Adapting a story to the screen from a book or a manga always makes us apprehensive. There is a love for the story, and the way it has been presented by the author, which we are sure will get ruined if translated to the screen. No doubt it is an unfair bias, but it has often turned out to be more true than we like. This might be an unpopular opinion, but we feel that the Harry Potter movies really let down the books they were based on. This is also the reason fans of Colleen Hoover’s book, It Ends With Us, are hating on the casting of Justin Baldoni and Blake Lively as the protagonists of its adaptation. When one reads a book, they imagine the characters in a certain way, from their looks to their motivations. Anything different from our perception makes us feel that something is certainly going wrong with the story unfolding on the screen in front of us. Yet, this is why mangas attract far less controversy in this regard. As long as the adaptation stays faithful to the story, the looks and thoughts of the characters have already been laid down in the manga, and there is little to no room for misinterpretation. While watching Burn The House Down, we found that the way the characters looked and acted was noted down to the last detail by the actors. A special shout out to Kyoka Suzuki for carrying the menace of Makiko Mitarai, as it is from the manga. She easily had the hardest job in the cast, and she has done it admirably well. Even Anzu Mitarai’s hairstyles deserve a special mention, which was copied down to the last detail from the manga to the series.
The series Burn The House Down has stayed very faithful to the manga, which is of the same name, and other than the omission of a few details, everything is pretty much the same. For example, regarding the case of Satsuki Mitarai taking the blame for the fire, we never really understood why she believed so easily that she had done that. It is explained in the manga that she had taken quite a few sleeping pills, which had made her drowsy, and she believed she had been negligent in that state. We also never knew that Osamu had stood by Satsuki initially, after the fire, before turning away after watching the video with her cardigan. Anzu and Yuzu initially stayed at their grandparents’ house with Satsuki instead of going straight to their uncle. Anzu had tried investigating the fire, even as a child, before her grandmother scolded her and made her stop. Additionally, was it just us who felt that the SD card scene in the hospital was a little vague? Regardless, we know from the manga that Anzu had lived with her father in the hospital for a while, and she had collected some evidence that she had hidden there, which is what Yuzu had retrieved for her. Basically, in the series Burn The House Down, it looks like Anzu had harbored suspicions against Makiko for many years, and it was only after her mother was hospitalized that she started doing something about it. But in the manga, she began her investigation right away, while she was still a child.
There are a few more details that make an impact. For example, the development of Kiichi and Anzu’s relationship is a lot more gradual and better depicted in the manga, be it him helping her with household chores or the story of the book on astronomy between them. On that note, we are glad that the series did away with that part of the sofa scene that was clearly a sexual assault. We hate the entire scene, but it is a concession we are making unwillingly. On the other hand, it was never shown in the series why Makiko chose the name “Aliza” to impersonate Satsuki online. Satsuki was not fond of her name, and she had herself said that she wished her name had been something like “Aliza.” She had asked Makiko to keep her Japanese name a secret, and it was this discussion that led to Makiko using the name “Aliza” on her blogs.
It is mostly a difference in details that don’t actually make a huge difference to the story itself, like Nanamo having short hair in the manga and longer hair in the series. The scene where Makiko burns the cardigan, and the sisters realize that they have lost the singular clue they have about her guilt, is far more intense in the manga. Even the part where Shinji follows Anzu when he is suspicious of her identity is better dramatized in the manga, with significant details that cover up all the loopholes. Also, the scene where Makiko puts the Miratai family in their place is way more satisfying in the manga.
We can actually repeat this sentence a number of times, but the difference is simply in the details, and those are the exact things that make the manga so much richer. We can accept that the series Burn The House Down omitted a lot of them to make things crisper, but it was really not acceptable how they cut down on Shinji’s real motivations. He was the arsonist, but his role was not limited to that. The reason he had been silent about it for all those years was because he was enjoying his new-found privileges, just like his mother. He approached Yuzu Mitarai in the future to check whether his crime was still under wraps. This particular thing should not have been left out, as it really added depth to Shinji’s actions and turned them from a mistake to a crime. He also pays a price for it by dealing with everyone’s hostility for years to come, well into his practice.
In fact, after Makiko and Osamu’s divorce at the end of the manga, Shinji asks to remain a part of the Mitarai family and work in the hospital, but his mother suspects that he did it to get away from her. Unlike in the series, she herself acknowledges that she shouldn’t have pushed him as much, and things could have turned out differently. Also, when Anzu professes her love for Kiichi, Makiko smiles, and we thought it was because her son had found a partner for himself. But it is in the manga that we come to know that she is happy because she won’t have to take care of him from then on. We also get clarification as to how she is able to continue using the Mitaria name even after separating from Osamu. It isn’t explained at the end of the series Burn The House Down, but she says in the manga that she got permission for that from the court and the family during the divorce proceedings.
On the other hand, there is a bit of petty happiness when we find that Osamu tries to reconnect with Satsuki, but she turns him down, having been done with him and his family, and she decides to return to Germany and explore more of the world. Even Shinji is doing well for himself and has learned to stand up to his step-aunts, which means that though he has told them that he doesn’t want to run the hospital, his assertiveness might help him attain that ambition either way. The rest is as shown, but if you asked us what we would recommend between the manga and the series, we would ask you to go through both but read the manga first so that some of the lesser explored things in the storyline in the series make better sense.