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Branching Out, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love: Emotions

A manly man with manly emotions…and he dies. Coincidence?

For previous posts in my Branching Out series, check out the first one on expectations, and the second one on slice-of-life. Enjoy.

As a hot-blooded American male, I have historically had a contentious relationship with emotions. Feelings, my culture has taught me since I was but a wee lad, are for girls and sissy boys. A true man has only two emotions – anger, and stoic determination. All other feelings must be unilaterally discarded in the pursuit of making huge piles of cash, which will then be used to avoid actually taking part in the raising of my children. Also, crying is the ultimate sign of weakness, and anything but a single manly tear rolling down my cheek at the saddest of events is a signal for all true men in the vicinity to turn and pummel me into submission. For my own good, I’m sure.

So, at the risk of making the aforementioned angry lynch mob of testosterone spring out of the woodwork and make my face look like that of a typical harem lead after accidentally stumbling into the onsen while his haremettes are bathing (and without the benefit of seeing naked women in the process, lame!!), let’s talk about emotions. What are they good for? Not absolutely nothing, as it turns out. Here is my hypothesis: there is absolutely no better way to get the most possible enjoyment out of fiction than allowing yourself to get swept up in the emotion of a scene. Let me tell you why.

Drink it in.

Now I find myself in the strange position of trying to make the case for emotions. This should be a no-brainer, right? Emotions are one of the most elemental things about the human experience. We run off of logic, emotion, and instinct, and without all three of these we are not complete. Instinct keeps us alive and pushing forward, emotion lets us enjoy life and makes it more fulfilling, and logic elevates us above the monkeys we share a few ancestors with and lets us rise to the heights of science, knowledge, and civilization that we enjoy today. Why should one – or two really, because instinct doesn’t get such a great rap either – be put lower than the other?

Because emotion is unpredictable. Logic – or at least, so the theory goes – is predictable, objective, and sensible. It does not bend at whims or change depending on what happened earlier in the day. It does not change based on the phase of the moon, the weather outside, or the whims of a fickle public. Logic just is, and therefore is the only dependable thing upon which build our lives and make decisions by. Right?

Wrong. The idea that logic is superior to emotion – or even that logic is objective, for that matter – is a fallacy. Every decision we make is done through a combination of instinct, logic, and emotion. Until we can take our brains out and stick them into jars like an extra from Star Wars (Episode 6, Return of the Jedi, Jabba’s Palace, they’re B’omarr monks who…I’ll stop now), we will always have those sticky glands and those millenia of animal impulses throwing their two cents into every decision we make, every action we take. As much as some of us would like to pretend otherwise, we are never truly objective, never truly logical. We can try – and it’s not wrong that we do so – but that is an ideal we will never reach. This is an inescapable fact. Deal with it.

Inescapable.

Wait, this is an anime blog, isn’t it? I should probably tie this tirade back to anime then. So, if I have been anything like persuasive – probably I haven’t, but go with me here – you now think that emotion is inescapable. Now let me tell you why this is a good thing. If there is anything that is more central to the human experience than eating and sleeping, it is stories. Before our ancestors even knew how to farm, they sat around campfires telling stories. Stories of heroes, stories of gods, stories of ancestors and family members and friends both current and long past, long dead. We have been telling stories since we learned how to turn a bunch of senseless grunts into a language, and quite possibly before that.

It was only later in our history that we started writing research papers and scientific treatises, when old bearded men figured out that they could have an inside job with no heavy lifting if they sat around all day scribbling in the name of knowledge and progress. Storytelling, when it’s at its best, is when it taps into those same ancient roots from which it comes, and frolics at the intersection of instinct, emotion, and logic. Put another way, that’s what stories specialize in – research papers are all about logic, music is great at eliciting emotions, and base experiences are a lightning rod for instinct, but stories are best because they touch upon all three. Without all three, you’re missing a central part of the experience, and the story will be diminished for it.

Missing something very important.

