Over-explaining in entertainment media
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Posted 5/4/14 , edited 5/4/14
Over in the 2013 Battle Thread:

GayAsianBoy wrote:

lorreen wrote:

I dropped Log Horizon because there were so many other shows in the same season that got me more interested during their first three episodes), and I did find the time spent on game mechanics a bit excessive and boring and disruptive to my enjoyment of the show (can you tell I'm not a gamer ) That said, I did like the characters (something that was not true of my experience with Magi) and I can see myself maybe going back and giving it another try. Therefore my vote goes to Log Horizon.

I find it funny that you said that, because the info was intended for non-gamer audience...
If you felt it was a bit excessive (for a non-gamer), imagine how super excessive it is to gamers what is a HP Bar? ....

To be honest, it hadn't occurred to me that the game-mechanics talk was there for non-gamers. I'd assumed it was so gamers could get some kind of nerd-on

If it was there primarily for non-gamers, it strikes me that the creators/adapters were either overestimating how interesting we would find it, or underestimating our ability to pick up on what's happening without so much of it.

Anyway, that inspired me to start this thread, because I've seen disagreements come up a few times in forum threads about the role/merit of outright explaining, lengthy narration (HxH I'm looking at you), or infodumps in anime shows—but this is something that can take place in any entertainment medium, including books, movies, even some music.

What do you think? How much and what kind of explaining/narration is "just right" and what is too much? Why?

Got some favorite examples of what you like and don't like?

Finally, regardless of whether you like it or not, or how much you think is too much, why do you think it happens?

I've got some more thoughts about this in general and wlll post them eventually, but for now, you all get started!
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Posted 5/4/14
As long as a show balances its exposition with even amounts of entertainment or artistic merits then I'm fine with a show explaining at length about its background and setting no matter who its intended audience may be. Granted, some shows need more time to inform its viewership than others, it does start to get tiresome if you have to bear with it episode after episode.
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Posted 5/4/14
Personally I love it when they explain the techniques on HxH
Sogno- 
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Posted 5/4/14
hmm well I think explaining too much can hurt rather than help if the media in question is story-based. One thing I learned in writing classes was that you want to show the story through the character's actions and words rather than tell it in narration. Besides, if the author/creator describes everything, that leaves little up to the imagination, which is part of the fun of story-telling.

But with something like Log Horizon, which is based on a game, it would be my guess that some explanation is necessary. Itt it wouldn't make sense to have a bunch of stuff happen in an online game and then have no explanation as to how it works in gameplay.

well in the end it probably depends on the genre. Regardless, the story should never get lost because of a bunch of explanations -- that makes it more of a educational-based type of media rather than just plain entertainment.
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Posted 5/4/14
I'd rather have the story progress than have the mechanics explained unless absolutely necessary.

Indirect explanations throughout the course of the show are definitely better than dialogues/monologues between characters showing how they did what they did.
Posted 5/4/14
For some reason, too much explanation in a story makes me feel like the writers think I'm too stupid to get it so they try to make it easier by spelling everything out for me...

Hunter x Hunter is going way too far with narrating everything. I find it extremely annoying because I just let them tell me everything I need to know.. Hell, sometime I feel I don't even need to see the animation anymore. It has become like a radio drama where they narrate everything so you can picture it clearly in your mind.
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Posted 5/4/14

Lowlights wrote:

I'd rather have the story progress than have the mechanics explained unless absolutely necessary.

Indirect explanations throughout the course of the show are definitely better than dialogues/monologues between characters showing how they did what they did.


Bakemonogatari. Watch it.
Posted 5/4/14 , edited 5/4/14
if the narrator is as interesting as the one in Kaiji, i'll watch it.

umm that's if there is a narration but if it's soliloquy, not interested.


Sogno- wrote:

hmm well I think explaining too much can hurt rather than help if the media in question is story-based. One thing I learned in writing classes was that you want to show the story through the character's actions and words rather than tell it in narration. Besides, if the author/creator describes everything, that leaves little up to the imagination, which is part of the fun of story-telling.

