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This may not be the appropriate place to ask this, but since you guys are the most intimately familiar with the anime, I thought I'd ask here.

I'm designing an anime database for a personal project (not unlike MAL or AniDB), but unlike those two, I have a much stricter definition of the two terms. I define them as:

  • sequel: a work produced after the original story and continues or expands upon the original story.
  • prequel: a work produced after the original story and is set chronologically before the original story.

This means that all prequels are implicitly sequels, which is what a prequel means.

Now, the situation with F/Z and F/SN:UBW is tricky. Everyone and their mother tends to see F/Z as a prequel to UBW, because the F/Z visual novel actually is a prequel to the F/SN VN.

However, when it comes to the anime, F/Z was produced first, and then UBW after. In this case, would the UBW anime be considered a sequel to the F/Z anime? Some have argued that UBW was not intended to be a sequel to F/Z at all, but then what would their relationship be? Spin-off?

  • Do you actually need to capture this data discretely in your database (i.e. what value are you getting from categorizing relationships among anime as prequels or sequels)? For semi-weird situations like Fate, it probably makes sense to classify the relationship between them as, say, "Other", and then have an associated text field where you can put some comments about the precise relationship between them. – senshin Mar 21 '16 at 1:46
  • @senshin Eventually I want to be able to run queries that will allow me to get all prequels/sequels/spinoffs/other relations of anime X, as well as give a potential "order" or sorts for titles within a series/franchise. – fateconfused Mar 21 '16 at 4:57
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    I see two separate problems here: you want to group related series, but you also want to generate an ordering. Grouping related series is easy: just associate them all with a canonical entry, like how we have the "fma-series" tag and the "fma-2003", "fma-brotherhood", and "fma-manga" tags. Generating an ordering is much harder because so many shows don't fall neatly into "prequel" or "sequel"; e.g. if all you have is prequel and sequel, how are UBW and Deen Fate related? How are Yuru Yuri and Rewrite related? How are Madoka and Madoka: The Different Story related? (cont'd.) – Torisuda Mar 21 '16 at 5:47
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    I think you should take this project to Programmers.SE or Database Admins and ask for advice on modeling these kinds of relationships, because they get pretty sticky. – Torisuda Mar 21 '16 at 5:48
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The answer to this question depends on whether you're talking about a literary analysis, or an analysis for data modeling purposes, which is what the post is actually asking for.

The Wikipedia page linked in the OP gives the literary definition: a prequel is a sequel whose timeline is earlier than the original work. In this sense, Fate/Zero is a sequel to Unlimited Blade Works because it expands on the original work, the VN which had UBW as one story route. In this sense, Fate/Zero is also a prequel to UBW because it takes place earlier in the timeline than UBW.

But you don't really need the literary definition: you want to model relationships between series in a database of some sort. Using a literary definition for this will be a nightmare, because literary definitions are often imprecise, sometimes vague, occasionally contradictory, and usually fuzzy around the borders. The Wikipedia page gives some good Western examples of this; I'll here list some anime examples:

  • Deen Fate/Stay Night and Unlimited Blade Works take place in the same universe at exactly the same time, both being adaptations of story routes from the Fate/Stay Night visual novel. You can't really say that these shows are either prequels or sequels to each other in the usual sense. In the visual novel, Unlimited Blade Works does expand on the Fate arc (adapted in Deen Fate/Stay Night), but it occurs neither before nor after Fate; it occurs instead of Fate.
  • Yuru Yuri and Rewrite happen in the same world, at the same school, and involve several of the same characters, but it's vague where they actually sit relative to each other in the timeline.
  • Owarimonogatari, despite being the most recent series, takes place after Nisemonogatari and concurrently with the first arc of Second Season.
  • If you include manga, then all the Madoka manga except the first one (which directly adapts the anime) occur in alternate timelines. You can sort of order them because Homura experiences them in a certain order, but it's usually impossible to tell where they go relative to each other. Also, The Different Story Volume 1 is a prequel—its events take place before the anime and hold for all the alternate timelines—but Volumes 2 and 3 are yet another alternate timeline.

I would just throw out the prequel/sequel jargon altogether. It's somewhat useful for literary analysis, but it's too coarse-grained to make for good data modeling. There are two important things with anime: the in-universe chronology, and the order in which to take in the various parts of a franchise. The second one usually corresponds to production order, though it gets weird when you don't have the original work to fall back on (as is the case with the Fate series). The in-universe chronology is clear: Fate/Zero is before Unlimited Blade Works. It's also clear, when you include the original work, that you were meant to experience the visual novel, then the Fate/Zero novel or anime, then the Unlimited Blade Works anime. When you take the visual novel out of the equation, there's no clear answer, as this old question of mine shows. But you will drastically simplify the data modeling by treating these two separate things as separate pieces of data.

  • Thanks for the insight. Regarding stuff like UBW and the Deen version, I would actually have another classification, "alt. version" (which is, I believe, how MAL and AniDB do it as well), so Deen's F/SN, Deen's UBW, Ufotable's UBW, and Ufotable's Heaven's Feel I would all classify as "alternate versions" of each other. – fateconfused Mar 21 '16 at 18:13
  • I agree that the whole ordering thing will end up being pretty complicated, so I might end up scrapping it; it seems to be proving too troublesome for its worth, as many series "orderings" are very nonlinear. It kind of makes me wonder how AniDB does it, though. – fateconfused Mar 21 '16 at 18:21
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    @fateconfused Well, that's the thing with AniDB - they have a whole menagerie of types of edges that connect related anime. Some of them are prequel/sequel edges, but there's a half-dozen other types of edges (some of which can't reasonably be assigned a direction, like "other" or "character") too. (If you're asking how they make the graphs, there's any number of graph-drawing libraries that you can probably coerce to do things like "always place prequels above sequels" to get reasonably nice outcomes.) – senshin Mar 21 '16 at 20:18
  • @fateconfused ++ to what senshin said, and I once again highly recommend that you ask for some advice on SO, Programmers, or DBAs, or if you have some complete and working code you can go to Code Review. I'm on Programmers and Code Review, and happy to give you more extensive feedback if you link your question here. (Of course, there are also lots of people more knowledgeable than me on those sites.) – Torisuda Mar 21 '16 at 22:15
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Because the Fate/SN UBW anime is an adaptation of one of the UBW route in the F/SN VN, it cannot be a sequel to F/Z as it is not its own original work. You can think of it as a remastered version of the work itself.

Yes, the F/Z anime came before the F/SN UBW anime, but the F/SN UBW route itself already existed long before F/Z. The Wikipedia article that you linked states:

A sequel is a narrative, documental, or other work of literature, film, theatre, television, music, or video game that continues the story of, or expands upon, some earlier work.

Having both played the VN route and watched the anime, I can say that the anime did not fulfill the definition. The anime itself isn't adding anything more to the story that we didn't already know in the VN. It merely adapts the VN. Although, I suppose you can argue that the last episode of Fate/SN UBW is a sequel as it portrays Emiya and Rin's life at the clock tower, which the original VN only alludes to. I would call it more of a reinterpretation of the ending than a full-blown sequel.

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    I'm pretty sure the anime does add something new such as showing the fates of Leysritt and Sella as i don't recall the Visual Novel showing what happened with them – Memor-X Mar 21 '16 at 3:57
  • The thing is, my DB will only contain data about the anime, not the VNs. If you don't classify UBW anime as a sequel, what would you classify it as in relation to the F/Z anime? – fateconfused Mar 21 '16 at 5:01
  • Fate/Zero is a prequel to UBW. – Ocean Mar 21 '16 at 11:46

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