This is a lesson it took me a long time to learn. There was once a time – one not too long ago – when I could count the stories that had made me cry on one hand. That’s not the only kind of emotion one should seek to feel, but please, stay with me for a moment. Confining them to anime, this list consisted of Kannon, Clannad, and Angel Beats! Yes, I’m weak to Key anime. Shush! Yet I remember those experiences vividly. I remember the scene in Kanon where Yuuichi and Nayuki met by a park bench late at night, the snow falling around them as they talked of the past, and of the future; I recall Tomoya meeting with his daughter in a field of sunflowers in Clannad After Story, their tears bubbling up just as my own did; and I can still picture the final scene Angel Beats!, when Otonashi met up with his love on the school steps for the very last time. Add Moshidora in there for reasons I’m not about to spoil – about her, about that ending, about everything – and you begin to see. The emotions of these scenes were powerful enough to blast their way past the guards my cultural upbringing had built around me, and bring me to tears. And I love them for it.

Since then, the range of shows that are able to elicit feelings in me has grown. It’s not huge – that cultural upbringing is a hard thing to shed – but four shows in particular airing this season pass the test: Kokoro Connect, Tari Tari, Rinne no Lagrange, and Uchuu Kyoudai. These shows have made me grip my chair, gasp in surprise, exclaim aloud, and literally made my mouth hang open in awe on multiple occasions. They are also, and I don’t think this is an accident, among my favorite shows this season. Oh, they’re not alone – Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon joins them mainly on the back of laughter, sexiness, and plot (though it has struck the emotional gong before…the cast has assembled, Mr. Impossible, Horizon’s awakening, etc.), as does Binbougami Ga! due to the more acceptable emotion of side-splitting laughter – but it’s the shows that can reach into my chest and twist my heart that I’ll most remember. When this season has ended, I doubt I will remember much of Yuru Yuri, as much as I’m honestly enjoying it now. But will I remember Episode 5 of Kokoro Connect? You bet I will. I can’t forget about it now.

Never forget.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that emotions make everything in life richer. This is true of the important things – friendship, work, and of course love – but it is also true of the stories we enjoy. But this also means that a story cannot be truly great without all three pillars upon which the human mind rests. Without a logically consistent plot and a world that makes its own kind of sense, a story can become frustrating and distracting; without characters that draw us in and events that make us feel shock, amazement, and longing, a story becomes as flat and boring as a fish-less sea on a wind-less day; and why do you think we have been telling love stories, epic tragedies, and tales of heroic bravery for centuries now? Because it is in our bones and blood to be drawn to these tales. Our stories must meet us halfway…but when they do, we must be ready to extend our hand and cross the other half ourselves.

Without all three pillars – logic, instinct, and emotion – a story is diminished. Why should we single out one and mark it as lesser, inferior, not something we wish to experience? Don’t. Open yourself up to emotions, keep your logic ready, and follow the stories that instinctually call out to you (and some that don’t – you still must push yourself). Keep the three pillars all in balance, and then enjoy each story for what it is. That’s when you’ll find the stories that are smart, evocative, and which speak to you on a fundamental level, and it’s also when you’ll be ready to enjoy them.

Open yourself up. Only then will you be able to dream.

Stilts note: this wasn’t actually the post I intended to release this week, but the mood struck and I went with it before the emotions that led to it scampered away. The post I alluded to in a recent Rinne no Lagrange post will be forthcoming in a week or two. Or whenever. See you then!

August 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm
84 comments »
  • August 22, 2012 at 8:27 pmKurisu Vi Britannia

    I don’t love Animes. I love ANIME.

    • August 23, 2012 at 2:10 amAnonymous2112

    • August 23, 2012 at 12:01 pmKurisu Vi Britannia

      My post that meant I don’t just love various anime but all anime got a dislike. Wtf? XD

      • August 25, 2012 at 2:29 pmpetitorenji

        Because you need to work on your grammar (and/or typing skills).

  • August 22, 2012 at 8:33 pmPtolemaios00

    Key productions definitely strike that spot for me too. My eyes still grow warm thinking of Kanon. My tears shamelessly flowed at least 3 or 4 times on a re-watching of CLANNAD. I still can’t make it completely through AFTERSTORY without completely breaking down.

    For some other examples…let’s see: Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, Steins;Gate and ef.

