While Adaptation Distillation will condense things down effectively, a Compressed Adaptation will leave out whole chunks, hoping that the story stays together while being swiss-cheesed, and/or combine certain scenes - much to the chagrin of many of its fans, of course.
A relatively long story has to be adapted to a fresh medium with enough of a time constraint that the entirety of the original plot could never reasonably fit, whether it's a movie, OAV, or short TV series. Here, instead of making a Pragmatic Adaptation and changing the focus altogether, the writers basically decide to start cutting out scenes to fit the story into the allotted time. Sometimes it works. Other times, you get a jarring mess that only people who already know the original story can follow.
Oftentimes, when choosing what to cut in a multi-work condensation, the First Installment Wins and stays more intact than later installments crammed into the adaptation. This can become self-perpetuating in future adaptations.
2½ hours is the standard limit that most filmmakers try to abide by, because if it's any longer than that, it's very likely that not many people will want to watch it (which means it will make less money for the producers, especially since you can't show it as often in the same theater). Let's face it: you just can't do in a two-and-a-half-hour-long movie what you can in an 800-page novel.
This is basically the opposite of Overtook the Manga: instead of there being not enough manga for the anime, there's too much manga for the anime, so instead of the anime being filled with Filler, it gets compressed.
Note that this can still overtake the manga in the sense of being produced before the manga is done; this may result in a Gecko Ending. Contrast the opposite, Adaptation Expansion. Might cause a Continuity Lockout, Orphaned Reference or Adaptation Induced Plot Hole.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
.hack//G.U. Trilogy turns three 20+ hour games into a 90 minute movie. A lot of the first game made it in, but once they got through with that, they winged it and pretty much revamped the plot from there on.
3×3 Eyes. Four OAVs for two manga volumes (not too bad)—then three OAVs for three more manga volumes (not good).
The (1st) anime adaptation of Mahou Sensei Negima! had only 26 episodes and a very half-assed ending which, to be honest, could conceivably have been true from what had come out so far...if they never consulted the author.
The first adaptation managed to combine Compression with Filler. They managed to stick a good half-dozen episodes between the end of the manga's third volume and the beginning of the fourth, then compressed the entire events of the next three volumes into two episodes.
Lampshaded in the Dragon Half OVA, where one villain from the manga realizes that all of his backstory was left out of the adaptation, as seen in the page quote above.
Macross: Do You Remember Love? The two-hour movie is a "re-imagining" of a 30-episode series, and it cuts out what would be the first half-hour or so because there's not enough time to fit in even an abbreviated version of the full story.
The plot of Gankutsuou covers roughly the last two-thirds of the novel; everything prior to Albert's first meeting with the Count is addressed in flashbacks. Interestingly enough, this is exactly how Alexandre Dumas originally intended to write it.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: 141 chapters of manga, and four-episodes of OVA that cover 18 of those chapters and a very small amount of original material.
Some of the last Death Note anime episodes suffer from this very heavily, with one episode equaling a whole volume of the manga in one occasion. This was in part due to these parts of the manga being drawn out for a little too long (they wanted to make it exactly 108 chapters.)
Entire subplots are cut out, like Mello using the Death Note to threaten the president (which ultimately results in the president's suicide and him being replaced with a somewhat spineless successor who decides to disband the SPK)- the aforementioned episode that jumps over 9 chapters. In another case, Mogi is temporarily held by Near when Demegawa's mob invades SPK headquarters, and is falsely said to have died, which helps lead to Aizawa cooperating with Near. The anime also significantly plays down the debate over the political and social implications of what Kira is doing.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure had an OVA series that not only adapted just Part 3 of the story, but started in the middle of the arc. The second OVA series is a prequel which jumped back to the beginning of the arc, recapped it up to where the first one started, then jumped back to after the first one ended.
Haiyore! Nyarko-san surprised many fans (and annoyed others) by compressing the events of the first light novel into just two episodes (the first two of the 2012 TV series). The rest of the anime is a mixed bag, but so far it's taken two 12-episode seasons to cover the events of the first eight light novels.
