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Old 2013-03-18, 15:10   Link #21
Reckoner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
I don't buy this argument because a large number of critically acclaimed movies are either straight adaptations or new takes on older material. I'm not even talking about obscure works either - Argo, the Life of Pi and Les Miserable were all nominated for the Oscar this year. In anime, many of the adaptations we're familiar with are aired on TV. Since TV has such tight budgets and schedules, it's not at all unusual for them to fail. Anime movies and OVAs would fare much better even if they deviate from the source material. The creative staffs of the latter simply have more money and time to iron out exactly what they want to do with the work.
So what if they were nominated? Life of Pi for example, is one phenomenal book. Of course the director did a lot with cinematography and other things that accentuated the book's greatness, but make no mistake... In the end the story is the author's vision more so than the directors, no matter how the director spins it or adds to it.


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Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
I'm not just referring to a standard review, but things like in-depth examinations of the language of film/anime and how scenes are composed. Here's an example from the film world: http://www.openculture.com/2011/12/a...ion_scene.html

This kind of material is almost non-existent for anime in the English-language world. The main exception is when Anipages writes something up or the very occassional piece like this: http://scenesofdespair.tumblr.com/po...-close-reading
Not as rare as you might think. You must not know your way around the blogisphere very well. While of course many blogs are episodics, there are a decent amount that are editorials that do in depth analysis of the sorts of things you're talking about. For example the following blog offers a lot of the style of content you are talking about, and he is not unique.

http://altairandvega.wordpress.com/
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Old 2013-03-18, 15:21   Link #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
Not as rare as you might think. You must not know your way around the blogisphere very well. While of course many blogs are episodics, there are a decent amount that are editorials that do in depth analysis of the sorts of things you're talking about. For example the following blog offers a lot of the style of content you are talking about, and he is not unique.

http://altairandvega.wordpress.com/
I admit I've only skimmed through it but at first glance to me that link provides nothing 4tran is looking for, if anything it perfectly illustrates 4tran's point about how blogs tend to treat animes as literature works.
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Old 2013-03-18, 15:27   Link #23
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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
I admit I've only skimmed through it but at first glance to me that link provides nothing 4tran is looking for, if anything it perfectly illustrates 4tran's point about how blogs tend to treat animes as literature works.
This is my bad. I skimmed his article too much. Then if 4tran is SPECIFICALLY focusing on cinematography, then yes, we don't have a terrible amount of that in the anime world. I can agree with that much. The most people do is complement the visuals and talk about how they accentuate certain scenes. There are of course the rare exceptions.

So probably what would help me understand his point better, is what exactly he thinks anime reviewers/bloggers don't talk a whole lot about. Cinematography and what else?
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Old 2013-03-18, 17:17   Link #24
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Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
So what if they were nominated? Life of Pi for example, is one phenomenal book. Of course the director did a lot with cinematography and other things that accentuated the book's greatness, but make no mistake... In the end the story is the author's vision more so than the directors, no matter how the director spins it or adds to it.
Do you agree that the visuals of a film impart meaning? If so, then isn't it natural that a film will present its story differently than a book will? The original source of an adaptation is only the starting point, and can often play just a small role in the success of the adaptation.

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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
I admit I've only skimmed through it but at first glance to me that link provides nothing 4tran is looking for, if anything it perfectly illustrates 4tran's point about how blogs tend to treat animes as literature works.
Pretty much. Lots of blogs and anime reviewers talk about what the words in an anime tell us, but it's really rare for one to talk about what the pictures tell us.

There is the odd blog that really does manage to be valuable though. This series is a good example: http://animekritik.wordpress.com/201...r-episode-one/

There's tons of stuff that you'd miss if you're not really familiar with Japan in the '80s.

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Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
This is my bad. I skimmed his article too much. Then if 4tran is SPECIFICALLY focusing on cinematography, then yes, we don't have a terrible amount of that in the anime world. I can agree with that much. The most people do is complement the visuals and talk about how they accentuate certain scenes. There are of course the rare exceptions.

