Basic Adventure Narrative with Unusual Mushrooms – Sabikui Bisco Has My Attention

Basic Adventure Narrative - Sabikui Bisco
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Sabikui Bisco has been airing during the Winter 2022 season and while there’s some chatter about it unfortunately it just couldn’t compete for the communities attention when big-hitters like Attack on Titan and Kimetsu no Yaiba are airing. Which is a bit of a shame because the audience that likes those kinds of shows would probably find enough to enjoy in Sabikui Bisco though it clearly doesn’t have the budget of either of them and is by a studio that I can’t seem to find any other anime listed for.

It probably didn’t help that the first few episodes kept the audience guessing about what kind of story this was ultimately going to be as we were introduced to a world being taken over by rust, a city with a corrupt leader and all the usual dystopian trappings, and a guy who could shoot arrows that caused giant mushrooms to instantly sprout.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 2

It more or less guaranteed that Sabikui Bisco was going to be an anime that would end up being enjoyed by a few but give it six months and most people won’t have heard of it.

Again, a bit of a shame. Not saying this anime is some hidden masterpiece or anything, but if you just want to strap in and enjoy a fantasy ride, Sabikui Bisco has consistently delivered. And perhaps the reason it has managed that is that despite some of the more bizarre choices within the post-apocalyptic setting we find ourselves in, Sabikui Bisco is following almost a check list of what an adventure story needs to be. In short, our heroes find themselves on a quest.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 3

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog that I value entertainment over originality. Weirdly, Sabikui Bisco kind of gives me both. The plot line is very much exactly what you would expect from a quest meanwhile the setting continues to feel fresh and interesting though is perhaps underutilised and underexplored.

The basic introduction to Sabikui Bisco

In Bisco Akaboshi, the ‘man eating mushroom’ (perhaps one of the weirdest and most inaccurate nicknames ever given he’s neither a mushroom or a man-eater) we have our enigmatic hero. He first appears with his face fully bandaged over in a poor attempt at disguise to cross a checkpoint. We know little about him other than he is a wanted criminal, is travelling with an old man, and he rides a giant crab. However, once he arrives in the city he meets soon to be sidekick/best friend trope Milo.

We’ll talk about how Milo has most definitely risen above his archetypal roles in a moment.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 6

Through meeting Milo we learn that Bisco is, as all hero’s in adventure stories must be, on a quest for your standard McGuffin. This is a quest to find a mushroom that can apparently cure the disease known as the rusting that both the old man Bisco is travelling with and Milo’s sister, Pawoo, are suffering from. Actually, it probably isn’t strictly fair to call it a McGuffin because having it isn’t in and of itself the goal. The goal is to cure the rusting. Still, it could have been literally anything they had to travel to find.



Of course, they only have a vague idea where the mushroom even is and it is more mythological than reality. Then again, most people believe the mushroom keepers are spreading the rust when in fact the mushrooms they are spreading about are actually helping to remove the rust.

Now, the adventure itself through the dangerous landscapes filled with a range of biological and natural dangers could have been sufficient challenge for Sabikui Bisco to take on. However the early episodes also introduced us to a villain.

And while he isn’t a moustache twirling, monocle wearing, cackling bad-guy he’s the next best thing in anime – a gravelly voiced yakuza knock-off complete with an army of bunny guards armed with guns.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 1

So it is the arrow shooting mushroom keeper against the gangster with gun wielding bunny soldiers?

Actually not so much. Because after Sabikui Bisco delivers the first three episodes where all the characters are established, Milo and Bisco head off on their own (pursued by Pawoo) to find the mushroom that will save their loved ones and our villain kind of disappeared for awhile. However, you had to know he was going to return. They spent too long on that set-up to let such a good opportunity just fade away.

At the halfway point just after they find the item they’ve been searching for, the villain sweeps in and essentially resets the goal-posts for the heroes who were already on a tight timeline. It is a pretty standard move in an adventure story for a party member to betray the hero or for something unexpected to throw the mission into overtime only the stakes are now far higher and the potential losses far greater.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

All and all, an excellent way to pivot into the second half of the anime season and hopefully a sign that Sabikui Bisco won’t lose momentum but will power through to a conclusion at the end of the season (I am being optimistic). Still, unlike so many other anime it really hasn’t felt like it has floundered in the mid-season. Each episode has naturally progressed from the last and they’ve interspersed action set-pieces with character moments fairly nicely so that there’s always something happening.

However where Sabikui Bisco has truly excelled is in the partnership between Bisco and Milo. While Bisco is a seasoned adventurer he’s pretty brash and loud and he tends to tackle everything head on. He isn’t a mindless idiot though. He has some real survival skills and a solid knowledge of the world they are travelling through.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 4

Milo on the other hand has lived his whole life inside the city and has become a doctor and he could definitely have become the dead-weight of the team or have been used as the damsel in distress in every other scenario. Instead the doctor commits to this journey and the path he has chosen as he is determined to save his sister, and everyone else who is dying from the incurable illness, and while Bisco’s instruction is at times lacking Milo works at improving himself.

While Milo’s medical knowledge is impressive, his ability to learn and adapt to new situations is what makes him an incredibly strong asset in the team and someone that while Bisco teases him occasionally you can see he respects. It’s also just great watching him get stronger and more confident.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

It probably isn’t a coincidence that the two are colour coded with Sabikui Bisco giving the hot-headed Bisco spiky red hair and the calmer, more thoughtful Milo soft blue hair that falls across his face. Their different personalities are clear from the start and yet this odd-couple pairing works and makes what happens at episode 7 even more amazing to watch. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the two moving forward.

Sabikui Bisco isn’t treading new ground with its plot or even its characters and yet its taken the standard adventure story, thrown in a whole bunch of weird, put it in a blender and somehow managed to make the concoction stick through decent writing and not letting the pace slow down enough for audiences to question some of the plot holes. If you haven’t given Sabikui Bisco a try yet this season, now may be the time.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


The Importance of the Final Impression

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With the ending of the Summer 2021 season, it seemed like an appropriate time for me to revisit my thoughts on the importance of the final impression, given how many anime seem to forget about this aspect in their rush to move on.

