John Evans' Blog

Tag: stories

Who Could Believe Such a Thing? – The Role of Disbelief in Narrative

by on Dec.20, 2006, under Uncategorized

Imagine a work of fiction – a novel, a television show, a video game, anything you like. Imagine that one character advances an outlandish theory to explain the unusual occurrences that have plagued the narrative. Imagine that another character expresses surprise, skepticism, disbelief at this theory.

Who is eventually proven right?

Who Could Believe Such a Thing? – The Role of Disbelief in Narrative

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Why the Japanese Hate Sequels

by on Aug.07, 2006, under Uncategorized

Okay, okay, the Japanese don’t necessarily hate sequels; that was mere hyperbole. But it seems sometimes like they don’t entirely grasp the concept. Look at Legend of Zelda Wind Waker vs. the previous Zelda games. Look at Dark Cloud vs. Dark Cloud 2. Heck, look at all the various Final Fantasy games!

However, I’ve come across things in recent researches that may shed new light on this tendency. It all goes back to Osamu Tezuka, the “Father of Manga” or even “God of Manga”. A prolific pioneer, he published hundreds of different manga in many different genres. Along the way he came up with an interesting idea called the Star System.

For those who might not want to read the whole article, I’ll summarize. Reportedly, Tezuka was inspired by the film industry, who were promoting actors and actresses as “stars” over and above simply promoting their roles in specific movies. This is, of course, the standard way of doing things nowadays in Hollywood…Tezuka took it in a slightly different direction. He reused characters from manga to manga, but in different roles. One of the most famous characters is Shunsaku Ban, a portly, middle-aged man with a large walrus-like moustache. In Astro Boy he sometimes plays Astro’s teacher, but in most works (such as the manga and film Metropolis) he plays a detective.

Of course, I say “he plays” but the character really has no existence outside the manga…Or does he? Tezuka imbued his characters with such life that I do not doubt he believed they had independent existences…perhaps only within his own mind, but independent even so. So the conceit of seeing these characters as “actors” playing recurrent roles became a natural one. It draws a curious layer of metatextuality over Tezuka’s oeuvre.

And perhaps the “Star System” influenced over Japanese creators. Anyone who’s run into the various versions of the Tenchi Muyo canon would no doubt find it simple to think of “Tenchi” as an actor appearing in several different “Tenchi-ish” works.

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Dragon Maps

by on Feb.24, 2006, under Uncategorized

I recently stumbled across a website I found very interesting. Those of you reading this journal who are interested in stories and storytelling (and I suspect there may be some of you) may find Hitherby Dragons worth checking out. I’m not entirely sure how to explain it, so I’ll make a list of things to say.

* It’s a website where several neat little stories are posted each week.
* It has The Alphabet Game, the first story I read there and, I believe, a wonderful introduction to the site as a whole.
* If you want a straightforward introduction to the site rather than just jumping in feet-first, check out the abstract and catch-up links (they’re at the top of the Hitherby Dragons page, but I’ve copied the links here for convenience).
* The stories occasionally fit together into an overarching plotline if you read a lot of them.
* It features stories about emptiness and what’s beyond the maps.
* There are a surprising number of references to Fisher-Price.

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