December 12, 2013 · 12:10 am
Except when they don’t
Hush little audience don’t you cry, you knew your favourite character was going to die…
Well, that’s an unnerving little lullaby isn’t it? The fact is, the author giveth and the author taketh away, and the characters and worlds creative professionals breathe life into are often at risk of having that life sucked right back out of it. Yes, friends and loved ones, I’m talking about character deaths again. An excessive amount, or a lack thereof, both of which seem to be trending across popular TV series at current, and both of which have some iffy implications.
Game of Thrones, for example, has by now a stellar reputation for sticking an axe into everyone you love, or, in less weepy terms, its writer assigning no contractual immortality to the ‘good guys’. One of the most popular anime series at the moment, Attack on Titan, runs a similar operation, as does the Fate franchise which has spent the better part of this year putting my heart through a pepper grinder. Supernatural is not much better. In the sphere of YA The Hunger Games and Harry Potter are well worthy of note, with fans everywhere lamenting the loss of their favourites in whatever context. Suzanne, George, J.K. and their kind have earned their place in the hearts of many as the harbingers of doom.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Steven Moffat, who, as much discussed in the wake of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special, has a general aversion to actually killing characters off. Which is fine, on one level, since not every series has to contain a warzone’s worth of death if it’s not actually set in a warzone. But what our champ the Moff does is fake out deaths; kill Rory and bring him back so many times it becomes a running joke, displace people in time so they pass away quietly off-screen, or just smack the literal giant reset button and make everything okay again. As a side note, there is an actual website where you can press a ‘make everything okay’ button, which is really cute, but as a writing technique it’s… rather dicey.
There he goes again
At one end of the tightrope, you have Game of Thrones watchers joking that they’re hesitant to get attached to new characters since they’ll probably just get killed off, at the other, all tension and sense of fear for the Doctor and his crew is pretty much evaporated due to their writers’ discomfort with the idea of killing anyone permanently. Neither of these is really a position your show wants to be in. Continue reading →
Filed under Things We Need to Stop Doing
Tagged as A Song of Ice and Fire, Agents of S.H.I.E.LD, Day of the Doctor, Doctor Who, Fate franchise, Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero, Game of Thrones, Joss Whedon, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Shingeki no Kyojin, Steven Moffat, Supernatural, The Avengers
July 11, 2013 · 12:33 am
You all know the story—a world-innocent but slightly bored peasant boy gets swept into an adventure to save his people. How’s he going to do it? He’s just an everyman, after all, the most relatable archetype out there, that of the well-meaning but gormless youth. However he might protest, however, he really has little to no say in it—he has to go on the adventure and defeat this evil, because destiny dictates he’s the only one who can.
What am I talking about here? Star Wars? The Arthurian legends? Buffy the Vampire Slayer? It doesn’t matter. The idea of the fated hero is older than print, present in everything from Greek theatre to modern sitcoms. But the question that I pose to you is thus: is the concept a bit worn out?
After all, the thing about destiny is that you know what’s going to happen. As if the definition wasn’t enough, we have the added bonus that a lot of these plots march along a certain previously laid-out path, that of The Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell was the first to nut this out in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces and if you follow your nose you’ll see it guiding adventurers all across the spectrum of literature.
It starts with our ordinary hero, our relatable everydude, in their ordinary home town, somewhat dissatisfied with their predictable life. Suddenly, in crashes some sort of bizarre happenstance that ignites the plot. Maybe a mysterious girl falls from the sky, or maybe they find a hidden treasure, or maybe some sort of mystical, pun-making wizard appears and calls them to adventure.
The Hero can’t just rush off into the story, however—for whatever reason, be it their loyalty to home or their honour or their wobbly knees, they must refuse the call. In spite of this, they’re going to get roped into the fray anyway, like in the aforementioned and formula-perfect Star Wars, where Obi Wan points out that Luke’s really got nothing better to do than come with him and face the adventure he was born for since his house and family are now on fire.
Does destiny really say I have to carry your Muppet ass around?
Continue reading →
Filed under Archetypes and Genre
Tagged as A Song of Ice and Fire, Brave, destiny, Fate franchise, Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Joseph Campbell, Pixar, Star Wars, The Hero's Journey, The Three Doors
May 2, 2013 · 2:26 am
Story worlds are cool. Writers all over the world and throughout history have created an endless parade of fascinating and wondrous fictional realms that we as an audience adore to visit, and characters we love and love to hate. Wouldn’t it be the greatest epitome of awesome if we could really get into these places and meet them?
Well luckily, with a certain character type at the wheel, you can! Slip into their shell and walk around the story land as you please. It’s as easy as pulling on a pair of pants.
I’m trying something new these days: I’ve started playing Fate/Stay Night, delving into an adventure of magic, mythology and mayhem, and touching down into the visual novel medium for the first time. A visual novel is, in plainest terms, a complex Choose Your Own Adventure story, with graphics, voiceovers, and a lot of pages—basically you click through the story and are occasionally presented with different options that transform you from reader into player. What will you do in this situation? Every decision could affect the overall outcome of the story. There are different routes you can venture down, making the medium very interesting in terms of its virtually unlimited storytelling capacities.
But before we digress into that territory, let me tell you something I discovered while playing. I’m not very far in since the game is enormous, and that’s not even counting the alternate routes and storylines, so I haven’t been faced with many options yet. If they have come up, they’ve been menial things that aren’t directly involved with the big magical war going on in the shadows the protagonist has not yet stumbled into. For example, the first one you get is in the morning when Our Hero, Shirou, wakes up: does he go and do his normal morning routine, or go and help his friend make breakfast?
Super simple stuff, and I picked the breakfast one (because I harbour a sneaking suspicion that the character involved was placed to fulfil some sort of adorable docile housewife fantasy and it makes me itch. Go and assist your lady friend, Shirou. Look after your ladies. No ladies no life). My reasoning was that I’d hate to be the lazy-ass in that scenario, and you ought to help your friends out, especially if they’re being lovely enough to cook your meals. But then I backtracked and went “Hang on. Was I making that decision as me, or was I making it as Shirou?” Continue reading →