As much as we think about first episodes and how important it is to grab the audience and draw them in, for me, once I’ve decided to watch a show, how it ends becomes incredibly important. And clearly my recent experience with Seirei Gensouki made this point clear when the final impression I was left with has kind of soured my thoughts on the whole series. Things I was willing to let go and accept (such as the rushed pacing of the whole series) are less acceptable in the face of a poor resolution on top of those issues.

No matter how much I’ve enjoyed watching something, a poor ending can really taint the whole experience, or at the very least make me not want to rewatch an anime. While some viewers won’t mind whether something has rewatch value or not, for me that’s the whole point of falling in love with a show. Watching it again, and again, and again.

As I am discussing final episodes, please note that there will be spoilers.

What makes it hard with anime is the sheer number that just don’t end. They leave themselves open for sequels that may or may not ever exist or they deliberately stop where they do because they want you to engage with the source material (whether it be a game, manga, or novels).

These shows automatically make it hard for me to recommend them because they aren’t a complete story in and of themselves and if they haven’t even taken minimal steps to leave the audience at a satisfactory resting place in the story it just doesn’t feel like it is worth the effort starting something that decidedly doesn’t end. Other people may feel differently about it, but my primary  focus with watching anime is the story so an unfinished story is more or less the kiss of death no matter how great the journey to get there was. That’s a final impression that just does the title no favours.

How important is a final impression to you?

That said, not every single loose end needs to be tied up and just because there is sequel bait doesn’t mean we can’t get to a satisfactory resolution for the immediate issue or problem faced. There are plenty of good examples of anime that manage this kind of ending, such as the original season of How Not To Summon A Demon Lord. Also adapted from light novels, also unfinished in season one.

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord Episode 12 - Final impressions

While the overall complication of Diablo having been summoned into a game like world is not resolved leaving the story open to plenty of sequels and the overall story is clearly not complete, the final episode of How Not To Summon a Demon Lord managed to bring the audience to a decent climactic point and resolve the current drama.

They did this through the sub-plot of Rem carrying around another Demon Lord inside of her that was going to be reborn. This wasn’t suddenly thrown at the audience in the final episodes to give an excuse for a fight. It was introduced early in this season and we revisited this point multiple times throughout the series before it became the central focus of the final few episodes.

The rebirth of this Demon Lord and the subsequent fight felt satisfying because there had been build up to this issue, it was directly tied in with the main characters, there was a genuine sense that this was dangerous enough as a threat, and the immediate danger/issue was solved by the time the final credits rolled. This is a great example of a narrative that wants to continue giving the audience enough of an ending that even if no sequel ever occurs, we’re all still pretty satisfied with the season as it aired.

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Alternatively, we could look at the obvious comparison of The Master of Ragnarok (though making fun of the ending seems kind of pointless given how many other things went wrong with the series) and realise how it utterly and completely dropped the ball.

Midway through the season we were still introducing would be antagonists and powers and rules to the story so very few of them felt like they meant anything. The main character was returned to his original time which should have been the end, only he felt bad about abandoning ‘his’ people in their time of need so opted to be summoned back. Also fine enough, except for the part where I am still not sure how his coming back actually fixed the dire situation his people were in. They never did explain how he overcame any of the challenges.



Not to mention he took his childhood sweetheart back with him (admittedly she asked to go) and I just have to wonder if she knew what exactly she was getting into.

This ending just didn’t satisfy or even make a lot of sense and while there is clearly sequel potential, I’d have to wonder who is actually hanging out and waiting for a continuation of a show that just kind abandons fights midway through because clearly they don’t have a solution for how the protagonist is going to get out of the situation they dumped him in.

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Moving away from isekai stories though, we had another great example of a story ending in Steins;Gate 0. Now I am not the biggest fan of this particular spin-off story and yet the way it concluded, bringing itself nicely back into line with the events in the original series provided an incredibly satisfying end to the overall narrative that had been established by this series.

Okabe had given up on trying to save both Kurisu and Mayuri and had let Kurisu die. He was now going back to save Kurisu. It is as complete as it needs to be and while there are definitely loose ends and I’m still curious about the whole war thing, there is little to complain about in terms of narrative closure.



However, there are times when we get an ending that does in fact conclude the story and yet still feels like it isn’t particularly satisfying. This season I got that feeling from Phantom in the Twilight. I really enjoyed that series once it got going and there is a lot to like about how it builds up the world and story throughout.

The final episodes bring us a conflict between the established antagonists and the protagonist and her friends and the fairly predictable good guys win the fight ending occurs. While there is heaps of room for a sequel, this particular chapter is wrapped up nicely.

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Yet, there was a lot lacking from these final episodes. My biggest issue will be with the villains as I still didn’t really care about them or their motives and they largely came to lame ends that served no real purpose. The monsters the group were fighting were very samey and didn’t really seem to put up enough of a fight so even though there were lots of enemies you didn’t really get an overall sense of danger.

Basically while the story worked the execution let it down and while it is still good enough, it leaves an impression that the story was somehow less impressive than it might have been and while I still enjoyed the series overall these final episodes certainly left me with a weaker impression of it than I had at about the midseason mark.

So back to Seirei Gensouki.

Seirei Gensouki Episode 12

We had a series that rushed through content so incredibly fast we never really got to appreciate the story for what it could have been (and it really could have been brilliant). All of that might have been acceptable if the goal for the anime was to get us to some amazing sub-plot resolution in the final episode with a small amount of sequel (or source material) baiting.

But… that final episode was no more climatic than any other and while Rio did save a girl it didn’t feel any weightier or more meaningful than any other time he’d saved some one. And before they even took a moment to celebrate they dumped in a whole bunch of stuff that is clearly only going to get dealt with if we get a second season (feels unlikely) or if viewers decide that despite the poor efforts here they’ll go and read the books.

That’s a final impression the anime could have avoided if they’d just thought about how to end their own season in a somewhat more satisfying manner.

Basically, I really wish more anime actually ended well. So I’ll turn it over to the readers and ask you which anime you think have the best endings and which ones have the worst and why?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James



You May Have Seen This Before in Anime, But Is It Entertaining?

Entertaining Feature

Another isekai’d character, another clueless highschool couple, or maybe another superpowered teen… is there anything new to watch?

Here we go with another new season of anime. A new season full of possibilities and as yet undiscovered gems as well as the potential for disaster. It’s exciting hitting play on the latest first episode release and waiting to find out what is in store for you as a viewer though for some people it all becomes a case of “I’ve seen this before”.

