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Post Reply Ever notice that a shows premise is no indication of how good the anime will be?
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17
I've noticed over the years that there have been a LOT of anime with really interesting premises that fall at the first hurdle and seemingly just as many anime that have a rather boring premise only to make it so entertaining you can't help but watch it. In other words, while there are plenty of exceptions, overwhelmingly the anime industry for some reason seems to have a lot of problems writing stories based on ideas that seem like they would write themselves.

For example, take Sword Art Online, a group of people are locked inside an MMO where death in-game means death in life and now they must beat the game to escape. There are so many different aspects of what this premise can mean and the impact it could have on those involved, from the psychological impact to the struggle to survive. So, then, what happened? I think SAO's main problem was that you could put it into a fantasy setting and very little would have changed. That is what I mean about not using its premise. SAO never had to take place in an MMO and truth be told it may have actually improved many aspects of the show to not be chained to that. Very little of the story revolves around being stuck in a game and very few gameplay elements are introduced that would be unique to an MMORPG. Compare that to say Log Horizon which would not make any sense anywhere except for an MMORPG and you can see the just how little of its premise SAO actually used.

On the other side of the coin, you have something like Shokugeki no Soma about a guy who goes to cooking school, sounds like an interesting take on the shonen sports genre and that is exactly what we got. It manages to maintain a central focus on the cooking element of the show without fail but unlike many shonen sports anime, instead of focusing on one person's struggles or the struggles of an extremely small group, it has a broad range of interesting characters competing and even though Soma is the main character, it's hard not to root for just about every character in that anime. It expands upon it the central premise without forgetting that it is, above all else, a show about cooking.

Anyone have any theories why so many would-be interesting anime end up so poorly handled?

Disclaimer: this is no a thread about Sword Art Online, love it or hate it keep it to yourself, this thread is about the large number of anime who start with an interesting premise then forget about it halfway through.

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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17
I believe the misconception is that the premise is always going to remain static during an anime.
The original premise of an anime sets the tone and environment.
After that, anything can go.

It's generally the viewer who sets their own expectations of how the series should go (i.e. Sword Art Online vs Log Horizon vs Accel World vs... ) and that determines whether or not they're satisfied with the result of the anime itself.
The premise does not necessarily equate to the plot.
Sword Art Online, as an example, used the premise as its focus point: being stuck in an MMO set the environment but not the plot.
Accel World used an MMO as its platform versus being the focal point; whereas the plot focused primarily on character building (which the premise was self-growth = character growth within Brain Burst).

Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars), on the other hand, provided its premise as simply "Guy going to Cooking School" which set the environment, not the premise.
Who would have thought that Shokugeki no Soma would have gone beyond just showing one guy trying to show the world how great he was at cooking and began focusing on multiple characters that interacted with him?
It could have, quite literally, been an anime that focused solely on shokugeki battles and it would have kept with the premise itself.

Overall, the idea of an anime being "poorly handled" is subjective.
The examples you have provided can all be seen as having been handled well based on the viewer.
The premises do not have to be the sole indication of the series, which is where Shokugeki no Soma shifted gears away from the premise and brought in character development that was unexpected.
Same goes with Sword Art Online where it did not heavily focus on the fact they were trapped within an MMO, other than when it was convenient for the viewer to be reminded that it wasn't just a fantasy-adventure anime.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17
Halfway through?

More like episode 2.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17
This is why I try almost everything every season, anything can be good. The premise is practically irrelevant.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17
Premise definitely doesn't have any relation to quality, but it should have some relation to the actual show itself. Barring actual legitimate storyline twists, you should at least know what you're getting into based on the premise in the promotional material and first episode or two. It may end up being a great apple but if you sell it to me as an orange I'm still going to be disappointed.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17
To go in a slightly different direction than Cydoemus: the premise is nothing more than the bait to get an audience's attention. Without a strong enough hook to grab the audience and performance to reel them in, a strong premise alone results in nothing more than attracting a big audience that quickly loses interest. A strong premise indicates nothing of a writer's ability to tell a story or a production studio's ability to adapt and execute that story.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17

ChaosOpen wrote:

I've noticed over the years that there have been a LOT of anime with really interesting premises that fall at the first hurdle and seemingly just as many anime that have a rather boring premise only to make it so entertaining you can't help but watch it. In other words, while there are plenty of exceptions, overwhelmingly the anime industry for some reason seems to have a lot of problems writing stories based on ideas that seem like they would write themselves.

