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Old 2012-10-20, 23:42   Link #41
zarqu
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Originally Posted by Kirarakim View Post
Only to each individual. You cannot say universally that one idea is better than another or even potentially more interesting, that all depends on each person.
Like I tried to point out in my last response, this is only partially true. When you look at the evidence, certain ideas do seem to sell more and thus generate more interest. I'm interested why. I answered this question in my last post.

Some ideas have the virtue of being fresh simply because they are just that rare. And thus you can actually expect more from them than you would expect from any other generic anime.

Last edited by zarqu; 2012-10-21 at 00:13.
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Old 2012-10-21, 00:01   Link #42
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Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
There is a difference between doing a good job and simply doing a job. Most animators and storywriters are simply churning out a product, so there is no need for any bells and whistles (so to say), especially for a product that is bound to make money (One Piece and Shippuden spring to mind, both have large numbers of subpar episodes).
In any project, team members have to balance quality with time and cost. If it were possible, I would love nothing more than to take all the time and money I need to ensure that an article is fully copy-edited, fact-checked, sub-edited and proofread. Not once, but thrice-over.

Unfortunately, I don't. I am forced to execute the best I can within my constraints.

I imagine the same agony exists for many anime production committees.

If I were in their position, I would feel very much like saying, "Hmm, OK. Thanks for telling me the obvious. Unless you have more specific advice to help me cope with my specific challenges, I'll get on with my job..."

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for getting feedback from viewers. But when the feedback basically amounts to, "You know, your 'execution' sucked, why couldn't you have done it the way so-and-so done it in this-and-that project, which I thought was great (I don't really care if that this-and-that project wasn't what you were trying to achieve, just give me what I want)... Well, that's not really what I call constructive feedback.
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Old 2012-10-21, 00:09   Link #43
zarqu
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
If I were in their position, I would feel very much like saying, "Hmm, OK. Thanks for telling me the obvious. Unless you have more specific advice to help me cope with my specific challenges, I'll get on with my job..."
That begs the question, of course: are the "best" (most original, most striking etc.) anime out there produced free of these constraints?

I would love to see some data about the schedules of the most profiting anime studios in the market at the moment. I mean, if you've got a good premise, even subpar execution won't screw it up, right? And vice-versa.
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Old 2012-10-21, 00:11   Link #44
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I agree with the view that excellent execution can make up for a common premise but is usually insufficient to take a show from good to great. The analogy that I brought up in another thread was that of Olympic Diving, in which a diver gets points for both execution and difficulty. A simple jacknife dive, when done well, will obviously be worth more than a botched difficult dive, but simply being a master of the jacknife will never be enough to win gold if the opponents can pull off decent 3.5 somersaults.

If we're talking about "great" in reference to the shows that are the cream of the crop, then these shows will generally need both execution and premise. If we're simply referring to shows that are above average, then execution alone might suffice.
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Old 2012-10-21, 00:13   Link #45
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I would love to see some data about the schedules of the most profiting anime studios in the market at the moment. I mean, if you've got a good premise, even subpar execution won't screw it up, right? And vice-versa.
There barely are any profitable anime studios. Even one as established as Madhouse runs into financial difficulties, let alone the smaller studios. If the news is to be believed, practically every anime studio lives hand to mouth. They are only as successful as their last project, and if that was a bomb, well, good luck on their next one.

You know what? I'm just glad that anything gets produced at all. Anything can be made better. Hindsight, after all, is always 20-20.
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Old 2012-10-21, 00:18   Link #46
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
There barely are any profitable anime studios. Even one as established as Madhouse runs into financial difficulties, let alone the smaller studios. If the news is to be believed, practically every anime studio lives hand to mouth. They are only as successful as their last project, and that was a bomb, well, good luck on their next one.
Well if that is true, then I'd like to see data from the studios that continue to live hand to mouth.

Once again I only have to lament my ignorance when it comes to the Japanese language: What "news" agency is the source in the above post etc.

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You know what? I'm just glad that anything gets produced at all. Anything can be made better. Hindsight, after all, is always 20-20.
True enough. I'm also just glad that there are few people out there with an experimental touch to Japanese animation.
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Old 2012-10-21, 00:47   Link #47
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
In any project, team members have to balance quality with time and cost. If it were possible, I would love nothing more than to take all the time and money I need to ensure that an article is fully copy-edited, fact-checked, sub-edited and proofread. Not once, but thrice-over.