For those that watch and review a lot of seasonal anime they’ll definitely noticing that as they scroll through the new season titles in MAL that there’s often a wondering about whether there’s anything new to be seen.

I mean, we have our sequels (My Hero Academia, Fruits Basket, Moriarty the Patriot, How Not To Summon a DemonLord, Megalo Box, Zombieland Saga etc) as well as a spin-off from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (and why are we getting a spin-off and not the continuation of season 2 which we’ll get next season?).

There’s another anime about traditional Japanese music and a jaded teen (feeling a little deja-vu with Koto no Oto though that probably isn’t fair given I haven’t tried it yet).

There’s the cute girl doing something cute with a motorcycle, a stupid comedy set in highschool that just looks mean spirited, a sports anime focused on rhythmic gymnastics (how far left field are we going to go for sports that haven’t yet been exhausted), as well as some basic action, romance and isekai stories. If I were going to overly generalise I could just sigh and say this season is offering much the same as any other.

Fruits S3 E1 10
Yet, for those waiting for these sequels I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.

To be honest, I’m pretty excited about this season. While I am only going to be episodically watching 6 anime, I have quite a long list of anime that I’ll be trying at least the first three episodes of to determine whether they are to be watched or dropped.

Why am I so excited about another season of anime?

Because every anime has the potential to surprise. Whether it tells a story I’ve seen before or completely catches me off-guard with a plot-twist (not always a good thing), every anime has the ability to be a new favourite story that I’ll happily buy on DVD or Blu-Ray and add to my physical collection to pull out when I just need something that makes me feel happy. Not every anime will succeed and a lot will end up being forgotten soon after they air, but just because it is a story I’m familiar with doesn’t mean it won’t offer something new or that they won’t be entertaining even if they don’t.



There is the theory that there are only seven basic story plots out there and that with another twisting and turning you can make pretty much every story fit one of them (or some combination of them). While some theories have eight plots or even twelve, the basic notion from people who spend a lot of time studying narrative structures is that basically every story ultimately fits a pattern regardless of the dressing on it. What makes one hero’s journey stand out from another isn’t the plot but how that plot is presented and the characters that are undertaking the journey.

Which is absolutely true when we look at anime.

Do cute girls make up for the sense that I've seen this before?
Cute girl – all is forgiven.

The six anime I am reviewing episodically this spring are:

I might have ‘seen this before’ but is this an interesting take on it?

Of those, three are sequels. Fruits Basket is a reboot of an old anime based on a manga that I skim read online when the original anime didn’t finish the story just so I had some closure. Going into this final season of the anime is a dream come true in finally seeing the story finished in anime form and this anime has done an exceptional job.

However, stories about cursed families, teens feeling lost and having to form connections, stories using a zodiac motif, none of these things are new. Fruits Basket knows exactly how to tug the right emotional heart strings and how to blend drama and comedy and usually get the mix right but calling it original would be quite the stretch.

Fruits S3 E1 7
Though Hanajima remains the best girl.

Even the character archetypes we see within the story are all characters we’ve seen before. Honda the overly optimistic protagonist who heals everyone with niceness. Kyo, the angry rebel who actually is just a hurt boy with a sweet heart. And so on through the cast. What makes Fruits Basket special is the way all these elements come together rather than because any particular part is ‘new’.

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Of the non-sequels Mars Red is based on a play, I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years is based on a light novel, and Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song is an original anime. I’m very curious about how Mars Red will play out as an anime. The first episode was dramatic and as Irina put it in our review, quite theatrical. But how does that work for a whole season of anime? And if it does work, it will be quite a different kind of anime to what I normally watch, but it still won’t actually be ‘new’ so much as just a bit different for this medium.

Mars Red Episode 1 4
I’m curious as to where this will go.

Slime 300 is exactly what you would expect in that the first episode offered nothing new. It doesn’t really stop it being enjoyable because it is quite the fun and relaxing watch, possibly more so because it is like a comfortable slipper. You know exactly what you are getting into and it is warm and comforting. No surprises can be a good thing if you are looking for something relaxing and mellow (and nobody likes finding surprises in their slippers anyway).

The only question with Slime 300 is whether or not it does enough to make it a familiar favourite or whether it slips away into obscurity at season’s end. Either way, people watching it will get what they want from it because people wanting something new or wanting exciting action are unlikely to start it.

Vivy so far has most impressed me with its story but again, not for originality. It is more that I like the kind of story being a fan of Terminator and other time-travel tales where we are trying to head off a future catastrophe. It will be interesting to see how Vivy deals with inevitable paradoxes in that premise, and more interesting to see how the AIs are handled as characters throughout.

The first three episodes however, definitely impressed and while we have a basic unlikely hero being called into action plot being set-up, there’s enough in the setting and character areas to keep this feeling fresh and interesting. Still, as with all original anime, there’s this small warning in the back of my mind cautioning me against getting too enthused about an anime until it is clear it knows where it is going.

Vivy Ep3 3
Vivy is also a pretty fun main character.

Overall, while finding something totally new is unlikely in an anime season, I still think there’s plenty on offer each season. A new spin or direction, new characters to fall in love with or hate, new visuals and settings and soundtracks to draw you in and make your emotions swoon or to raise an eye-brow at and wonder how they ever got the green light… A new anime season is full of possibilities and stories that might be familiar but at the same time will be entirely their own creation (for better or worse).

I love the start of a new anime season because there’s so much hope and possibility. The end of the season is good as well as stories come to a close, but by then for a lot of those stories, it is pretty clear where they need to go. Surprise endings rarely land well because they usually make little sense in the context of the story and final twists only work when they have been signposted all along.

For me, when deciding to watch a show it isn’t a matter of whether I think the story will be similar to another – that might actually be in its favour – but rather whether after watching the first episode I feel there’s any entertainment to be had. Will I like the cast? Is there a question I want answered? Does the tone intrigue me? Was it fun to watch? These are all more important questions for me in deciding whether I’ll watch a show than whether it is an ‘original’ story.

I know others might disagree or want something else from their anime, but for me, entertainment triumphs. It is why I am an anime fan.

Images in this article from:

  • Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song. Dir. S Ezaki. Wit Studio. 2021.
  • I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level. Dir. N Kimura. Revoroot. 2021.
  • Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021
  • Fruits Basket: The Final. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2021.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Anime: Does It Matter If A Show Is More Style Than Substance?

