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I haven't read his works, or his last installment of WoT. I have been recommended Mistborn, but I haven't gotten around to reading the trilogy. A lot of people praise the Wheel of Time series but I found it to be overwhelming. A similar series I read prior, Sword of Truth (Which at one point had its own *unfinished* TV adaptation I thought was a miserable failure), was a lot more condensed, however many of the themes became repetitive. Overall, being among the first fantasy series I had read at the time along with the original Dragonlance novels, it was pretty enjoyable.
I would say that in some cases, flashbacks are a more convenient way to show a backstory, such as in a post-apocalyptic setting, or any kind of story that begins in the middle of a conflict. A good example I can think of that represents this would probably be Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Although considering your feelings towards it, it may not exactly be a very convincing example lol) I agree that the length of the flashback need not span multiple episodes; brief flashbacks can be insightful and additionally can contribute to whatever tone is being presented. Bleach ran for too long, thats for sure.
SSY definitely did not leave a strong enough first impression and there were a lot of reasons behind that. However, despite the fact that SSY started off so weakly, I believe that in terms of story, the show sticked to its guns, because for the most part, everything built cohesively on previous information/events. That made it easy to follow, while still being able to evoke meaning based on the events that had occured. I personally don't like it when details and meaning get lost within the story. Although SSY did have its failings, I still believe that the wrap up did a great job of making up for the inconsistencies. The show seemed to favor irony, both in the way it was animated and also at several points in the story. I liked that mostly because I can be pretty cynical at times, so that aspect of the show appealed to me :p
Hey, that's a really great post you made to Mayosamurai about story development! I think you hit it right on the nail when you talked about how we have to see the main characters in their "natural environment" to empathize.
Your question in the previous post to Mayosamurai, about story pacing, is a hard one for me to answer. I don't think I've ever developed any conclusive thoughts about what makes a good story, although it's definitely a subject of interest to me and something that I tend to think about every time I've seen or read something, whether anime, a book, or a live action movie/show, that I feel is good. I tend to think a lot about two things in particular. I ask myself, "are the characters believable, or if not, are they unbelievable to serve a purpose?" and "what did I learn and feel from watching this? Did it get me to think about something in a way I haven't thought of before?". Generally I haven't thought much about pacing in and of itself, as I think I am more or less satisfied regardless of the pacing, as long as I feel the intended meaning or point of the show was well communicated. I"m ok with having characters and a story taking a long time to develop. I'm also ok with essentially being thrown into a situation with the characters already "developed", and figuring out things later, as in knk. So as I mentioned, for me, SSY was more a problem because I felt that the characters and situation were pretty stereotypical from the beginning, and weren't developing in any interesting direction. A strong horror element was also definitely lacking.
Have you seen wolf children yet? I finally got around to seeing it just a little bit ago. My feelings about it are ambivalent, and I'd be happy to hear your thoughts if you have seen it. And I know that I asked Mayosamurai for his opinion on Natsume Yuujinchou, but what was your experience with it? I"m thinking of maybe watching it soonish.
Yup! I'm taking Macroeconomics, and a course on Political Leadership. They are both big departures from what I previously took in college, as a mathematical sciences major. They remind me of my ap government and politics course from way back in high school. I can't wait to hear about knk from you; Mayosamurai and I are having an amazing discussion about the show! I just wish that I'd been able to enjoy the first half of Shinsekai Yori more, but I still think it's a show very much worthy of discussion; it's several steps above dbz/one piece/bleach any day. :p
not sure if you saw my comment for mayosamurai, I'm gonna try to answer in a day or two; been busy the last few days trying to get some schoolwork done. :)
Hello again :)
In regards to your earlier comment, I have to say that having just seen Kara no Kyoukai, I realized that presenting a story in a non-chronological order may be apropriate for the true plot/motives/drama/story development to make themselves known early on. Initially, it seemed as though SSY was trying to tell two stories at once, the first one being the Ogre conflict, and the main one being the Monster Rat conflict and all of its implications. Thats pretty hard to do effectively in anything. Not until the end do we learn that they were actually tied together. Because of that, I think it was hard for me to really grasp what we were supposed to focus on. Perhaps leaving out some earlier events would have improved the stability of the show, and allowed us to settle into the series instead of wondering what exactly we are watching at any given point. Truly it was hard to watch in the beginning. It makes up for it with relatively fast progression later on, which is a pretty undesirable aspect in both films and books. It reminds me of a book series I read, The Wheel of Time. Similarly to SSY, the plot begins and progresses at a snails pace, mainly for world building, character development, settling in the story, and explaining certain phenomena in that universe. All of the sudden Bam, just killed a boss, 1st book is finished. It would have been better, at least in my opinion, if SSY started in Saki's adolescence and a time jump to childhood within the first 1/3 of the series showed us the backstory. It would have made the beginning more interesting, throwing us in the middle of the dark conflict of which we know nothing but are about to slowly realize, rather than showing us episodes of children in "school" wondering where the hell this show was going to take us. Idk though.
I don't necessarily think a quiet and explanatory beginning will always do justice for a show but then again its probably something that will vary case by case depending on the scope of the show. For example, Natsume Yuujinchou had a *fairly* explanatory beginning which served the show well but for shows like SSY, which demand a tense atmosphere to pervade throughout its entirety, having an explanatory beginning can mess up the overall tone. I also think working in the backstory is good because it allows room for speculation and requires the viewer to be attentive to details which they may otherwise miss out on. Just like in KnK, those details can develop into a story of their own, which enriches the viewer's experience.
What exactly are you opinions regarding an explained backstory vs worked-in backstory? Any references you have would probably help me understand and expand my viewpoints as well.