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Old 2012-06-21, 07:30   Link #21
SeijiSensei
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I found Erin remarkably powerful because of the travails she faced in the early going. Though Uehashi is writing for the same audience as Rowling does, I found Erin more emotionally wrenching than the Potter novels. I think it's because it doesn't seem gratuitous when Erin's author kills off characters, and the consequences persist in Erin's consciousness for years. (Having just re-watched episode thirteen of that show the other day, this aspect of the story is fresh in my mind.) A lot of characters die in the second half of the Potter series, and sometimes it felt to me like Rowling's motives were a bit manipulative, as if to say, "see how dark and mature these stories really are because I'm willing to kill off beloved characters."

Suffering isn't the only method by which character development takes place, of course. Chiaki in Nodame Cantabile grows when he is forced to put aside his natural arrogance and learn to see that his less talented friends still have things to offer. Nodame herself develops by becoming committed to her profession and discovering that she really does want to excel as a musician. Her development consists of finding previously-undiscovered motivations then working hard to pursue her goals.
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Old 2012-06-21, 08:20   Link #22
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Originally Posted by C.A. View Post
The suffering experienced by the character is needed so that he/she will be able to undergo a catharsis in the ending, the final surge of emotions that completely changes and 'cleanses' the character.
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.
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Old 2012-06-21, 11:02   Link #23
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Originally Posted by Xellos-_^ View Post
that phrase is derive form "Being Lancer is suffering" and i fail to see how Lancer suffering adds to his character development

as for Meduka, i don't think she suffer that much. it was the people around her that suffer. One lost her sanity and another her head.
I don't know I think that's true suffering to be honest, not what the other people went through. It's much more difficult to watch the people around you suffer while being powerless to do anything about it then to just have it all come to an end.

I know Yoshiyuki Tomino believed strongly in the idea that the best way to build character both in the sense of a characters degree of personality and self-respect and for the audiences endearment to them was to have them experience suffering and harsh reality, but some might argue that some of his shows like Dunbine, Ideon and Victory Gundam oh poor Shakti you embody the ever suffering damsel in distress) took it a bit too far and that there ought to be limits to the degree that you make a cast suffer in having a major cast member get axed every arc or so.

Also speaking of extremes, it pays to distinguish between the character that actually suffers and the character that feels they are suffering and lets it dominate him. A comparison would be Kamille Bidan from Zeta Gundam to Shu from Guilty Crown. Kamille loses both his parents within the first arc to the brutality of the Titans which leads him to join the AEUG and gives him resolve. He notes that while it's horrible being parentless that his parents were never truly good parents to him and that it's a loss he'll grudingly accept even though it sucks and leaves him with conflicted feelings. To me that's the sort of emerging maturity that endears me to a character early on even as I watch him struggle to overcome some of his ugly anti-social personality defects. Compare that to Shu who becomes utterly paralyzed and traumatized at the idea that *gasp* he might have to get involved in combat to save somebody he cares about and hesitates constantly at this idea to the point where it usually results in disaster. Letting everything get to you and bring you down to the point where it just renders you inert for most of the series isn't exactly what I'd call great character development either.

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Old 2012-06-21, 11:18   Link #24
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Letting everything get to you and bring you down to the point where it just renders you inert for most of the series isn't exactly what I'd call great character development either.
As a fan of Mohiro Kitoh's stuff, I think that kind of character development is great as well. It's just "negative" character development, as in the the protagonist grows worse throughout the series. Now if, it's not done intentionally (like Shu), it's pretty crap. When it is done intentionally, (like all the characters in Shadow Star or Infinite Ryuvius), it makes for a great character study.
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Old 2012-06-21, 11:29   Link #25
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Originally Posted by Flawnalyst View Post
As a fan of Mohiro Kitoh's stuff, I think that kind of character development is great as well. It's just "negative" character development, as in the the protagonist grows worse throughout the series. Now if, it's not done intentionally (like Shu), it's pretty crap. When it is done intentionally, (like all the characters in Shadow Star or Infinite Ryuvius), it makes for a great character study.
Yeah it can be done well if it's an actual general direction that is interesting. The problem with Shu I should mention wasn't so much that his suffering took him in a bad direction so much as it took him in circles. It always seemed every time he was about to grow as a character he regressed back to where he had been by the start of the next episode, almost as if somebody had pushed the reset button on his development. It was probably the most frustrating part of that show for me. I haven't been watching Aquarion EVOL much, but judging by how people have been reacting to that shows main character (also voiced by the ever emo character voicing Yuki Kaji) it sounds like he had a similar problem to Shu.

