Posted in Anime, tagged Anime, Cash Cow, Fans, Long Series, Merchandising, Nintendo, Ongoing Series, PKMN, Pocket Monsters, Pokemon, Repetition, Series Faults on June 6, 2011|
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If you were alive and in elementary school in 1997, chances are that you were a part of the Pokemon craze. You watched the show, played the Game Boy, and collected the cards. Heck, you (like me) probably knew the PokeRap by heart. Even to this day, a good majority of you can and will recite the theme song at the drop of a dime. And we all know the basic gist of the story. 10 year old Ash Ketchum sets out on a journey to catch all (originally) 150 (or 151 if you count Mew) and become a Pokemon master with his partner, Pikachu. On the way he finds and travels with some friends (Misty and Brock…also Tracy for some time until Brock returns) and continues battling and catching pokemon in hopes of becoming said Pokemon master.
This is another one of those ongoing, never ending series. Obviously Nintendo knows what they’re doing. Pokemon is one of their largest and most popular franchises and when something makes money, chances are that the franchise won’t come to an end until it fails to create a profit. Now I’ve already done the rundown on the issues of having an ongoing series in this post. So I’ll do my best not to reiterate anything that’s already be stated there. But Pokemon comes with it’s own host of issues. And the fans have their own host of issue as well. For now, I’ll start with the fans…
There’s an understandable lure that nostalgia has on our memories. Try thinking about something you loved as a child but haven’t seen in years. And look at a newer variation of it that has a new host of characters, settings, and challenges. Perhaps even a completely different art style. Somehow the newer version doesn’t look nearly as good in your eyes because you had such a strong love for the older version. This is the appeal of the first generation of Pokemon to fans of the series. The more Pokemon designs they created the more they dislike the designs of future generations. Gen. 2 was still fairly decent. Gen. 3 was okay. Gen. 4 was bad. And Gen. 5 was despised. By time the generation for the Black and White games came out, fans had convinced themselves that the older designs were tons better than the new ones. That Nintendo needs to stop creating pokemon designs because the new ones are absolutely terrible. They’ve convinced themselves that Gen. 1 was the best because all the designs were based off of real animals and/or mythical beasts. This logic fails miserably. Because nostalgia seemed to block out such Pokemon like Grimer, Muk, Ditto, Magnemite, Magneton, and Porygon. All creatures based off of immobile, non-living objects and all from the first generation (by non-living I mean non-organic, flesh and blood beings). What’s the difference between a magnet creature or toxic waste creature and a gear or garbage creature? Or even an ice cream one?
As for the series, the problem it has is repetition. Constant repetition. Nothing completely new has happened in the story in years. Every time Ash ventures to a new region, he drops all the Pokemon he had except Pikachu, obtains a new starter Pokemon, and sets out to gather all the gym badges and fight whatever leagues there are. All the while Jessie and James continue to try to steal Pikachu nearly every episode and fail every time. If you started from episode one, you know the basic story for every season following. Story is important. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a small bit of repetition in a story, when the entire story repeats itself that is a story failure that should have been fixed in the pre-production phase. Or the alternative is to just end the series. Once you find that there is nothing new you can do with your story, that’s a sign that the project should end. Let the series end with a bang rather than drag it out until you’ve wrung everything you could from it. Because at a certain point, the audience will slowly fall away.
But in the end, it just comes down to money. For all the faults it has as a television series, Pokemon is brilliant when it comes to merchandising. All the creatures they can make toys and stuffed animals off of, all the games they can make, all the shirt and product designs…it’s a cash cow. And Nintendo’s out to milk Pokemon for all they can get. In the meantime, I’ll continue to be a fan and attempt to “catch ’em all”. How about you?
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Posted in Anime, tagged Animation, Anime, Art, Critique, Detective Conan, Long Series, Ongoing Series, Problems with Story, Story, Story Problems, Storytelling, Writing on June 3, 2011|
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Well all know them. The popular anime series that continue running for hundreds and hundreds of episodes due to the popularity of the series. Perhaps the creators intended for such shows to be shorter but as the series grew more and more popular, they had to cater to the needs of the public. And what the public wanted was more of the series. Or perhaps the plan was to have an ongoing series from the beginning.
These shows tend to be guilty pleasures for a lot of us. We all know someone who’s a large fan of Bleach, Naruto (I lump Shipudden and Shounen Hen in this group), or One Piece. We get hooked on these series early, become invested in the characters, and put in considerable time following it that perhaps we feel that we must finish the series…or at the least follow it as long as we can until we completely tire of it.
My guilty pleasure series is Detective Conan, a 617+ episode series about a high school detective (Shinichi Kudo) who is poisoned while spying on two men in black. The poison backfires however and the result is that he is turned into a child and uses the alias “Conan Edogawa” so that no one (including his friends) can figure out his real identity. Though along the way a few people end up finding out and of course his family find out. As this post’s purpose isn’t to review the series in full, I don’t need to write a full description. I’m just using this particular series as an example to show the problems that can happen with a long running series.
Detective Conan started off on at a rather steady pace. And for the first 50 or so episodes, you can visually see the story going somewhere. The basic gist of the story is that “Conan” (Shinichi) continues to solve various crimes in hopes that he picks up clues about the “Black Organization” and their drug, APTX 4869. It’s a rather straightforward plot. But the main issue is that the series continuously veers further and further away from the plot in order to drag the show on and on. The smartest decisions they’ve made are to strategically insert nibbles of actual plot into the series when the series begins to veer too far away from the plot. This keeps the audience interested by reminding them that they haven’t forgotten about the main plot. It just takes a bit of time to get there. The other smart decision is to insert something unique and interesting such as the London Arc or the recent insertion of a new detective named Sera into the manga. This reminds the audience that the story can still be eye catching and interesting even when the main plot seems so far away. Not to mention the addition of Sera spiced things up quite a bit. As she’s a sudden addition and I want to know how her character will progress in further chapters.
But there is a grave downside to this as well. While inserting nibbles of actual plot into the series is a great idea, the mistake with Detective Conan is when they do insert actual plot into the series, they quickly yank it away within a few episodes. Right when you think the show might be going somewhere, it doesn’t. Doing it a time or two is fine. Just so long as it actually fulfill what it sets out to do. But after 617 episodes, nothing has still happened. They haven’t gotten any closer to defeating the Black Organization. They haven’t gotten very many clues on the experimental drug. Nor are they any closer to restoring Shinichi’s body to normal. In fact, many of times I completely forget that Conan is Shinichi. If you can delete a good majority of the series and leave just the parts that contain details that pertain to the plot, it’s a good sign that most of the series is unneeded. Granted that would mean cutting some fun cases, but I would rather have the show (and manga too) continue to follow a plot rather than having cases that have no purpose.
I’m no storyteller. In fact, writing stories is a weak point for me. And I understand that writing long stories is easier than writing short ones. It might be a normal thing for storytellers to write long stories in the beginning. But part of the story writing process is cutting and editing out unnecessary details. Getting rid of the parts that do not help further the plot. And somehow this editing process was forgotten.
The public always knows what they want. And the media should take into consideration what the public does want. If they don’t, then their show, comic, song, etc. won’t be a success. But don’t forget the integrity of the story in the process. Don’t sacrifice what’s good to appease people. If you have a good product, you will find an audience for it. And just because a product has a large audience doesn’t always mean the product is good. There’s nothing wrong with having a longer series. But if you find that the show you’re making is more “filler” than plot, perhaps you should take a better look at your scripts and see if there’s anything your show can do without.
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