    • August 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm7godeohs

      Clannad After Story absolutely destroyed me – in a good way.

    • August 23, 2012 at 10:17 pmc2710

      Episode 23 of Fate/Zero. Dont forget that!

      I cried non-stop from start to finish

  • August 22, 2012 at 8:49 pmCybersteel

    Too much heart break >.<

    • August 25, 2012 at 2:29 pmpetitorenji

      Heartbreaks make the man. No man is complete without them.

  • August 22, 2012 at 8:58 pmPIGLET

    team work makes the dream work

    • August 25, 2012 at 2:34 pmpetitorenji

      I really like that.

      When people work together and sacrifice oneself for the team, I find that even more emotional and touching than when sacrificing for a loved one. Because the latter is possessive, with selfish reasons (“I must protect her because she is mine and I have the right”). But sacrificing for a team is much more pure. When a teammate looks into your eyes and knows what he needs to do to change his strengths and actions to “click” with yours without any physical communication, that moment is golden.

  • August 22, 2012 at 9:00 pmClick

    I’m totally confused. We men have more than two feelings? I’m definitely stealing this by the way.

    Jokes aside, I feel that as of late there are more shows which neglect common logic for emotional impact. Bottom line is, you need both, just as you said. I can always take a natural mistake from a character because he’s human (The Tatami Galaxy is an absolutely fantastic example of this) since that adds to their character and makes them relatable. Character flaws help keep characters interesting and far more fascinating than the anime world’s Gary Stu’s. A sympathetic or empathetic character will always beat a dimensionless badass without any depth. When a character makes a genuine, human error or acts purely on instinct it’s usually good a thing. Except, you know, if you’re a School Days character.

    However, when both plot inconsistencies and contradictions arise in the setting just to make emotional impact on the audience, I can’t help but feel at least somewhat offended. Angel Beats! (don’t kill me, guys) is especially guilty of this, since the ending, while genuinely sweet and sentimental, has an enormous plot hole the size of Jupiter which completely destroyed my opinion on Maeda Jun. It may just have been the largest plot oversight in the last ten years. I totally admit, I cried when I first I first watched it (I even left an incredibly embarrassing sappy comment on the Angel Beat’s page). But when I went to rewatch it two years later, I was visibly angered by how poorly thought out and lazily written the ending was. Genuine, sure, but you can have heartfelt sentimentality along with a well-written script.

    When everything built up from the beginning is deserted in the name of sentimentality, I can’t get on board with it. A human error on the character’s part isn’t the same as a plot hole. The former is acceptable (and in most cases, welcomed), but the latter doesn’t go away just because you ignore it.

    • August 23, 2012 at 12:44 pmplushkin

      I bet you’re talking about how one came before the other when it was clearly the other way around, right?
      I would also say logic should also be present not just in emotional dramas, but action too. Some shows – *coughGuiltyCrowncough* – try to ilicit the emotional feeling of epicness and majesty in their animation and music, but absurdly let logic and instinct drop off the face of the earth. It starts early as small lapses in human logic, thinking maybe it’s the characters flaw, only to then become widespread among all cast members. You then realize they can’t write characters at all, and they only go for emotions when logic and instinct tells us the viewer that they should have died ages ago. I mean, who takes cover to avoid gunfire, to then not take cover at all merely minutes afterwards? (I’m talking about episode 2. I mean come on, you don’t think they wouldn’t just as easily used guns instead of lasers?)

      • August 23, 2012 at 3:14 pmStilts

        Very true. I made this post on emotion because I feel that it’s the most misunderstood and maligned of the three, especially among males of certain cultures (read: most of them). However, as I mentioned at the end there, a story can’t truly be great without tapping into all three veins. Guilty Crown is a good example of trying for emotion and instinct (with debatable success) at the expense of completely fumbling the logical side (that is far less debatable).

      • August 23, 2012 at 3:40 pmClick

        I told myself I wouldn’t do this anymore, but screw it. Not to beat on a dead puppy, but oh, Guilty Crown, you poor stupid beast. Protect your voids at all costs so you won’t die! It’s not like you’ll die if they shoot you in the head or the torso or anything! Yeah, no.