As for the character study thing, funny you should mention that as I'm watching Casshern Sins right now which is currently doing the whole character wandering a wasteland trying to find some solace and a glimmer of hope amongst those he encounters very well. Man does that show just ooze suffering, decay and despair in every single frame of it's run so far.
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Old 2012-06-21, 11:56   Link #26
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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.
This is what the character arc is about, its up to the skill of the writer to create a beautiful arc.

A character can start from the top and experience suffering and drops to the bottom of the arc, once he reaches rock bottom, he can finally climb back up.

Or the other way round, a character climbs to the top of his arc but then starts falling all the way down, or he can go full circle and go back to where he started.

The arc can also be a gentle arc, encountering small problems, not all the time it has to be intense.

Its up to the writer's ability to make that arc interesting, how he wants the character to handle someone's death, how the character fall and pick himself up. And at the same time it also depends on how the plot goes, does the character need an intense arc to help him through the plot, or is it a peaceful plot that needs just a gentle arc.

Characters like Kyubey are called catalysts, instead of having their own arc, they are the ones who catalyses the protagonist's changes in their arcs. And sometimes there are even catalyst heroes, protagonists who don't experience their own character arc, instead induces arcs in characters he meets on his journey. And even these catalyst heroes can sometimes have their own arc through catalysing other characters.
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Old 2012-06-21, 12:00   Link #27
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Yeah it can be done well if it's an actual general direction that is interesting. The problem with Shu I should mention wasn't so much that his suffering took him in a bad direction so much as it took him in circles. It always seemed every time he was about to grow as a character he regressed back to where he had been by the start of the next episode, almost as if somebody had pushed the reset button on his development. It was probably the most frustrating part of that show for me. I haven't been watching Aquarion EVOL much, but judging by how people have been reacting to that shows main character (also voiced by the ever emo character voicing Yuki Kaji) it sounds like he had a similar problem to Shu.
My problem with him was that the creators wanted him to be going a bad direction AND be a hero. As for Aquarion EVOL, no, not really. The main character is mostly just your bland everyday hero with a special power. Thankfully, he's not in the show as much as you'd expect (EVOL isn't exactly Durarara in terms of no main character, but that show really loves its side characters).
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Old 2012-06-21, 15:52   Link #28
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Beast Player Erin was pretty interesting as the story involves a rather depressing story among its cheerful and colorful looking backgrounds. It also covers the protagonist's journey to adulthood, so as I described above, you really got to follow the character through their most difficult moments and be their to experience the ups and downs of life. Erin comes across many people in her life that helped her, and she helped them. Even though they will move on, their significance is felt, since their struggles were experienced together. The thing that really drives that anime home is that none of it is forced at all. Sometimes far reaching stories can do it. Clannad is also one that does such as you got to know the main character's well as others come and go, just like what happens in life.

Towards the Terra also attempted this far reaching story across the lifespan of its protagonists. Unfortunately, I found the highlighting of characters' suffering to be too overwrought... and much closer to the emo side.
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Old 2012-06-21, 17:29   Link #29
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Suffering is an easy and effective way to develop a character. If everything is going fine, people don't tend to change. People have to be put into situations that force them to change, and a very very bad situation that maximizes pain and suffering is effective for forcing quick and/or extreme change.