Feature Style

As we launched into the Winter 2020 anime season viewers saw the return of the Madoka franchise. One that is either beloved or seen as overrated depending on which side of the debate you choose to sit on. However one of the common arguments I heard against the original Madoka TV series from the detractors was the it was a visual spectacle or a caricature of the magical girl genre but lacked substance. Basically it was a case of more style than substance.

I kind of disagreed as I felt the series had enough substance in Madoka’s choice for the run time, but it is one of those arguments that leaves you wondering whether it would even matter if the anime didn’t have any substance and was just stylistically interesting.

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Which of course made me wonder when Magia Record popped up whether this newest side-story had anything new to say. As much as I am a fan of the Madoka TV series I’ve never gone on and watched the movies, though I’ve been told they are good. The reason was that I was deeply satisfied with the story the series gave and where it concluded for the characters. I didn’t feel compelled to watch on as I felt that they had made the point they’d set out to make and the story was done.

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Yet here we were 9 years later. Magia Record most definitely caught the visual style of Madoka in both the characters and the settings. Yet that first episode felt like Madoka lite. Part of the reason was probably because there was no shock factor to be had in the story with the appearance of the witches or the darkness underlying what it means to be a magical girl.

However, even in the decision to send the protagonists’ family away takes away from an opportunity to show the impact the events in the magical girl aspects will have in the grounded life of the character. Madoka’s family, while given minimal screen time, added to her character arc and made her decisions even more weighted.

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However, Magia Record wasn’t the only new release anime in 2020 that had me wondering about whether style over substance was actually a problem. ID:Invaded was a very nice looking anime and it oozed style. Both inside the world of the killer’s mind and in the office the rest of the team works in. Functionality took a back seat to appearance. I mean, we could simply say the detective is a psychic and can meditate his way into the killing intent of murderer and the rest of the characters could just be ordinary police set in the modern world and realistically the opening two episodes wouldn’t have changed much outside of the visuals.

ID:Invaded - More style than substance?

That’s not actually a black mark against the story. Let’s be real, anime is a visual medium. Those cool and compelling visuals are necessary for broader audience appeal and even if we could have the same story set in the normal everyday world it might not be as fun or distinct so why worry about it overly much. Except that it would be nice if all that style served a purpose.

Like I always wondered in Madoka why the classroom walls were transparent as clearly that just opened the possibility for distractions. I mean, it looked cool but it didn’t feel practical. Similarly, the layout of the office in ID:Invaded looks great, but not exactly functional.

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However, I am not just poking fun at 2020 anime. Both Magia Record and ID:Invaded had the potential to really do great things with their narrative and characters though neither one ended up being anime that stuck with me much beyond the initial viewing. Of course, they also might not and we might get a visually interesting walk through nothingness and then I’ll have to wonder whether or not that was worth the time.

Even if they turn out to be more style than substance they were interesting at least.

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But it isn’t as though this is a new debate or argument. When I watched and reviewed the K anime series I asked then if being cool and looking good was enough for a series. In the case of K, it really was. It was a delight to watch and while the narrative and characters really didn’t make a huge amount of sense if you gave any of it too much thought, the anime was very good at keeping you engaged and distracted enough so that you didn’t sit and pick at some of the finer points. While it might not make for a great work of literature it certainly works as entertainment.

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I opened this article by asking whether it matters if an anime is more style than substance and honestly the answer comes down to, ‘it depends’. It depends on the viewer and what they are looking for in an anime at the time. It depends on whether the style is engaging in and of itself. It depends whether the story promised more depth and then chose not to go there and instead frolicked in delight at its glorious visuals. It also depends on what you actually count as having substance.

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Going back to Madoka there are a lot of people who don’t feel it has much to say and yet I found it a very interesting look at the transition between the normal world and the extraordinary and one that is usually overlooked by magical girl stories because the story is in such a rush to have a protagonist who is a magical girl.

That transition phase being extended and having Madoka exposed to the world she was going to enter if she made a wish and seeing the impact that world had on those she met was fascinating and opened up the magical girl genre to trying new things. Admittedly, in the wake of Madoka all we really found were grim-dark rip-offs that didn’t quite understand what made Madoka interesting.

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As a viewer, I like things to have some substance but honestly if substance does take a back-seat to style then I guess I’m fine with it as long as I’m still entertained in some way. However, I’d love to know whether you feel it matters or not.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


3 Ways Magic Can Undermine Good Anime

Magic Undermines

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Magic is one of those things that most of us take for granted in stories. Given our earliest bedtime stories contain tales of princesses kissing frogs and fairy godmothers who wave their wands and fix all problems it makes sense that we are trained to accept a certain amount of whimsy in our narratives. Those of us who veer into the fantasy and speculative genres further learn to suspend disbelief and embrace all manner of magical systems.

We’ll happily nod along as Ed explains the fundamental rules of alchemy to a layman (Fullmetal Alchemist) and are more or less willing to believe that there are cute little beings from other worlds who can grant wishes turning ordinary girls into magical ones and ultimately creating witches and disasters (Madoka Magica).

However there’s a genuine difference between suspending disbelief and suspending basic reasoning and common sense. Most viewers expect at least internal consistency or a reasonable explanation for how things play out within a story (some don’t but that’s fine). For me, nothing can more quickly undermine a story than the characters coming across a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and then one of the characters simply making it go away with some as yet unseen power or ability and no real consequence for them breaking pre-established rules. Maybe I’m just nit-picky. Okay, I know I’m nit-picky but I really do like things to at least make contextual sense even if outside of the narrative they make little sense.

While there are plenty of anime that I could look at that have at times been guilty of undermining their own narratives through the less than strategic use of a magical deus ex machina I’m going to focus on three examples and then turn the discussion over to you, my readers, for your own examples and opinions on whether it matters that the fictional magic make sense in an anime. Heads up though: spoilers below.

Example One

Sailor Moon S: The Movie has a number of issues outside of its use of power within the sailor moon universe. Basically it is an extended Sailor Moon episode with a villain of the week showing up aiming to freeze the planet and the only real character development comes from Luna’s sudden desire to be human for a day to make a human’s wish come true. However, as a Sailor Moon story it works as it brings all the usual Sailor antics into play including all the other scouts and Tuxedo Mask getting side-lined for the finale so that Usagi can save the day.