For example, take Sword Art Online, a group of people are locked inside an MMO where death in-game means death in life and now they must beat the game to escape. There are so many different aspects of what this premise can mean and the impact it could have on those involved, from the psychological impact to the struggle to survive. So, then, what happened? I think SAO's main problem was that you could put it into a fantasy setting and very little would have changed. That is what I mean about not using its premise. SAO never had to take place in an MMO and truth be told it may have actually improved many aspects of the show to not be chained to that. Very little of the story revolves around being stuck in a game and very few gameplay elements are introduced that would be unique to an MMORPG. Compare that to say Log Horizon which would not make any sense anywhere except for an MMORPG and you can see the just how little of its premise SAO actually used.

On the other side of the coin, you have something like Shokugeki no Soma about a guy who goes to cooking school, sounds like an interesting take on the shonen sports genre and that is exactly what we got. It manages to maintain a central focus on the cooking element of the show without fail but unlike many shonen sports anime, instead of focusing on one person's struggles or the struggles of an extremely small group, it has a broad range of interesting characters competing and even though Soma is the main character, it's hard not to root for just about every character in that anime. It expands upon it the central premise without forgetting that it is, above all else, a show about cooking.

Anyone have any theories why so many would-be interesting anime end up so poorly handled?

Disclaimer: this is no a thread about Sword Art Online, love it or hate it keep it to yourself, this thread is about the large number of anime who start with an interesting premise then forget about it halfway through.



While I wont bother to inquire why your thread appears to be eerily similar to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G30xZxJLR8U I will say its a mixed bag. First of all you get what you want to get. That is to say if you go into a show that's overly hyped expecting all sorts of "bad-assery" then your likely to be left feeling disappointed and frustrated at the show regardless of how well it was executed. I personally have found to ignore the "premise" as I have found many a hidden gems I had long since passed over due to poor premise(my little monster, Danchigai, ect) I think this is why you see all over the anime community people using the 3-6 episode rule. The other issue is "premise" of the show posted is nothing more then a generalized idea of what the show is about without giving away too much details.

Your issue with SAO I dont think is very well thought out as you have it written. The imminent threat in SAO unlike Log Horizon is losing in the game is literally game over in real life. Thus it couldn't really have been in a fantasy setting or else it would have been a different show entirely. From "level up" to "skills" all the way to why the MC in SAO was forced into the "lonewolf" trope. I am not sure how much more of the story could be about being in a MMO when I think they beat you to death with mentioning/showing it in almost every episode. As far as uniqueness goes... I am not sure what your expectations were. Its a show not a game, so obviously there has to be some limits.

Shokugeki is a whole different set of teacups IMO. Shokugeki portrays it self modestly as an almost "Iron Chef" like show but in animated form. However after the 1st episode you realize you've walked into something far more sinister. We could argue that Shokugeki's appeal is not so much in the cooking(though I personally have made a dozen of the recipes) but rather the wacky antics, and over sexualized experiences the characters have from dining on each others plates. We could say you could remove the cooking aspect and the shows appeal would still remain however that's being a bit disingenuous. The premise of each show presents what the Studios wanted it to portray and let the show speak for itself. Love it, or hate it, your a victim of your own expectations being projected upon the media outlets.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17

DevinKuska

While I wont bother to inquire why your thread appears to be eerily similar to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G30xZxJLR8U I will say its a mixed bag.


Guilty as charged, I did get the idea from that video but rather than simply settling at digibro's single opinion in some type of fanboy echo chamber(often the result of people either only discussing a video in the comments or simply taking the video as law) I wanted to see a broader viewpoint and see what other things people had to say. I tried my best to kind of sum up the gist of what I understood of what digibro was saying then let the conversation go where it may.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17
I just watch everything even if it genres I'm not fond of because I never know what I might like.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17

CKD-Anime wrote:

I just watch everything even if it genres I'm not fond of because I never know what I might like.


Problem is, last I checked there was something like 10 years of uninterrupted anime that exists, so a premise is something you would normally look at to see if it would be entertaining or not. Because while you can have a good story well told, if it is not on a topic that interests a person, it is just a boring story.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/16/17

ChaosOpen wrote:


CKD-Anime wrote:

I just watch everything even if it genres I'm not fond of because I never know what I might like.


Problem is, last I checked there was something like 10 years of uninterrupted anime that exists, so a premise is something you would normally look at to see if it would be entertaining or not. Because while you can have a good story well told, if it is not on a topic that interests a person, it is just a boring story.
I'm talking about simulcast in my previous comment, if its older shows then I'm looking at reviews. Like you said in the title the premise has no indication of how good a show will be, thus I don't bother reading it.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/17/17
Wait...really? Never would've guessed. Damn, thanks for blowing my mind.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/17/17
The premise - and how it's described in the blurb - should be a good indication of what tone the show is going for.

