Whenever a series gains notoriety, you will inevitably hear about it talked about quite a lot whether it’s on the internet or amongst your peers. However, sometimes you just don’t want to get into it. It’s not necessarily because the series is bad; perhaps you’re just too busy with other stuff to check it out. When you finally end up taking the plunge, it may even be after the series has concluded. You’ve effectively done in the span of a month or so what fans had to wait years to see unfold. I myself have done this a few times, and the results have been interesting.
One of the most obvious examples I can think of would be Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist. I heard many great things about it, yet by the time I finally checked it out for myself, two separate anime series had run their course: the original 2003 adaptation and Brotherhood. The former started as the manga was running, so things got interesting when it caught up. In these situations, one of two things happens. Either the story will greatly deviate from the source material or the writers will resort to filler – either by padding out the existing story or by creating filler. In extreme cases, an entire story arc could serve as filler. The original adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist opted for the former strategy, and like in most cases where something like this happens, the changes ended up leaving the fans divided. Brotherhood, on the other hand, was far more faithful to the source material and was better received overall.
By the time I got into it, it was 2014. After watching Brotherhood, I can definitely say it lives up to the hype and it is easily one of the best shows I’ve ever watched – animated or otherwise.
The year 2019 marked the debut of the final How to Train Your Dragon film – The Hidden World. I heard many great things about the series, but for whatever reason, I never got around to seeing any of the films. I decided to purchase an advance ticket for The Hidden World so I would be obligated to watch the first two films beforehand. This allowed me to effectively skip a nine-year waiting period. I’m glad I did because while I greatly enjoyed the first film, the sequels ended up losing me a little. The Hidden World especially suffered due to its overreliance on comic relief characters and ditching what made the original two films unique and timeless.
Perhaps the single strangest example of me getting into a series after its conclusion was Metal Gear. I played Snake’s Revenge as a kid, and I heard that the series had been going strong well into the 2000s. However, because I didn’t grow up with a PlayStation (mostly favoring Nintendo consoles), I could never have experienced a majority of the games for myself. Fast forward to 2008, and after a bizarre set of circumstances involving taking multiple wrong turns while vacationing in a different state and ending up at a GameStop that happened to have a copy of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes in stock, I decided to finally see what the hype was about. You see, by then, Metal Gear Solid 4 had been released, and I was told it was to be the final game in the series. Because of this, I used the Twin Snakes as a testing ground. If I liked what I saw, I would do what I could to purchase a PlayStation 3 so I could experience the rest of the series. Sure enough, I did enjoy The Twin Snakes, and in March of 2009, I got a PlayStation 3 that could run PlayStation 2 discs so I could marathon the series.
I heard of just how divisive the ending of Metal Gear Solid 2 was, yet the foreknowledge that many of its plot threads would be addressed in Metal Gear Solid 4 made its inconclusive nature much more tolerable. Essentially, I was playing through the series to earn the right to play Metal Gear Solid 4, which had been hyped as one of the greatest games ever made shortly after its release. In an ironic twist, I ended up appreciating the journey to get there far more than the destination when Metal Gear Solid 3 ended up becoming my all-time favorites. Metal Gear Solid 4 itself was decent, but it really has not aged well in light of its interminable cutscenes.
Strangely, after I got into the series, I learned it wasn’t to end with Metal Gear Solid 4. There were two new games in development: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I ended up getting into a series I thought was over only to learn it still had some life left in it. I’m glad it did because Peace Walker in particular ended up becoming one of the greatest games of the 2010s. Metal Gear Solid V had a chance to follow suit and allow the timeline to go full circle, but because Konami pulled a Konami, it was released in an unfinished state – albeit fully playable. It just wasn’t meant to be.
So, now it’s your turn.
Have you ever decided to get into a series after it concluded (or was just about to wrap up), thus saving yourself a long wait?