Does Good Writing in Anime Matter?

It’s hard to say.

Aila

I personally enjoy good writing, especially when its the simple, subtle, clever and not outstanding. I also like it when it’s all over the top and you know what they’re doing a mile away. I also like it when in general it displays competence.

In that sense, most anime are written pretty well, but very few are great, and fewer still outstanding. If I want to nitpick from this season’s shows, it might be something like NagiAsu as a good example, and Wizard Barristers as one that could use a lot of work.

On that level, it does seem writing makes a difference. But I’m not sure if it goes any further than the extremes. In the middle, ¬†you have a sea of adaptations of varying quality, and the execution matters a lot more than what the script says. On the other hand, original works tend to vary greatly. Zvezda, for example, is a really high concept but if the execution was not even 80% of what we had, it would have been a very hard sell. WUG is the opposite case, where the writing is clean and simple but it’s got all these difficulties in executing it.

If we bypass all these nuances and just look at their MAL ranking or some silly nonsense, it might paint a different picture. It’s partly why I said it doesn’t matter a whole lot in the middle. I suspect this is also a big reason why people complain about the overabundance of moe-type anime, or anime that relies heavily on canned, episodic slicing of some sort of atmospheric depiction of a scene. Because those shows do just fine. It’s kind of like when you read Ben from Anipages on Telecom animator’s layouts or some such. Because that stuff, when it’s well-executed, is beautiful. The writing can be just icing on the cake.

In that sense, writing is like playing a strategy game: there’s micro and there’s macro. With this artificial distinction, I think strong macro will typically lead to success, but of course all I’ve been saying just now is that the trend has been the opposite.

I wonder if it’s just an otaku thing? Is this why Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere has fans?

But to circle back, if we look at a straightforward kiddy show like Gundam BF, it’s got that same rhyme and reason, that smart macro formula for success. Even if the writing is just sort of average. So I guess there’s not much conclusive that we can say about writing other than that even before you start laying words on paper, you need to know what you’re doing already.


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