        The worst outcome when doing something stupid just to make it cool is when it’s so stupid that it’s not cool. While I’ll definitely still raise an eyebrow at something completely preposterous and absurdly physics defying, I’m lenient if it at least serves its purpose and enhances the atmosphere (bonus points if it’s completely over-the-top and self-aware) since I’m a nice guy. But when it stops being emotionally evocative to the audience and just inanely silly? That’s pretty bad.

  • August 22, 2012 at 9:01 pmDa5id

    No mention of FullMetal Alchemist, the most emotional show in existence?!

    DAN EAGLEMAN 2012

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:38 amTan-Tan

      *Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

      Sure it’s not mainly a slice-of-life genre but emotions – happiness, sadness, joy, lost, accomplishment – were all mixed in with the ride of one hell of an adventure. FMA:B is something I remember very well with the emotions it TRIGGERED in me. When Al and Ed argued, when Ed and his father shared ANY scenes together, when – hell – the very premise itself! Don’t even get me stared on each of the Homonculus particularly Wrath, Greed, and Envy.

      • August 23, 2012 at 2:54 pmDa5id

        Actually, I would say that ANYTHING animated under the FMA name would fit that level of emotion, including the first series and the new movies and OVAs.

        And the manga wasn’t too shabby either.

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:15 pmStilts

      Full Metal Alchemist (especially the manga and Brotherhood) are good examples as well. It certainly ranks up there, I’m just not in the business of listing off every show that has struck an emotional chord with me – if so, we’d be here all day : )

  • August 22, 2012 at 9:42 pmewok40k

    I’d advise watching Yuru Yuri 2 ep 08 ending for this is where you will know the emotion of total, utter, devastating and paralysing DREAD… /jk
    As for other notable emotions I’ve encountered in my anime watching:
    PITY – for a monster, or rather pair of monster children, in BLACK LAGOON. Mind you, I don’t blame Balalaika for hunting them down. I blame the unnamed villains that raised the children into killing monsters incapable of human relations. And thats where I felt WRATH!
    DESPAIR – it was in Higurashi, when I saw unending series of bad ends, ranging from cruel death of main heorine to cruel death of everybody in the city, that I felt so heavy, especially after almost everything was straightened out in season 2…
    I am not going over what rollercoaster of emotions was Madoka Magica… there were just too many to mention.
    HOPE was my great emotion in Sora no woto – in a world devastated by wars and ecological disasters, people still cling to love, friendship and the power of music!
    Finally, Toradora, one of best rom-coms ever imho, made me feel TENDERNESS, you know the kind of one feels during the FIRST KISS.

    • August 22, 2012 at 10:21 pmStilts

      Agreed on Sora no Woto. Wouldn’t have picked that for my Hope one, but now that you mention it, it makes sense.

      Also, Toradora. TORADORA!! Before Ano Natsu, my favorite anime romcom ever. It’s still a very, very, very strong second. That kiss…THAT KISS!!

      • August 23, 2012 at 4:49 pmbear

        Toradora, oh that caught me right in the heart. There were so many scenes like those at Christmas , and Valentines day that still make tears well up. And the scene you mentioned was one of the most beautiful romantic scenes I can remember.

        In Kanon for me it was Makoto’s story that moved me the most.

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:52 amruicarlov

      I might as well add another example, which it was kind of unique for me.

      LONGING/NOSTALGIA – A group of friends exploring their old abandoned school, while remembering their experiences there, in a two-part OVA called Yotsunoha. I still find it very strange just how deeply and strongly that sensation of nostalgia crept up no me, even though I had no little connections to their setting. Made shed a tear just on that… go figure.

  • August 22, 2012 at 9:46 pmjay

    erm. logic is both predictable and objective. the problem is agreeing on axioms, and what utility function to try and maximize.

