Pokemon, Castlevania, Persona, DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, Steins;Gate – all anime or animated series based on popular video games that are almost unanimously critically acclaimed. While video game movies don’t always do particularly well, fantasy and sci-fi titles have traditionally fared much better when translated into episodic anime, which is far more capable of adapting side quests, branching narratives, and so on.
Of all the games out there, though, I can’t for the life of me understand why we’ve never had an authentic Dragon Age anime. It just seems like such a perfect premise, a means of weaving together all of the disparate, multimedia-spanning parts of a brilliantly cohesive fantasy world teeming with inspiration and intrigue. Just thinking about the fact it doesn’t already exist blows my mind – for a company that loves money, EA is sitting on an astonishing number of untapped goldmines.
Before you shout at me, I’m aware of, have seen, and don’t care a whole lot for Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker. That’s an anime film, which is not at all what I’m speaking about here – I mean an episodic series separated into distinct seasons. For what it’s worth, I firmly believe that anime movies are generally excellent – think of Akira, Your Name, or anything by Ghibli. But I also reckon an anime film is likely to fall into the same trap as a live-action one when it comes to adapting video games – it’s just not the right format.
So yes, I’m aware that Dragon Age has at least partially dipped its toes into anime already. What I’m arguing for is an entirely different venture, where BioWare is allowed to take the reins of an anime series designed to encompass all canonical Dragon Age media across each and every medium it exists in – games, books, comics, and so on. I actually think Dawn of the Seeker could be included in this too, if it’s cut down and the version of Cass it focuses on is also the one we see in this hypothetical series’ adaptations of Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition. We’d feel far more invested in her that way, especially given how much of a phenomenal character she is – she has the opposite of a heel turn between 2 and Inquisition, and her relationship with Varric is one of the funniest NPC associations in the entire series.
As it stands, the world of Dragon Age is fairly impenetrable for new fans. It’s sprawling, scattered into a million little pieces, and it requires a Kindle as much as it does a console – for a complete and working knowledge of the universe, at least. I’m a huge reader myself, but that doesn’t mean everybody else is – it’s much easier for people invested in this world to be able to access all of it if it’s readily available in a single coherent place.
When you look at the success of something like Castlevania in particular, it becomes extremely clear that with the right team, Dragon Age could be adapted into an anime all-timer. The stories have already been written – it’s just a matter of wrenching them into a form that suits a different kind of screen media and informing them with esoteric lore from codex entries and comic books. You could adapt an Inquisition mission blow for blow if you wanted, but if you sneak in a line with a cheeky reference to Dragon Age: Deception, you’re already developing the setting in a way that makes sense, appeals to both newcomers and diehards, and does Thedas justice. That word makes me think of Anders, eugh.
It’s just shocking to me, to be honest. It seems like such a surefire way to have a successful television run, but hey – I’m not the one on the big bucks. I’m just the one who writes about billion dollar ideas free of charge because I would do anything to see Solas’ shiny head as imagined by a veteran anime artist. BioWare and EA, I am offering you a million kilograms of gold on a very large plate here – don’t just turn your nose up at it, eh?
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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