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Continuity Snarl / Anime & Manga

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Continuity Snarls in anime and manga.

  • Despite mostly having only one writer, the classic Astro Boy series turned into a first class continuity snarl towards the end. What happened was that in the final episode of the original anime, Astro died performing a Heroic Sacrifice to deliver a device into the center of the sun to stop it from dying. Shortly after the anime ended, Osamu Tezuka began a new Astro Boy story as a newspaper strip in the Sankei Shimbun newspaper, which featured Astro's melted carcass being recovered by time-traveling aliens and brought back to life before winding up trapped in the distant past (the readers' present). Because Astro had never died in the manga, however, when the collected edition came out Tezuka redid the first chapter that involved Astro, alive and well getting thrown back in time when the alien timeship crashes on Earth instead. Tezuka then produced three more different, contradictory stories of Astro's future in various publications: a pilot for a second Astro Boy series that never got off the ground which also takes place after the end of the anime where Astro is found by a completely different race of time traveling aliens, upgraded into a new body with time travel capabilities and sent back to Earth to find the era he came from; a one-shot nostalgia piece in a men's magazine, yet another followup to the anime where Astro is resurrected by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and taken to a planet millions of light years from Earth from which he may never return, so Ochanomizu and the rest of the Ministry Of Science staff create a replacement, who turns out to be a lazy sex maniac because he was designed to be more "Human"; and finally, "The End Of Astroboy", which doesn't mention his death and simply has him in a display case in a robot museum due to being supplanted by more advanced robots and then freed by some human rebels to help them fight against said robots who have taken over the world.
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  • For the most part, Digimon takes place in different continuities, which goes a long way towards side-stepping this whole issue. However, the Adventureverse has a few glaring inconsistencies, primarily relating to Ryo Akiyama's story. For one, the Omegamon movie contradicts the games themselves about where he was at the time (per D-1 Tamers, he was watching Diaboromon's acupuncture from Ken's place, whereas Our War Game had him as being outdoors in some mountainous region). Unrelatedly, Omegamon's formation-method also differs between versions (Fusion / Gattai in the sub, DNA in the dub).
  • Dragon Ball gets this a lot with all the stories introduced over the franchise's lifespan. Any one entry will be fairly consistent with the manga and/or the anime, but thanks to Shrug of God and Rule of Cool they are very rarely consistent with each other unless they are direct sequels to one another.
    • The most relevant example today is Dragon Ball Super, which is generally considered to overwrite anything from Dragon Ball GT due to the involvement of creator Akira Toriyama... except he also is involved with the manga adaptation that depicts events differently, and both of those cover the stories from Battle of Gods and Resurrection F that were both written by him... which are also slightly different!
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    • Another example is Bardock and the origin of Goku. Bardock - The Father of Goku had Goku sent to Earth and surviving the Saiyan genocide completely by accident, and Toriyama liked it so much he had Bardock appear in a one-panel cameo later in the manga. Many years later, a special Dragon Ball Minus chapter in Toriyama's Jaco the Galactic Patrolman had Bardock send Goku away as a precaution due to odd orders from Frieza, and is depicted as a much less savage character.
    • Filler from the anime can be quite prone to this due to inventing stories and facts to pad for time that are contradicted later by the manga. There's some overlap with Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole. The Non-Serial Movies get this as well, because while filler arcs sometimes reference them later, they still cannot fit into the show's timeline. Examples from both include:
      • In Dragon Ball, Master Roshi recites a story of the origin of the Dragon Balls involving a singular gem that is split into seven after misuse. Two years later, Toriyama would write that they were created by the Guardian of Earth atop a lookout tower. The anime went with that and forgot all about the original tale.
      • Also in the original Dragon Ball anime, a filler episode reveals the creator of Android 8 to be Dr. Frappe. Five years later, Toriyama would reveal Dr. Gero as the creator of the Androids, and makes the relationship explicit with the title page of Chapter 367 the next year showing Android 8 in a diagram of all the Androids.
