katmic (Level 10)

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So, a very good question; what makes a good anime/manga? i actually didn’t bother thinking too much about this question before i decided to write this because i thought it was kind of obvious. But that was before i actually sat down to write and realized that that wasn’t the case. I intended to break the answer down into three main points namely:
1. The story- so this i thought would be the easiest to break down.Then i thought about it some more and realized that if i am dealing the story and asking what makes a good anime and manga, then the answer would be a good story, end of point. What else could be said about that? After all every one has their own unique tastes and interests and the reasons they might find one story interesting will vary from the reasons why another might find the same story interesting. My sister is a good example of this. When we talk about movies, i will ask a question along the lines of ‘Did you watch this or that?” and she will sometimes answer in the affirmative. But the explanations she gives as to why she either liked or hated it will perturb me, usually having nothing to do with the main points of the story but how this character looked and that other character dressed and how the mannerisms of that other fellow irritated her. Now clearly she is applying her own personal biases in forming an opinion of the movie. I on the other hand will be more interested in talking about the core points of the story. So with anime we all tend look at different elements to find entertainment, so i was a bit perturbed as i tried to narrow down what about a story makes a given anime or manga good, other than the fact that the story is good. so i guess the question is what makes a good story.
2. Art- this i concluded in the same manner as above. If you ask someone why they like one manga’s art they will answer that it is good art. Now some might break this down into finer details, but at the end of the day, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. I can’t tell you what good art is, you can’t tell me what i think good art is. It is my opinion, what i like, simple as that. An example, when i get bored, i find some good forums to read, and recently i was reading some comments regarding Mario, Kishimoto’s one shot and i was surprised to find a hostile comment aimed at the manga, not because the comment claimed not to like Mario but the reason why. Apparently he claimed that Mario must have been taking too much of Kishimoto’s time and was the reason why his recent art work in Naruto was “so shitty”.He then went on to say that he used to enjoy the sketchy look of the art in the first part of Naruto but that in the second part, the art had began to look a little to fine and clean and he hated that and that definitely Mario was to blame, because Kishimoto couldn’t focus.
Now i was perturbed; the reason i loved Veritas (manga) so much was because of how clean it was, because i loved that everything was so clear and easily noticeable. And i have come across some Naruto manga, mainly chapters behind the events occurring in the anime and i like the clean look. So i didn’t agree with this fellow. But that goes to show how tastes can vary in anime and manga and how people like different things. So their is no way to specify any qualities that make a manga good with regards to the art.
3. I had a point about the characters, but then it all revolved around how the otaku could best relate to them and how much of their story resonated with the reader and again, depended on what they liked and their individual biases. Same thing for the action.
So basically i was a bit unsure as to how to narrow down what made an anime and manga good and hence, what made it bad, which annoyed me. I considered dropping the topic. Instead i took a break, watched the Justified finale to relax, and then watched two episodes of Psycho pass. The purpose was to figure out why i liked the show and what endeared it to me yet something like “A rabbit has seven lives’ which i had tried to watch and failed not so long ago was, as far as i am concerned, pretty bad. After looking at Psycho pass as seriously as i could for an hour or so, i came up with a few ideas and narrowed down what i thought were the factors that were responsible for and where present in each and every manga (or anime) that any (most at least) otaku would refer to as good no matter there tastes.
So i will begin again:
1. The story. trying to break the idea of a story apart and figuring out what unique trait made a manga story good didn’t yield any result. You like what you like. There are certain genres people
will die to watch while they will be anathema to others because of one reason or another. So if you are talking about a story in a manga that is referred to as good, then you will have to refer to the characters. Good characters make a good story and a good story in turn will result in a good set of characters. I believe we will enjoy a story if we basically like the characters. Maybe we are able to relate to them on a personal level. Or maybe we simply feel for them and find ourselves unable to do anything else but cheer them on on their path and that brings us back every week. We want to see more of these characters and they make the story good. Of course it all comes down to how the author handles them. Many authors struggle to juggle a large cast of characters and drop the ball when trying to utilize all of them. The best story will have a number of characters each of which plays an important role in the plot. They don’t have to play an important part in the primary objective, they don’t even have to contribute one bit to the main character's progress. However the author needs to present them in a way that makes them matter no matter what is happening.
Here is how i would explain it. Every show has a main character. The primary protagonist should be the main character, yet he or she shouldn’t be the
only central focus. IN other words a manga seizes to be good when the story is unable to sustain itself without the presence of the main character. This is one of the factors that i believe debased bleach a while back, because it felt like Kubo assumed that ichigo had to be involved in every situation for it to matter. Whether or not he was right, it didn’t help the show. I will point out Naruto on the other hand, where Naruto Uzumaki will not appear for several chapters and yet the story is able to sustain itself. Think of those days when fans would say that Naruto wasn’t the main character of his own show yet they kept on watching it and reading Naruto.
I would summarize it as this. Each series should or rather will have a hero, a villain and an objective. Or in the case of none battle related shows, a protagonist and antagonist. Both parties need to have a good dynamic with each other and their relationship should be interesting enough to keep the story interesting. Both should have specific objectives driving them. A bad show will fail to clearly pronounce the purposes of both sides and why they fight so hard to get what they want. Some series like to keep you guessing and live the conclusion of what either side wanted to you to guess. i don’t like it. What i like less though and what is less popular than an unclear motive is a flimsy one. many otaku are still complaining over SAO’s first part and how whatshisname’s claim to have forgotten why he did what he did. I didn’t really care but it is a good example of how a story fails to provide a clear reason behind a villain or hero doing what he is doing. It matters, otherwise there is no reason to cheer or hate them.
