Friday’s Feature – Fiction to Change the World

I’m pretty straight forward about being completely obsessed with stories. All my life I’ve been a reader and a viewer of stories. As a kid I read obsessively (thanks to all the friends who have saved me from walking into traffic while reading) and I loved going to the movies and playing computer games. Sometime in my early twenties (pretty much when internet access started getting much better than dial-up) a new outlet for that obsession was found in anime.

But this post isn’t actually about me. It’s about the nature of fiction and why experiencing narratives is so fundamentally important.

Narratives for Entertainment

Obviously reading and watching for pleasure involves entertainment and that is probably one of the main reasons people engage with stories. Right back to the days of people gathering around the fire to hear about how the earth was made or how man discovered fire. It gives you a break from the real and takes you somewhere else for a little while and can amuse you and invoke a whole range of emotions. However, this is just one facet of the experience.

Food
Food Wars – Fun, energetic, some basic messages about not-being a jerk, and overall entertaining (at least season 1 was).

Narratives as Educators

This should also be straight forward. Back to the gathering around the fire, people passed on their knowledge, their religion, their ideas through the stories they told. They also shared their values and ideologies through the characters who were made heroic and those that were made into villains. You could learn about what was dangerous, what was acceptable, what was known about something through a story.

You also gain a rich knowledge in general through reading stories. Random facts stick with you well after you finish the story. Stories set in real locations or dealing with real issues usually weave facts into the story to make it more believable. While you can’t take everything in a fiction story at face value (how much research was done and how much was made up is questionable), you do gain a fairly diverse range of knowledge about places, settings, and things.

Shion.png
Shion no Ou – Have to be honest that I knew nothing about Shogi going into this anime. Afterwards had to look up explanations not because the anime didn’t explain it, but because I wanted to confirm whether I’d understood it correctly.

Narratives as Community Builders

In addition to educating, narratives allow communities to form and to mesh. By having a shared story or understanding, people are able to understand one another better. It’s interesting as we see our world becoming increasingly small that we realise that a lot of the fundamental stories around the globe are very similar in nature and yet those small differences can become critical to understanding one another.

horriblesubs-zankyou-no-terror-10-720p-mkv_snapshot_06-12_2014-09-22_11-18-31
Terror in Resonance – Dealing with issues old and new. While focussed on events in Japan the messages are universal.

Narratives to Develop Empathy

This is absolutely crucial. Over and over we hear that the current generation (whether it was X, Y, millenials) have no empathy and are self-absorbed. By experiencing things outside of their own life and connecting with characters, people can actually learn to empathise in a way that they might not just by interacting with people in the real world. A common trait of someone who does not have very much empathy is very little imagination. It actually takes imagination to consider how someone else might be feeling and imagination can be fuelled by exposure to narratives (not the only way to build imagination).

Genos
One Punch Man – Poor Genos just wanted to be a hero. He worked so hard and got so incredibly rolled by the plot.

Narratives to Break Barriers

Following on from the ability to develop empathy and imagination, narratives allow people to see beyond the concrete reality and think in ways that might allow new solutions or new possibilities to be formed. At the very least, when confronted with a problem, someone with a rich exposure to stories (or to real life experiences) will have a wealth of options whereas someone without that exposure will struggle to think of a way around the issue. So without experiencing everything yourself, experiencing stories is a good way to build up your repertoire of problem solving skills.

sakamoto
Sakamoto Desu Ga – Title character Sakamoto certainly shows that there are other ways of thinking about situations.

As we increasingly see reality TV shows and talk shows dominating, I think it is important that the importance of narratives and the role they serve is remembered.

What are your thoughts about stories and the role they play? Or, what’s your favourite medium for stories?

 

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature – Fiction to Change the World

  1. You’re so very well spoken, and you said everything I think and feel perfectly. I love how you express yourself so well when dealing with hard topics! /showers you with love
    I think all you said is on point, but I’d like to add something. I find stories can help you deal with your problems, by writing or reading, because they’re a safe way to digest and explore them. I speak by my experiences ofc, but crying for myself makes me feel pretty depressed, but when I watch a sad anime I find I can cry and feel better. For a lack of better words, healed or cleansed. Not just with crying either, things like depression and others, I feel can feel manageable when you read/watch someone with them and dealing with it.
    I’m not sure I’m explaining myself properly, sorry :’D
    Plus I find they can give you motivation to live, to try harder, to be inspired, when you see a character try so hard even after being knocked down. I think that’s a great thing, cause we need it on a world that constantly throws us down.
    So in a sense, they’re a support, a pillar, too in our lives. Where we can feel understood, cared for, and like we aren’t as alone.
    I started with cartoons, anime and games, but novels had a lot of impact in my life, so I like the written/static forms better like books, manga, light novels, visual novels. Tho not comic books/graphic novels because those tend to change writers and artists, which turns me off.
    I think the reason I like them is because I can just sit back and experience, and certain mediums you have to participate in. They’re good when you need to just sit back, and calm down, and others when you need some agency in your life.
    I’m a lover of plot and character development, so those will always trump for me~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. Completely agree that stories help you to deal with different issues in your life. Whether as a way of coping with the issues or as a means of escape and diversion.

      Like

  2. Yeah, it’s Monday and I’m commenting on a Friday Feature blog. My only excuse is that I’ve been swamped under with so many great blog posts over the last few days that it’s taken me this long to work through them all.