    • August 23, 2012 at 2:04 amSpaceRonin

      What you say is true, but I don’t think that’s the kind of logic Stilts is talking about. Abtract, academic logic (the stuff you learned in college) is inherently predictable and objective. The “logic” that Stilts is talking about is the everyday “logic” that people use to live their lives and judge anime. Knowing what a tautology is isn’t going to be very useful for trying to understand an anime. For example, if some character gets shot in the head and then falls off a cliff, “logically,” they should be dead. If a high powered artillery is fired from an airplane, “logically” the effect of the recoil should damage the plane or visibly change its course.

      But in actuality, in both of these situations, there is a large number of unknowns. People deal with these by guesstimating, which might be somewhat predictable but is not objective.

      • August 23, 2012 at 8:44 amJunglepenguin

        I see the Jormungand reference. Just wanted to say that.

      • August 23, 2012 at 9:48 amjay

        it felt like he’s actually talking about just “reality” or “realism”, for most of the article, and what he’s saying there i’ve got no problem with. but that paragraph (or so) seemed like a rather severe tangent specifically aimed at logic in the sense i was using it. (the college kind, as you describe it)

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:22 pmStilts

      Actually, you’re not wrong about what I meant. There are some ideas (axioms, as you say) which were derived from logical thought processes that are now so commonly agreed upon that they seem predictable and objective. However, I have seen too many people argue at cross purposes, and from entirely “logical” point of views (in their own opinions, of course) to have a great deal of faith in the objectivity of human beings.

      Don’t misunderstand; I have great faith in logic and its ability to help us solve problems and understand our world. However, I start from an inherently cynical point in regards to the “logic” that any single person (or group) purports to speak of. We’re still animals trapped in squishy bodies, so emotion and instinct get a vote in everything we do and say. You might disagree…but well, let’s just agree to disagree, ne? : )

  • August 22, 2012 at 9:58 pmbertman4

    Yay! Stilts oniichan is back!
    Nice post. I just have to mention that I cried like a baby during the last episode of Tasogare Otome last season. Then I was yelling in anger at the last 5 minutes of the show. There I was having a genuine emotional moment, then the story knocks me down and kicks me around, basically invalidating those heartfelt emotions. I just could not believe how manipulative the show was and how cheap it made me feel. Gah! Please folks, just turn it off. You’ll know when.

    • August 22, 2012 at 10:15 pmStilts

      Yeah, I never got started on that (I mean to!), but I know Zephy was talking about how he was bawling during the last episode. Will definitely check it out. Uhm, eventually!

    • August 22, 2012 at 11:48 pmSurya

      Ugh I know exactly what you mean, I felt the exact same way. Those last two or three minutes turned what was possibly one of the most emotion endings of any show from last season, imo, into (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻.

      I really enjoyed that show, but I will always remember it for the bad after taste the last 2 minutes gave me…..

    • August 23, 2012 at 12:37 pmHighway

      I had the totally opposite reaction to the ending of Tasogare Otome. Show Spoiler ▼

  • August 23, 2012 at 12:36 amStranger

    Raised as a soldier, with parents of the Baby-Boomer generation (and therefore- ideals of the 40′s – 50′s) emotions are something that have been something solidly forbidden from me. And for that- I do feel like I’m missing out on a lot.

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:24 pmStilts

      I’ve got the same upbringing as you, sir (though my father was in the air force, not the army; his stoicism comes more from his nature than any training beat into him). It takes a large force of will to get over it – even in part – but I’ve found it much worth the effort. Very much so, in fact.

  • August 23, 2012 at 12:51 amLK

    Ask any married man, there’s emotions… a lot of emotions.

  • August 23, 2012 at 1:06 am†Croos†

    I would like to recommend you AIR, Stilts.

    • August 23, 2012 at 4:39 amalde

      I have a friend who, still today, weeps when he hears so much as the opening bars of Aozora.

    • August 23, 2012 at 6:39 amzeroyuki92

      Yes, I’m also Chitanda about you. Have you watched AIR, Stilts?
      Quoting someone from a certain VN translator blog, this is the one that made ゴール “goal” the saddest word in the Japanese language(at least in the VN

      I guess I have to agree about this. While Kanon has it’s own charm and Clannad put multiple critical hits to the heart and still being the strongest KEY so far, AIR did a very emotional and awesome final arc. Gonna salute for that. (Despite of the arguably weaker overall)

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:25 pmStilts

      It’s on my list, and I even already procured it in anticipation. It’s just suffering from the problem of most things on my list – too many shows, not enough time =X Someday, someday!

