Fast Food Anime and Pacing

11 comments

This is not about anime where fast food is the focus.

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A concept my brother brought to my attention somewhat recently is this “fast food style” of writing.

The context was for light novels, of which he is an avid reader. Apparently there is a particular author who excels at writing in this “style,” which has the writer giving the readers what they want with little complication. Everything happens quickly and there is little focus on characterization.

While the term was originally used to describe an author, I think the phrase can also apply to anime.

A few of the Summer 2017 shows I’ve been watching seem to be guilty of this. Take Knight’s & Magic, for example. Several time skips occurred, a montage or two were brought in, and many scenes from the original source material were left out in the initial episode. The result is that we get to see our main character jump into the cockpit very early into the series (granted, it happens in the following episode) while the entire cast of characters remains boring relatively static. Yes, that includes Ernesti. He may be in the robot (unlike Shinji), but he’s definitely not in our hearts (unlike Shinji).

The way the series just blitzed through the first episode makes me not really care about anyone since I simply don’t know anything about them. They all just feel like constructs and unrealistic as a whole. I know I defended flat characters in a previous post, but this would be an example of everyone within the show being simple to a fault. But at least Ernesti got into the robot, right?

Is this a bad thing in anime? Well, I think it’s a viable way to tell a story if handled properly. It’s probably best suited to be used in isekai stories, especially in ones where the protagonist reincarnates as a child (and Knight’s & Magic happens to fit both criteria). That way, the “boring” stuff is reduced to a minimum and viewers get to see action as soon as possible. However, the boring stuff is also what helps the viewer actually care about the characters. World building is usually a package deal with the boring stuff, too.

Of course, there’s the other side to consider. There are shows where almost nothing happens episode after episode and the audience is left frustrated with the viewing experience in question. But this is really just an aside that’ll be elaborated upon some other time.

Everything has trade-offs. But strictly adhering to the “fast food style” is rather costly. Instant gratification is nice, but it could prove to be unkind to the viewers’ bodies and the viewers’ collective enjoyment as well as harming the integrity of the narrative.

Still, french fries are delicious. This has nothing to do with what I said in this post, I know, but there’s no solutions or quick fixes I can propose here. So I might as well end the post with a universal truth.

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11 comments on “Fast Food Anime and Pacing”

  1. I love that term, we should definitely be using “Fast Food Anime” more in discussion!

    Knights and Magic was on my maybe list for this season so now im not sure i’ll be picking it up. I havent read the source material either so if the first episode really rushes through like you say, I’m not sure I’ll be able to become invested in it :/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like I’ve heard this term in reference to other media as well. Either this or junk food.

    The connotation is there in either case. Processed. Prepackaged. Unhealthy. All considered unappealing words when it comes to food, as though taking your time to prepare something makes it better. Generally people feel that way about stories as well.

    Of course, a lot of times people who insist on carefully crafted food aren’t the ones preparing it. Convenience goes a long way in the modern world, and getting a quick fix for hunger is sometimes worth taking a hit on nutrition.

    I would say Knight’s and Magic goes too far though in its early episodes. No one wants to see Ernesti milling about for 6 episodes before getting in a robot, but the fix comes at the complete expense of any character investment. What we’re left with is a plot that simply happens because it’s supposed to, and nothing to savor as this show just dissolves like cotton candy the moment we sample it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm you probably did!

      People do get fussy about their food. Which is a shame.

      I think comparing the show to cotton candy is a great way to put it. Knight’s & Magic is simply fluff. Not cute and fluffy – just vapid and of little substance.

      Like

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