As for happy fluffy series with no suffering. I tend to really really like those. Sure its a bunch of idiots eating cake, but it's a very positive fantasy. Negative fantasies are interesting, but they are create lots of negative emotion, which the real world is more than good enough at providing. Escaping the normal world into a "lets beat 40k on grimdarkness" type show all the time gets very very tiring due to all the negative emotion compared to positive emotion. "K-On! moar moe" type, I could watch forever.

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Compare that to Shu who becomes utterly paralyzed and traumatized at the idea that *gasp* he might have to get involved in combat to save somebody he cares about and hesitates constantly at this idea to the point where it usually results in disaster. Letting everything get to you and bring you down to the point where it just renders you inert for most of the series isn't exactly what I'd call great character development either.
Shu... GC's writing is pretty mediocre at best. Using him as an example isn't really fair. Ikari Shinji would be a better example.

I think the problem with your thinking is that character development must be "positive" and lead towards a hero to be good. That's wrong. A lot of people tend to enjoy those stories more since heroes are apparently cool or something, but you can have great "negative" character development or even "circular going nowhere" character development if written right. It just seems that its much harder to write well compared to "positive" character development.
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Old 2012-06-21, 19:17   Link #30
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For some reason, Shu's suffering reminds me of Saya's "suffering" in Blood-C. In Saya's case, it spawned a meme wherein despite her smiling face and her "You Gonna Get Protected" slogan, a viewer thinks that it carries an ironic message.

I haven't watched both, but what is it about Saya and this ironic motion of "protection"?

Quote:
As for the character study thing, funny you should mention that as I'm watching Casshern Sins right now which is currently doing the whole character wandering a wasteland trying to find some solace and a glimmer of hope amongst those he encounters very well. Man does that show just ooze suffering, decay and despair in every single frame of it's run so far.
The greatest suffering is being immortal, they say.
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Old 2012-06-21, 19:28   Link #31
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Oh, negative character development.

Well, it's not always a bad thing all the time. As most of us know, growing up and getting better at things wasn't a straight path to it. There were many regressions or old habits that won't die that interrupt developments. Which is why I bring up "ups and downs"

It has to be noted that I don't like it when people criticize characters based on what they personally would do. It's very easy for us who have a greater perspective to know what to do after all. I mean, we may know that Mr. Z is actually secretly evil and wants to take over the world, but the other characters aren't always psychic. Armchair judging, as well as hindsight being 20/20 make this kind of evaluation kind of pointless.

As for Shoe, the criticism of his character is not that he has no development, or he's a wuss, or the like. Oh he sure does, yes, I actually saw an intent and no I don't hate on the series 100% of the time. But many would question the logic behind it, or the fact that the story was going out of its way to torture him in an effort to garner sympathy. But that seems really forced and it makes it feel like he's a device of the plot rather than actual character development. Then again, I didn't finish Guilty Crown, but whatever I did see didn't seem to be looking up in this regards.

This kind of thing made more sense in Evangelion, because the setting and plot dictated the mentality of someone to be pretty fatalist and prone to regression. This creates a bunch of people that are quite unlikeable, but at the same time interesting. Guilty Crown IIRC tried to draw some kind of homage to Eva, however they seemed to be too stuck in the misery part and not the hope part. The main problem I see is that Guilty Crown didn't really build upon its world as much as Eva did to invoke such feelings.

In this way I felt Guilty Crown's problems were similar to the scifi show on noitamina right before-- No.6. And they have same VAs.
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Old 2012-06-21, 20:01   Link #32
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But lets not forget that you can have a character face some huge challenges and suffer but instead of emoing in a corner and dying they can overcome these challenges.