Unfortunately, I don't. I am forced to execute the best I can within my constraints.

I imagine the same agony exists for many anime production committees.

If I were in their position, I would feel very much like saying, "Hmm, OK. Thanks for telling me the obvious. Unless you have more specific advice to help me cope with my specific challenges, I'll get on with my job..."

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for getting feedback from viewers. But when the feedback basically amounts to, "You know, your 'execution' sucked, why couldn't you have done it the way so-and-so done it in this-and-that project, which I thought was great (I don't really care if that this-and-that project wasn't what you were trying to achieve, just give me what I want)... Well, that's not really what I call constructive feedback.
I guess I have to re-ask zarqu’s question to you:
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Originally Posted by zarqu View Post
That begs the question, of course: are the "best" (most original, most striking etc.) anime out there produced free of these constraints?
@TinyRedLeaf
You think that well-executed show like Madoka Magica isn’t restricted by money & time? It's as restricted as Guilty Crown and Aquarion EVOL, but the difference in execution really shows due to some factors I mentioned in my previous post.

And I’m not talking about whether anime studios makes profit or not. I’m talking about difference in execution even though they have the same “technical resource” (a.k.a. time & money). The difference is the people who work on it and how well they do their job.
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Old 2012-10-21, 00:48   Link #48
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
In any project, team members have to balance quality with time and cost. If it were possible, I would love nothing more than to take all the time and money I need to ensure that an article is fully copy-edited, fact-checked, sub-edited and proofread. Not once, but thrice-over.

Unfortunately, I don't. I am forced to execute the best I can within my constraints.

I imagine the same agony exists for many anime production committees
I'm unclear what you you are getting at here. I wrote quite clearly about productions where little effort was required to turn out a product that at least made back its investment (simplistically put, doing a job is not the same as doing a good job). So, I am unsure what that has to do with the dilemma of any artist (or worker) when it comes to time management.

That being said, you managed to in one post turn mere competency into something to strive for. I'd hope it goes without saying that everyone should always strive for their best in what ever field you are a part of and aiming for averagedom should not be encouraged (though it is a natural state for quite a few productions).

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
If I were in their position, I would feel very much like saying, "Hmm, OK. Thanks for telling me the obvious. Unless you have more specific advice to help me cope with my specific challenges, I'll get on with my job...
I did give specific "advice" (establishing a criteria by which an "execution" can be qualified as "good"). Whether you agree my "advice" counts as good criteria to use or simply insufficient for our very subjective definition, is an actual discussion (which I do not care to have this late hour), but claiming that there was no advice at all is false.

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for getting feedback from viewers. But when the feedback basically amounts to, "You know, your 'execution' sucked, why couldn't you have done it the way so-and-so done it in this-and-that project, which I thought was great (I don't really care if that this-and-that project wasn't what you were trying to achieve, just give me what I want)... Well, that's not really what I call constructive feedback.
I am doubly confused now. Your hypothetical(s) seem to have little to do with anything I've written...

Last edited by james0246; 2012-10-21 at 14:50.
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Old 2012-10-21, 00:55   Link #49
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
In any project, team members have to balance quality with time and cost. If it were possible, I would love nothing more than to take all the time and money I need to ensure that an article is fully copy-edited, fact-checked, sub-edited and proofread. Not once, but thrice-over.

Unfortunately, I don't. I am forced to execute the best I can within my constraints.

I imagine the same agony exists for many anime production committees.

If I were in their position, I would feel very much like saying, "Hmm, OK. Thanks for telling me the obvious. Unless you have more specific advice to help me cope with my specific challenges, I'll get on with my job..."

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for getting feedback from viewers. But when the feedback basically amounts to, "You know, your 'execution' sucked, why couldn't you have done it the way so-and-so done it in this-and-that project, which I thought was great (I don't really care if that this-and-that project wasn't what you were trying to achieve, just give me what I want)... Well, that's not really what I call constructive feedback.
I just don't understand the part about feedbacks. I don't think the point of this discussion is to give feedback to companies.

