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Old 2012-06-21, 21:25   Link #41
Akuma Kinomoto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Moe is very popular, so it's not surprising that it's implicit antithesis would not be popular in and of itself.
Poor normal-mood characters. So neglected.

Well anyway I can attest to all of my favorite characters being pretty "balanced" in their development in the context of their respective series. Except for Sayaka. Interestingly enough I tend to gravitate toward less struggle-prone shows although there aren't any suffering-free characters I really like.
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Old 2012-06-21, 22:18   Link #42
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Originally Posted by Solace View Post
There is a danger of going too far of course, or not going far enough, compared to the "payoff" of the emotional release. If you go too far the audience may feel the suffering is more like torture. If you don't go far enough the audience may feel the suffering is too light. It's a tough thing to balance, and using the reverse of comedy as an analogy, it's like someone laughing too hard at a basic joke or a joke running too long and the punchline falling flat.

In either case though, characters are always more interesting when they go through something and emerge on the other side different in some way. There are very few characters that are interesting even when they don't change unless there was something polarizing about them to begin with. Not many stick in my mind that are like that, although Kyubey would be at the top of that list.
When it comes to suffering I think of Cage of Eden manga. The protagonists suffer through plane crash, attacks by prehistoric beasts, fatal diseases, homicidal maniacs, betrayal, deaths of dozens of classmates and oppression by megalomaniacs. Any of us would likely be left whimpering in the corner and many characters do go crazy or abandon civilized behavior, but our heroes continue to struggle on, changing and growing and shrugging off each danger and setback. Sometimes it seems they are a little too callous about the the friends who are killed and too forgiving of their murderers.
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Old 2012-06-21, 22:26   Link #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
Apologies for that, Reckoner. I came up with the topic after seeing how Madoka and Fate/Zero became bestsellers, while series with similar themes never get that much sales, even with a long timespan of DVD releases and such. I actually expect that the topic would expand on the profitability of series with "suffering" on it, and whether the reason why other fail to make a good story with suffering on it is because of poor handling of the concept or some other factor.

I never realized that the concept of "suffering" would open such a discussion like this, honestly.

But actually, I'm more interested to see why some series with suffering spectacularly bomb while others rake in the dough.
As Triple_R says it's probably because they had big names behind them while others didn't.
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Old 2012-06-21, 23:29   Link #44
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I got my wisdom teeth taken out a week ago and being Dr. Casey is still suffering, hopefully I'll get some character development out of this

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R
And as much as I love Fate/Zero, and as much as I think that suffering added a lot of depth and poignancy to a lot of its characters, there is one particular character in Fate/Zero where I felt the suffering heaped upon him frankly reached the levels of self-parody.
Who's that?
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Old 2012-06-22, 00:07   Link #45
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^ I do not know if it's Kayneth's Fried Circuits or the second Case-in-Point of the expression, "Being Lancer is Suffering".
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Old 2012-06-22, 00:29   Link #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
Apologies for that, Reckoner. I came up with the topic after seeing how Madoka and Fate/Zero became bestsellers, while series with similar themes never get that much sales, even with a long timespan of DVD releases and such. I actually expect that the topic would expand on the profitability of series with "suffering" on it, and whether the reason why other fail to make a good story with suffering on it is because of poor handling of the concept or some other factor.

I never realized that the concept of "suffering" would open such a discussion like this, honestly.

But actually, I'm more interested to see why some series with suffering spectacularly bomb while others rake in the dough.
No need to apologize, thanks for clarifying.

If I had to answer that though, it's not just about suffering. Urobuchi Gen's works tend to have other otaku elements in it. Madoka was a mahou shoujo work with cute moe girls, which was part of its marketability and why people got invested in it the first place. Fate/Zero is part of an established franchise and has plenty of action packed sequences among other things that made it highly marketable.

There are plenty of grim dark series out there that are very good but aren't marketable.
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Old 2012-06-22, 00:39   Link #47
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I don't think that the Mystery/Horror genre is very popular in anime. When a show with a lot of Mystery and/or Horror does well, it's usually due to a factor that transcends those two genres (appeals a lot to magical girls fans, appeals a lot to Type Moon fans, has the KyoAni brand name attached to it, etc... ). Without a special factor like this going for it, Mystery/Horror tends to bomb.
You know, it's not always the case that shows need to appeal to otaku in order to be successful:

Toei Animation
12515 *5 Mononoke
*8919 *7 Kanon (2002)
*6892 *4 Hakaba Kitarou

As of 2010, Mononoke was one of the most successful shows Toei had ever produced other than franchises like One Piece or Pretty Cure, and it remains so today. Hakaba Kitarou was another successful "horror" show, though one based on a well-known character. These shows shared two things in common, remarkable production values and carriage on noitaminA. Oh, and there's quite a bit of suffering in both shows, despite Kitarou being putatively a comedy.