      • August 24, 2012 at 10:25 amBlue Bomber

        The ending of AIR scarred me for life. It was that good. Prepare a stockpile of Kleenex for this series…

    • August 25, 2012 at 2:42 amThe Moondoggie

      I’d like to recommend “5cm per second” too.

  • August 23, 2012 at 1:20 amTheOrangeOne

    Kinda thinking of this as just another psychological theory. I’ve seen a lot of it, based on personality, mental state, culture roles, etc… Its not so easy to me, that you could just separate these things like they can stand by themselves, and then call it central to the human condition/story-making (Instinct, Emotion, Logic). I could say the same thing about genetics, the environment, and social conditioning, etc….

    How about Mind, Body, and Heart? Or how about Power, Intimacy, Peace, and Fun? Or Intuition, Feeling, Intellect, and Sensation? I’m not saying these or you’re are false, but I don’t think this is the place to talk about something like this, when its so subjective as to not mean anything factually (as it literally being the pillars that make us and a story, and not anything other categorical theory).

    I feel like other sites like TvTropes and tons of writing course sites/books already have a more comprehensive guide to how your traits among others follow through in stories. Like Conflict, Motives, Plot, Settings, Contrasts, etc…, and how the totality of characters go through these motions. If you really want a comprehensive view on this, try Making Comics by Scott McCloud. He goes insanely in-depth about the human condition from every perspective I know, including how theories like these crop up (he even includes his own theory about artist groups).

    In short: This is a good post in showing one philosophical perspective (to how things work), but nothing special in my mind, as to somehow enlighten me on what humans and stories are about. I could just bring up a few random contrasting concepts and say they are the building blocks of humans, and it wouldn’t look much different from this.

    Example Summmary: Senses give us interaction to and from the outside world, as well as each other, our Brains makes sense of this information, and our Values determine what do to with them; therefore, these are the pillars to every story and human. Understand these and you’ll enjoy stories a lot more for what they are really about.

    As a last note, I’m not shitting on you or anything, I’m just giving my opinion of what your post is to me. If nothing else, its given me one more perspective, to give food for thought, which I always welcome unless its extremely tried to the point of me wanting to hammer it shut in a vault. This, this is kinda in the apathy range for me, not good or bad, but at least interesting enough to write this amount it when I have work tomorrow in less than 8 hours lol

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:32 pmStilts

      Apathy that inspires a six paragraph response? I’ll take it :D

      But in all seriousness, I don’t purport to be writing comprehensive guides on much of anything on this site (other than those Kyoukaisen ones I did, Part 1, Part 2). This column is an editorial column, which means that it’s full of (by definition) opinion pieces. You’re right that I didn’t write anything comprehensive or cite sources or anything, but I delved into talking about the human mind and the nature of stories. Those are such complex subjects as to have hundreds of books written about them – how could I possibly encompass all of that in a single blog post?

      I didn’t try, of course. Better to say my viewpoint and then get on with what I wanted to say. If you don’t agree with it – as you don’t appear to – then it probably won’t strike you, but that’s okay. I can’t win em all, ne?

      But yeah, thanks for your detailed reply! : )

  • August 23, 2012 at 1:40 amPocariSweat

    GET OUTTA HERE YOU WEAKASS!

    Just joking :p

    In all seriousness, it’s perfectly fine to express emotions once in a while, though in terms of crying specifically, though it’s not something you should hide per se, I equally don’t think it’s not something to be PROUD of.

    I remember back when AnoHana was airing, both on Animesuki and MAL forums (and various blogs), people were CONSTANTLY bragging about how much they cried. It was as if it was some kind of e-peen contest. Sure, if we get a Clannad After Story episode 18 or Madoka episode 10, a once in a while “crying” comment is perfectly fine, but when one in three comments were along the lines “OMG! I CRIED SO MUCH 10/10″, I start to scratch my head despite being obvious hyperbole.