I'm only on episode 18 of Beast Player Erin but what I like most about it so far is that if this were a Urobushi story there would probabably be 3 characters that would have killed themselves by now (includuding our loli protagonist) but not here,the characters fight on as best they can with more or less success,of course there's still more than 30 episodes to go so there's a long way to go.
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I found Erin remarkably powerful because of the travails she faced in the early going. Though Uehashi is writing for the same audience as Rowling does, I found Erin more emotionally wrenching than the Potter novels. I think it's because it doesn't seem gratuitous when Erin's author kills off characters, and the consequences persist in Erin's consciousness for years. (Having just re-watched episode thirteen of that show the other day, this aspect of the story is fresh in my mind.)...
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Beast Player Erin was pretty interesting as the story involves a rather depressing story among its cheerful and colorful looking backgrounds. It also covers the protagonist's journey to adulthood, so as I described above, you really got to follow the character through their most difficult moments and be their to experience the ups and downs of life. Erin comes across many people in her life that helped her, and she helped them. Even though they will move on, their significance is felt, since their struggles were experienced together. The thing that really drives that anime home is that none of it is forced at all...
It's interesting, when I read the OP I immediately thought of Kemono no Souja Erin as a story where the main character goes through some pretty intense suffering, but comes through it all in a way that is both uplifting/encouraging but at the same time very realistic or even "graspable". For me of all series I have ever watched it is the one that felt the most "real" to me and which really touched me in terms of the happiness and sadness, the joy and the pain that Erin goes through. It really is a pity it is not better known, or that for many the "learning curve" to appreciate the series seems to be quite steep.

****

All this aside for the moment, to get back to the general thread topic....

I remember it being said/described once that there are two primary elements of human experience that help drive any story: the element of "joining" and the element of "separation". Or in more familiar terms, "comedy" and "tragedy". Comedy originally did not just mean belly-laughs, although that is part of the general categorization. It involved ... erm ... "re-integration" of some sort, and most often re-integration with a group of people on various social levels: family, friends, romance, neighbors, relatives, political, religious, hobby-based, etc. And "tragedy" was involved with "separation" from the same.

In the light of all this, suffering (or even it's sometimes "milder" counterpart: conflict) was very much one of the biggest elements to drive the story forward. So it is no surprise that character development would be very often most effected by this. It is the same with life, and to the degree that a work of art attempts to portray something that "hits home" or the like it will naturally reflect what happens in life to a degree. Suffering and conflict - on whatever level of social groups outside of oneself or even within oneself (i.e. something like "I want to be like that but I don't have the same natural talent for it as ____ does", or whatever) is a very frequent catalyst for change on some level.

But to also highlight what Midonin pointed out, laughter, or more broadly the aspect of enjoyment we feel over witnessing the act of integration (or re-integration) is equally satisfying to the human condition as viewing someone struggling with that other aspect of our life here; i.e. that of separation.

Both are in of themselves equally valid means of moving the story forward and in what many might regard as more realistic portrayals of a character's growth there is often an interchange between both aspects, and to varying shades and degrees and intensity: in other words, similar to what we experience in real life.

Just because there may be plenty of portrayals of one aspect or the other or both or other flaws in a presentation of art form itself that interferes with the portrayal does not mean either aspect is invalid or "has no relevance" to our condition in general, of course.

Certain people may have different tastes for specific aspects of these two qualities of life, and for various reasons and what not. But they are aspects and when we are presented with an artistic representation or work that moves us in either or both ways we know it. And ... perhaps unsurprisingly such moments become "defining moments" in the formation of our tastes and ways of viewing things - this especially is more powerful and "raw" when we are younger and in our formative years.
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Old 2012-06-21, 20:14   Link #33
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I don't even get the point this thread is trying to make. I feel everybody is going off on random tangents, can we make the point a little clearer ?

Suffering is one form of character development and it's not the only one. Are we trying to evaluate the different worth of these types of character development and seeing which kind is the best? Because there isn't one. This just comes down to quality of writing and taste :/.
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Old 2012-06-21, 20:21   Link #34
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I don't even get the point this thread is trying to make. I feel everybody is going off on random tangents, can we make the point a little clearer ?