So probably what would help me understand his point better, is what exactly he thinks anime reviewers/bloggers don't talk a whole lot about. Cinematography and what else?
Cinematography is a part of what I'm discussing, but there are other parts that make up the language of film. If you're not familiar with the language of film, here's a nice primer: http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage...e_of_film.html

I'd say that it's even more important in anime than in regular film-making because anime directors are so much more likely to botch it. My earlier example of Chuuni is a good example of that.
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Old 2013-03-18, 18:58   Link #25
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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
I'l make it short: the script is the foundation, without a good one you can't build anything solid but also just because you have a nice one doesn't mean the end result will be good...

Also want to mention that a script is different from dialogue , Paperman most definitely has a script, or to take another example the illusionist has almost no dialogue but it has a script (sidenote: I hate it when trailers for "foreign films" throw in a gazillion critic quotes).
You're absolutely right that a "script" is the foundation of an audio-visual production but, to be sure, you're confusing a couple of technicalities. The writers of a movie or animation create screenplays and not scripts per se, although the terms are often used interchangeably.

A screenplay contains not just the dialogue, but also directional notes, which include details on the setting, the mood of the scene, the emotional state of the characters, where and when actors enter or leave the scene, the time of the day, cues for lighting, and so on.

So, yes, it's the blueprint from which everything else in an anime is created. But it's a very different kind of writing that we're talking about — it's a technical paper that takes the specific requirements of animation/movie-making into consideration. And it's definitely different from what most fans think about when they discuss the "writing" of an anime (they usually mistake it for just the dialogue).

And like 4Tran says, most people review or critique an anime the way they would a book or manga. Most fans neglect the "cinematography" of the anime. And this is the origin of a disconnect often seen in discussions throughout this forum and in blogs — the idea that the quality of animation doesn't matter as long as the story is good. Well sure, an anime can be redeemed by the quality of its story — that's probably the best thing that one can say of many animation projects, anime or otherwise. But an animation project has to be ultimately judged on the quality of its animation/cinematography, because that is the medium of its storytelling. It is not a book. You shouldn't judge an anime the way you'd judge a book.

To tell me that the writing is the most important thing is like telling me that a densely written, expertly plotted comic book/graphic novel is still good even if the art consists of nothing but pages and pages of crudely drawn, black-and-white stick figures with no faces, not even basic emoticons.

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Originally Posted by Folenfant View Post
Animation and scripting get a lot of focus from people but I find music in anime to be sort of a rare focus that is more important in establishing the proper mood and vibe of a scene than is often given credit for.
I agree, and it's commendable that Akito Kinomoto included "sound" in the discussion as well.

(Among recent anime, Another is the first I remember for its exceptional use of sound to generate tension and unease.)

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Originally Posted by Folenfant View Post
Also I think its very important to distinguish between animation and cinematography a bit more still. To me animation is a process while cinematography is a craft or talent that can make even still imagery come to life with its own vibrance and personality.
To my discredit, I've used animation and cinematography interchangeably throughout this thread, even though I know they mean different things. I'll just point out a few key differences between film cinematography and animation cinematography, though — the use of lighting and the recording of action.

In film cinematography, the cameraman's ability to control and capture lighting is immensely prized. Anyone who's a photographer, amateur or professional, will know immediately why this ability is so important. What we see with our eyes is very different from what the camera "sees". In stark contrast, lighting does not constrain animators in the same way. How an animation director chooses to light a scene remains extremely important for achieving the mood and effect he wants but, unlike film directors, he is not under the mercy of natural conditions. This means that we can't judge this aspect of anime cinematography the same way we would film cinematography.

(Among anime directors, Makoto Shinkai comes immediately to mind for his exceptional use of light.)

And then, there's the simple recording of action. Film and anime are worlds apart in this respect. Film records actors doing their stuff amid a carefully staged set. In anime/animation, every single movement, whether by the characters or by objects in the background, has to be drawn. In this respect, I wonder if it's useful to think of animation and cinematography as two separate things — where an animation project is concerned, you won't have cinematography without animation. The way you choose to animate your characters and their setting is the cinematography.

