Title: Pacing and spiritual progression
Legs_Not_Allowed - April 8, 2008 02:56 PM (GMT)
I'm kind of worried about Revenant Braves: by establishing something like the Vices (which are cool, if a bit overembodiying), as well as the magical guardian of justice that makes someone a super-being to destroy them, you may have written yourself in a corner. Before you lash out at me for this suggestion, consider the metaplot and the upwards-spiralling relative power of antagonizers in each "scenario". I apologize for not using names: my memory is terrible, and it's also more relevant if I use deconstructive terms.
The meta-plot for the most part is fine. Girl gets call, forces reluctant protagonist guy and conventionally-powerful tag-along comedic relief nerd to go get the badguy. Hilarity and action ensues. However, both the girl and the ascended nerd are going to be on the sidelines ad infinum, unless they each get their own spirit and then you've got Shaman King on your hands. This might not be bad, but it kinda dampens the spirit of the thing with the single spirit of justice being their ace-in-the-hole: still, Gensai (okay, I remembered his name) won't be fighting anything that isn't solid, and, well, pretty much anyone with a deplorable trait seems to be set up to have a Vice.
Second of all, antagonists. Yes, the justice backlash thing can reduce the main guy's efficacy, but I fear you're headed in the Bleach and Naruto direction with this one-trying to one-up your last attempts with increasingly exponentially more powerful opponents. Considering Gensai has shown he can make a light feast of any human opponents, and the main guy is basically a demi-god when powered up, and even the chick who's role is nature-based, mostly, can kick ass, you basically are forced to pull out Vices for the main guy to fight.
However, because the main character isn't just conventionally very powerful and is actually better in every way, sending a re-occuring villain or a villain equal to what he fought last is both redundant and anti-climatic. Corruption was already the bad-ass old master, and the first Vice (who's name escapes me), was the new-age riled-up youngblood, who was no match for the spirit of justice. Now, you're kinda caught in a loop of continuously introducing older and older antagonists. If all three of the main characters get spirits, you'll have to do the same thing, except with three guys. Even if the villains start becoming other humans with, say, the power of "injustice", you're just delaying the inevitable since there's no way a mediocre villain can give them trouble besides capturing the chick, or something. RPG-style progression is problematic, and although it symbolises the swapping from small-fry problems to big-fry catastrophe, new small-fry problems should still be something to be reckoned with.
This sounds like an argument that I could apply to any story with action, and to a certain extent, this is true. However, a relevant example is The Ghostbusters: Yes, this happens somewhat, but it's not like the characters aren't susceptible to dying at any given point-they're rarely pitted in a simple confrontation.
This whole thing is nitpicky, but such things as immediately downing a Jounin in the first arc with little trouble and then making Jounin god-like right after in Naruto pissed the hell out of me.
Thanks for reading this rant; I know your story is light-hearted, but after reading your review of Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, I also realised you are more capable as a writer and critic than Circumstances of the Revenant Braves cares to show.
Kristof - April 8, 2008 07:07 PM (GMT)
Having read that, I can see you have a lot of experience and understanding of story-telling, particularly in anime/manga (specifically in the action-oriented variety :P). I can definitely see where you're coming from and I've had similar frustrations with action shows in the past. It's difficult to answer your concerns without giving too much away, but the fact that I know what you're saying and have already given it some thought should give you atleast some confidence that I won't fall into the trap I've laid out for myself.
You may have noticed that CRB is in one way a satirical look at some of the more tired anime conventions (while, admittedly, using many others as a crutch the way other authors do). I've set myself up in the way you've described the same way other series do. Now it's my challenge to get out of it in such a way that allows me to poke fun at the others.
At the same time, though, you're right, CRB is light-hearted at its core and the action sequences and supernatural elements are mostly there to spice up the character-based story while allowing me to soothe a personal urge to do fight scenes.
I'm really glad you posted this, though. It was my hope that having a forum would generate this kind of discussion. People don't realise it, but there's a lot to pick apart and analyze in anime and manga. Hopefully, CRB will be no different. :)
Legs_Not_Allowed - April 9, 2008 01:34 AM (GMT)
It's good to think too hard about certain things. More writers should do it. As for myself, well, I can "write"-but I wouldn't stake my life on it, or anything. Some of us are much better critics.