Suffering is one form of character development and it's not the only one. Are we trying to evaluate the different worth of these types of character development and seeing which kind is the best? Because there isn't one. This just comes down to quality of writing and taste :/.
Here is what I feel is the main point of the OP:

Quote:
Has it occurred to you guys that their styles might have been overused and have considered an alternate retelling of a particular scene from another writer's perspective? And on the other hand, why have other series integrated their stories with suffering and failed in making a good story?...

This is not really a criticism against the success of PMMM sales-wise. I just have to wonder why comedies or any other series with a mood that is less serious (probably except for Nisemonogatari) sell five digits.
The various posters have tried to address that in various ways, some directly addressing the question, others addressing points brought up by other posters.

Seemed pretty clear to me, at least.
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Old 2012-06-21, 20:23   Link #35
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Like many others has already said, it's a form of character development if executed well (animes like in Clannad , Fate/Zero or VN's like Natsuyume Nagisa and Hatsuyuki Sakura), but in some cases if it's done poorly then i am not able to emphathize or sympathize with the characters at all
Spoiler for aquarion evol spoiler:

Spoiler for naruto:


Also it depends on what kind of story you are telling, in some genres suffering has become a cliche.
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Old 2012-06-21, 20:32   Link #36
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I guess for me personally when subjects like thus come up I immediately think of whether or no a portrayal of suffering and resultant conflict and (hopefully) growth feels "real" - that is, whether it reflects reality as I have experienced it or have seen others experience it, and whether or no it "feels forced" as Archon said.

The two are two different criteria, but I always deliberately attempt for the reference point for me is in areas like this to be ... umm ... as "consciously organic" as possible, I guess. Part of me really cringes at the idea of such things being somehow "only" filed away into some sort of mental compartment or drawer, like a dead butterfly pinned in a box with a glass cover that I periodically take out and examine when the mood strikes me. :\

Personal take and angle, of course.

BTW, I am not targeting any one individual or "accusing" them of doing something like this, I am moreso addressing a tendency I see in myself that I dislike and try to do something about....
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Old 2012-06-21, 20:33   Link #37
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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.
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Old 2012-06-21, 20:39   Link #38
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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.
Maybe one could chalk it up to tragedy being presented in a way that is "not forced" as much, much more difficult to do? And perhaps also harder to take, since some people when they are presented with suffering and conflict (especially if it is effectively done) simply experience pain and/or have thoughts and feelings stirred up inside them that they have a difficult time putting in some context or order at the moment? That is, they can't necessarily immediately "fix" the pain (and so end it) so they "flee" from the pain instead?

Yes - this is a kinda simplistic way to put it, but these two responses to pain run deep in many people. Pleasurable feelings (either of a more bodily sort or more based on relations with others) are easier to take, relate to, and, well, they feel good.

Maybe this has something to do with it?
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Old 2012-06-21, 21:12   Link #39
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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.
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.

Character suffering is often most pronounced in Mystery/Horror shows (such as Blood-C and Another).


To a certain extent, character suffering is also the opposite of moe. Yes, you can have both, but when most people think of moe, they think of sunshine and cake more than they think of tears and gnashing of teeth.

Moe is very popular, so it's not surprising that it's implicit antithesis would not be popular in and of itself.
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Last edited by Triple_R; 2012-06-21 at 21:25.
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Old 2012-06-21, 21:20   Link #40
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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.
When it comes to sales, I don't think that whether series that have suffering, conflict, drama etc. is of much relevance. What matters though is whether or not it caters to or is able to related for the Japanese otaku, the prime audience that purchases anime.

I've seen good tragedies or light hearted material bomb (noitamina shows in general or for a recent example Chihayafuru), whilst mediocre ones sell pretty well (recent examples that come to mind include Senjou no Horizon, Persona 4, Guilty Crown). 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. Other major factors to take into account are studio brand power and how popular the original source material is.

So in a nutshell, I don't think whether something is dark or light matters much but whether it caters to the otaku audience in a way they want or can relate to or existing fanbases and then its "quality".
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