In regards to "execution" being vague, for me at least, I mostly refer to pacing (sequence/duration/fleshing out of scenes and dialogue) and presentation (music, art, animation, style, general atmosphere). Not everything has to be done great, just certain parts good enough and others not too bad. I guess it's still rather nebulous in the end; I only really know a good execution when I find myself immersed in a show. If I know exactly what makes good execution, I'd go direct those darn things myself.
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Old 2012-10-21, 01:19   Link #50
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I agree with the view that excellent execution can make up for a common premise but is usually insufficient to take a show from good to great. The analogy that I brought up in another thread was that of Olympic Diving, in which a diver gets points for both execution and difficulty. A simple jacknife dive, when done well, will obviously be worth more than a botched difficult dive, but simply being a master of the jacknife will never be enough to win gold if the opponents can pull off decent 3.5 somersaults.

If we're talking about "great" in reference to the shows that are the cream of the crop, then these shows will generally need both execution and premise. If we're simply referring to shows that are above average, then execution alone might suffice.
I think maybe it's worth clarifying what is meant by "premise" a bit. If you watch the first episode of a show and you ask someone "What is the premise of this story?", I'm sure you'd get an answer. But if someone watches an entire show from start to finish and then you ask them "What is the premise of this story?", the answer could be entirely different (or at least significantly refined).

I'm not exactly sure where people are drawing the line between "premise" and "execution" for the sake of this discussion. But I will say that a lot of my favourite shows have had what I might call an "evolving premise". The show starts and you think it's about one thing, but as the story goes on you realize that it's really about something broader, and then that it's really about something broader still, until eventually you realize that everything you saw previously was only there to lead to the conclusion. And then you look back at the show and say "ahh... this show was really about <x>" -- which may be entirely different than the "premise" you thought it had to start with.

I would say that it's perhaps a bit less like a diving competition, and more like an ice skating routine. There are still points for both presentation and technical merit, but it's a composite of a lot of different aspects (both simple and complex) coming together over time.


Some of my other favourite shows have in fact revealed their central premise right from the start, but it's the way that the premise was developed in multiple unique and interesting ways over the course of the narrative that make it memorable and remarkable to me. Perhaps it's because there are certain premise concepts that are more "timeless" than others. For example, a really simple premise is "a love story between two people", or perhaps (along the same lines) "a love triangle". These sorts of stories have been told since time immemorial, but still have a lot of power to move people. So in these cases, perhaps it does depend a little bit more on the setting, the characterization, and the "execution" to go from good to great, even though the central premise may be "common".


And the other thing I might add, regarding the value of a "unique premise", is that I think it depends a bit on the audience. One of the things that some anime fans often lament is that there are certain plot premises that seem rather "evergreen", and keep coming up endlessly. But it's also important to remember that new fans are entering the fandom all the time. The uniqueness of the premise matters most to those who've "already seen it all", which doesn't describe everyone. While all shows aim for a certain level of excellence (as much as they are able within their constraints), there is still a market for shows with tried-and-true premises that aren't necessarily going to redefine the genre or set a new standard, even long past the point when some fans have "outgrown" or "gotten bored" of those sorts of shows. Viewers aren't necessarily born as Olympic judges, after all, and not all aspire to be; at the end of the day, the main goal is to be entertained.
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Old 2012-10-21, 01:45   Link #51
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Nah. I think this is simpler than you think.
Whereas I think that we're not on the same page and you're taking things for granted that I disagree with. See, I asked "potential to do what?" for a reason. Here's your answer:

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No, really. Just think about it. Four girls doing anything in highschool vs. a show about executive officers of a government bureau in a dystopian setting. The potential here is indeed relative. Four girls doing cute things in highschool could indeed be the hidden masterpiece of this century, but all evidence leads us to believe otherwise.

No. At the moment, all narrative ideas are not equal. Some ideas are indeed more interesting than others and they are more apt to explain the human condition.
To paraphrase: "more narrative potential to explain the human condition".

But it would be nuts to judge a show that in no way attempts to explain the human condition according to these standards. It's not that I disagree with anything you said so far. It's just that you seem to start out with an assumption:

Anime that explores the human condition > Anime that does not explore the human condition

This is why I asked. I already disagree on that level.