      • In one filler episode of Dragon Ball Z, Goku's space pod is destroyed by Piccolo as it turns Gohan into a Great Ape. Not two months later, Toriyama would have Capsule Corp use it (in tact) to build a ship for Goku's trip to Namek. Though since it was recovered and rebuilt completely offscreen, not to mention into a much larger ship, it's possible to Hand Wave this as Capsule using the remains of Goku's pod. Only now the pod is located very far away from Mount Paoz where Grandpa Gohan found Goku in the manga.
      • In episode 20 of Z, King Kai reveals that the Saiyan homeworld was destroyed by the planet's Guardian with a meteor shower, matching Raditz' story from when he first appeared in the manga. Three months later, Toriyama has Dodoria reveal that Frieza destroyed it in fear of how strong the Saiyans were becoming, which the anime would stick to thereafter. This gets further worsened when both would show King Kai being well aware of who Frieza is.
      • After Frieza's defeat on Namek, in a filler episode Vegeta implies that now that Goku and Frieza are out of the way, there's nothing to stop him becoming the ruler of the universe. He fights Gohan, then leaves. The next episode, he is back with the main group, has no intention of ruling the universe in Goku's absence, and even comes up with the idea on how to use the Dragon Balls to bring him back so that he can learn the secret of becoming a Super Saiyan.
      • The Garlic Jr. filler arc features the return of the titular villain, returning from the movie Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone. Except in that movie everyone acts as if they're meeting Gohan for the first time and it overwrites the start of Z with Raditz, who is in a roundabout way the reason why Goku is dead and can't appear in the Garlic Jr. filler arc!
      • Also in the Garlic Jr. filler arc, Gohan reunites with the dragon Icarus, who he rescues in Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might... which cannot possibly have happened. In the film, Goku uses the Kaio-Ken, which he learned from King Kai while he was dead. When he comes back, Piccolo, Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu are all dead, and not revived until after Namek, so the film can't have possibly happened before the Namek Saga since they're all alive in the film. Furthermore, Goku is wearing the gi with his "Go" kanji, which he received as a gift from King Kai en route to Namek, while Yamcha is wearing King Kai's symbol on his back, implying this takes place after Namek... except that Goku doesn't get back to Earth until several months after the Garlic Jr. Saga. Many of the other films have similar logistical nightmares involving which characters are dead and/or the specific moves they know.
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    • Ignoring all of the above, the many different dubs made have introduced their own elements that have to be dealt with, such as Goku's father being a brilliant scientist, or how heroic Goku is. One particularly amusing case was fans swearing up and down that the villain from Tree of Might stated that he's Goku's brother, which other fans swear up and down never happened, both citing directly watching their dub as evidence. As it turned out, that detail was only in the UK dub of the movie!
  • Eureka Seven AO's entire backstory. (deep breath) Eureka is clearly from the original, yet the spec2 she pilots is the movie iteration (the original never had shoulder-mounted lasers). She's also piloting the spec2 well after it should have evolved and subsequently vanished, alongside Renton in the evolved version, and there's no explanation as to where she got this one. The End is in Generation Bleu's basement, intact and in its white color scheme, although shortly after being freed from said basement it gets vaporized by an IFO that comes out of nowhere. Oh and at the end of the anime Renton is piloting the Nirvash's final form from the movie adaptation. None of this is ever sufficiently explained. Although since the continuity with the original show and/or movie makes no sense, it can't be in the continuity of the original show. You're welcome.
  • Hugtto! Pretty Cure's two-part crossover episodes 36 and 37 inadvertently did this to the entire franchise. This special reveals that all of the Pretty Cures co-exist in one timeline, rather than the generally accepted theory that each season takes place in its own pocket continuity, with the All-Stars crossover movies falling under Non-Serial Movie teritory. The revelation of this makes every single plot-line contradict each other, which should mean that certain story events should not even happened since one Big Bad's plan could conflict with another, and it also brings into question as to why none of the previous teams ever bother to show up and aid the latest team, or how come they never noticed the Big Bad (in this case The Dark Tomorrow Company) ambition until it was already too late. Not helping was that Comic-Book Time was enforced here, as the Kira Kira and Maho Girls team are in their late teens when they first appear in the episode, while the Fresh, Yes 5, Splash Star, Max Heart and Happiness Charge teams are still in their youthful pre-teen appearances.