But with something like Log Horizon, which is based on a game, it would be my guess that some explanation is necessary. Itt it wouldn't make sense to have a bunch of stuff happen in an online game and then have no explanation as to how it works in gameplay.

well in the end it probably depends on the genre. Regardless, the story should never get lost because of a bunch of explanations -- that makes it more of a educational-based type of media rather than just plain entertainment.


this is the most i've seen sogno- write T_T and i love it.
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Posted 5/4/14
I love it when they explain battle techniques and sometimes battle plans. If they explain random things like the law or economy however, I get bored.
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Posted 5/4/14 , edited 5/4/14
It can be useful in written media, such as books, to establish the narrators personality. If it's first person and he or she rambles on, it may be because they are nervous or afraid.
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Posted 5/4/14
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It depends on how it's delivered.

Excessive narration can be irritating if it is taking away from what is actually happening. I am a strong believer in the "show, don't tell" style of writing/directing. I find the narrator of HxH completely obnoxious and unnecessary at times, but with that said, I think for HxH as a whole, the narrator fits. It's just fitting for that style of anime, and I think that really, without the narrator, these past 20+ episodes in the castle would have been excruciatingly boring. I like to view him as a good storyteller, and the animation is there to help bring what he is describing to life.

But I might prefer if they scrapped the narrator and just sped up this arc a little. There are points in which this pace is brilliant, and really adds to the drama of the moment (Netero's badassery is the prime example here), and there are many other moments where it just falls flat and seems a little ridiculous (like the end of last week's episode, which I could not take seriously at all).

Internal monologues are another form of excessive narration, and the same rules apply to them. Whenever I think of anime internal monologues, I get flashbacks of Death Note, a king of internal narration. Both internal narration and HxH-stye narration are put to good use when used for extra drama or to give insight on the inner thoughts of a particular character. Shakespeare used the same tactics with his monologues and soliloquies. (Speaking of Shakespeare, Blast of Tempest also had that one really long explanation/debate thingy that lasted for like three whole episodes, which I found absurd.)

As for descriptions, I like it when an anime takes the time to educate its viewers on something. This is pretty much the only reason I rather liked Upotte (yes, the anime about girls who are guns), because they explained a lot about different types of guns, ammunition, different parts of guns, and the guns' origins. I found that very interesting.

Info dumps are another thing. This is when a series waits until the very last second to explain the entire plot to viewers, despite multiple chances earlier on to do so in increments. It is excruciating. I hate info dumps with a passion. Shin Sekai Yori had a couple info dumps, and I found that they kind of took away from the mystique of the show.
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Posted 5/4/14
Over-explaining serves two main purposes. One is that it's key to the setting, in Log Horizon it serves to this effect, it also allows plot to be predicted and to prevent any future plot from seeming like it came out of nowhere. Another is for symbolic use, Index uses this to show the similarities between magic and science by over-explaining stuff.

That's my thought on it.
Posted 5/4/14
I think a lot of anime producers/writers don't want to take the risk in letting the audience figure out what is going on--they'd rather play it safe and explain unnecessary information because they don't want to lose audience.

lorreen, you're the first non-gamer watcher of Log Horizon that I've come across who said the information was excessive.
The nerd-on for us gamers was the simple fact that it was in a Fantasy setting, it has the battle mechanics of a Fantasy game, but information like, "What is a HP bar? What is a mana bar?" were really unnecessary information, and the anime listed about 16 classes of characters that one can play in the game... it just felt... mind-boggling, even to a gamer. There was simply too much information to take in.


Now on to Kill la Kill; one of the reasons why I like this anime is because it lets the audience put 2 and 2 together, rather than explaining every single detail about the oddities in the anime. It's such an odd anime, but they took the risk in not explaining about why there's a talking shirt, and why does that shirt have superpower.. why this Satsuki girl is acting high and mighty... and lets the audience speculate; is Satsuki the evil guy or the good guy?
[the explanations are revealed through the story progression and characters actions; rather than one whole blob of explanation by a narrator or a character]

I like anime like that. Anime that allow the audience to look deeper into the meaning of the story, rather than a story that describe the most obvious of things.


Ok, I don't really have a story in mind of a good narrator, but Haruhi Suzumiya is a good example of a good narrator/explanation anime.
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