The anime of Air Gear cuts out several minor characters and events. The OVAs go even further and cut out almost everything that isn't people beating each other to a pulp.
The Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime is a compressed adaption of the first 6 sound novels. They removed a lot of elements, such as TIPs, the poems, and Fredrica Berkenstel, and many buildup scenes, leading to a very rushed pace. The manga is better, but also counts. The Kai anime is obviously less compressed, as it has only the last two arcs to cover (plus an additional, anime-only arc at the beginning). It still suffers from it though, as the last two novels are also by far the longest ones.
Its spiritual successor has the same issue, and is somehow even worse as Umineko's Question arcs are much longer and introduce much more characters than Higurashi's; but the anime's length is the same. Granted, the beginning of the first Sound Novel is full of unnecessarily stretched-out dialogues, but in the anime the first victims die before you can even remember their names. That's also probably why there is very little chance of ever seeing an anime for Chiru (apart from abysmally low DVD sales).
Done with Amagami. Fortunately, every character is given their own arc in the anime.
And the Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works movie, if anything, copped it even worse. It was less a movie in its own right and more a montage of scenes from the game. It managed to keep most of the major scenes and plot points, but at the cost of cutting out almost all characterisation, backstory, the main love story between Shirou and Rin and all the segues, not only making it amazingly jarring to watch but also almost completely incomprehensible to anyone who isn't already familiar with the story.
The 1986 movie version of Fist of the North Star roughly adapts the initial 72 chapters of the original manga (or the first 49 episodes of the TV series) into a 2-hour film. This was mainly done by rearranging the order of events and focusing the plot on the franchise's now-iconic rivalry between Kenshiro and his brother Raoh, reducing the role of every other villain to extended cameos (with only Shin and Jagi getting sufficient development due to their importance to the plot). However, Toki (the second of the four Hokuto brothers) was left out completely with not even a hint of his existence, and while Rei still appears, his love interest Mamiya does not, and he dies without his final challenge to his nemesis Yuda.
InuYasha: The Final Act covers the last 20 tankōban volumes of the manga in only 26 episodes. (By comparison, the first InuYasha anime series covered the first 36 manga volumes in 167 episodes.)
Dragon Ball Kai is an edited version of Dragon Ball Z that cuts out most of the filler to be closer to the manga such that Kai runs from the Saiyan saga to the Cell saga with 98 episodes, compared with Z's 194 episodes making it about twice as long.
The 8th One Piece movie tries to squeeze about 40 episodes of material into a 90-minute movie. It makes a gallant effort, but even without the filler and just about every single plot point not directly related to the story arc, it still leaves a bit to be desired.
The Puella Magi Madoka Magica manga. Roughly 40 pages for each 20-minute episode is not as much space as you might think. It manages to keep more or less all of the same events; they just go by very quickly.
Gundam F91 - Originally planned as a full series, cut down even further. They had 13 full episodes originally scripted which then had to be cut down to a 2 hour movie, thanks to even more staff issues. When watched, a viewer can actually see' the points where they took an episode and made it the "ultra-condensed version."
The Ookami Kakushi anime is based on a (roughly) fifteen-hour Visual Novel with at least ten arcs in total, each designed to explain the mysteries of Jougamachi and why certain characters act the way they do. On top of that, the first few arcs have multiple endings resulting from branching choices. The anime attempts to adapt all that, minus the bad ends...in eleven episodes.
Unusually, the frantic pacing typical of a Compressed Adaptation is totally absent here. There are glaciers that move faster.
The Wandering Son anime had to compress 4 volumes into a Twelve Episode Anime. That meant skipped important parts, compressing scenes together, and removing most of the comedy.
Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned, the TV anime adaptation of Marvel Comics' The Tomb of Dracula, attempted to compress a 70-issue comic into an hour-and-a-half movie. The resulting plot makes very little sense.