  • Kinnikuman has a rather bad example: when Geronimo attacks Akuma Shogun, we see a group of choujin watching Geronimo's beat-down, with Geronimo being in the group. In other words, Geronimo's watching himself get beaten.
  • Lyrical Nanoha is starting to run into this with two series of manga, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid and Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, running at the same time but taking place two years apart. They mostly manage to stay separate, but occasionally they contradict one another.
  • The various works of Leiji Matsumoto, which often share characters and have a tendency to re-tell stories from different points of view. Examples include:
    • Captain Harlock's ship, Arcadia, has two vastly different appearances throughout the shows in which it appears. Although this change was supposedly made due to a copyright conflict, no explanation is ever mentioned within the show. "Endless Odyssey" takes this to an extreme by showing one version in present times, and the other version in flashbacks.
    • Tochiro, the man who build the Arcadia, dies three different times in three different ways.
    • The film "My Youth in Arcadia" explains how Harlock lost his eye and gives him a military career before he turned to piracy. However, some shows such as "Cosmo Warrior Zero" neglect to include his lost eye at all.
    • In "Space Pirate Captain Harlock" And "Endless Odyssey," Queen Emeraldas and Tochiro have a child named Mayu, who is never mentioned in any other series.
    • Some shows hint that Emeraldas and Maetal of Galaxy Express 999 may be sisters, even twins, despite the fact that in some of the shows the two are introduced for the first time.
    • Even more oddly, some speculation links Captain Harlock and Mamoru Kodai/Alex Wildstar as the same person. According to who you ask, they are either literally the same person, or Kodai pretended to be Harlock for his conveniences. Or something.
    • Similarly, most series have Torchiro and Harlock's friendship stretching back to their childhood, but "My Youth in Arcadia" shows them meeting for the first time while in the military.
    • Mimay has a radically different appearance from series to series: In most she has blue skin, blue hair, yellow eyes, and no mouth, but in a few instances, she is a rather normal-looking woman with blond hair and pale skin.
    • The series Captain Herlock: Endless Odyssey makes a valiant attempt to maintain continuity, and picks up with most of the main cast, including Harlock, Mimay, Kei, and most of the back-characters. Despite this, Tadashi Daiba's role manages to play out almost exactly as it did in previous series.
    • There is a glaring canonical gap of about 800 years between these overlapping stories. The character's apparent immortality is never mentioned.
    • It can be generally treated as a blend of a recycled cast of characters, implicit different continuities being treated as obviously different, and it can be a pretty good idea to consider nobody dead in any of the series if the body has not been incinerated.
  • Pokémon has some of these, particularly concerning Jessie, James, and Meowth. This can overlap with Multiple-Choice Past. Also Brock's mother. The Japanese original said both parents had abandoned Brock to raise his younger siblings, but the English dub gave him an absentee father and a dead mother - awkward when his Mom shows up in a later season.
  • Like Digimon above, Slayers has clearly stated Alternate Continuity, and it's actually a bit milder here—the different continuities begin to form after the stories that compromise the first eight books, or the first two seasons of the anime, both of which are similar enough to avoid too much confusion. It's still complicated, however:
    • In the novels, Lina actually meets Amelia's father, Prince Phil, and gets involved with his family feud before the series proper—the story of the first Slayers Special novel was transferred into the middle of the anime's first season: the same plot occurs, but Lina actually meets Amelia, and it goes from there. Also, the Atlas City story occurred right after the very first fight with Shabranigdo, but the anime cuts to the aforementioned family feud, and the Atlas City story occurs during the second season. This makes little sense in context because in both the first book and the first episode, Lina is on her way to the city. Finally, Amelia appears after the battle with Copy Rezo in the novels, appearing in another Saillune royal family plot that was also implemented in the second anime season. Because she joins Lina earlier in the anime, she is with them during the Copy Rezo fight, and also meets Zelgadis earlier on.