Yes, the language of film intimately informs the editorial decisions of the animation crew. But, ultimately, everything they want to do cinematically has to be drawn and animated from scratch. It's a vastly different process, taken from a vastly different perspective. This is why you won't see anyone in an animation project credited as the "cinematographer", unlike in film. The specific role doesn't exactly exist in animation.
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Old 2013-03-18, 20:48   Link #26
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There are good plots with poor animation.

Poor plots with good animation.

There are also good plots with good animation.

However, the greatest anime manage to combine the animation and plot into a whole that is greater then the sum.

Madoka Magica is an example of this.

Nor does doing this require the highest quality of animation. For example, Neon Genesis Evangelion managed to turn the poor animation budget into a contributing factor to the Mind Screw nature of the plot.
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Old 2013-03-18, 21:44   Link #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
Do you agree that the visuals of a film impart meaning? If so, then isn't it natural that a film will present its story differently than a book will? The original source of an adaptation is only the starting point, and can often play just a small role in the success of the adaptation.
Sure. While a book will describe things around the character, a film has to actually show it visually. For the record, I'm not denying the importance of a director in a production. In fact they usually are the most important figure in any anime production.

I won't disagree with you here, I see your point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
Cinematography is a part of what I'm discussing, but there are other parts that make up the language of film. If you're not familiar with the language of film, here's a nice primer: http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage...e_of_film.html

I'd say that it's even more important in anime than in regular film-making because anime directors are so much more likely to botch it. My earlier example of Chuuni is a good example of that.
I see where you're coming from. Point taken.
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Old 2013-03-18, 22:59   Link #28
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Originally Posted by Sackett View Post
However, the greatest anime manage to combine the animation and plot into a whole that is greater then the sum.
I think everyone will agree with that in principle. Where people disagree is the extent to which the audio-visual elements carry the story, or the "plot". The disagreements spread across a continuum and are highly contextual, highly subjective in nature, which is why I object to Triple R's arbitrary categorisation of good and bad writing, with respect to anime/animation.

By plot, I take it that you mean exposition. If I'm wrong, I apologise in advance. Now, a film like Sky Crawlers — arguably Mamoru Oshii's most accessible movie to date — in my opinion, made effective use of imagery and music to convey the emotions of its characters and the various meanings of the story. Sufficient in any case for me to come up with a thorough analysis of its plot.

But many other viewers found the movie incredibly boring, a typical criticism levelled at Oshii's projects. More importantly, quite a few called bullsh*t on my analyses, saying that it's possible for anyone to "see" more than was actually intended in the chosen imagery. That may well be the case. Perhaps I'm reading too much into what was shown on screen. That raises the question: perhaps greater exposition was needed to conclusively nail down the plot?

Nothing infuriates a viewer more than not being able to figure out what an anime scene is all about. Take the last episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, for example. You called it "mind screw". I call it a brilliant use of imagery to describe Shinji's state of mind in the run-up to Instrumentality. It's anime's equivalent of Stanley Kubrick's "mind screw" in the final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

So, was it a failure of writing, or a genius use of imagery? Who's right, who's wrong? It really depends on what you place more emphasis on, doesn't it? Between the writing and the animation, I choose the latter, in recognition of the plain fact that anime is ultimately an audio-visual medium for storytelling.
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Old 2013-03-18, 23:24   Link #29
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Originally Posted by Sackett View Post
There are good plots with poor animation.

Poor plots with good animation.

There are also good plots with good animation.

However, the greatest anime manage to combine the animation and plot into a whole that is greater then the sum.

Madoka Magica is an example of this.

Nor does doing this require the highest quality of animation. For example, Neon Genesis Evangelion managed to turn the poor animation budget into a contributing factor to the Mind Screw nature of the plot.
This is simplistic and reductive, and while you're getting at something with the fourth paragraph, you're not really expanding on why this is the case or how it's achieved.

