I’ll take the bait:
[L]iterature (as a medium in general) is more cogitative than other media and that its primary purpose is to instruct before it entertains (at least it is for the books I read). [. . .] I’d argue that this is proven by the fact that it is easier to stop reading The Sound and the Fury compared to watching an anime classic like Cowboy Bebop. I think it’s also easier to stop reading that novel compared to watching a film classic like The Godfather. All are representative classics of their own medi[a].
It’s silly of me to do so, since Michael includes his own qualification parenthetically as that first sentence came to a close, and especially since we agree on so much (I liked Lilim Kiss too). But some things are just inevitable; of late Owen hasn’t been regularly baiting us all, and I’m beginning to have withdrawal symptoms. It is delicious bait. I must eat it.
It is of course true that a lot of literature was written primarily as thought-food. Indeed, for a long time writers tended to argue, not always convincingly, for their work’s worth on the grounds of its educational value. To pick a highbrow example of something that really was meant as instruction, On the Nature of Things is a philosophical text in verse. More pragmatically, there’s The Art of Love; Crusader writes in a long tradition. Except that, like Crusader’s post, Ovid’s advice to lovers isn’t serious, and his poem is more a parody of didactic or instructional literature. Furthermore, it’s The Art of Love which is more famous, and Ovid who’s more well-remembered. (What would you rather remember from your schooldays: slogging through a philosophical text, or being told by an eminent poet that the theatre is a great place to pick up girls?)
This difference in success ought to tell us something about the contrasting fates of instruction and entertainment in any medium. As extreme examples, Duck and Cover and Protect and Survive are both didactic, and both make use of moving images, a mixture of animation and live action; I submit that when they are watched today, they are watched primarily as entertainment. The Sound and the Fury is a good novel, but it’s also a critic’s novel, so perhaps its proper counterpart is a critic’s anime. (Like Kaiba?) Cowboy Bebop, on the other hand, is a line of pure fun laid out for sniffing, so perhaps its proper counterpart is a well-written, yet cheap, airport thriller. The recent Kanokon adaption is, then, the equivalent of a good bonkbuster: not pornography, but happy to splash the service around. (Notice how that ANN Encyclopedia entry lists Kanokon‘s genres as ‘comedy, romance, supernatural’ but categorises ‘ecchi’ as a theme?)
I suppose trying to find works with similar positions in different media is a rather arid pastime – or rather, since it doesn’t seem arid to me, more like a parlour game without much significance. (‘Welcome to blogging’, I hear you say.) Is the novel a medium anyway, or is it a sub-division of text? And what do we say about text used within anime? Or when something travels the perilous wormhole between two different media and comes out the other side looking distinctly odd?