    • For the anime, there's three more seasons of original stories (and apparently, the third season was disliked by the creator of the novel series). It gets more troublesome when one realizes that the fourth and fifth seasons came eleven years after the third, and the third season overall may be up for an official Canon Discontinuity by Hajime Kanzaka because of the aforementioned backlash.
    • The remaining seven novels remove Zelgadis and Amelia and replace them with Luke and Millina, and from there comes its own story.
    • Before he appears again in the fifth book, Zelgadis actually meets Xellos before the others do, hence why he knows of him when he appears. This is accounted in a side story.
    • There are a bunch of manga series that are their own sets of continuity. The most notable is the Hotter and Sexier universe of The Hourglass of Falces, in which all six protagonists (Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadiss, Luke, and Millina) are together. Naturally, the latter four never met one another at any time, and it would probably be impossible, given that both Luke and Millina are dead by the end of the series. Fans outside of Japan who are unaware of the second set of novels (as only the first eight were translated) probably don't know who Luke and Millina are.
    • The radio dramas are also rather bad at this. The worst case is the Slayers Premium radio drama based on the short Non-Serial Movie: because of the presence of Gourry's Sword of Light, it's likely that it takes place after the second season of the anime. However, in the prologue of the drama, Amelia states that it had been five years since they last met-problematic, since the anime seasons each occur within one year of the other. Premium also, of course, has its own manga adaptation.
    • Finally, there are cases of the dreaded Multiple-Choice Past, especially in regards to Zelgadis. It's never mentioned in the anime, but in the novels it's stated that he was a criminal during his time with Rezo after he was initially turned into a chimera, and it gave him a bad reputation. Also, the applications of magic vary heavily to the point of convolution.
  • Tenchi Muyo! used to be (in)famous for this, although compared to some of the other examples here it now seems fairly mild.
    • The original anime, Tenchi Muyo Ryo Ohki, was a six episode OAV series by (then) Pioneer, later expanded by thirteen, which was largely the creative work of Masaki Kajishima.
    • When Kajishima departed to work on other projects, Pioneer engaged Hiroshi Negishi to direct a TV series retelling of the story (released in English as Tenchi Universe), with various contextual and character changes. This was followed by a feature film, Tenchi Muyo! In Love, which was set in the same continuity. All pretty straightforward so far. However...
    • To cash in on the popularity (and unresolved ending) of the OAVs, Pioneer also green-lit a comedy-oriented special episode, known as the Mihoshi Special, which was produced by some of Kajishima's creative assistants like Naoko Hasegawa, but without any input from Kajishima himself. This special is mainly influential for introducing ditzy space cop Mihoshi's long-suffering partner Kiyone (albeit purely in a backstory role). Kiyone would go on to appear in the aforementioned Tenchi Universe series.
    • This was eventually followed by a feature film called Manatsu No Eve (Midsummer's Eve), also mainly the work of Naoko Hasegawa. This movie almost fits into the OAV and Mihoshi Special continuity, except that Kiyone appears as a regular character with no explanation. Pioneer further muddied the waters by releasing it in English as Tenchi the Movie 2: Daughter of Darkness, leading some viewers to assume it was a follow-up to the previous movie, Tenchi Muyo! In Love, which was actually part of a different continuity. Things were muddled even more when the actual sequel to Tenchi Muyo! In Love, Tenchi Forever (Tenchi Muyo! In Love 2 in Japanese) came out a few years after that, and (obviously) didn't reflect any of the events of Daughter of Darkness / Manatsu No Eve.
    • Complicating matters even further was that Kajishima, who had plans to eventually return and finish the OAV storyline, despised both the Mihoshi Special and Manatsu No Eve, and declared them Canon Discontinuity. This was in part due to their use of 'Kiyone' as the name for a new character, whereas Kajishima had apparently already designated that as the name for Tenchi's late mother, who figured prominently in his future plans. To make things worse, Tenchi's mother had been given an entirely different name in the movie Tenchi Muyo! In Love (which took place in the Tenchi Universe continuity and had no connection to the OAV continuity).