Take Kimi ni Todoke, my example from the other post. It doesn't really explore the human condition (which is not to say that a skilled critic can't extract such an exploration, but that's another topic). Instead it re-inforces familiar ideologies; it re-inforces positions on, say, friendship (which I agree with) and maybe also gender roles (which I agree with... less). It derives it's strength from a safe sort of gentleness that I find very appealing, but it also sets up a model of romance which I can't identify with. Whatever the shows position or my own, the show is consequent in what it does, achieves it exceptionally well, and makes me accept positions which I don't (and likely never will) hold. It's a successful show in that respect.

It's true that other shows might have more to say about the human condition. I'm not clear on why I should care. It's not that I prefer emotional anime. It's just that the subjugation of all other potential draws under a humanist appeal shouldn't be the default.

And once you let go of the default, you might find that - due to different goals - different shows might have to put different priorities on concept or execution.

And while I'm at it: I'm not even sure where "concept" ends and "execution" begins. For example, with Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, are the cheerful colouration and visuals that clash with the melancholy mood and absurd humour part of the concept or the execution? The concept of the execution? Also, I think the show is not that deep; human-condition exploring is there, but if you focus on that, I think you're underrating the show. It's human interest is part of what makes show good, but if you strengthen and deepen the exploration the show might suffer, because the lighter parts and silly humour might come across as more gimmicky than they do now.
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Old 2012-10-21, 05:43   Link #52
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I think maybe it's worth clarifying what is meant by "premise" a bit.
I think the premise is not the only thing in dispute here. It's the plot and how it unfolds, the central themes of a work, the character roles in the narrative. All of that forms what many call "the story" or "the substance". There is also the storytelling, which is the way the story is transmitted to the audience. When I say that the storytelling makes or breaks a show, I mean that it could nullify any originality or genius the core ideas had by being just too shitty to watch. I won't spend hours defining what is "good" and "bad" storytelling, that depends on the cultural context, the expectations of the audience and the context of the medium at any given time. I'd say it depends very much on technical prowess; in the case of anime, that is the animation and overall visuals, the direction, the sound and voices, and the script (with this I refer to how the character ideas are brought alive by their behaviour and interactions, which are drafted and enhanced by the script).

To address other topic brought up in this thread, I do think that all narrative ideas are equal. You seeing "more potential" in dystopian sci-fi VS four girls iyashikei is purely a conditioning based on your social standing. I too, prefer some genres over others and avoid watching many things just because of their premise or genre. But what is better and worse isn't the same thing for everyone. Otherwise, I believe that good execution, in the broad sense of the word, always makes a piece of fiction better for the same genre and epoch. Citizen Kane was ground breaking not because of its substance but because its amazing cinematography. Same for many Kubrick films which were mostly adaptations of already existing works.
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Old 2012-10-21, 06:52   Link #53
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Right I don't consider storytelling or how the story unfolds part of the premise, I consider that part of the execution.

It is true that the actual premise of a story in early episodes can be misleading but then again this is still an aspect of execution because it was the author's choice to mislead the audience to surprise them for instance.

I would say Gen Urobuchi did this with Madoka.
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Old 2012-10-21, 07:49   Link #54
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Part of why I termed this "the execution effect" is the wow factor that I, personally, get when watching an anime with a beat up premise feel as refreshing, or sometimes even more so, than an anime with a unique premise. The wow and surprise factor is the key, personally, to experiencing the execution effect.

In a critic sort of sense, I do get wow'd slightly more to an anime that's able to pull a generic premise nicely than something with a unique premise simply because the staff working on it managed to pull it off. Not that I don't want unique premises but it's just my two cents on the matter.
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Old 2012-10-21, 08:10   Link #55
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I am doubly confused now. Your hypothetical(s) seem to have little to do with anything I've written...
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I just don't understand the part about feedbacks. I don't think the point of this discussion is to give feedback to companies.
Add me to the list of people confused by TRL's post

I'm not even sure how to reply to it so I'll just go back to what was said earlier

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
We speak as though "execution" is a quantifiable object that I can add to any media project and instantly make it better.

Anyone care to point me to where I can buy said object? It would sure make my job a lot easier.
Every anime executes,it's not something some animes have and others don't,there's many ways to to execute the same premise just like there's many ways to paint the same landscape.