First of all, I think categorizing animation in simply "good" or "bad" is not conductive to communication. Is the animation in, say, Fantasia (1940) from Disney good? Most viewers will say it's not only good, but excellent.
But is the animation in a film like Mind Game good? Here, a fuckton of people will say "no", and the ones that respond positively do so for entirely different reasons than in Fantasia. The animation in a project is an aesthetic component as much as it is a technical one- it should, ideally, convey an artistic sense that makes the film stronger as a whole. I think Mind Game is a good example of this, because every bit of animation, and the style in which it's all done are serving the core idea that drives the film. Or rather, the film was made to be a perfect fit for Yuasa's aesthetic sensibilities. It doesn't matter which came first, the relevant thing is that it blends together perfectly.
Another example with a more "mainstream" focus could be Tokyo Godfathers, which was conceived primarily as a vehicle for Shinji Otsuka to display his character acting skills. A tight style based on ideas reminiscent of his approach to animating comes through in the movie's direction and whimsy feel, as much as it does in the scenes done by him (and by other animators too).

It's strange that you bring Madoka and EVA as examples, since this type of blending isn't apparent in the animation of those shows, but in the direction (and well, in other visual aspects too. Although EVA is an infinitely better example than PMMM for this).

Lastly, I still think that it's bogus to separate "writing" and "presentation" (for lack of a better word that serves as a catch-all term for everything ranging from storyboard to post-processing to use of sound). When an animated film exploits its medium to maximum capability, it shouldn't even be possible to properly divide the two since a gigantic amount of meaning and messages will be carried by stuff such as the framing of the screen, the animation itself or the soundtrack. If you don't want to take in all that meaning and just focus in face-value stuff such as "plot" or "character development", you'd be missing out. Same goes for simply thinking "the animation is high-budget" or "it looks nice" without trying to figure out if the director's trying to tell something through the construction and presentation of the story.

I think it should be clear to anyone that the "plot" -which is simply the order in which events happen- is consciously manufactured and presented in a subjective way to the viewer. Especially in animation where there's even less of the real present in the final product. Same goes for the perception of characters and their emotional/developmental arcs.
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Old 2013-03-19, 00:36   Link #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I think everyone will agree with that in principle. Where people disagree is the extent to which the audio-visual elements carry the story, or the "plot". The disagreements spread across a continuum and are highly contextual, highly subjective in nature, which is why I object to Triple R's arbitrary categorisation of good and bad writing, with respect to anime/animation.
I explained why I used those three simplified categories. They weren't arbitrary at all, as my explanation should have made clear. If you have issues with my explanation, it would be nice to know what those issues are.

In any event, do you deny that there is such a thing as "good" writing? Do you deny that there is such a thing as "bad" writing?

This actually isn't entirely subjective. Plot holes are plot holes. 1 + 1 does not equal 5. That's objective, and so are certain plot holes for similar reasons. You can have serious plot inconsistencies in anime shows with exceptional animation and BGM. The exceptional animation and BGM does not take away such plot inconsistencies. A narrative loaded with plot holes has serious writing issues. All the gorgeous animation and great BGM in the world can only cover that up so much.

And this is why, contrary to what Warm Mist is arguing, it's not "bogus" to evaluate writing quality separate from art/animation and sound. Why should great art/animation and sound render completely unimportant poor character development and a story ridden with plot holes (or things such as an over-reliance on deus ex machinas)?
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Old 2013-03-19, 02:34   Link #31
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
By plot, I take it that you mean exposition.
I'm a bit at a loss, here. I'm familiar with the language for literary discription (secondary subject in a university degree), but I'm not familiar with the language of film description. It's possible that exposition has a specialised meaning I'm not aware of, but in literary terminology "exposition" has little to do with plot. "Exposition" is a mode of presentation (others being description, and narration [although here it gets confusing, since "narration" is often used as the blanket term for it all]).

"Plot" is the thin read line that connects all the actions in a story. It's an analytic abstraction. The same plot could be realised in different settings or with different characters. If you add characters and setting, you then have a "story". All of this is purely conceptional; it precedes the medium. You have this story to tell - what do you do? Write it in a novel? A graphic novel maybe? Put it in a film?

