Emotional Hits in Media

This a post that I want to write when Suka Suka was still airing, but I never got around to it. My writing pace isn’t the fastest out there, but I decided that slowing down was a necessary thing for me to do make sure my posts have some decent quality to them. A month or so ago, I ran a poll on twitter about what kinds of emotional hits are the most effective on people. The results were rather mixed, but I don’t think I got enough responses for a complete trend. The Two questions I was asking about was which emotional hit is more powerful something, one that comes out of nowhere or one that you can see a mile away. I don’t know about any of you, but ones that come out of nowhere always have the most impact and lasting effects on me, but there is always a chance of over doing it that ruins the effectiveness as well.

Last season, Suka Suka was completely boring to me. Not because of the world or how generic the characters can be from time to time, but because the audience knew how the anime was going to end half way through the series. There were death flags everywhere including what was happening to Ctholly. Willem wasn’t in any better sort of condition either. When one event started happening after another, it was pretty clear that each of these things was supposed to have some emotional impact. I’m sure this worked for some people, but not for me. Maybe this was because the writing was incredibly poor, I didn’t care about these characters because they were basic characters with some small twists, my mind was already prepared for it all, or all of it. Emotions are a powerful asset in storytelling, and abusing it like that doesn’t amount to much.

One of the few times that knowing ahead of time hurt happened in Gundam: Iron-Blood orphans. (Spoilers) This was the death of Biscuit. G:IBO is an anime that seemed to go back to status quo for Tekkadan at the end of each episode. Even when massive changes were happening around them. This family was completely safe, and then suddenly everything changed. The show called for his death. After so many episodes of Biscuit hanging around with Orga and giving advice when he can, it happened. The flags were raised and he died. I wasn’t dreading how he was going to die, but the fact that he was because I liked this character. He provided so much light to a series filled with darkness. One death flag was all that was needed.

Emotional hits start to wear down on me when it’s handled in a similar manner to Clannad. That series is nothing but a big yoyo of emotions. That’s why I don’t like it (I think the movie is better), because it’s so emotionally manipulative. It has all the happy and funny moments followed by deep sadness with almost no in between stuff for a grounding element. By always being at the peaks of emotion, the anime is trying to control you. If that is something that you are into, that’s fine. It just doesn’t work for me. Nothing in the Clannad television series feels natural to me.

I want my emotional hits to be a complete surprise. That’s when they have the most impact for me. Maybe there is some lead up by the villain’s evil plan finally hatching, but the consequences for the plans hatching are completely unknown. Surprisingly, the most recent example that I can think of is from the second half of volume three of RWBY. Things started going drastically downhill when a line like “break a leg” happened. Then it only got worse. A fight happened, which became a center piece of the down fall of the school. Also, a main character from the very beginning lost her life (this was sort of built up throughout the series) and someone lost an arm.  All of that was followed by  me going “OMG OMG OMG” and “DON’T HURT THESE CHARACTERS” as I am watching the fourth volume now. The end of volume three was a huge wake call saying “this series is not going to be happy” and it was so powerful because of it.

This method isn’t perfect either. Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead were good at these aspects, until later seasons. Well, Game of Thrones is still decently good at it. Characters can die at any time and in any sort of way, but it’s gotten to the point that it’s over used and now some characters can even be brought back which means all of that lost its significance. So many people have died that it’s just expected for people to die now. So basically, it all turned one hundred and eighty degrees. As for The Walking Dead, it’s abused the dead or not dead thing to death. Especially for one certain character where they pulled a “is he dead or not dead” for an entire season and them kill off later in the show anyway. Not to mention that the show is going in cycles by doing the same kinds of things over and over again with different characters. So yes, when endless amounts of deaths and emotional hits are used over and over again and even played with, then the effect is lost.

So in the end, surprise hits are always going to be more powerful to me. Especially if they are well written and not over used. Why? Because which one has more power, not knowing when something is going to happen or having enough time to prepare for something bad to happen. Either of these things can be powerful when they are written well, but being surprised is much easier to write. Or maybe it’s easier because it’s a cheap shot, but it can always be justified in some way. Still, these are my feelings on the matter. I do admit though, this is a strange thing to post on my birthday. Maybe I am just feeling an existential crisis. Who knows really?

Anyway, what are your own thoughts on this matter? Don’t be shy, I can be completely wrong about everything. I know I have been before. That’s nothing new.

6 thoughts on “Emotional Hits in Media

  1. Amazing way to convey the point! I loved it!
    Well, first off I think it’s good to slow down your pace to suit your needs (ironic, since I post like one blog post in a month or ..)

    I understand what you are saying completely, but I don’t really agree. In the end it IS a personal preference so, there’s no right or wrong.

    For me, my favourite genre is tragedy.
    I like being emotionally harassed by people who don’t exist.

    That weirdness aside, I actually like anime/manga like Koe no Katachi, Clannad and even Your Lie in April (despite it’s predictability)

    I personally like books, manga, anime and songs that wear me down completely, so I can’t say I agree with you. I think it’s because I always get into a story very quickly, so I end up getting effected more than required by some things. And if something continuously, slowly kills me, I feel like, “OK this scene, for once, I’m not the only one crying” Or something like that?

    Then again, I also like the surprise shocks, because either way tragedy is tragedy.
    And I’ll be there weeping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand perfectly. I know plenty of people like you who want that feeling of sadness and tragedy. Just not my kind of thing a lot of the time.

      I do like tragedy from time to time, but I need to be in the mood for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You already touched on it in your post. More than ANYTHING, whether the tragedy be predictable, sudden, or something habitual and chronic that constantly affects the atmosphere of the show, it has to be well done.

    Regardless of the vehicle for the tragedy, the tragedy conveyed must be compelling. Relatable characters, genuine emotions, well written plot devices, and context, when all of those elements are appropriately blended together, then, and ONLY then, do we get a masterpiece, tragic or other wise. I’m thinking about shows like Cowboy Bebop, Honey and Clover, Berserk, Shiki, Drifting Class Room(manga), Dragon Head(manga) are tragic and well executed.

    But even melodramatic stuff like Ano Hanna and Code Geass have some great tragedy and gut punches.

    Of course, like you said, it’s all perspective and opinion, we all like what we like and can justify it for different reasons.

    Great post! I definitely enjoyed mulling it over.

    Liked by 1 person

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