Sailor Moon in Sailor Moon S The Movie - using the imperium silver crystal

So far, so ordinary. The scouts transform and make magical fire, lightning and a range of other attacks appear out of nothing all the time. Plus they manage to avoid freezing to death while wearing leotards in a snow storm. Surely that kind of lets them do what they like in terms of magic within the story.

Except, it was well established pretty early on in Sailor Moon after Usagi first took possession of the silver crystal that using it came at a pretty big cost. Something that powerful would more or less make any kind of villain pointless so they needed to limit it in someway. Even within Sailor Moon S: The Movie, the other characters caution Sailor Moon not to use the crystal or she’ll die. The world is getting frozen, the scouts are out for the count, and they are still pleading with Usagi not to do it.

And then she does. Crystal comes out, lots of flashing light, and problem solved. As an added bonus, she wishes for Luna’s wish to come true, and ta-da. Zero consequences faced or explanation as to why she can suddenly just use the crystal to do whatever the narrative needs.

Realistically, this didn’t just make the end of this particular movie seem weak, it actually made most of the events in the Sailor Moon universe seem a little trite. If Usagi can actually wield the crystal without consequence, and make it do more or less whatever she needs it to do, why do the scouts even need to exist? For that matter, why do any villains ever get to attack Earth? Surely Usagi could just create a barrier around the planet and then go and get a milkshake.

This is a case where even a pre-existing magical McGuffin was poorly written within a story and the results were definitely less than satisfying even to a moon maniac like myself. This movie remains one of my least favourite entries into the Sailor Moon franchise.



Example Two

The Irregular at Magic High School has a really interesting take on magic. Rather than characters using spells and chants, they’ve combined magic and science and casters generally use a CAD (casting assistance device) to pretty much instantly produce magic. Essentially the magician provides the magic while the CAD contains the sequence and ensures the correct magical effect is actually produced.

However a CAD can only hold so many sequences and specialised CAD that produce very cool effects are even more limited in the number of sequences they can produce. Not to mention the devices are pretty costly and require fairly regular maintenance.

There’s been a lot of thought put into the system and it establishes why certain characters focus on particular kinds of magic and why casting speed is of great importance to the magicians. It also allows for new magical developments and through engineering and reprograming, tweaks to be made to existing magical effects.

All of that would be fine except that Tatsuya, the central character and the irregular, kind of does whatever he needs to do however he needs to do it. While it is established that he does things his own way early on in the series, his casting of a spell through snapping his fingers in season one and his solution to the final conflict in the Visitor Arc more or less make you wonder why anyone else bothers doing anything when he is around.

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His favourite trick is largely just undoing other people’s activation sequences neutralising their magic. But there’s really yet to be any kind of magic or challenge that Tatsuya hasn’t been able to eventually see through or just make better with seemingly little effort. While it is nice to see a relatively self-assured protagonist who gets on with things without all the screaming and yelling, it is difficult to really feel a sense of tension in the story as we know Tatsuya is going to magically make everything all better again anyway.

And there is the narrative drama. Sure his friends might get caught up in situations or injured when he isn’t around. And there’s a whole bunch of political shenanigans going on around him that he has little control over and unless he wants to be a mass murderer all the power in the world won’t fix. But ultimately, once his power is unleashed and he’s decided to do something, it is more or less a given that he is going to succeed.

It will be interesting to see how the story deals with that and gets around him as the story progresses but having such a rule breaking main character has certainly created a few problems in terms of upping the stakes in a meaningful way.



Example Three

Finally, I am going to use an example that is actually a problem from the premise. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card has always kind of bothered me. Not because of the story itself, because once it gets going it is the usual Cardcaptor kind of thing. Some kind of magical phenomenon occurs, Sakura goes to capture it using cards with powers she’s already captured. She combines them in interesting ways at times, but she’s been doing that since the beginning. Though getting Syaoran wings was a very cool use of her power and he looked utterly adorable.

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My issue with Clear Card is that it feels like it undermines everything that came before it. We started off with Sakura collecting Clow cards that she let escape from the box. It was a straight forward issue of being her responsibility to catch them all given she was the one who unleashed them. The next drama involved turning the cards into Sakura cards and making them her own. That all makes perfectly logical sense.

Then to kick of Clear Card, Sakura has a dream and all the cards turn clear. It kind of feels like a fairly poor excuse to make Sakura, once again, go through the process of finding and catching each of these abilities. Once was logical. The second time was a reasonable build on the basic premise and had the added emotional high of seeing Sakura come into her own power. Clear card feels trite. Like next the cards will all turn black and she’ll have to face the darkness to reclaim them. Then they will all glow like rainbows. And so on and so forth to keep the franchise stretching literally forever.

Magic is a wondrous thing and Cardcaptor actually has a pretty good handle on its internal logic within each arc of its story. However, at some point it feels like the writers need to realise the idea has played out and that they need to move on.

Conclusion

Whether it is pulling magical powers out of nowhere without consequence, characters who already exist outside of established rules making tension and buy-in a challenge, or over-stretching a magical concept for the sake of perpetuating a franchise, none of these are complete deal breaks for a narrative. However, they do all show weaknesses of using magic within stories and some of the pit-falls that a story can fall into if the writers aren’t half-awake.

The magic of a good story happens when all of the ingredients work together. Magic isn’t an instant fix or an easy set up for a conflict. It is something that needs to be integrated into the world of the story and as such needs rules and limits in order for it to make sense and to provide satisfaction.

At least, that’s how I feel. But now I’m turning over to my readers and asking for your examples of magic that has undermined an anime or alternatively, situations where magic has been used really well to really make a story sing.

Images used in article from:

  • The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc. Dir. R Yoshida. Aniplex et al. 2020.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. Dir M Asaka. Madhouse. 2018
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal. Dir. M Sakai. Toei Animation. 2014


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Friday’s Feature: What Makes Something ‘Near Great’

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As a self-proclaimed anime fan, it is sometimes hard to step back from something and really think about it. Aiming for some form of objectivity in reviews, which is never overly objective, compared with simply letting out my inner fan-girl and letting her scream “I love you anime” at the top of her lungs. Anyone who might know me in real life might scoff at the thought of me doing that, but I swear that inner fan-girl exists and sometimes she’s a real pain as she buzzes through my brain like a bee on a sugar high.

