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I've noticed with several anime that are adaptations of manga or novels that the first episode is based primarily, if not entirely, on content from several chapters into the story. Such shows will usually jump back to the actual beginning of the story near the end of the first episode or episode 2 will go back to the start and all episodes will then progress normally.

This is unrelated to any major or minor changes in characters, plot, events, etc., I'm just talking about the general use of later content for the first episode before jumping back to the beginning afterwards.

Typically, I can't think of any other examples off the top of my head, but Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear this season has done it which is why the confusion and annoyance has prompted me to ask here.

The way they've done it for Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is especially frustrating as they dropped several short "flashback" scenes throughout the episode without much context and which don't have any relation to the actual content used for the episode, and they imply that the core concept of the show could be very different than the manga or novel. Now we have to wait for episode 2 to hopefully clarify that. I may just be overreacting on this point, though.

Also, I wanted to add the tags adaptation, kuma kuma kuma bear, and first episode but none of them exist and I don't have 300 rep so I can't create them. I wouldn't really say that anime production fits my question, from the description that accompanies it in the tag input thing, but it's the closest I could find seeing as I'm not allowed to post a question with zero tags ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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It's going to be tough answering this for all possibilities, and if there's any information on why Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear in particular did it then it will be hard to find and in Japanese, but as a broad answer it's because any anime adaptation will have two audiences:

  1. The people who are familiar with the original work; and

  2. The people who aren't.

The people who already know the original work usually already have an emotional investment in the show, and are likely to watch it up until it proves itself a bad adaptation. Of course, as you've already found, this can happen quite quickly if you have certain expectations of the show that aren't immediately met, but fans will tend to stick around for at least a little bit.

The people who don't know the original work need a reason to be interested, and the production group responsible for making it may choose to start the story in media res if they think the pacing of the original work's start is too slow, or awkward, or otherwise isn't going to draw the audience in enough. This can be particularly important for a seasonal show that might only have 13 episodes and no guarantee of a second season, because the people making the anime are going to want to (a) have the audience interested enough in the show to stick it out to the end of the season, and (b) make the season finale exciting enough to generate hype for a potential second season. That second part might mean that they're going to have to jump quite heavily through the source material to get to some kind of epic climax, and so working backwards they may not have the luxury of spending a lot of episodes covering the entire introduction of the setting and characters.

Is it the right decision? It's hard to say. Plenty of shows just play it straight with the source material, and others do their own thing. It just happens that KKKB has gone for this particular choice, for whatever reason.

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