Of course, this is all highly abstract and it depends on how much you abstract. But story is absolutely separatable from the mode of presentation. It's, for example, not hard to tell (even if nobody clued me in before hand) that the book and the film Moby Dick tell "the same story". The very fact that you can compare the two so closely shows this. It's less obvious with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Blade Runner. And at some point we're left wondering.

I get the complaints that are made here: people tend to overestimate the importance of story and underestimate the importance of presentation. I've frequented writer boards a lot, and that's one of the more frustrating aspects. People tell you that you can't use "too many" adverbs, and when you point out that writers use them all the time, you get one of two counters: (a) If the writer is considered a "good" writer, then that writer gets to use adverbs, because he knows how and you - a newbie - do not. (b) If the writer is considered a "hack", you're told that writer gets away with using adverbs because "the story is so strong".

There's an implicit implication that presentation is just ornamentation for the "story". That's why, when people talk about the "writing" for anime, very often they don't talk about the actual writing (the scenario, or maybe the individual scripts). Chances are they've never read that. It's about the story as it shines through in the animation. Just as with texts, it's the story - an abstraction from what you've actually seen.

Paperman, linked above, has a rather boring plot: Boy meets girl, they separate, they find each other again. That's been done a lot. If you think plot is of prime importance then you absolutely miss what's great about the piece. There are various levels of abstraction: what I've outlined above is very abstract. As you go down in abstraction levels, the plot becomes more exciting (say, if you include the paperplanes), but I'd still argue that plot is not the best tool to analyse this piece of film.

Similarly, plot isn't the best approach to plays like Beckett's Waiting for Godot or short stories such as Viriginia Woolf's "Kew Gardens" (which is a montage of conversation fragments interspersed with the exciting story of a snail overcoming an obstacle in its path [a - gasp - leaf!]; it's also about flowers, but they do nothing remotely plot-like).

The thing is that - unless with some deliberately metalevel stuff - the presentation is supposed to be invisible (and when it's good, it often is). That's why it's hard to talk about that stuff; you don't notice it. It's there to ease you into the story, and the story is what you end up talking about (unless you're interested in criticism, or in the craft of creating stuff like texts or films). I clearly miss many, many visual and auditory clues. I'm not trained to pay attention to that. But I still catch a lot more than, say, my Dad.

When people talk about animation in terms of story then that's because that's what they get out of the viewing experience. But that's selective attention. If you don't pay attention to the presentation, the story has been successfully presented. But the secret behind its success is also the reason why people generally put too much emphasis on story, and too little on the presentation. It's systematic, and it's not unique to animation. Written texts (whether they're novels or short stories) have the same problem.

[ETA:This thread reminds me of another recent one about concept and execution. Too lazy to look for it right now.]
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Old 2013-03-19, 02:59   Link #32
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
The thing is that - unless with some deliberately metalevel stuff - the presentation is supposed to be invisible (and when it's good, it often is). That's why it's hard to talk about that stuff; you don't notice it.

...

If you don't pay attention to the presentation, the story has been successfully presented.
Are you implying that the watcher who loved an anime and has picked up and pinpointed numerous visual cues in the presentation on their first watch somehow enjoyed the anime less than the other watcher who loved the same anime but didn't notice any of these things?

I'm usually the second watcher, by the way. Which is why I find it hard to reply to any of the posts in this thread.
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Old 2013-03-19, 03:07   Link #33
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I don't want to get involved in a deep discussion of aesthetics here, but I think the case of Monster is instructive. First, though I haven't read the manga, most discussions of Monster report that Madhouse was extremely faithful to the original material in terms of both the storytelling and the illustration style.

I've seen people criticize Monster for being "ugly," and indeed if your view of anime is largely driven by contemporary shows then the characters in Monster look ugly indeed. I see that style as consistent with Urasawa's overall vision, though, with a focus on creating realism. Most people in real life are not physically beautiful, and many are downright ugly. If everyone in Monster were depicted with the character models so prevalent in modern anime, it would undermine the realism of the presentation.