The Chinese manga adaptation of Digimon Adventure (which was translated into English by Tokyo Pop) did a lot of compressing of the 54 episode series into 5 books. Fillers (and some non-fillers) are skipped or compressed to a one page recap and some alterations are made to combine events. The adaptation of season 2 manages to compress the 50 episode series, into two volumes.
Episode 1: Most of the side conquests in between the said episode and the Tenri-Hen OVA were removed (whilst providing a summary of Tsukiyo's, Yui's, and Akari's conquests) with the season's main arc beginning immediately with the events of FLAG 114. Also, Lune was swapped into Fiore's role as Apollo's assasin.
Episode 2: The initial groundwork for the reconquests were heavily distilled: Keima's second encounter with Jun (in order to confirm the goddess host remembers the conquest theory) was replaced with that of Mionote which actually happened during Yui's conquest arc; and the dialogue between Shiori and the library chairperson was removed.
The Togainu no Chi anime tried to cram the whole, multi-route, visual novel into a 13 episode anime. This worked as well as you'd expect. Not only were all suggestions of any boys love pretty much removed, but the story was pretty much impossible to follow because of how much they had to remove and abridge to fit the story into only 13 episodes. Most fans have chosen to ignore it's existence all together.
The anime adaption of Dangan Ronpa compressed the original visual novel into 12 episodes. It manages to cover the most important things, but as a result it feels incredibly rushed compared to the game, and also leaves out things like character backstories and the things you learn by spending "free time" with your classmates during the game.
The movie version of Berserk is this. The main character's painfully tragic backstory is portrayed only as a short series of disjointed flashbacks, making his attitude problem in the early episodes a bit of a mystery to new viewers. Much of the political subplot is cut, downplaying themes of classism and social injustice that make up a large part of the antagonist's motivation, and the members of the Hawks other than the main three are not developed, making the Downer Ending of the third movie less poignant.
BlazBlue: Alter Memory was aired as a 12-episode adaptation of the first two games. It suffers from being heavily compressed, though. The plot of the first game is compressed into the first two episodes, there is (inexplicably) little to no exposition (likely leaving a lot of newcomers to the series confused), and most of the characters outside Ragna and Noel are largely ignored and/or are given little to no backstory (if you aren't familiar with the games, chances are you won't understand Litchi's sudden Face-Heel Turn).
A Certain Magical Index: The anime version cuts out the Aureolus Dummy subplot from the Deep Blood arc and the serial killer Jinsaku Hino from the Angel Fall arc. The manga version cuts out the Deep Blood and Angel Fall arcs altogether.
There exists a comic book adaptation to The Thrawn Trilogy. Some scans from the first three issues of the first book, Heir to the Empire, are here. Despite somewhat odd art for this particular book, it's not terrible. Converting a Timothy Zahn novel into six comic issues means leaving out a lot, but Mike Baron was apparently afraid to alter the book, so while details and a lot of dialogue get left out, most of the rest stays in. It's a very dense set of comics, stridently averting decompression and sometimes using a Wall of Text or two.
A lot of things lose their pacing and impact. There's a point in the comics where the Imperials are near a ship, they talk about cloaking, Thrawn says it's good, and then they jump into hyperspace. In the novels, well, here's a dramatization.
Thrawn: The freighter right outside this viewport is ready for the final cloaking test. Do it. Technicians: (hit switch) (the freighter does not disappear) Technicians: (look at clearly visible freighter, sweat) Thrawn: Excellent. This is exactly what I wanted. Good job, technicians. The mission is greenlighted! Let's get this taskforce going! First-Time Readers: Wait, what? Isn't the cloaking device supposed to, you know, CLOAK? Buh?! It didn't cloak! What just happened?! Other Readers: SO. AWESOME. Thrawn: (smirk)
The comic-book adaptation of Killer7 (yes, there is one) manages to make the storyline even more confusing by at the same cramming in scenes from the game at a breakneck pace and leaving others out completely. No wonder it was never finished (the four released standard-sized issues cover about the first half of the game's story).
