Friday’s Feature – What Do You Mean Spoiler?

I’ve been wondering this for awhile; how much information can you give in a write up or a review before you enter spoiler territory? And even if you do tell people what something is about, or what happens in it, does that actually spoil the watching of it?

Keep in mind, I’m not discussing murder mysteries where telling someone who the villain is would kind of defeat the purpose of the story.

And if you want to avoid any spoilers I’d recommend stopping.

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If we look at the fantasy genre specifically, there are a lot of quest stories. Joe ordinary has his life turned upside down by some sort of extraordinary event and has to begin a journey. Somewhere in the early stages he’ll meet someone who can act as a mentor character and point him in the right direction (so at least we don’t spend half the story with no clue about what the end goal will be). Then there is usually the rushed attempt to succeed whereby our ordinary Joe loses something of value and in the process learns some valuable life lesson before he rallies again and we get to the real confrontation whereby Joe employs all of the skills he has learned (usually in short montages) and defeats the whatever and succeeds in his quest. Then he may or may not return home, sometimes with a girl, and sometimes he’ll choose to go on questing.

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It’s the plot of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Katanagatari and Bleach and about several thousand other fantasy based stories.

So does telling someone that the mentor dies count as a spoiler for most of these shows? I mean, they don’t in every single one, but it is certainly a consistent theme. The act pushes some emotion into the early stages of the story, gives our protagonist a reason to grow up or a personal investment in the challenge (if they weren’t already), and also usually provides a reason for an early fight that is awesome but not quite as awesome as the final one will be because that would ruin the climax.

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Likewise, does saying our protagonist wins count as a spoiler? Really, they are either going to win or lose. It seems unlikely that in a finished story they are going to compromise or  walk-away (though I guess that is possible). If the show feels like it is setting up a tragedy, be prepared for the protagonist to die. If the show feels like your typical fantasy, prepare for the victory march. You can’t spoil basic plot elements because most people will have already seen where things are going.

Then what about the details? If the basic plot really can’t be spoiled because there’s only one or two ways it can end anyway, can we ruin some of the fun of the journey by giving too much information about the details?

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So Ichigo has to save Rukia from Soul Society and he does it by mastering… Is that spoiling or simply engaging in a discussion about the plot?

I’m going to admit, I’m fairly indifferent to whether I know the details of a story before I watch or read it. This is probably because I read a lot of classics (as well as a lot of pulp fiction) and to be honest I usually know everything that is going to happen in a novel by the time I actually get around to reading it. Does that make it less enjoyable? Not really. The way it is written and the way it delivers that story is what will make me love it. Knowing where it is going usually just heightens a sense of anticipation.  However, if I don’t know, as I usually don’t with anime because I don’t read all that much manga, it is still enjoyable. Seeing how things unfold and trying to work out what will happen next is also pretty fun. It’s a different kind of pleasure from a story but still perfectly pleasurable.

So here is where I’d like to open the discussion.

  1. What’s the worst spoiler you’ve ever been given? (Dumbledore’s death doesn’t count.)
  2. Do you care if you know what’s going to happen in a story before you begin?
  3. How much information do you consider too much?
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The Morose Mononokean Episode 13

Review:

The episode is called ‘The End’ and while it certainly ended the crisis with Ashiya’s vision it didn’t really offer any other insight or resolution. That and they kind of just gathered every character together and used their emotions to solve the problem. Really? Anyway, the final episode ends much the way the show has gone all the way along. It’s as if we are just continuing to skim over the top of a much more interesting story but at the same time being given enough that we keep coming back. I haven’t heard any news of a season 2 at this stage so I guess we’ll just have to be satisfied with a ho-hum story of two human boys learning to find the balance between human and yokai.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

Cheer Boys Episode 12

Review:

While I liked that the focus of the episode was on self-reflection and the journey travelled rather than winning a national tournament after less than a year as a team, the note book gimmick fell kind of flat. It just felt like if they actually tried this someone would have grabbed the book and walked off and the team would have had a few more falling outs and misunderstandings the day before the competition which just isn’t productive for generating team spirit. I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the routine uninterrupted and instead we had flash backs and quotes from the note books over the top. For a show about cheerleading we’ve seen litter (thankfully, because otherwise it would get dull) but we’ve now watched the final episode and still not really seen a full routine. All and all, this series has maintained its tone and ended satisfyingly enough but other than being reasonably enjoyable to watch it has also remained reasonably forgettable.

Cheer Boys is available on AnimeLab.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 13

Review:

As a season end this was kind of lame (assuming 13 episodes is season end). Nothing is resolved and we have one character on the run, another one returning from being on the run but not really re-joining the team and two characters still in enemy hands but then again, I never expected anything to be resolved in 13 episodes. It’s been a long running series and nothing has ever happened that fast so the fact that the Kanda and Alma story was wrapped up as quickly as it was surprised me earlier in the season.

This episode as an episode was really enjoyable. Seeing Allen and Cross after they first met and getting some more hints about Cross’ involvement with Allen becoming the Fourteenth was interesting. Actually being reminded that Lavi and Bookman are still in the hands of the Noah and the Noah being their usual callous selves was entertaining (though, they hurt Lavi so now they have to die – sorry). Lenalee being her usual overly emotional self before Kanda’s return felt really nostalgic and the crystallisation of Mugen (while downplayed within an already packed episode) was something I’d kind of been waiting for given the enemies just keep getting stronger so eventually our exorcists are going to have to catch up or die.

By the way, is Link actually dead? I know we saw his gravestone but it just seems really kind of anti-climatic for him to have died then.

Alright, whole season review of this is going to be tough to write but look out for it. If you are still deciding whether to watch Hallow, basically don’t bother unless you have watched the previous D Gray Man. While you might catch up on the storyline, without the emotional connections to the events, it is going to be pretty flat. That said, if you have watched the original, while there are definitely stylistic difference, from a story point of view this is a great continuation, we just need more.

D Gray Man Hallow is available on AnimeLab.

Momokuri Episodes 25 + 26

Review:

This went much the way you would expect, though the scene change to a hot spring was kind of out of left field. While we had already done pool and beach it didn’t seem like the show had any way to contrive a hot springs visit. How I underestimate anime sometimes. Apparently you can always find a way to send a group of unaccompanied teenagers to the hot springs. Anyway, the romance is nicely wrapped for the main couple and the other characters get as little development as always and it all ends sweetly (if a little creepily) ever after so the show maintained it’s consistent tone throughout.

Momokuri is available on Crunchyroll.

Hitorinoshita Episode 12

Review:

It is very hard to take an episode seriously when it begins with a character being attacked by and then being up a panda. Sorry, but after twenty more minutes of old dying guy telling story I was still stuck on the whole fact that the best way they could show us Houhou toughing it out in the mountains was to have her attacked by a panda. Regardless of anything else that happened, MAL tells me this is the final episode and yet almost all of it was flashback and then Soran decided he’d participate in the tournament thing that was mentioned many episodes ago. The end. Okay, no answers at all and almost no forward character progression. This show hasn’t been as bad as Taboo Tattoo but whether they ever make a part 2 or not, I’m done.

Hitorinoshita is available on Crunchyroll.

Post Number 500

It really doesn’t seem plausible but I just hit post number 500. So I invited some friends to celebrate with me.

Actually, I’d like to invite all my readers to celebrate with me because without you there really isn’t any point to any of these posts.

So a big thank you! And hopefully we’ll all still be around come post number 1000.

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