I’ve gotten into MLP (My Little Pony) lately. I never thought I’d like the show, but I found it surprisingly insightful.
Well, I never thought I’d be an anime person either.
Anyway, I’m not writing about the show, but it has a thing called Elements that represent things you need to have friendship, or any really healthy relationship.
And in the habit of using the show’s lingo, I call what I want to write about an element also.
It is an element of relationships, but it’s interesting to me that it’s also an element of writing a good story.
I noticed it over the past year because of getting into two different shows, which I’ve mentioned. RWBY and My Hero Academia.
A lot of people in the anime community like both, at least in the USA. RWBY has a pretty good sized fan base for the production level it’s on, and MHA is the top rated anime in the world.
And the only thing I’ve ever seen besides Frozen where I could say “It deserves the hype.”
But you aren’t here for me to talk about that, (I think).
And my real point is the difference between the two.
Before I say it though, let me clarify: I by no means intend to say that MHA or RWBY are exclusive examples. Any two shows you liked for different reasons you could make the comparison between, it is only because they are the ones I watch that I use them, I can’t very well explain a show I haven’t seen. But I’m not one of those fans who think the only good in anime or any genre has to come from their favorite. (Seriously, though, they are so good. If you are into that sort of thing.)
I like the shows for very different reasons. But the difference I see is that MHA has actually helped me figure out and work through some of my problems. It feels like no coincidence that I started watching it at the beginning of 2019, and this year has led to a lot of developments in my personal life that I’ve wanted to see happen for years. The show encouraged me to look at them more closely.
RWBY did help me realize some issues, but did not provide a lot of answers. To be fair, it is not as far along in some ways.
What struck me though, was that MHA makes the most of every opportunity to nail home a lesson, a meaning, and people who normally hate that are eating it up.
The writer is very good. He uses characters very much like I do when I write. He also is possibly even more preachy, in the best way, and I love it.
It had such a different feel from RWBY, and I wondered why, because a lot of plot elements are extremely similar.
Yet, there is one character on RWBY that I think explains what happened.
Everyone who watches RWBY knows after season 3 things changed. People argue whether it was for the better. I’m sure you’ve read series or seen shows where people got into the same thing after some big change.
For RWBY, as in many stories, a huge change was the death of fan favorite Pyrrha Nikos.
I’ve been in my share of fandoms, this is one of the first that I got reactions to negative changes in. I’ve seen other fans upset, but the torrent of grief, anger, desperate hope, denial over this was unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I haven’t seen it since.
Personally, I felt terrible over it. And I spent months wondering why. I felt like a real person died. More than that, I felt like the story changed drastically.
Everyone kept saying it got darker. But that is not strictly true.
No one else important has died since season 3, it’s now season 6. The heroes have won, instead of losing, as they consistently did before. And Ruby has gotten stronger. All in all, the actually story isn’t doing so badly. I’d say it looks worse for the villains, not better.
But despite that, everyone continues to feel uneasy. The fandom and the characters. No one quite trusts the writers anymore.
It was actually the guy who created the series idea to kill Pyrrha. He passed away that same season, and his friends have been carrying on since. Very decent of them–and also the show was too popular for the studio to drop.
They seem to be trying hard to make a good story.
I can’t blame them for what happened, though plenty of people do. It’s a puzzle.
Well, I moved back from RWBY for awhile, and got into MHA. But I still like RWBY, and I still wondered why it was different. Some shows don’t drastically change after a character dies. The tone remains the same. Some do. What was the difference?
It, I decided, is actually because there’s an element of story telling that certain characters tend to embody. Especially on an action packed show.
That element is Wisdom.
Pyrrha Nikos was a very loving person, that’s why people adored her. But I liked her also for her wisdom. She was the only character who seemed to have any sense of how to solve problems. As time went on, the mentor characters on RWBY were all shown to not really know what they were doing. One is even a liar. We all expected it, but the immediate feeling we got was that the characters are now lost.
They are directionless. They don’t know what to do, why to do it, or how. They are guessing. Going on instinct.
Their hearts are in the right place.
I used to think that was enough.
But it hit me that in stories, just as in real life, you have to have wisdom, not just good intentions. Wisdom tells you how to direct your intentions.
Pyrrha was this for RWBY. She was, actually, the only character on it who had peace enough to make her own choices. She guided other characters.
Her death changed a lot. No one knew where the show or the characters were going anymore.
It seemed like just outrage. But three seasons later, we see the same lack of assurance. Even in the characters. They are not bad, they are just wandering, uncertain.
The writing feels the same. Good, but hesitant.
There are some characters that just inspire writers, they guide them. I have them in my stories too. The character keeps me on track. Some stories have more than one, and those are the best.
RWBY had only one, and she died.
There is hope for RWBY, but the damage is real.
I think it hurts a story to lose its wisdom. The effect is that all the bad things in the story just beat up the protagonists, and there is no way to process them. To make sense of it so that you can keep going.
Dark and gritty stories are that way because they lack wisdom.
Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision the people perish,
but blessed is he who keeps the law.”
Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”
To tell a story is always to tell someone your view of the world, even if by accident. It’s clear, hearing some stories, that the person telling them missed the point of their own story.
I am not accusing RWBY of this, rather, I do not think it knows what its point is.
I’ve seen other shows and series do it worse. At least it has some ideas, if nothing else.
But this is why I think it changed. And why MHA is different, that show has an amazing amount of wisdom. I am not used to shows saying things I have not even thought of myself. (Sorry, I think I think things through more than a lot of writers.)
But, I think if I hadn’t seen RWBY first, I would not have thought of it. I’m glad I watched both so close together.
Well, I hope you got something out of this, until next time–Natasha.
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