Small spoiler warning for The Ancient Magus’ Bride final episode in the images.

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And even then, some of you who have simply read my reviews will think, “Hang on a minute, weren’t you the one who gave such-and-such a scathing review or criticised so-and-so for some plot development?” And the answer would definitely be, yes. Because while that inner fan-girl exists and I sometimes love her exuberance, energy and optimism, the reality is that in any particular season of anime there are only so many good shows.

Once you eliminate all of the ones that are outside of your genre or personal preference, sometimes you are lucky to find one or two fairly solid shows within a single season. That doesn’t mean they are the only ones I like. Fan-girl me is happily laughing still at King’s Game and taking somewhat overly excited pleasure in how far Spiritpact has come since its abysmal first episode. If I only found one or two shows I liked, I’d hardly call myself a fan.

But inner fan-girl isn’t alone bouncing around inside my brain. She’s sharing the stage with a lot of different views and one of those is the cynic inside me who waits eagerly to pounce on anything fun and find the flaw (it doesn’t help that some of those flaws are even apparent to the fan-girl). This is the me that waits for things that are rising to fall, and was somewhat smugly satisfied with how KADO ended if only because it meant that inner fan-girl had to take a time out having been bitterly disappointed.

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Naturally I am speaking metaphorically and hopefully I don’t actually have multiple personalities streaming around my head for real (it’s crowded enough).

However, this post is about the ‘near great’ in anime and what I want to look at are two shows that have aired either entirely or partially during the Winter 2018 season that both stopped short of reaching greatness (despite the inner fan-girl willing them to be truly amazing). I enjoyed both in different ways and inner fan-girl was incredibly happy watching them. She waited eagerly for the episode to start and basked in the characters and the plot. For one of those shows she also basked in the gorgeous visuals while in the other she tolerated the odd lighting choices but found other things to enjoy. And yet, as the season comes to an end, and I start thinking about recommendations and what to say about these shows, the cynic in me strikes.

So why aren’t they great?

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I suppose you could ask that question of almost anything with just as much honest expectation of gaining an answer. “Why aren’t you better?” “Why don’t you match my ideals of what you should be?” “How could you fail there?”

For me though each show has one particular issue that is a sticking point that I cannot overlook. While everything will have its flaws, these are genuine concerns that, regardless of how great some aspects of the shows might be, they will never end up on my list of all time favourites even though they will end up on my list for favourite of the season.

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride

If you have followed Weekend Otaku and my collaboration series ‘200 Word Anime‘ you will know that for awhile now I’ve had some misgivings about The Ancient Magus Bride. Mostly petty nit-pickings of a show that is gorgeous to watch, has some excellent music, beautifully depicted magic and folk-lore and a reasonably compelling central couple. Okay, pacing is an issue and the whole cliff-hanger ending without really using it well in the next episode are things that have been minor irritations, but ultimately they aren’t deal breakers with this show and really come down to my own personal tastes.

No, what seals The Ancient Magus’ Bride in my mind as a show that isn’t going to achieve greatness no matter how much I wished it would is how the support cast are ultimately dealt with. That is to say, how they are not dealt with. In the race to bring events to their conclusion, characters are either entirely forgotten or become largely inconsequential. While the main couple get a worthy resolution, other characters still don’t even have a genuine purpose that has been explained. And one of those is a fairly important antagonist during the final episode and I literally have no idea what he actually wants from the confrontation.

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Any minor flaws I was over looking or putting down to taste paled in comparison with an ending that tripped over itself to get the main characters to their moment. Realistically, the show needed to move faster earlier on or needed to cull some of the characters when it adapted itself from manga to anime (assigning certain events to different characters to make it work). However, then purists would have accused it of butchering the source material and so this was a no-win situation. Ultimately people are still comparing the anime unfavourably against its source and people who never read the source just found the end a little bemusing even as it maintained the gorgeous quality we had come to expect from the series.

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Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

As we move on, I will note this is not an exceptional show by any means. Yet it sits higher on my watch list than the Ancient Magus’ Bride and is one I’ve talked about a lot. The reason for that is I went in expecting nothing and got something wholly enjoyable. Fan-girl me went crazy for it and episode 4 which tied events of the first arc together beautifully really cemented this as one of my favourite shows of the season. But favourite of the season doesn’t mean I am blind to its flaws and while I will still most definitely recommend this anime as being worth checking out, to say it is one of the great anime of the year would probably be a lie.

Yet it isn’t the somewhat questionable visuals, the slight repetitiveness to the sound-track (awesome music, but repetitive), or even the heavy subject matter of hitmen and assassins being given a light comedic treatment that really stops this show from tipping into the realm of great. Realistically, it is the lack of tension and sense of danger this show has inflicted upon itself.

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I know, a show about hitmen and assassins lacks tension or danger? How did that happen?

Well, the anime never, and I do mean never, actually allows the main characters to actually be seriously injured, maimed or killed. No matter what happens to them or whether they are a more peripheral main character, or even if they deserve it. No, our happy hitmen will be back playing baseball in an episode or two even after being stabbed in the gut, so don’t stress or worry. Seriously. About anyone. Everyone will be fine. At least everyone you care about because the villains are totally forgettable and throw-away and treated as such (I’m hoping for a final episode blood bath but I doubt I’ll get it).

It makes for a fun viewing experience, provided the subject matter doesn’t rub you the wrong way, but it doesn’t make for particularly deep or something that is going to have a long lasting impact.

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Where to now?

The thing is, not every anime has to be great. While the great ones will awe you, blow you away, and eventually sit upon your shelf in DVD form and probably in other merchandise as well, sometimes it is enough that you have fun with what you are watching. The Near Great are the anime that keep me entertained and give me something positive to say each week. They are the anime I’ll chat about with friends and probably remember for a couple of seasons after they are done. They are anime I might even get the DVD of, once it comes down in price.  The Near Great are what keep me watching anime season after season as there are many of these and they come in many forms.

So I’ll ask you now, what are the Near Great anime you’ve been watching recently?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Avoiding the Paradoxes of Time Travel or Plunging Headlong Into Them with Sagrada Reset

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This post was written after watching the first three episodes of Sagrada Reset and while it discusses those episodes everything in this feature will be pure speculation and opinion. I really don’t know if Sagrada Reset will avoid the paradoxes of time travel or not at this point.