Is Monster "well-animated?" Well by most standards the answer is clearly no. Very little in that show depends on the medium itself. Many scenes are static and rely largely on conversations to convey the story. It is just as easy to imagine Monster as a live-action series as an animated one despite its manga origins. The same holds true for shows like Nodame Cantabile or Bartender, both of which have had live-action adaptations as well as animated ones. All three of these shows remain among my favorites because of the quality of the scripts, and importantly their musical scores, even though they utilize little of the potentials of animation as a medium.

I believe that characterization applies to many of the series we watch today. I can probably think of a couple dozen shows that could only have been told successfully through animation. Most of these are the creations of extremely talented directors who seem to fit the auteur model of film-making and take advantage of the freedom animation permits. I'm thinking of shows like Iso Mitsuo's Dennou Coil or Nakajima Kenji's Bakeneko and Mononoke which use the medium to create remarkable images that would be nearly impossible to reproduce in a live-action setting without enormous budgets for special effects. Even then, I don't think a live-action version of, say, the fighting scenes in Nakajima's Apothecary shows, or the distorted reality of the "obsolete spaces" in Coil, would be as compelling visually as the animated versions we have the privilege to view. And, to reinforce Folenfant's point, Coil would not be nearly as impressive without Tsuneyoshi Saito's remarkable score.
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Old 2013-03-19, 03:10   Link #34
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
I'm a bit at a loss, here. I'm familiar with the language for literary discription (secondary subject in a university degree), but I'm not familiar with the language of film description. It's possible that exposition has a specialised meaning I'm not aware of, but in literary terminology "exposition" has little to do with plot. "Exposition" is a mode of presentation (others being description, and narration [although here it gets confusing, since "narration" is often used as the blanket term for it all]).
You've answered your own query, actually.

I used "exposition" for lack of a better word at the time to describe what I thought Sackett meant by "plot". I tried to build on that through the context of the post you linked. Another way to explain what I was trying to get at would be the extent to which the story is made "explicit". A plot is "explicit" if it doesn't rely on the viewer to interpret the "presentation", as you described it, to understand the story.

It seems to me that when people use the blanket term of "writing" with reference to anime, they are implicitly asking about the extent to which a story is made obvious, the extent to which the story of the anime can be understood regardless of the quality of the animation/cinematography.

I think Warm Mist has explained very well why it's foolish to separate the two concepts. As you said:
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
If you don't pay attention to the presentation, the story has been successfully presented. But the secret behind its success is also the reason why people generally put too much emphasis on story, and too little on the presentation.
I fully agree, and that's the very same frustration I often come up against when discussing storytelling in anime. Fans often neglect the importance of the "presentation" in anime storytelling or, worse, they treat it like an evil to be avoided, presumably because too much emphasis on "presentation" makes the anime superficial, and somehow not worthy of intellectual critique.

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
[This thread reminds me of another recent one about concept and execution. Too lazy to look for it right now.]
Yup, I know the thread you're talking about. I'm too lazy to locate it right now, too.
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Old 2013-03-19, 03:29   Link #35
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
[ETA:This thread reminds me of another recent one about concept and execution. Too lazy to look for it right now.]
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Yup, I know the thread you're talking about. I'm too lazy to locate it right now, too.
Could it be this one?
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Old 2013-03-19, 04:29   Link #36
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
A narrative loaded with plot holes has serious writing issues. All the gorgeous animation and great BGM in the world can only cover that up so much.

And this is why, contrary to what Warm Mist is arguing, it's not "bogus" to evaluate writing quality separate from art/animation and sound. Why should great art/animation and sound render completely unimportant poor character development and a story ridden with plot holes (or things such as an over-reliance on deus ex machinas)?
You're missing the point. What Warm Mist is saying is that it's impossible to separate the "writing"/"script"/"plot" from the "presentation"/"cinematography"/"animation" of the story. They are all part of the whole. What's the point of an anime that excels only in terms of "writing"/"script"/"plot"? The creators might as well write a book, because that would seem to be the only thing that was good about the story.