I read a book for writers called "beginnings, middles, and ends" by Nancy Kress (https://www.amazon.com/Beginnings-Middles-Elements-Fiction-Writing/dp/1599632195), and it says that the beginning, and the exterior material, contain an implicit promise with the reader about what sort of book this will be, and that the ending should deliver on that promise.

That's not to say that all works in a genre have to end the same - for example, not all romances have to end with happily ever after. But the story should give some indication upfront for the direction it will take - and the sort and intensity of hardships that will be faced along the way. Let's say we have a Victorian-set romance about a poor girl who falls in love with a rich boy. If the first scene has the heroine running through a field of flowers, vs. the first scene having her witness someone being cruel to an orphan on the streets of London and wanting to help but feeling like she can't, you'll have some idea of what to expect. Meanwhile, something like Emma, which has a realistic but relatively bright and peaceful-looking art style and tone even from the beginning, which seems fonder of meditation over historical trivia, seems like it will be a middle ground that isn't interesting in either dwelling on or glossing over anything negative.

Another example: Madoka Magica. Fans of it think it's so subversive that it actually had people die, but the visuals, and the mood, set up from the very beginning - and the fact that these magical girls use realistic looking guns - are an indicator of what's to come, even without graphic violence upfront.

If a show had ~2-3 seasons looking like Cardcaptor Sakura, and then suddenly had graphic violence, there would be a lot of fans who would not want to watch it because of that. There would also be a lot of fans who would want to start watching it because of that, and it might even out. Same thing if a violent, death-dealing show suddenly turned romantic-comedy - though, as Fate, etc. spinoffs have shown, fans will follow their favorite characters.

So, it depends.
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Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/17/17

LavenderMintRose

The premise - and how it's described in the blurb - should be a good indication of what tone the show is going for.

I read a book for writers called "beginnings, middles, and ends" by Nancy Kress (https://www.amazon.com/Beginnings-Middles-Elements-Fiction-Writing/dp/1599632195), and it says that the beginning, and the exterior material, contain an implicit promise with the reader about what sort of book this will be, and that the ending should deliver on that promise.

That's not to say that all works in a genre have to end the same - for example, not all romances have to end with happily ever after. But the story should give some indication upfront for the direction it will take - and the sort and intensity of hardships that will be faced along the way. Let's say we have a Victorian-set romance about a poor girl who falls in love with a rich boy. If the first scene has the heroine running through a field of flowers, vs. the first scene having her witness someone being cruel to an orphan on the streets of London and wanting to help but feeling like she can't, you'll have some idea of what to expect. Meanwhile, something like Emma, which has a realistic but relatively bright and peaceful-looking art style and tone even from the beginning, which seems fonder of meditation over historical trivia, seems like it will be a middle ground that isn't interesting in either dwelling on or glossing over anything negative.

Another example: Madoka Magica. Fans of it think it's so subversive that it actually had people die, but the visuals, and the mood, set up from the very beginning - and the fact that these magical girls use realistic looking guns - are an indicator of what's to come, even without graphic violence upfront.

If a show had ~2-3 seasons looking like Cardcaptor Sakura, and then suddenly had graphic violence, there would be a lot of fans who would not want to watch it because of that. There would also be a lot of fans who would want to start watching it because of that, and it might even out. Same thing if a violent, death-dealing show suddenly turned romantic-comedy - though, as Fate, etc. spinoffs have shown, fans will follow their favorite characters.

So, it depends.


One thing that gets old fast is the way some writers try to change up how something ends but don't quite have the skill to make the smooth transition. Code Geass does this beautifully, if you watched only the first episode then I told you the ending you would have no idea how it got there, but the writers on Geass did such a good job crafting a coherent story that what was a twist ending that, while it no doubt caught everyone by surprise during the reveal, it seems very logical immediately after with the way the story plays out. Problems arise when writers who have no idea what they are doing attempt the same thing like the "OreImo" anime; everyone thought the anime would go like the novels with the old incest bait-and-switch. No problem there, the story had followed the novels and the novels had obviously been setting up for an ending with the MC getting together with koroneko.

Then as the second season of the series wound down and they decided to write an anime original ending the crowds erupted in unison: "OH GOD DID HE JUST KISS HIS SISTER!?"

The response was so overwhelmingly positive to this twist that they had to rush out the true-to-novel ending after the second season ended.
Posted 10/16/17 , edited 10/17/17
I never read the premise before starting an anime because it feels like a spoiler to me.

What I do is look at which genres the anime falls under and make my decision to watch the anime from there.
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