Why you might need to change the story when adapting it to anime
(For some context, see the previous entry, in which this was originally a sidebar before it got too long.)
To put it one way, anime almost always gives you an external view of characters and events, not an internal one (one where the character's internal feelings and motivations are clear to the reader). Manga and games let you give the reader a somewhat more internal view, and written text lets you give them a fully internal view if you want to.
(You don't have to, of course; lots of written works are told from various detached third-person perspectives.)
In a work written with this internal view available, the external events may not make sense or may not be sufficiently convincing by themselves. For example, it might only be clear how and why two characters fall in love from an internal view; if you just have the external events, it seems implausible or stupid. Since anime mostly strips away this internal view, you are left only with the unconvincing external view; in order to make the story make sense again you may need to add or change external events to be more convincing and to better illustrate the internal story.
(The other version of this is when a character is more sympathetic or interesting because you see their internal perspective; if the story is told purely from an outside perspective, they wind up looking unpleasant or nasty or bad.)
There are at least two ways for an anime adaptation to fumble the necessary story changes: it can simply do a bad or unconvincing job of them, or it can do a good job of them that still doesn't fit in well with the other external events and feels out of place, like something awkwardly grafted in.
(The worst case is stories where the internal view is an intrinsic part of how the story works, for example where the story being in first person narration is fundamental and it would be very different in third person. But I suspect that those don't get anime adaptations very often or in fact at all.)
A thought (well, a speculation) on Oh! Edo Rocket's quality
I watched Oh! Edo Rocket several years ago (before I started writing Roving Thoughts) and enjoyed it quite a lot; ever since then I've felt that it was an underappreciated gem, and I am glad to see people like Author discover it.
(Yes, yes, technically Author 'discovered' it ages ago, back when it originally aired, and merely watched it recently. You all know what I mean. Ironically I think one of Author's old side comments about a bit in the first episode that helped push me towards watching it, although my Google-foo isn't sufficient to find it now.)
One of the interesting things about OER is that it not an original anime work; it is an adaptation. I find this interesting because anime adaptations have a terrible track record; most of them have ranged between bland and bad, even when the source material is pretty good. Good anime is rare, but my impression is that good anime that started in another media is even rarer than that. But the really interesting thing for me is that OER was originally a successful stage play, not a manga, a book, or a game (the usual three sources for anime series), and for a while I've wondered if this is one of the reasons that OER is so good.
Here's why I say that:
The way you tell stories in manga, written text, or games is very different from how you have to do it in anime; this means that adapting any one of them for anime may require fairly significant changes in how the story is told and even call for changes in the story. However, it seems intuitively sensible that a stage play would wind up using techniques similar to what anime uses, which means that adapting a stage play for anime would require much less changes and thus has a higher chance of preserving what made the original material so successful.
(Stage plays and anime are not quite the same, in the same way that stage plays and films are not the same (as early cinema discovered).)
Note that I may well be talking through my hat. If you want an expert opinion, find someone who understands how stage plays and film (and ideally animation) tell stories and how they differ, and see if they fall over laughing at this idea.
PS: this entry absolutely is prompted by Author's roll call of the sleeping and the dead, although the thought has been rattling around in the back of my mind for a while.
An aside on the timing of my previous entry
It is mostly a coincidence that I wrote my previous entry on Panty & Stocking right after Author posted his roll call of the sleeping and dead. I watched the episode last night (after reading Aroduc's summary, which pushed it up the 'I want to see this for myself' list) and immediately wound up thinking about how to write up my reaction to it, since it's one of the few anime lately that I have had a distinct reaction to.
However, I can't deny that his entry made me get off my rear to put my thoughts into action and actually write something for once. Really, I should do this more often.
(At a minimum I want to write something about my overall view of Ookami, since I wrote about the first episode. But that would need me to actually watch the final episode.)
My reaction to Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt #1
It is not often that the first episode of an anime series leaves me boggled as my major reaction.
The best way I can think of to describe P&S is that it feels like Gainax decided that they wanted to make a modern American cartoon and then turn the age limit up (without turning up the maturity level, which appears to be set firmly at the Ren & Stimpy or Beavis & Butthead level). The result is extremely unlike almost all of the other anime I've seen, including Gainax's other work.
(In a very bad way, Gurren Lagann is the closest other anime that I can think of, in that it started out as a deliberately over the top take on Japanese giant robot anime. You could perhaps say that P&S is an even more over the top take on modern American cartoons, given a Japanese twist and a much increased age limit.)
Aroduc's summary of the first episode will give you a more detailed rundown if you want it. Do not worry about reading spoilers; P&S is not the sort of experience that can really be spoiled.
I don't know if I like it, because the question feels inapplicable. This is not a show that you like, this is a show that you watch in horrified fascination because you can't turn away. (Or that you flee from with all due speed. It is possible that this is the most sensible reaction to P&S.)
I fall into the 'boggled and unable to look away' camp, so I will be watching the next episode. Of course I have no idea what it will be like; P&S is already so bizarre that it would not surprise me in the least if Gainax changed things majorly every episode (or every few episodes or whatever), depending on how thoroughly they want to run the current joke into the ground.