Anime with traditional supernatural elements like youkai have fared pretty well in Japan. Natsume Yuujinchou is another good example.

Brains Base
10316 *5 Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou
10240 *5 Natsume Yuujinchou

Lucky thing Brains-Base has Natsume in its stable. If the studio had to rely on otaku-bait like Akikan! (average sales ~ 600 units), they'd be out of business. Baccano! and Kurenai don't hold a candle to Natsume either, though Durarara!! (18,000) is the studio's biggest success.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program about suffering.
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Old 2012-06-22, 01:09   Link #48
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Like it or not, the "checklist" approach is a primary factor in what sells. However combine "quality" whilst fulfilling a majority of the elements that clicks onto what the otaku wants in a series, then bam, you get a blockbuster. That's how you get your Madokas and Anohanas and whatnot.
I think that's a perspective you can only really take in retrospect (when you see successful shows and diagnose the common/stereotypical elements within them on their own). If it were really this simple (checklist + "quality" = blockbuster), then studios would be churning out hit after hit. The fact is, the vast majority of anime isn't what we'd call a "hit", whether it seems to fit into some checklist or not and regardless of what we might say about its "quality". When you consider things like "do the characters engage with the audience" and "does it spark the curiosity/participation of the larger anime community" and so on, a lot of it can come down to being the right thing at the right time. It might seem like all the successful shows follow a checklist, but not all shows that follow the same checklist (or have the same "quality") are successful by any means; correlation, perhaps, but not causation.

So I think that speaks to both the point about why some "suffering" shows seem to be selling better than other "non-suffering" shows, and also why some "suffering" shows sell more than others that seem similar. I think it's not really about whether the show contains suffering or not, just whether it is able to engage an audience and that audience feels compelled to buy the anime BDs/DVDs as a momento. Time, place, circumstance, community/peer-pressure, subject matter, production values, and on and on.

(If we can figure out the failproof formula, I'm sure we could get hooked up with some producers in Japan who are all ears. )
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Old 2012-06-22, 03:44   Link #49
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It's funny, since when we run down the checklist for successful series, there must be several dozen ones that also can be run down the same checklist yet were not as successful. You could apply this to any business. We tend to remember the epic wins and epic fails more so than the middlings. The human mind is a funny thing-- we just can't realize all that info at once as the input would overwhelm us, so we try to look for patterns that may or may not exist to make it easier.

There's many other factors, such as time, place, and just plain luck. There were certain events that transpired during Madoka's airing that might have changed how people view it had they not happened. This applies even on a personal level-- some of my favorite animes are my favorites because I watched them at a particular time where their message or effect was especially potent. Madoka came along when I was on the very verge of quitting anime, for example.
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Old 2012-06-22, 04:19   Link #50
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There's many other factors, such as time, place, and just plain luck. There were certain events that transpired during Madoka's airing that might have changed how people view it had they not happened. This applies even on a personal level-- some of my favorite animes are my favorites because I watched them at a particular time where their message or effect was especially potent. Madoka came along when I was on the very verge of quitting anime, for example.
I think this is so very true, both about Madoka, and about anime in general. A show is definitely more meaningful to you if it reflects something that's going on in your life at the time, and that applies at a macro-level to society in general. It's said that even a show like K-On! was very much about being at the right place at the right time. In reverse, you might say that (for example) Papakiki failed because it just so happened to air the season after Usagi Drop (even though there hadn't been many shows like either of them in a while previous -- just bad luck?).

It's been said that the tone/type of music that's popular in a society can be correlated to the state of the economy at the time (that in tough times, certain genres of music become more popular, and the reverse in prosperous times). I'm sure that's probably true for anime as well. Since productions often start a good 12-18 months before airing, there is a certain "gambling" element involved because you have no idea what the world will be like 12-18 months from now. This is why they often base works on existing popular franchises, because at least that brings a certain base expectation of stability.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
It's funny, since when we run down the checklist for successful series, there must be several dozen ones that also can be run down the same checklist yet were not as successful. You could apply this to any business. We tend to remember the epic wins and epic fails more so than the middlings. The human mind is a funny thing-- we just can't realize all that info at once as the input would overwhelm us, so we try to look for patterns that may or may not exist to make it easier.
I think this is exactly right. In truth though, it is the "middling" and "poor" series that people generally think of as being "checklist-driven" ("uninspired"), but the exception happens when someone sees a show they personally consider uninspired become successful (or when they don't enjoy a lot of the popular shows). You may be more aware of the "checklist" in genres you don't like because you inevitably step back and take a more critical view (as a way of trying to figure out why you don't like it). I'm sure that a lot of my favourite shows others might consider very "checklist-driven" because it doesn't hit their own personal sweet spots. As you say, perception is a funny thing.
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Old 2012-06-22, 05:40   Link #51
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Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
^ I do not know if it's Kayneth's Fried Circuits or the second Case-in-Point of the expression, "Being Lancer is Suffering".
Those are good guesses, but I'm actually referring to Kariya.