    I didn’t realise that you came to anime in your twenties. Have you written about coming to the medium in adulthood rather than as a kid? I’d be interested in reading that.

    I can totally relate, having lived in other people’s stories or my own for as long as I can remember. It’s no wonder we’re all so avid about anime. It’s just such a fertile vehicle through which to tell stories.

    Myself and my partner have studied this topic at length when were still undergraduates, and it’s great to revisit it now, especially in an anime context. I think comics and video games, and sequential art in general, also has a similar power to tell stories in abstract ways that more closely represent the way we live our lives as stories.

    Stimulating stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I was a Sailor Moon and Cardcaotor fan at a younger age but I wouldn’t have said I was in to anime. It really was faster internet that made it possible to access.
      Thanks for your comment and I think at some point I am going to have to look at the different mediums for storytelling in a post though I may save that for when I have time to do the topic justice.

      Like

  3. This post is really great, and it was nice to see your thoughts on the subject. I especially liked the sections on empathy and breaking barriers. I think those concepts are becoming more important these days.

    Maybe I sound immature for saying it, but pictorial narratives have always worked best for me. I was always into comic books and of course anime is what interest me the most. It taught me to see things from different perspectives because there’s such a great variety of stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. Nothing immature about liking comic books and similar.
      I just find it slow reading something that is a combination of text and images so I’d rather just read text or watch a visual medium.

      Like

  4. These are very solid points. Narration is a ingenious way to to convey one’s ideas to an audience without status, race or religion standing between the reader and the writer. And for them to build up their particular viewpoint on a subject or medium. You might not always agree with what you’re being told however. So, make your own opinion about how you would do things differently or whether you think there are other meanings.

    I will get into just about anything as long as it is interesting and I’m in a good mood. Webtoons, Fanficitions, VNs, RPGs, and of course Anime.Though nothing will beat a good book for original storytelling. Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. I think you are right about needing to be in the right mood when approaching a story. A lot of what the audience gets out of the story is dependent on how they are feeling going in.

      Like

  5. Lots of truths in your post. I particularly like what you wrote about empathy, because it’s so true that narratives expose us to experiences that other than our own, and teach us to feel for the characters. I’ve laughed and cried so many times when reading a book or watching a show. I think narratives teach us more about ourselves: what makes us happy or sad or angry and what we care about or don’t.

    I don’t have a favourite medium, but I started with story books (Enid Blyton) and now I watch a lot of anime. As long as it’s a good story, I’m okay with anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amen! Excellent post. I also think that Narratives for Cultural Preservation is important, especially since the world is so open to outside influences now. Of course, I’m not saying that nations should reject outside influences, but it would be such a shame for a rich culture to deteriorate because of this. I think that narrative would help preserve this, especially for future generations. As for medium, I love books, anime, films. . .art. . .but books and anime definitely earn top spots.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fantastic article.

    Since I was young I was taught to appreciate all mediums and there unique forms of story telling. So anything as long as I’m enthralled with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a great post 😀 Honestly, I don’t think I have a favorite medium. Anything can pretty much grab my attention if the story is done well. It can be through a novel, a comic, a movie, a tv show, Anime, Manga…as long as it has an interesting story that grabs my attention in some way, I enjoy it. Ofcourse sometimes there are things that don’t have a story (or at least not a very good one) but can still be enjoyable. Like for instance a movie that is pretty much driver by action or special effects. It’s kind of like a bit of fast food…sometimes you eat at a fancy restaurant, sometimes you like a Big Mac. But I do know think that story is one of the most important things in any medium, and as such something that has a fantastic story grabs my attention more, than anything without it. And this post, told a great story 😀 Keep up the good work !

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My favorites are books and video games. I like them both because of the length of them – I also used to read when I was a child, and I wanted to be a writer my entire childhood because I just love molding stories and creating worlds and things people can experience and enjoy as much as I used to enjoy books. I’ve transferred my writing into something other than books, but still would like to write a novel one day (that doesn’t suck because I have a few horrible ones I wrote in high school).

    But, I like books and video games because you can put as much as you want into those and it doesn’t seem like it’s too long or too short. There are no time restrictions, so you can put multiple characters entire life story in them, and walk in other people’s shoes for a bit. You also get to immerse yourself in the world for a longer period, and just really experience it and that has always meant so much to me, because I’ve always used both as an escape. I love radio dramas as well, because I find it so fascinating to carry a story with only audio, and both listening and creating them is so much fun to me.

    I actually got into anime through a video game – when I was 10 or 11, I used to download SNES Roms to play on my computer. One of them was a translated version of the Magic Knight Rayearth game, and I played it and loved it, found out it was an anime and hunted it down for the next 2 years. It was the first anime I watched knowing it was an anime (I had watched Sailor Moon before) and it made me love the medium so much, and find out about voice acting as well. Still my favorite show to this day…other than Sailor Moon, of course XD

    But I’ll stop waxing poetic on this, great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This is a good post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    My favorite medium is and will always be words. Books were my first love, in a way. They taught me a lot, helped me expand my world view and gave me a refuge for when life became too much. They still do all that.

    I’ve liked anime ever since I accidentally stumbled across Animax when I was 13 or so. But I only recently started to delve more deeply into the medium.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think I prefer visual novels as my medium for stories since they’re basically like a novel with moving art and voices and music. They take so much longer to make and finish, however, so I find anime to be more accessible. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s