It's good to know that you've at least got some idea of what direction to take this: despite being for a somewhat niche audience, you've got one of the only webcomics to bother to try to deconstruct something while staying entertaining at the same time, and it'd be pretty brutal to see something like that occur. I'll be waiting impatiently to see what you write next-but I'll be thinking the whole while.
Something I can appreciate is the fact that you remembered to keep the spirit of Justice savvy to his respective time period. Considering the possible technical re-definitions of justice in a more modern, more liberal light, I wonder if that might chafe the main character, sooner or later. Using ghosts as a link to the past interests me in a classical sense.
Rather than force spoilers out of you, I'd like to change course a little with this topic to discuss pacing specifically to do with spiritual powers. Magic isn't like this, impossible technology isn't like this, even super-duper kung-fu or swordsmanship isn't like this. I'm talkin' Bleach, I'm talkin' Yu Yu Hakusho, I'm talkin' some third title that I can't think of off the top of my head. Part of it is the point that many religions or pantheons exist-animes are not the only things to do this, but it's a real headache.
If there's ghost A, why doesn't the next guy make ghost B when he dies? Many writers handwave this by claiming they need to be under serious duress-so, if there was a war where a million people died, did all of them make ghosts? If ghost A is causing so much trouble, why the hell isn't protoplasm bringing society to its knees? The other possibility is that they needed to make an oath (oaths are particularily problematic) or they "long for this world", a bracket that most people that don't die of old age fall into, I would think.
Ghosts must have overcrowding issues. If Ghost A can show up, everyone must be seeing dead people.
"Soul Societies" aren't much better-it oft-allows for constant visits to hell and going back again. Greek mythology is the classical example of this, but at least they maintained some class-However, it seemed as if just about everyone and their grandmothers could trick or get past Cerebus somehow. Thankfully, bringing anyone who wasn't a playwright back to life usually ended badly.
Bleach is of course the most annoying form of this-in their wishy-washy manner, they mix child souls that will never grow up in this sort of pseudo-purgatory which does its effective job of being creepy, and then they have souls running businesses and running around the earth cutting shoot up in a military fashion. The whole thing doesn't click. Really.
Yu Yu Hakusho's no better but the devil can still kill everyone and it's got its own issues (demons, if you will) to deal with.
Following this to its logical conclusion ends in Shin Megami Tensei, which tend to do an excellent job at it while maybe not taking itself too seriously, but I suspect that even in the first title they were cracking stupid little jokes about christianity considering mixing cyberpunk and holy guns confuses everyone involved.
Also, these types of things often involve a misguided re-imagining of vampires which always ends in something as awful as Underworld.
Kristof - April 9, 2008 11:51 AM (GMT)
Yes, I agree with you. I've been frustrated in the past with that issue, myself. Particularly in Bleach, as you mentioned.
Fortunately, in the CRB universe I've worked out (what I think is) an interesting system for souls (to be honest, it's actually not that exciting, I took some cues from Buddhism and altered and simplified from there). I haven't gone there yet because I didn't want to flood the audience with a deluge of exposition any more than I already have at this point (which is still too much all at once, in my opinion).
Another thing to keep in mind is that the ancient spirits involved aren't necessarily the souls of the dead, but rather a type of perpetually existent entity whose origin (if such a thing exists) is unkown.
Pinky - April 9, 2008 02:20 PM (GMT)
Since I should actually be studying history right now I shall not join this most interesting conversation, but instead just punch in a three liner:
Ulquiorra: “Well I was going to kill Ichigo, but then I realized that he’s the main character and the series would end if I did, so I just mocked him and walked away.”
Grimmjow: “Duh, we only sent you there to hype us, not actually do anything.”
Aizen: “Yes, we’ll send progressively stronger enemies at him so that he can get stronger and stronger, until he’s strong enough to beat even me. Damn I’m evil!”