Many fans were outraged at the film adaptation of The Saga of Darren Shan. They try to squeeze content from the first three books (and even a huge spoiler from the ninth book) into the film. Scenes were removed with others added in their place.
The Harry Potter films. With the first two being of the "leave out whole scenes" variety, however, they were still mostly Adaptation Distillation. The later ones tended to combine scenes and leave out secondary plots altogether — the first forty minutes of the fourth movie cover over 200 pages. The final two movies are next to incomprehensible unless you've read the books. Part of the problem is that the first films were being made when the book series had not yet finished. Because of this, the filmmakers had no idea what scenes and subplots from earlier books would be significant in later ones. This resulted in several hamfisted and plothole-creating explanations in the later films in cases where they were neatly wrapped up in the books but the film series were missing the setups from earlier stories.
Battle Royale. The book is 600 pages and became a two-hour movie. Most of what was cut was Character Development explaining the backstories and motivations of the children.
Ender’s Game. So much was cut from the book that the motivation of everyone except possibly the military command is nearly incomprehensible. "Wait, why is everyone looking to Ender for guidance? They all hated him literally two scenes ago."
Stardust: It's especially jarring in the final scene when the camera goes over everyone Tristan has met in his adventures, which isn't many compared to the book. One of the primary differences is that in the book, Tristran is gone for the better part of a year, whereas in the movie, he is gone for about a week.
The Lord of the Rings. And it's still 11 hours long. The Extended Edition does a better job of remaining faithful to the book. Still, it's more of an Adaptation Distillation and some major scenes are left out for continuity and pacing reasons.
The film version of Avatar: The Last Airbender, simply titled The Last Airbender was already expected to suffer from this before its release, with fans assuming that it would be impossible to squeeze three seasons of the cartoon into three movies. Judging by the first film, it looks like the fans' fears were dead-on, as characters in the movie will spout endless amounts of exposition, line after line, in an effort to compress an entire season into one film.
A given for any adaptation of a classic novel. The films of Pride and Prejudice and Brideshead Revisited are recent modern culprits. To see how much has been condensed, one only needs to see the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink TV versions.
Happens to just about every adaptation of Les Misérables. Les Mis doesn't even get the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink TV versions. The most famous example is, of course, the musical, which gets its own section. Seriously, is there a Les Misérables movie out there that keeps the Bishop of Digne's backstory, Sister Simplice, and the Battle of Waterloo, and introduces all of the Friends of the ABC?
There is a French series of films from the 1930s that include just about everything.
A lot of the book is made up of about a dozen pages of backstory for every one event that happens, and most of the backstory isn't needed to appreciate the book — after all, the fifty pagesVictor Hugo spends talking about the Battle of Waterloo (which includes the events of the battle itself, the geography of the area, and a dissertation of whether or not Waterloo was justified) contain one event relevant to the rest of the novel, which could be included while easily taking out forty-nine pages and not missing a thing. Condensing the storyline is, for a few things in the books, completely justified.
David Lynch's Dune. It follows the plot of the book reasonably closely, but compresses two-thirds of a long novel into half an hour.
Zack Snyder's Watchmenfilm is about two and a half hours, though manages to get through most of the major characters' stories. To demonstrate how many subplots were cut, a "motion comic" adaptation was released by Amazon that runs five and a half hours.
A few adaptations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland have done this (the Charlotte Henry film for instance cuts the part where Alice grows too large in the White Rabbit's house). Most also reverse this and work parts of Through The Looking-Glass into them, commonly the Tweedles.
The movie adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events attempted to cover three separate books, along with a subplot from later in the series, and many scenes made up just for the movie. Needless to say, a lot of the books' plot had to go.
The film trilogy of 20th Century Boys, though it's about as good as it could be as the films were written by the manga's author Naoki Urasawa. Poor Chouno really gets short shrift in the third film. After a pretty large role in film two, he's only given a couple brief appearances to wrap up his personal story arc before disappearing completely. Though given all the other things that needed to be resolved, it's hard to blame them for not wanting to spend too much time on this comparatively tangential plot thread.