Keep in mind this post is not trying to tell you that Sagrada is an amazing, must watch anime given there are a lot of issues so far with it as an anime. It is however, looking at the premise of the show and how it is dealing with, or not dealing with, time travel.

And then episode 4 came out and a lot of my speculation has already been tossed out the window. On to the next lot of theories then, still, this was where I was after episode 3.

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Previously I wrote a feature article focussing on the use of time travel in Orange and essentially the fact that no matter how I looked at it, even if the mechanism they used for time travel worked, it made no sense that the future versions of a person would actually take the actions they took. As a result of how time travel played out I essentially found the basic premise of the show flawed because the character in the future assumed that changing the past would create a parallel timeline where her past self could experience the different version of her life while future self continued to live her current existence.

There was no evidence to give the character confidence this was how time travel would work other than one off hand spur of the moment discussion by a science teacher back when she was in high school For all she knew she was undoing her entire future life and the life of her child.

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Essentially, while I like science fiction, and quite enjoy stories that use time travel as a mechanism, I find these stories tend to by and large fall apart once you step back and actually question the internal logic of them. Even Terminator makes very little sense given the AI has figured out how to travel through time and sends only one machine with a specific target rather than sending an army to hit multiple targets simultaneously.

Assuming there’s an energy consumption reason behind that decision, taking out Sarah Connor is still a really pointless move. Even assuming John Connor never exists it is highly unlikely that no human would stand up in his absence. John Connor became the leader of the resistance, but if he hadn’t been there, someone else would have become the leader and maybe they would be more effective.

Let’s be honest, if no one had ever tried to kill Sarah and then John, his childhood (assuming he existed at all given his father is technically also from the future) would have been completely useless at preparing him for the end of the world. Surely the AI is smart enough to draw these conclusions and to realise that given the machines seem to be winning in the future anyway, messing with that timeline is unlikely to tip things in the machines favour.

But none of that has anything to do with Sagrada Reset.

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To start with, Sagrada Reset is not using time travel. Nobody moves through time, the world is reset to a particular point (literally to a save point predetermined by Haruki). In the first episode she tells us that it changes nothing and no one can be saved because even she does not remember the reset until she tries to reset again to the same point (because clearly the same events would occur uninterrupted leading to the trigger that makes her want to reset) and she realises she can’t because each save point can only be used once and she can’t set a new save point within 24 hours of the old.

This made me interested in how this show would deal with time because it seemed like a neat way to avoid the usual time travel paradox  discussion without creating parallel worlds because she was literally destroying everything that had come after the save point and starting over to admittedly let events repeat themselves unhindered. This was more or less confirmed in episode three when we got this line from Kei who is the only character we know of who can remember events that have happened during the days that were reset:

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It’s an ugly way to put it but if the reset works the way Haruki has described then it is rather accurate. Meaning you are giving up the three days that have existed, erasing them from everyone’s memory, and starting over.

But then we have Kei who does remember what has happened and who shares that knowledge with Haruki in order to change events (although far more cautiously after the events of episode 2). All of this leaves the story open to be a fairly basic protagonist goes back three days to solve the mystery of the week kind of story without any further issues of concerns about the mechanism that allows that story to operate. This, by itself, would still be a fairly watchable premise and could even be entertaining if done well (though not particularly original – hardly a sin in the entertainment industry these days).

What got this show stuck in my head were the other complications and mysteries that have crept into the story or been hinted at. We’re only three episodes in and yet there’s an almost endless stream of questions and possibilities.

Episode 2 saw Kei use a reset for an almost trivial reason. I guess from his emotionally stunted point of view it made sense to approach the situation that way but from anyone else’s point of view it was a lame reason to ask the girl you just kissed to reset the entire world.

As interesting a discussion as that might make as to the true nature of Kei’s character, what makes this moment more than just a minor blip in the story is that after the reset one major thing has changed and that leads to a character’s death (at least she’s reported as dead – let’s be honest, this is clearly setting up a mystery and the girl died off screen so there is every chance for a return later in the series with a faked her own death story).

Putting aside conspiracy, she’s not dead, for just a short moment, this made me draw the conclusion that someone other than Kei must remember the reset and have intervened to change events.

Somehow this anime may not be avoiding paradoxes in time travel but instead may be finding new ways to explore them.

Which of course made me question the original conclusion I’d drawn and I realised that both options were possible and weren’t actually mutually exclusive which raised even more possibilities further down the track, and none of that addressed the potential of the character not even being dead.

So let’s go back to how the reset works, or at least how it is explained which could be highly suspect anyway given if it worked the way Haruki describes why on earth would she even know she had the power because technically any memory of it should be wiped from her own mind.

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Now this is where I wish my Japanese was better to know how accurate a translation those subs are but the implication here is that if things are being rearranged to a past state there’s no guarantee that some mistakes won’t creep in to the reconstructed version of the world. Particularly when literally everyone and everything is being rearranged. It would seem very unnatural for it to fall perfectly back the way it started.

If we then assume the robot or android analogy they made in episode 1 was meant to be something more than a throw away thought bubble then we could see Haruki and her power essentially like the save function in a computer game. Save before you face the boss and should the battle go south reload and try again. In some games the boss will always repeat the same attack patterns allowing you to learn how to overcome it. This would be the way she describes her power working.

However, in other games, while the boss will still attack you the sequence of attacks may not be exactly the same each time and you may even have a random encounter before you get to the boss fight that didn’t show up in the previous iteration.

So I guess that leads me to wonder if this story is leading us down the path of discussion about whether events are preordained (in which case they would repeat identically without interference) or whether they are more random (in which case even if the reset was perfect anything after the reset could potentially change though most people would be inclined to repeat their actions simply because without any change in the stimulus provided there would be little reason for them to react differently).

Meanwhile, none of this gets us any closer to knowing if there is another person who remembers the loops and is interfering or whether the power itself is something else altogether.

Now let’s go full conspiracy theory on this show just for the fun of it.

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My current working theory is that after the Bureau was confronted by Kei and forced to give up on securing Mari because the mother stayed behind, they somehow realised that Haruki and Kei were messing with time but weren’t sure exactly how, or maybe the figured it out but wanted some more details.