I do get what you mean by the supposed failure of "writing" to hold up the story of an anime. My question to you would be, are you sure you hadn't missed the audio-visual cues that are an intrinsic part of storytelling in anime/animation? Secondly, assuming you have, and you still think that the "writing" sucks (whatever that means in the context of anime), why do you think that sinks the anime as a whole? Why do you implicitly value "writing" over the "cinematography"? This, to me, is a very pertinent question because I fail to understand why the audio-visual elements of an animation are subordinate to "writing" (which, in the first place, is a false dichotomy, but I'll go along with you to see where this argument goes).

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Originally Posted by Tempester View Post
Could it be this one?
Yup.
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Old 2013-03-19, 04:33   Link #37
Dawnstorm
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Originally Posted by Tempester View Post
Are you implying that the watcher who loved an anime and has picked up and pinpointed numerous visual cues in the presentation on their first watch somehow enjoyed the anime less than the other watcher who loved the same anime but didn't notice any of these things?

I'm usually the second watcher, by the way. Which is why I find it hard to reply to any of the posts in this thread.
Not really, no. All I'm implying is that going into a story "naively" and going into a story with eyes and ears for how the story comes to you are two different experiences. (And my take on that is that each has its own reward. What you automatically do differs, and what you can enjoy differs, too. It's too complicated to imply anything beyond that.) I also think that nobody's completely "naive", and that few people "get it all". And finally I think that different anime, novels, etc. lend themselves better to one or the other viewing mode; that is there might be a correlation between how you watch ("naively" or "aware") and what type of show you enjoy.

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
You've answered your own query, actually.

I used "exposition" for lack of a better word at the time to describe what I thought Sackett meant by "plot". I tried to build on that through the context of the post you linked. Another way to explain what I was trying to get at would be the extent to which the story is made "explicit". A plot is "explicit" if it doesn't rely on the viewer to interpret the "presentation", as you described it, to understand the story.

It seems to me that when people use the blanket term of "writing" with reference to anime, they are implicitly asking about the extent to which a story is made obvious, the extent to which the story of the anime can be understood regardless of the quality of the animation/cinematography.
I think I understand. (Actually, I'm having trouble talking about "plot" since "plot" - no matter the medium - is pretty low on my priority list.)

Quote:
...or, worse, they treat it like an evil to be avoided, presumably because too much emphasis on "presentation" makes the anime superficial, and somehow not worthy of intellectual critique.
Oh, one of these days I am going to analyse the opening sequence of episode 10 of A Channel, to show why I like the show so much (even though K-on bores me too tears.) I mentioned that in the other thread - in post #17, which I know because Tempester found it:

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Originally Posted by Tempester View Post
Could it be this one?
Yay, for the non-lazy. (For some reason the winking avatar really fits the context. )

ETA:

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
What's the point of an anime that excels only in terms of "writing"/"script"/"plot"? The creators might as well write a book, because that would seem to be the only thing that was good about the story.
Except that someone who writes a good scenario or script isn't necessarily a good writer of prose. (I know you know that, since you said yourself that it's a different type of writing.)
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Old 2013-03-19, 04:49   Link #38
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Not really, no. All I'm implying is that going into a story "naively" and going into a story with eyes and ears for how the story comes to you are two different experiences. (And my take on that is that each has its own reward. What you automatically do differs, and what you can enjoy differs, too. It's too complicated to imply anything beyond that.) I also think that nobody's completely "naive", and that few people "get it all". And finally I think that different anime, novels, etc. lend themselves better to one or the other viewing mode; that is there might be a correlation between how you watch ("naively" or "aware") and what type of show you enjoy.
Ah, I think I see where you're getting here.

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Oh, one of these days I am going to analyse the opening sequence of episode 10 of A Channel, to show why I like the show so much (even though K-on bores me too tears.)
I didn't find A-Channel to be a particularly great anime, but I did love watching that scene, and it sticks out as one of the most memorable parts of the show.
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Old 2013-03-19, 07:39   Link #39
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I don't think I have much more to say on this subject, and I don't really fancy engaging in back-and-forth type discussions. But there seems to be some force that keeps bringing me back to post here.