2. Art. It didn’t take me long to figure out what about art made one manga good and another manga bad. i was just being lazy before. All i had to do was stop and take a look at all the manga that i had ever come across, considered to be good and what i was reading at the present. I have mentioned before that many mangaka (if they think it) have got it wrong if they assume that the secret to a
good manga is great art, because that isn’t entirely true and at the very least it will get you decent and mostly average ratings. Sure i love coming across brilliantly drawn series because they are so much easier to read and i enjoy simply sitting back and admiring some of the panels. But here is the thing. A manga series, any manga series, exists to tell a certain story,not amaze you with how good its looks. And if you are searching for a good manga to read, chances are you will hone in on something that you believe to be different and unique. The art within this chosen manga is expected to represent the story as best as it can; not merely display the story but bring out its spirit.
So the art, just like the story, needs to be unique. And that i believe is the secret to a good and successful manga. When i am reading a manga, i am hoping to get a unique experience out of reading it. it is my hope that i leave satisfied and contented and only a unique art
style can do that. And it isn’t simply a matter of mere skill either but inventiveness. I have given the example of The Breaker:New waves before and spoke of how you can place it against so many series in which the main character is carrying out a relatively mundane (usually action related) task and New waves will always stand out, not because of what it has done but how it has done it.
I mentioned this in my criticism of the beautifully drawn Feng Shen ji. SO many manga are drawn rather plainly, as if the mangaka think that so long as everything is placed on the page as it should be and the point is made as clearly as possible, that is the end. But what successful mangaka do isn’t merely to draw an action, they try to find a way to draw an action in such a way that it has an impact, and it is unique.
Consider this. If i took a random page of a manga displaying two characters talking that you have never seen before; if i placed it in front of you chances are you would know immediately that it was bleach you were reading. or at least Tite Kubo’s work. Because bleach is uniquely drawn and Kubo takes time to make as much of what he draws ‘move’ in as unique a fashion as possible; the point is if you read bleach you will remember it. It stays with you. Kubo once said in an interview that he set out to make bleach a unique experience even more fun that watching an anime. Minus the anime part, he mostly did it. He got the point. So much manga that i read i will not remember after i put it down; or rather if i came upon work by the same artist, i wouldn’t recognize it because the manga has chosen to be generic. Good manga does not equal to good art. Good manga equals to unique art. It is that simple and the more mangaka that learn that fact, the better for us readers.
3. The action. This only applies to battle related manga. And i do not think it is as simple as a battle being good. I mean that might apply to anime; all you need are good graphics, effects,
music and all that. But in manga it is a little harder to produce a good battle. I believe, like the art, it all comes down to inventiveness and uniqueness. I dislike reading battle scenes that are very banal and uninspired. This was another criticism i had for Feng Shen JI. Sure you can design awesome characters with great powers and weapons, but then having them smash into each other like cavemen really irks me. There has to be more to a battle than
one guy hitting another then the other guy hits back and so on. Maybe its a matter of the art used to display them. But i do not think so. You can have two characters with sticks fighting each other and the right author can produce something inspiring. Then you can have two characters in giant ghost robots throwing the elements at each other and, in the wrong hands, it can come off as the crappiest battle you have ever seen. It isn’t about scale or ability but how they are used and displayed. So maybe a portion of it comes back down to the art. Either way, a good battle will make a manga chapter that much more exciting.
4. The plot. so every good plot needs a good hook, something that keeps you coming back week after week. It all comes down to the purpose behind the plot; what does the series revolve around? Who is doing what and why and what do they have to accomplish for something life changing to happen? It doesn’t have to be something epic or fantastical like being a pirate king or Hokage.
It can be anything so long as it is clearly defined and it is a purpose or goal that we can all get behind and support, giving us a good reason to support the manga. The purpose or goal in a series sort of brings the manga into reality. it is almost like your favorite characters exist somewhere in the world and each week you run to the manga chapter like it is a newspaper reporting events in this none existent town where you hope to find out what has happened to your favorite characters
and how much of a change has occurred in their lives.
This then all ties back into good characters because they make it possible for a great plot to evolve. And that is another thing that makes the plot of a good manga great, it should evolve. It doesn’t always have to, the manga can still be just as good. But it is fun to follow stories in which we start with one goal in mind and over time things get blurry, characters lose their way and in the end a new focus emerges that changes the entire shape of the series. if the change is handled well, we as readers will usually receive it well as it allows the story to move forward into a new chapter.
If it is handled badly, then it will change the story into something we as fans no longer recognize, wrecking the manga.
Okay, i can’t think of anything else so that must be it. if you are reading something that you believe is indeed a good manga or watching a good anime, then it will have good relatable, likable characters that are worth your support, a unique art style that allows you to experience something new when reading the manga, unique, inventive and engaging action and an intriguing plot that grips you hard and never lets go.
If all these are present in any manga that you are reading, then you are indeed reading a good manga. if not, then you are deceiving yourself into thinking it is a good manga. Or maybe it is average, bu not great. If you are looking for a good manga, then i suggest starting off by keeping these in mind during your search. Or i might be wrong (doubt it.)
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