    • Having made his position clear, Kajishima came back and made a third set of OAV episodes to continue the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki continuity as he saw it (disregarding the Mihoshi Special and Manatsu no Eve entirely). In this continuity, Tenchi's mother is indeed named Kiyone, much to the confusion of people who had watched all of the previous continuities to date. (A fourth OAV series in the same continuity began coming out in 2016.)
    • To sum up, the main Tenchi continuities discussed so far are:
      • Kajishima continuity (the first two OAV series, followed by the third and fourth), in which Kiyone is the name of Tenchi's late mother;
      • Hasegawa continuity, which essentially shares the first two OAV series, but branches off on its own with the Mihoshi Special and the second movie (Daughter of Darkness / Manatsu no Eve), in which Kiyone is the name of Mihoshi's former partner in the Galaxy Police;
      • Negishi continuity, which consists of the Tenchi Universe TV series, and the first (Tenchi Muyo! In Love) and third (Tenchi Forever) movies, but in which Kiyone is Mihoshi's current partner in the Galaxy Police, and Tenchi's late mother is named Achika.
    • To keep this discussion at least moderately sane, the other alternate-continuity TV series (Tenchi In Tokyo) and the various manga continuities have been left out entirely, as they are reasonably self-contained and don't tend to splash over onto other continuities very much.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann started off with a prologue involving Simon/Kamina/Caption Garlocks (fans argue this fact constantly) waging war against "All the lights in the sky." This is similar to battles late in the series, but never really fits any of them. The producers admitted that this was a fluke on their part, that it was meant to be Shout-Out to Arcadia, and that they never got around to building up to that scene in the main series. This had led fans to suggest that this scene is an alternate universe, a fantasy of Boota, an alternate timeline in which Kamina leads Dai-Gurren into space/Simon is sent back in time to battle the Anti-Spirals as well as become Kamina's father.
  • In the three Japanese-exclusive Transformers anime series (Transformers Headmasters, Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, and Transformers Victory), characters who died in The Transformers: The Movie show up alive and well, as if nothing happened. This is because the movie wouldn't hit Japan until 1989, leaving many of its events unknown to the Japanese audience/creators. These characters are Prowl, who appears in Headmasters, and Wheeljack, who appears in Victory. Prowl is especially bad, since he was explicitly name-checked as being deceased in the Japanese dub of "Dark Awakening". Later fiction would handwave these appearances by explaining them as being versions of themselves from the Binaltech universe, taking the place of the originals who really did die during the movie.
  • Violence Jack being a true sequel to Devilman became a shaky thread over the years after Go Nagai went on to create Devilman Lady and several other works that expanded its universe, Violence Jack came mere months after Devilman ended and Go Nagai bridged the connection to Devilman only a bit in the beginning and the at the very end, very loose connections to boot that Nagai didn’t bother to expand on, meanwhile Devilman Lady was made after Violence Jack and in that series Nagai made very solid connections to Devilman. Go Nagai has also said that Violence Jack should be treated as its own universe, but that didn’t stop him from again making cryptic connections to Devilman in Shin Violence Jack.
    • Case in point: Violence Jack treats itself as a reboot universe created an unspecified time after the world ended in Devilman, in this new world it’s revealed at the very end that Satan created the Slum King out of Zenon’s body to be his personal punisher, in mourning for what he did to Akira in the past, and Violence Jack himself turns into Devilman at the end to fight against Satan yet again. Come Devilman Lady and that series proposes a different following for Devilman, in it Satan was reborn as two women on earth, Zenon was made the ruler of hell in Satan’s absence and Akira lived in hell all this time, he is only reborn again as the son of Jun the titular Devilman Lady.
    • Devilman Lady and Violence Jack contradict themselves, the only thing that can reconcile Violence Jack standing firm in the timeline is the revelation that Devilman’s world is on a constant loop thanks to God’s continuous punishment against Satan, so Violence Jack can be a separate loop.


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