Just today, I was reading the Anipages forums, and came across a post by Peter Chung that I found very relevant to the discussion that's going on in this thread:
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The most interesting films (I'd even say the ONLY interesting films) to me are ones that trigger some unexpected mode of thinking, encourage novel trains of thought, or require a startling insight. That necessarily arises out of ambiguity. Enlightenment occurs out of confusion. Of course, confusion is dangerous in that it risks losing your audience. But that is the tightrope walk, the challenge that makes filmmaking worth the effort. For me, without that, there is no reason to do it.

As a rejoinder, I'd say that it is that altered state of mind which is the goal of making and viewing films, and for that matter, any work of art. It has nothing to do with telling a story. Story is merely the vehicle through which the state of mind is conveyed. It is an armature which can be discarded once the goal is achieved. The problem with too many films is that they treat the narrative part as the content. As far as I'm concerned, narrative is part of the form, and as such, it is undoubtedly important (it has to be cohesive to do its job, just like any other aspect of form). The content of a film lies somewhere beyond.
(The bolded part is directly relevant to this thread, not so much the other paragraph, but it gives some context.)
I'm not really familiar with the films and animation of the man, but in what pertains to insight and rhetoric, he seems to know his shit. I agree with that text pretty strongly, and I don't know why I never thought of it that way.
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Old 2013-03-19, 07:53   Link #40
Triple_R
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
You're missing the point.
No, I'm not. I simply do not agree with the point that you and Warm Mist are making. I do not agree for the simple reason that some writing weaknesses have absolutely nothing to do with audio-visual cues.


Quote:
What Warm Mist is saying is that it's impossible to separate the "writing"/"script"/"plot" from the "presentation"/"cinematography"/"animation" of the story.
How can something be "impossible" if people do it all the time?
Anime Suki's own suggestions on how to approach overall series ratings makes it crystal clear that it is quite possible to separate writing/script/plot from presentation/cinematography/animation. Here is an example of that.

Now, I linked to that overall series impressions thread in particular because it clearly shows that people are quite capable of separating the writing/script/plot from presentation/cinematography/animation. A solid majority of the reviewers on that thread are giving Guilty Crown significantly higher marks for animation quality and soundtrack than for its script.

People can and often do separate these elements. And personally, I think a good argument can be made in favor of taking that approach. Why should an animation team that does shoddy work get credited with good work because they happened to have the good fortune of having Gen Urobuchi write the script for their anime? By the same token, why should a writer that does shoddy work get credited with good work because s/he happened to have the good fortune of having his/her work done by KyoAni?

For criticism and compliment to be fair and at least somewhat accurate, it is often useful to break an anime down into its component parts and evaluate each separately. Now, it's fine to compliment that with a more holistic approach, but I do think that a holistic approach alone runs the risk of people missing where an anime's greatest strengths truly lie, and also where its weaknesses are.


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They are all part of the whole. What's the point of an anime that excels only in terms of "writing"/"script"/"plot"?
Some people prefer an audio-visual medium to a written one simply because they prefer "watching" to "reading". "Watching" is a different experience from "Reading". It's quite possible for people to enjoy one, but not particularly enjoy the other.

Yes, I know that reading is an activity that people probably should more often engage in. But like it or not, many won't. Some will stick strictly, or primarily, to "watching" because that's their preferred method of 'taking in' a story. But even for those who prefer "watching" they may still greatly appreciate a story that excels in writing and script and plot.


Quote:
I do get what you mean by the supposed failure of "writing" to hold up the story of an anime. My question to you would be, are you sure you hadn't missed the audio-visual cues that are an intrinsic part of storytelling in anime/animation?
This can be a factor, yes. However, it's not a factor for all writing issues.

For example, there was recently an important plot point in Psycho-Pass that felt contrived, or out of nowhere, to some people. I didn't mind it much myself, but some people did. Audio-visual cues really aren't a factor here. This really was an important plot point that had little to no foreshadowing.


Quote:
Secondly, assuming you have, and you still think that the "writing" sucks (whatever that means in the context of anime), why do you think that sinks the anime as a whole?
I don't. I just don't think that weak writing should get ignored just because the audio/visual side of things is fantastic.


Quote:
Why do you implicitly value "writing" over the "cinematography"?
I value them about equally.
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