The next time Kei and Haruki reset, the Bureau used its influence to make one critical change and removed Soma from the picture (either by killing her, convincing her to leave town and then faking the news story as her memory would be gone anyway, or because she was already working for them in her capacity as class rep – which incidentally explains how the Bureau knew about the power in the first place given Soma was the one who put Kei and Haruki together – they simply asked her to disappear). Possibly this was a field test to determine whether or not Haruki really was unable to reset the same period of time.

We then get a two year time leap where it is strongly implied that Kei and Haruki have used the reset and developed a working relationship, though Kei apparently isn’t keen on using the reset easily anymore, and now the Bureau is directly monitoring them through the creation of a club at their highschool and the known Bureau representative being the club advisor.

This time they seem to be testing the three days and the save points by setting up the ridiculous scenario with the run-over/kidnapped cat.

Evidence for this includes the advisor knowing when the save points are and Kei reporting the use of a reset to him, the timeline for the cat getting killed and the request that Kei and Haruki help, the suspicious actions of the girl who requested help in the first time line where she’s following their investigation and then in the second where she’s clearly waiting for them to show up (thus confirming they travelled through time and thought something would happen at the bakery), and the advisor’s strange request that Kei not reset time until three days had passed even though they had a new save point.

And that’s a lovely theory that essentially the Bureau are orchestrating the whole thing in order to find a practical way they can utilise this combination ability of Kei and Haruki. The only issue is the hole in the wall thing that showed up in episode 3 at the moment won’t slot into that theory at all.

Basically, more information is needed. To be honest, I’m kind of going to have to finish this show at this point, no matter how bland the characters may be at times or how dialogue heavy the episodes may get while pacing continues to be hit and miss. I may end up really hating this story by the end, but right now I just need to know. Time travel without time travel. What kind of narrative paradox can you create?

If you’ve been watching Sagrada Reset, what do you think?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Can Anime Stories Change Your World?

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I’ve always been straight forward about my obsession for devouring works of fiction. All my life I’ve been a reader and a viewer of stories. As a kid I read obsessively (a special thanks to all the IRL 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. Needless to say, that obsession with anime is still going strong today.

But this post isn’t actually about me. It’s about the nature of fiction and why experiencing narratives is so fundamentally important and it is about how anime gives people access to so many rich and wonderful narratives (as well as just a whole lot of fun).

Narratives for Entertainment

Reading and watching for pleasure naturally 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.

When watching anime for entertainment, there are plenty of options on the table. Whether you are after cute girls doing cute things, comedy, harems, action, adventure, and a whole bunch more, there’s plenty of anime out there that just wants to make you forget your worries for a time and mellow out.

However, this is just one facet of the experience.

Narratives as An Educator

I think we all can connect with this idea. 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.

We do much the same nowadays with our children’s stories and the way the basic Grimms fairy tales have been edited over time is quite telling of the values we feel we should be instilling and which ones we’ve apparently left by the way side.

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I learned so much about shogi from Shion no Ou and then March Comes in Like a Lion. Still have no clue how to play but feel more knowledgeable because I watched these anime.

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.

Narratives as Community Builders

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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.

Narratives to Develop Empathy

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

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).

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.

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?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


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Big Order Series Review

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Big Order Overview:

This anime has a very promising write up, telling us the story begins after the world has ended. A world where a fairy named Daisy grants wishes (or orders) to people and because of this there is conflict. We follow Eiji as he tries to live a normal life after causing a ‘great destruction’ but soon gets swept up in events beyond his control.

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Big Order Review:

I’m going to try to keep this brief because I’m really not the ranting sort (okay, that’s a lie but we’ll move on). Let me make my position clear. This show is terrible. From start to finish it is just a complete and utter mess of a narrative.

Look, that’s coming from someone who unironically enjoyed King’s Game so please understand this series is not good.

And yet, even after proclaiming that I’d dropped it, I continued to watch week to week and actually watched to the end of the show. To keep it as simple as possible I’m just going to do a simple positive and negative list.

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Positives:

  • It is short. At 10 episodes this wouldn’t even take an afternoon to watch from start to finish. And that’s probably all the time it is worth.
  • Some of the powers and visuals are kind of cool. Inconsistent and horribly used (wait that’s a negative), but cool.
  • Fast pace. Much like it being short, the pace at which this races around makes a lot of the nonsense tolerable.
  • It doesn’t seem to want to be taken seriously. While this show does not go in the so bad it is good category, it actually is saved by the fact that it seemed to realise it was rubbish as well and just kind of embraced that.

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Negatives:

  • Eiji is a horrible excuse for a character. That probably doesn’t need much more explanation. The more they explain his motives and the more we see him react to things, the less consistent, sensible or likeable he seems.
  • Rin is a horrible excuse for a character. Her ridiculous fascination for revenge, the way she interacts with Eiji, her being shunted to comic relief for half the series before being painted into the cliché of traitor before being painted into the worse cliche of girl who stands by her guy even when it is entirely pointless and let’s be honest, he wasn’t her guy so why does she even care? Wow, I hated Rin’s character.
  • Sena is a horrible excuse for a character (I’m just going to end that line of thinking there – all of the characters fail to stand on their own merit when you look at their motives and actions).
  • The plot undermines itself and twists and turns and runs frantically here and there and glosses over plot points before finally babbling at you in the hope that if they say it fast enough you won’t notice it’s rubbish. When even the set-up villain of the show says he knew it was foolish, you have to wonder who they were trying to convince.
  • The ending. It is such a cheap way to resolve all of the conflicts. I’m not going any further into this but it is akin to having the whole series actually be a bad dream.
  • Excessive fan service and not even fan service done well or in an interesting way. Just the usual bath scenes and bouncing breasts all covered by glorious rays of light that come from nowhere. These scenes aren’t sexy or engaging, they are just there because I guess they decided they needed something.

Okay, seriously my biggest problem with Big Order is wasted potential. If they had slowed it down and actually dealt with Eiji as a person, the set up for this show could have led to a really interesting story. However, they wanted to show us powers and people with powers fighting and the occasional naked girl so that’s what they did. Which means you get the occasional fun moment or interesting sequence but it is surrounded by muck in every direction.

I’m sure there are some Big Order fans out there who will rush to defend this series, but having made it to the end, I really think I should have stuck by my original decision to drop this.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James