    Anyways, my point. It’s perfectly fine to show emotions be it in real life or watching a fictional piece of art. Just don’t go off telling the world you done so lol.

  • August 23, 2012 at 5:08 amPK

    What really makes or breaks whether I cry or not is the music. I’ve seen a lot of the tear-jerker animes (Ano Hana, AIR, Kanon, Angel Beats!) but the only one to ever make me cry is Clannad. The music in Clannad is just so memorable and beautiful, and is executed so well in the scenes they are used in. The others have good OSTs as well (also well executed) but honestly, Clannad is one I’ll never forget.

    • August 23, 2012 at 5:53 amCybersteel

      The difference with Clannad is that its funny. Building a few couple of episodes of comedy and character interactions combined so that when tragedy hits, it hits hard. Quite different from others where the sadness is sprinkled throughout. This has been the trademark of KEY Visual Novels and some others I’ve forgotten.

    • August 23, 2012 at 6:18 amPocariSweat

      Key does some good music indeed. IMO, Jun Maeda does a better job at composing music than writing drama (which feels forced melodrama a lot of the time), but that’s just me.

      Talking about music and Key, how much of a moodkiller was the 2nd season ED after that wonderful Clannad AS episode 18. Should have used the 1st season ED …

      • August 23, 2012 at 7:12 amzeroyuki92

        Ep. 18 Clannad AS is THAT sunflower episode, right? I guess the ED is pretty fitting since it ends up in a melancholic, but relieving note.

        I’m agree if it’s for Clannad AS 16, though. They better remove any song there and leave all of the viewers in total downer.

      • August 23, 2012 at 7:40 amCybersteel

        KyoAni learnt their lesson as evident from Hyouka.

      • August 23, 2012 at 3:35 pmStilts

        Agreed on that. I’ve complained about that before, and specifically noted Clannad, where I always had to lighten pause the episode after it ended to avoid the mood from being poisoned.

        In contrast, I prefer how Kyoukaisen always does it, by having two EDs – the happy upbeat ED, and the serious dramatic ED. That way, whatever note the episode ends on, they have an appropriate ED to play with it. More shows should do this, imo!

  • August 23, 2012 at 5:51 ama42

    Emotions huh. Anyone remember Saikano? Or am I dating myself horribly somehow.

    • August 23, 2012 at 6:46 amPocariSweat

      I remember Saikano… Gosh that show was such a downer ^_^”

    • August 23, 2012 at 10:16 amewok40k

      OMG Saikano… that was one downer ending. Show Spoiler ▼

      • August 23, 2012 at 11:51 amRagefat

        Saikano was one that made me cry like a little girl…

  • August 23, 2012 at 6:08 amshamaticgrl

    when I first read the topic i instantly knew “oh no he’s going to use Clannad. Gotta go find my tissue box” and then came the pic of not only Clannad but Angel Beats and Kokoro Connect and that did it for me ;-;

    Thank you for this wonderful piece.

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:36 pmStilts

      I’d hate to think I’m becoming predictable…but oh screw it, it had to be done.

      You’re welcome, and thank you *bows*

  • August 23, 2012 at 6:53 amYes!@

    So I called my master Mr. Spock and he strongly disagree; when he started talking vulcan nonsense logic I hung up on him ….

    Lol The fisrt anime that “break” me was Chrno Crusade. waaaayyy back. I still rage at the ending because it is so sad. I promosied to never watch emotional roller coasters; but have failed thru the years and still does. As a parent this week Tari Tari had me as a total mess in the bed… Not a nice sight for an 45+ years 290 pounds guy. The full clannad dvd collection is one of my most prized items in my room. Guess I’m a M.
    So all this can be tied to why we watch what we watch. I still remember my “scary/monter” movie fever. I don’t watch them any more. I don;t watch shonen anymore. I go for drama/sliceof life. Becuase I want to live the emotions I’m not allowed to have thru the live of my anime idols.

    • August 23, 2012 at 12:25 pmdiaz

      Wohh

      Chrono Crusade was one the first ones that made me feel so destroyed inside.