With suffering, it's sheer duration of it more than any one intense moment of it that tends to stand out for me.

Plus, with Kayneth, the guy wasn't presented as terribly sympathetic, and he was more of an antagonistic figure, imo. People tend to expect things to not end up well for characters like that, even in 'lighter' shows.
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Old 2012-06-22, 07:35   Link #52
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And with the weekend, I can finally join in.

Tension/conflict has always been marked as an essential component of writing in general. Mary Sue-like situations where the character(s) go through idyllic situations day in, day out and don't change much usually frustrate the reader/viewer, although K-ON showed that even the absence of it can somehow be turned into a marketable scenario - but keeping in mind that by removing conflict, you're limiting your potential audience to a specific genre/style and the aesthetic factors will be paramount in such a scenario.

But in the case of novels/light novels, they are constrained to text and have no visuals except what words evoke in the mind, so therefore tension and conflict are essential in such a medium. So then comes a few points from which the intenions of the author/director will diverge:

1. What is it that the author wants to accomplish with the character and story by putting them through conflict/suffering?

2. What type of response does the author/director want to evoke within the reading/viewing audience?

3. How does the author/director want the character to be regarded/thought of by the audience?

4. What kind of things does the author/director/scriptwriter think are crucial to what they consider to be a good story?

5. Were there any particularly major events that happened in their lives around the time they were involved in making this title?



So on each point:

(1) Does the author/writer want the chracter to:

- Grow stronger as a result of suffering, rise to the occassion, prevail and be a better person for it?
- Be broken by the experience and cast into the abyss?
- Cry, whinge and squirm for the viewer's/writer's amusement?
- Turn into something malevolent and inflict more suffiering in turn as vengeance for what was inflicted on them?
- Strive, survive but not win/not get what they want?
- Misanthropic/black humour?
- Flesh out an IRL experience and canvas it in this title?
- Gratuitous entertainment?


(2) The response the author/writer wants from the audience is:

- Mmm, impressive/inspiring that the character was able to endure and previal, power to them.
- Another one for the Black Parade. Damn, that's cold.
- Ah, look at that character be emo for the nth time! What a loser!
- Wow, how twisted and cruel has this person become?! WTF
- Geez, how cruel that they persevered and have nothing to show for it
- Watching you fail/suffer in life makes me smile!!!
- So that writer is still bitter about way back when? Heh.
- EPIC DEATHS!!! I AM ENTERTAINED!
- Hmm, that was deep...I think.
- I still have no idea what on earth this happened for...


(3) The character is thought of as:

- They be cool
- They have guts for somehow living throught that....
- Ah, this clown is laughable!
- Ergh, why am I being made to watch this !&*%$!&*%&*% of a character...
- GAR!
- I like the part where they lost their head
- Watching you fail/suffer in life makes me smile!!!
- So cold that they didn't make it...
- Seriously, this prick is still alive and got what they wanted?!


(4) Creator thinks:

- The only good ending is when all characters are cast into the abyss! I kill those I love the most the fastest! (Urobuchi)
- I like seeing characters struggle and not get what they want. (Okada)
- Damn that bitch for dumping me IRL...these female characters are going to pay!!! (Tomino/Anno)
- I hate the world and all adults. Kids will save the world! (Miyazaki)
- I like philosophy, European films and dogs. Let's be deep, slow and anti-Miyazaki. (Oshii)
- Young love is so captivating and painful. (Shinkai)
- I am a warrior of love! Let's have epic tales of intensity, morality and darkness but end with some form of redemption/salvation and love! With philosophical ranting in betweem. (Nasu)
- I have freedom! FETISH TIME! (Okada)
- I want tits juggling in every scene! That'll soften the death/blood spam! (Something ecchi with gore - eg. Highschool of the dead)
- Humans are the most horiffic things in the universe. I need only tap into the human conscience and explore the darkness within to show that - while mindflocking you. Yet they are also quite special, which I can also show - while mindflocking you. And the women in anime don't exist in reality. I will show you that - while mindflocking you! (Kon)


(5) IRL circumstances:

- Getting dumped (Tomino/Anno)
- Long-running recession
- Imperialism (Tezuka)
- 3/11 tsunami/earthquake
- Inspired by another title/work
- Death of someone close to them
- 2012 apocalypse superstition
- Wishing for the 'good old days' (Miyazaki)
- The current state of the industry (Oshii)



Could spend all night discussing specific examples in length, but I won't.

