Welcome to my August OWLS post. This month we explore the theme of Journeys and it has been an exciting month with so many great posts already coming out. The schedule is below so if you missed any posts you can be sure to catch them up.
OWLS are a group of otaku bloggers who promotes acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. OWLS emphasise the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Each month, OWLS will look at a specific theme. If you want to know more, please do click on the logo in the side bar.
The theme for August: Journey
“We have all heard this saying in some shape or form: “Life is a journey.” We travel down a path in hope that we reach a goal or destination, but the travel in getting there isn’t always easy. Along the way, we encounter some personal struggles. It is in those moments where we must overcome an adversity to complete our journey or take a different route or path instead. In this month’s OWLS post, we will be discussing the personal journeys of pop culture creators, icons, and characters. We will explore the journeys that these characters went through, discuss the process and experiences they had on their journeys, what they discover about themselves, or share our own personal journeys.”
One Foot in Front of the Other
The Hero’s Journey is one of the most standard plots stories can deliver us. For people who shun cliche, generic, or ordinary narratives, this one is probably the one they like the least because we’ve seen it time and time again with almost no variation. But they kind of miss the point. While it might seem that a journey should be plot driven and surprising, what makes the Hero’s Journey worth following is the character themselves. It is their journey that we’re interested in.
We all know that wherever we meet the hero, something is going to happen to take them from their ordinary life into the start of their journey (the call to action). We know that they’ll probably resist at first (sometimes a lot and sometimes not much) but they will eventually realise they need to go (accepting the call). Stuff will happen and there will be a set-back, generally speaking someone the hero knows will die or suffer some consequence because the hero wasn’t yet strong enough or has made a mistake (defeat). However, because this is a hero’s journey, they will rise up and overcome that weakness before succeeding in some way (rebirth/atonement). And lastly they will return home their character forever changed by the events they have experienced.
It is a story we know well. It comes straight out of mythology from almost every culture and remains practically unchanged into the modern world. We may make our protagonists more edgy, self-aware, glib, or whatever, but they are all still walking this same path.
I thought really long and hard about what example to use for this particular theme and I ended up being overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. However, I ultimately decided to focus on a journey that I got to experience in a more personal manner. So I turned to Lara Croft’s journey in Tomb Raider (2013), as you actually get to walk this journey with the protagonist.
What I think is worth remembering about all of these journey’s is that while the character in question, in this case Lara, do have an end goal when they are called to action, finding out what happened to her father, the steps in between are always shrouded a bit in mystery. The character makes a choice in an effort to get closer to their goal and then they are forced to react to the world and the problems that their choice has brought them.
For anyone who has played Tomb Raider, you will know that you spend quite a lot of time running, avoiding capture, and figuring out if you should try for a more careful approach or just go in with your bow and hope the opponent doesn’t have a gun.
See Lara ends up in a situation she never even imagined. After getting washed up on the beach after the storm sends the boat onto the rocks, she’s hurt and alone and left with very little equipment. She literally has to take it one step at a time as she figures out what is happening on this tropical island and slowly builds up her weapons and abilities, learning from experience and growing after each encounter.
There are no short cuts on this journey. No steps that can be skipped. Every experience is a valuable one in preparing Lara for what is to come. And while you might be able to predict more or less what is coming next in any sequence as this is a fairly familiar tale, it remains engaging and exciting because Lara as a character is someone you want to see succeed.
And that’s the true beauty of the hero’s journey. It doesn’t matter that we’ve seen this story before. It really doesn’t. Because when executed well it is gloriously engaging. We see our own lives reflected in it where we set a goal for ourselves but the steps that we will take to get there are dictated by circumstances and unexpected obstacles will find their way onto our path and we’ll have to react to them. We learn as we go. We learn from failure. We also get hurt and knocked down but then we need to choose. Do we get back up and try again or do we hit the exit button and leave the game entirely?
The Schedule for August (be sure to check out any posts that you have missed):
7: Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe)
9: Matthew Castillo (Matt-in-the-Hat)
13: Shoka (Shokamoka’s Blog of Wonders)
17: Z (aniblogplay)
21: Marth (Marth’s Anime Blog)
22: Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews)
Thanks for reading.
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