The movie adaptation of My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It leaves out the storyline with Campbell and Julia, and also makes Jesse nicer. The movie also focuses a lot on Kate, much more than in the book. It might as well be called Littlest Cancer Patient: All Grown Up. It also leaves out the twist at the end, in which Anna gets hit by a car shortly after winning the case, which allows Kate to live and renders Anna's struggle for emancipation moot. In the movie, Kate just...dies.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the live-action adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim comic series, is a positive example of this trope due to the fact that most of the scenes in the comic that were cut out wouldn't have worked on film due to their slow pacing.
Gone with the Wind eliminates large portions of the book — the backstory of Ellen and Gerald (Scarlet's parents) and the two children she has with her first and second husbands — and compresses most sections of it: before the war, during, Reconstruction, etc. Most notably, her miscarriage/Bonnie's death/Melanie's miscarriage and death all happen with a few weeks of each other, whereas in the book, these events took place over the course of a year. Despite this, the movie is still 3.5 hours long. As in the Harry Potter example, the audience at the time of release could be expected to have read the book.
The Time Traveler's Wife compressed a 300-page book into a movie a little over an hour and a half long, removing some of the characters' stories and dropping others altogether.
Many films of A Christmas Carol leave out a number of scenes, although some, like the Alistair Sim version, expand upon the story. The 70-minute 1938 film omits most of the darker scenes, such as Scrooge's breakup with Belle, Ignorance & Want, and the looting of the deceased Scrooge's belongings. An important scene from the book is rarely included in movie adaptions; a scene where a family who owes Scrooge money celebrates his death, even though their time to repay may only be slightly extended due to transferance. The Albert Finney musical version, however, manages to condense it all into a song where all of London thanks Scrooge for dying while tearing up his debt book and dancing on his coffin.
The MGM adaptation of The Wizard of Oz omits scenes that wouldn't have worked in live-action at the time, as well as shortening the journey to Emerald City. When the Wicked Witch originally died, it was midway through the story, so the adaptation ends around the point when the Wizard leaves his city and Dorothy behind.
Eragon. The movie adaptation butchered the entire plot. Even the characters who were supposed to be dwarves and elves were portrayed as just regular humans. This was due to Executive Meddling, which felt that people would think they were ripping off Tolkien's creations.
The film of The NeverEnding Storyliterally cut out half of the book. Wheras the movie ends after Atreyu's quest ends and Bastian arrives in Fantasia, the novel explores Bastian's becoming of a Canon Sue and adventures in Fantastica, realizing his errors, and setting to go back to his world before it's too late. This resulted in a rather hasty ending to viewers who had previously read the book, to say the least. Thanks to Adaptation Displacement, most people don't even know anything was removed. Its sequel, fortunately, picks up elements from the second half of the book, although it was still not quite there.
The film of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney cuts out most of Cases 1-1 and 1-3, using what remained to make up an opening montage to show off the lawyering skills of Wright and Edgeworth respectively (Case 1-1 suffers this less, being shorter, but pretty much the only thing that remains of 1-3 is a cameo appearance of Dee Vasquez). Given that the movie focuses on the DL-6 Incident as the plot and that those two cases are the ones least affected by it, it's justified.
The Flowers in the Attic film is only 90 minutes long. As such, a lot of the emotional drama of the novel as the children are slowly worn away by their attic prison is glossed over with bits of narration.
The miniseries of The Stand wasn't as compressed as one might expect of a 900+ page book, but the Boulder section and Stu and Tom's journey home suffered it. The Boulder stuff was justified, as even King thought it got a bit boring before the bomb incident and he wrote that part to kick start more action.
The Night Watch film only actually covers the first story, "Destiny". The other two ("Among his own kind" and "All for my own kind") are absent, although parts of the third story are adapted into the Day Watch film, whose storyline is completely unrelated to the book it was supposedly based on. And then the second film ends with Anton using the Chalk of Fate to rewrite his own past from the beginning of the first film.
