magic and summon spells and wields a staff - or Brave, which get super-reflexes and a magic sword.
In the manga, there are a lot more than that. Cannoneer license, Beast License, Chase License... and so on. There was also one that looks like a maid in the guide's hands.
Clear My Name: Wataru in Garsala. In the movie it's over the kidnapping of a baby dragon. In the novel, it's because he was framed for murder.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Wataru's mom, Played for Drama. It's revealed shortly before Wataru leaves for Vision that his father's mistress was the woman he originally planned to marry. Wataru's mom faked a pregnancy and drove her away. Her mental health begins to deteriorate pretty badly when Akira gets back together with the other woman.
This is not the case in the movie, however, where his father leaves apropos of nothing, and is generally a Jerk Ass.
Corrupt Church: The Church of the Old God in General, and the Church of Cistina in particular.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Vision, being based on the imagination and fantasies of human beings, features plenty of history that mirrors real-world events, including the Holocaust and even Jonestown.
Door Stopper: The English translation runs about 800+ pages.
Informed Ability: We are told that the reason that Fantastic Racism is so prevalent in Vision is because Wataru has hidden racist tendencies. Nothing he ever does backs this up at any time. Perhaps it's a Take That against general Japanese xenophobia?
Lighter and Softer: The movie as compared to the book. The movie is, for the most part, a cheerful fantasy romp with some terror splashed in just to keep people on their toes. The book, on the other hand, is nothing short of grim, although it ends well.Ish. The manga is lighter and softer as well (the mangaka even says in the author's notes that it turned out more humorous and fluffy than she'd expected).
Off the Rails: It's heavily implied that much of each Traveler's journey is pre-planned out by the Goddess like an RPG - with them following plot threads and befriending people. Mitsuru ignores these plot threads repeatedly, and instead of following them, kills the NPCs that offer them. And boy does he ever pay for it.
Victory Guided Amnesia: It doesn't take effect immediately, but it is certainly implied that Wataru will eventually forget all about Vision and his friends there. This isn't the case in the movie, however.
Guest Star Party Member: Several characters, including Kee Keema, Wataru and Mitsuru. Even though they don't remain in the party for long, it's still possible for the hero to learn at least one team-up skill with almost every one of them.
Ill Girl: Miki, the hero's friend back in the real world.
Money Spider: Averted...slightly. Rather than getting money directly from enemies, you have to take the items they were carrying and sell them to shopkeepers. Later on in the game, you can pick up a bounty for the amount of monsters you kill, which can go up to ridiculously high amounts. Now if only we could figure out why those monsters were carrying precious gems...
Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Actually, you can press the R-button at any time in the field or a dungeon to get a hint from one of your party members.
Palette Swap: Many enemies have size/color differences for the same race. In general, larger enemies have more HP and attack. The Crazed versions can also be seen as extensions of this.