I have concerns, they are voiced here.
We all love a good story. We love it when we find one that just makes our socks explode off of our feet. You’d think that after the thousands of years we have been telling stories that we would have worked out the kinks right? Yet, we still go to the movies, play a video games, or turn on an anime and find horrid storytelling.
This is something that drives me up the wall when I encounter it. I don’t argue about pop culture because if you feel that Teddy Ruxpin is the zenith of childhood shows, then by all means, keep on working on that mature feeling reboot.
Pop culture likes and dislikes are completely subjective. Star Trek, Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Firefly, no matter how good you think these are there will be someone who just doesn’t like it; and no amount of yelling will change their minds.
I want to talk about the worn out storytelling techniques that really need to stop in video games, anime, and movies. I know my rant here will not end these terrible cliches, but damn it all, if you can become aware of them then maybe they will eventually die! I am going to start with anime and television because they both suffer from similar problems.
TELEVISION & ANIME: First episode, let’s do an origin story!
Okay, I used to be huge into Anime in High School, and I do watch some occasional stuff when referred by a friend. The reason I really fell out of this area was two things:
A. My hormones leveled out; and about half of what’s out there is made for teenagers to consume since they are the target audience.
B. I noticed the formula.
The formula I am talking about is that the first episode of pretty much every anime and contains the following.
Yes, that’s all from Bleach Ep. 1, and the reason why I point to this is particular anime is because it was the first time I watched an episode and was able to call out each beat of the plot. Ever since this episode I have been able to predict the majority of every anime and TV shows plot points. Seriously, apply this logic to the first episode of any network television series and you’ll get a similar result.
If you want to set yourself apart from the pack, try opening a show that doesn’t have the main character doing the above motions. Origin stories are not going to go away, but try to do it in a different light. Instead of the origin taking the entire first episode, why not have it take the first five minutes and cut toward a future event? At this point everyone has seen enough of these to know what will happen next. Keep it fresh or just ditch it entirely and do something different.
TELEVISION: Please stop having the lead character sleep with their boss!
It was interesting when Ally McBeal did it, but since then this has gotten out of control. Granted, it’s because people are stupid and do this in real life, since interoffice romance is as old as Women’s Suffrage.
Many a television writer or producer thinks this is a great way to make sure people understand that their show is an “Adult” show. This show is for “Adults” because look! That actress you love is in her underwear! Look at those man pecs!
Adult! We are ad-dolts!
Most of the time this is done in order to make a show seem edgy or even to add “Drama”, but seriously, it’s predictable and dry. Having your characters deal with a situation that is vital or challenging is way more interesting than if they sleep with their boss or not; because in the end that decision is meaningless. If they sleep with the boss then they get into a relationship, that will make some things harder at work, that will either end one of two ways in TVland: they get married or they break up. Unless you make that the core of the series, and do it well, there is no reason to do it anymore because it isn’t edgy. If you want the audience to think your characters are edgy, how’s about you have them do something other than each other?
TELEVISION: Stop the female/male partner romance crap!
This ties into the previous topic. If you are watching a mystery show, and the partners are female and male, chances are they are going to sleep together by either the end of Season 1 or midway through Season 2. There have been some shows that have not fallen into this trap:
Or in some cases prolonged it so long, and screwed it up so bad, that it ruins the entire show in the process of handling the hot hanky panky:
It’s like platonic relationships cannot happen on network TV. If you are partnered up with someone of the opposite gender prepare to be bumping uglies with them and cheat on your significant other because you’re nothing more than a teenager with a gun and bills to pay.
ANIME: Voice Over- STOP IT!
Anime is probably one of the biggest offenders in this department. Voice over can be done well, but in the cases of most anime, it is used to cover a metric shit-ton of info dump because for some reason the showrunners feel the audience totally needs to know about a war from a thousand years ago that only comes into play in the last five minutes of the final episode or movie.
This is something that I have seen used well and have seen ditched entirely in a movie or series. To cut VO is to make the work stronger and stand on its own. If you cut the VO and everything feels lost or disjointed then your story is weak and needs work. In some cases it is used to give a film or show a certain feel but in anime it is used as a band-aid most of the time, covering the glaring plot holes that were found post production. I don’t know why makers feel like they need to do this, but it needs to stop; at this point the medium, and how we tell stories, has trained the audience well enough to pick up information on the fly.
ANIME: Philosophical, you are not.
You know what? I read The Republic too, as well as Kant, and the Bible. Please stop dropping lines from these into your show! We get it! We get it! Your characters are massive wells of emotion and complexity, so how better to demonstrate that then by having them quote the ever loving crap out of some high school or college level philosophy courses?
It can be used well, if done in moderation, but more often than not it just makes the characters, and the show, feel super pretentious. Let’s face facts, if someone did that to you in real life you’d stare at them vacantly for a moment, shake your head, and say, “Really Fred? Is The Abyss by Nietzsche the proper way to describe the way your date ended last night?”
Thanks for reading! I usually don’t post content like this, but it’s something that’s bothered me for a while now and I just feel the need to get it off of my chest. If you liked it, please comment below and share with others!
On to Movies!