Hammer's The Mummy (1959) takes elements from all of Universal's Mummy movies and puts them in one package.
The Lovely Bones is a book that basically is about a dead girl examing what happens to her family and friends after her death. Needless to say we spend a lot of time getting to know a lot of characters in scenes that aren't really a direct part of any big mystery around her murder or focusing much on Susie. So in the film a lot of these went, the problem with such is without a lot of that, the audience fails to get to know a lot of those other characters.
Being a half-hour program, and a family-oriented one at that, the various works adapted on Wishbone are compressed both for time and content. But as they take things out, but never add anything in, they still remain among the more faithful adaptations you'll find anywhere.
Tales of the Arabian Nights has the player go through seven missions ("Tales") based on the Arabian Nights (as well as its associated works), with varying levels of faithfulness. Needless to say, there was a lot of compression to squeeze even one Tale into a minute-long game mode.
Les Misérables takes a 1400-page book with Loads and Loads of Characters and makes an two-and-three-quarter-hours-long musical with about ten principles and an ensemble of about 20. Granted, it works wonderfully, but even on stage it's very stylized to keep the action moving. It feels almost like a three-hour Montage covering almost all of the subtropes thereof.
Guys and Dolls takes an interesting track of combining two short stories by Damon Runyon, adding in characters from his other stories and giving them songs. It works incredibly well; the fact that they did not include a character calledBig Nig helped immensely.
Most 19th C. operas based on then-popular novels and/or plays skipped a lot. For example, in Verdi's Traviata, there is nothing in the script that indicated that Violetta has TB until the end—because in the original audientce everyone knew the play or the novel. ToscaLa Bohème and the various versions of Manon were similarly compressed.
La Bohème's method of compression was similar to that of Guys and Dolls. Henri Murger's Scènes de la vie de bohème is more of a picaresque collection of stories about Bohemian life with recurring major characters. The opera takes these characters and combines a few of the events from the stories to create a shorter single plot, with some differences from the novel. Mimì's personality became more pure, and Schaunard and Colline's girlfriends were written out... In fact, some of the most memorable events of La Bohème are taken from the story "Francine's Muff", the only chapter of the novel that has nothing to do with any of the four main characters.
Not just opera: this was a common way of adapting books for the stage at the time, and were often far worse than the operatic examples, leading to a "popular scenes from" or even a "scenes that the censors will let us put on from" adaptation. However, the operas have music which people want to hear. The plays had no such mitigating factor.
Kirby Super Star's first game, Spring Breeze, is a compressed adaptation of Kirby's Dreamland, the first game of the series.
This trope is the eventual fate of almost any game released for a handheld system that is primarily released through a major console. Handhelds typically have greatly reduced processing power and storage space, making Adaptation Distillation and Compressed Adaptation necessary. Over the course of time, it's more bearable as handhelds become more powerful and/or developers tailor specifically to them. For example, Tales of the Abyss was originally a PS2 game, but ported identically to the 3DS.
The iOS port of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors takes out all of the puzzle portions, leaving a pure visual novel where the only choices are the ones that cause route branching and everything else that previously had a choice is locked to one of them. On the other hand, there's a new bad ending that "rewards" you for making the biggest Violation of Common Sense at the second branch by ending your game before you ever reach the third.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes removes the VR missions present in the original versions of the game.
Roommates has a three page adaptation of The Erl-King (which was the 2013 Fathers' Day Special) which cuts the poem's three rounds of the child being not belived down to one by taking parts from all three.
The second and third installments of the original BIONICLE trilogy of Direct-to-Video movies took this route. The comic and novel scenes (which mostly dealt with stories unrelated to the movies' plots) can be fitted in between movie scenes. Still, as the story writer put it in a DVD bonus feature, only if you read the comics and books (or in some cases, follow the story for years) do you fully understand what's going on.
X-Men did a fair number of episodes directly based off stories from Chris Claremont's run. For instance, the "Proteus" adaptation was shortened to a single two-part episode, as opposed to the original story, which run for several issues after being built-up by a number of prior subplots.