Quote:
Originally Posted by zarqu
No. At the moment, all narrative ideas are not equal. Some ideas are indeed more interesting than others and they are more apt to explain the human condition. A show about people living under a totalitarian system is more interesting intellectually and emotionally simply because it's so rare at the moment.
It wasn't always rare,cyberpunk setting with adult cast was once a bit of a fad in anime,it didn't lead to a whole bunch of animes questioning the human condition but rather a whole lot of gory action shows.
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Old 2012-10-21, 08:27   Link #56
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[...]
Thanks for your thoughts. We have to agree to disagree, on some level at least.

Meh. I mulled over this, but I can't bring myself to say that all narrative ideas are equal. But in the end, it's a value judgement. A matter of taste, so to speak.

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Old 2012-10-21, 17:05   Link #57
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Let me try to explain exactly what I mean by not all narrative ideas being equal.

When the author is conceptualizing his or her story, there's a core foundation that the story is being built upon.

This foundation may be "high school romance comedy". It may be "harem comedy". It may be "high school romance comedy... but half the students are androids!". It may be "harem comedy... but two of the girls used to be guys!"

When I was contrasting Psycho-Pass with a "high school romance comedy", I wasn't making a genre comparison or judgement. I was contrasting Psycho-Pass to something that's just a high school romance comedy... no other twist to it, no other hook to it. What you see is what you get.

So I'm not making a commentary on high school romance comedy as a genre, because some shows in that genre can actually be pretty complex depending on what the concept behind one is (one could argue that Kokoro Connect is a high school romance comedy, but it obviously has a lot of added "twists" to that).


Now, let's say your narrative idea is epic high fantasy that will run a substantial length, and it involves numerous races, plenty of lore, lengthy wars, and analogies to WWII.

Or let's say your narrative idea is to have a story placed several hundred years in the future, and it's about humanity exploring space in wondrous spaceships featuring loads of different alien races and surprises behind every turn.

Or let's say your narrative idea is to have a story take place in a galaxy far, far away in which a Rebellion rises up against a corrupt and seemingly all-powerful Empire, with the twist being that one of the leading figures of the Rebellion is the son of the Emperor's 2nd-in-Command.


Now, I just delved into the narrative ideas behind The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Star Wars. These are three of the most popular franchises in the history of fiction itself. And there's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the strong concepts behind them is a big part of the reason why they're three of the most popular franchises in the history of fiction itself.

So no, I completely reject the notion that all narrative ideas are equal. Some narrative ideas could never pull off what Star Trek pulled off.


Edit: And really, anime is not much different. The most popular anime shows tend to have complex concepts behind them. Code Geass is a potpourri of anime genres. Nanoha fuses magical girl with mecha in a pretty distinct way. NGE and Madoka Magica were genre deconstructions with huge twists being inherent to the narrative ideas behind both. The Monogatari series is harem comedy, but its loaded with all sorts of supernatural and mystery and action elements. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has a pretty complex narrative concept behind it. SAO explores the concept of VR MMOs, in a pretty fresh and distinct way.
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Old 2012-10-21, 17:31   Link #58
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^Just looking at the current Top 10 anime shows per week, it is evident that "concept" isn't the highest selling point. It certainly helps, but when 6 out of 10 shows are fairly middling to average in terms of "concept" then it seems obvious that concept (or premise) is not a necessary component of popularity.
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Old 2012-10-21, 17:42   Link #59
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^Just looking at the current Top 10 anime shows per week, it is evident that "concept" isn't the highest selling point.
Most of those shows are legacy titles. In other words, they've been around for ages, and they've built up a big viewerbase because of it. The concepts behind them may now seem average or even commonplace, but when they first arose it might not have been the case.

For example, there's a lot of Pokemon-esque shows out there now, but how many shows like Pokemon were there when Pokemon itself first came out?


In any event, I'm not saying that strong concept is necessary for some measure of popularity, but if you look at the properties that have seemingly timeless appeal, they tend to have pretty strong concepts behind them.
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Old 2012-10-21, 18:42   Link #60
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What you define as strong concepts, I see just as popular ideas with the 20th century western world. There's a different view of what is strong and weak, high or low brow, in other cultures.

And even accepting what you said, there had been a lot of similar fiction before Star Wars or Star Trek, and they utterly failed to become popular enough. When the concepts are similar in nature, what makes or breaks a franchise is the way the concepts are communicated. So again, "execution" is the defining thing here, because it can make any and all concepts seem like the most interesting thing ever, and if done badly it can butcher a story with a "strong" premise and plot.
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