In a nutshell, conflict/suffering is a mandatory ingrendient outside of superflaky moe. How that contributes to the overall mix and what the creator wants to do is another thing althogether. What I will say is that I'm getting rather tired with the spam of excessively morbid content lately, or overly dramatic/emo leads. Is being rational or mature in solving a problem so wrong these days? Space Brothers has conflict aplenty but people remain optimistic and take it in their stride while determining how to overcome their trials. Frankly, I find morbidness or body counts too easy. It's harder to be positive overall and provide reasons to admire/love/worship the character. Cheap sympathy/getting depressed is juvenile and easy.
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Old 2012-06-22, 11:08   Link #53
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Yeah, but Space Bros has the problem of using the same conflict over and over again with little variation.
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Old 2012-06-22, 15:33   Link #54
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Yeah, but Space Bros has the problem of using the same conflict over and over again with little variation.
I'm not sure I see the relevance of Space Brothers to this thread. Even if it is relevant, I think it's a little early to write the show off as offering "the same conflict over and over again with little variation" when we've only seen a quarter of the 48 planned episodes. At least Mutta's stopped talking about how the big brother should be ahead of the younger brother and is now concentrating on his own situation. I agree that I found this refrain rather tiring after a while, but it hit home with our Asian members here.
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Old 2012-06-22, 15:52   Link #55
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I meant currently (and based on the episodes I've seen). Still, that's way too many episodes dedicated to the same thing.
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Old 2012-06-22, 19:50   Link #56
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Overcoming hardships is only one way to develop a character:

1) In a lot of sport series you have characters becoming passionate about something. One of my favorite examples of this is Hikaru no Go. In this story the main character doesn't just become a strong player but his character arc is about wanting to become a stronger player because he learns to appreciate the game and finds another player his age who is already so dedicated to the game.

Seiji Sensei mentioned Nodame Cantabile which is I think would be another good example of this type of character arc.


2) I think when suffering & hardships are used to develop a character, my personal favorite is when the character's themselves come to the realization that their own actions & decisions were part of this suffering. Hence it's still more of an internal type of character development, where the character stops blaming the world for their troubles and tries to overcome their own flaws: I think one of the best examples of this type of character development can be found in Twelve Kingdoms.

Not an anime but I also think Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender is another character who highlights this type of development.

3) I also gravitate towards stories where the main character has to learn to connect to others despite "social anxiety". I think great examples of this are Natsume Yuujinchou (which does have aspects of suffering but I would argue that isn't the main point of the story), and the recent Tsuritama.

Although I am personally not a fan I would say Kimi ni Todoke & Princess Jellyfish are also good examples of this.

I guess social anxiety could be seen as a hard ship but it's something that is also very common and easy to relate to, more so than this character had all these horrible things happen to him/her.



4) The learning to appreciate another character: I think this is definitely a type of character development, where you have character A not liking character B but over time they learn to appreciate the other character. Obviously there are many many romance stories that fit this type but there are also quite a few stories related to friendship that fit too. I think the relationship between Isako & Yasako in Dennou Coil works here & the recent Sakamichi no Apollon.

Another example is Kyo & Yuki in Fruits Basket who start off hating each other & wanting what the other has but gradually learning to get along and maybe realizing that they both did not have the perfect life the other imagined.


Basically for me good character development is when a character naturally progresses from point A to point B. I think a lot of stories rely to much on plot twists or sudden changes to develop their characters, but for me at least the best type of character development is gradual where the audience can clearly see how the character changed over time. Overcoming suffering can be part of the development, but it's not the suffering that is important.
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Old 2012-06-26, 03:57   Link #57
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^of all those examples, I personally feel Twelve Kingdoms is the best character development title of all.
Although a lot was lost in transition from novel to anime, it still came out extremely strong.

Too bad vast majority of anime fans out there overlook that masterpiece, partly due to "MEH IT'S NOT CUTE ENOUGH" or some such nonsense.
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