A Failure of Selection Pressure

February 21st, 2018


This week, writer's block won.

I was mentally trying to pen out a writeup on agency this week, spurred mainly by remembering how godawful Nanoha's route in Baldr Sky is and how one of the core problems of Baldr Sky is, like I already mentioned in the previous writeup, how basically none of the main characters, but especially the protagonist and heroines, have any kind of agency or even presence whatsoever. This is despite quickly getting to the reveals that you are actually the most important person in the entire goddamned multiverse, with direct personal connections to literally every single world leader, past, present, and future, not to to mention, again, a cabal of invisible wizards watching your every move, ready to step in and deus ex the hell out of every crisis you've gotten into after fifty to a hundred lines of declaring that this is the most crisisty crisis yet and there's no way out.

*ahem* But that's not exactly the hottest of takes. Japanese media is rife with pointless, passive characters, especially in visual novels and anime. I feel like I wonder what the point of character X was every single week. Hell, that's the overriding theme for some entire goddamned shows. Not that Western media isn't rife with it too, but I feel that the selection pressure that comes from ratings rather than simply buying a timeslot and then putting everything on DVD sales tends to force at least some constant pressure to have every episode have at least something marketable about it. Or perhaps it's just the far more sprawling casts. There certainly exist shows like The Good Place that are claustrophobically focused on a tiny group of characters without weekly 'guests' to mix things up or provide at least some kind of temporary new dynamic, but it's not the de facto standard like they seem to be in anime/VNs/whatever.

I'm at something of a loss to make a guess as to why it's like that though. Cultural differences seems like a cop out excuse that doesn't really cover it. Besides, when I think of older anime, Lupin, Slayers, Cutey Honey, Cowboy Bebop, etc, they don't have the same kind of issue. There's plenty of Japanese shows about protagonists who kicked asses and took names. Of course, that could simply be because they've stood the test of time by not being filled with those kinds of forgettable sludgeballs trying to be passed off as characters. It's easy to declare (or have the characters declare) that they have a badass at the helm simply by announcing it, while all they really do is sit on their ass. At least, until someone announces the next tournament where they'll have to grunt and/or believe in their friends slightly more. It's certainly kept the lights on for Dragonball for decades.

It could just be that the focus on DVD sales instead of ratings has made pressure to create a quality product (ie well written) too divorced from the actual effort. Lord knows I've wondered how some of these writers keep getting work at all without a single thing of any merit under their belts. Or perhaps its the excessive reverence baked into the culture for content creators, which seems like it would be at odds with the thriving fan culture of then making everything created have sex with everything else. A collaborative effort to workshop your script into the best it can be, taking in multiple opinions from experienced, educated writers is unheard of, but fifty artists all drawing your characters getting violated by various forms of phallic objects is not only the norm, but a sign of great sucess. I simply don't get how the pride of ownership works over there.

Anyway, that's about the deepest thoughts I've got for the week. This is precisely why I'd much rather be prompted via some terrible episode, or rifling through old files, to rant for two paragraphs than be left alone trying to cobble my own musings into some kind of coherent thing.

Posted in Unimportant Crap | 2 Comments »

2 Shouts From the Peanut Gallery

  • JCAll says:

    I thought the anime industry was kept afloat by making lots of cute girls to sell sex toys of.

  • The Phantom says:

    Is that Gunnthra from fire emblem heroes?