      I think the second anime I watched was Elfen Lied and that is not a soft anime either. Only then I saw
      Chrono Crusade and loved it.

      Air, Kanon and Clannad, when I think about them I feel strange inside ,_,

      I still have both ef to see (started watching it some time ago) and I’m currently seeing Angel Beats!

      :)

  • August 23, 2012 at 10:19 amHighway

    I’ll cry at anything, I think. And most of the anime I seem to watch have at least something that will make me get a bit weepy, either out of happiness or sadness. I’ve only been watching since last fall, but have found so many series that can generate an emotional response, even one that frequently lasts into my memories, to be triggered by songs or other reminders. For instance, I cannot listen to ‘Tenshi ni Fureta Yo’ (the song the seniors wrote to Azu-nyan in K-On) in my car without getting teary.

    Most of the time, it’s related to the emotional climax of the show, but there have been a couple of shows, Voices of a Distant Star and Kowarekake no Orgel that broke me up throughout the whole show. Kowarekake is why I won’t just watch OVA’s anymore unless I know what they’re about, the whole thing made me so sad (from the instant that Flower came to life). Heck, I’m crying now thinking about it.

    But there are also some tears of elation. Two of my favorites are the “Calling Out” scene in Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi and Tachibana’s proposal in Amagami SS+. They always make me happy.

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:40 pmStilts

      Just have to comment to say: that proposal was the best part of Amagami SS+ plus etc. By and large, it firmly goes under one of those shows that doesn’t really need to exist, but that epic proposal makes me grin like an idiot every time. Screw physics, whatever it takes to make the scene even better… *smiles in remembrance*

      You know, I think I’ll go watch that scene right now…

      Edit: yes, that’s still phenomenal. Haruka!!

  • August 23, 2012 at 11:09 amHutch Hutchenson

    Dan: An hero to us all.

  • August 23, 2012 at 12:08 pmDjisas

    Kids this days, all they know is Clannad and fullmetal alchemist…
    Some still remember Saikano and very well, or Ef which was a great drama…
    What i dont see is anyone talk about the best tragedy before clannad, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien…

    • August 23, 2012 at 12:29 pmdiaz

      Oh god, don’t even start with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien.

      I remember crying like a little girl.

      That one got me hard ,_,

      For one of my first seen animes I wasn’t expecting it.

      I agree on Saikano as well.

    • August 23, 2012 at 1:50 pmewok40k

      lol I am just marathoning Ef right now, because a friend of mine suggested me it for a great drama – and I just reached a peak of drama for at least one protagonist…
      Show Spoiler ▼

      • August 23, 2012 at 9:24 pmDjisas

        Shiiro story is quite “delicious” (not in a perverted way), but it is a beautiful drama and and she is a great tragic character, it is the peak of Ef tales, although on “Melody” the story is quite tragic too and very good, although Show Spoiler ▼

        Well i also forget to mention Grave of fireflies, many grown man have cried…

  • August 23, 2012 at 12:46 pmCyrus

    Rahxephon, Wolf’s Rain, Eureka Seven, Welcome to the NHK, etc
    Dammit shows with themes of frenindship and romance. Why did you have to teach me it’s ok to cry?
    DBZ Kai,Gungrave, Soul Eater, The big o,etc
    Thank you for teaching me the “adrenline rush”of waiting for the next episode
    Gunslinger girl, monster, Boogiepop Phantom,Etc
    A tip of the hat for helping me deal with the dark side of humanity better.

    And to you fellow anime fans for the anger I feel when you chose to tell me why every single one of these is crap

  • August 23, 2012 at 1:52 pmewok40k

    Ah, the Gunslinger Girl…
    one of the most touching scenes in whole anime history:
    Show Spoiler ▼

  • August 23, 2012 at 2:01 pmDelwack

    I couldn’t possibly agree with your more Stilts, and you’ve said it far more eloquently that I could ever hope to. My favorite shows have always been those that are both logically consistent and very emotionally involved (I’m honestly not sure where instinct sits in all of this; I’ve never really thought about it before, but nothing comes to mind immediately). I think everyone’s already brought up pretty much all the examples. The Visual Arts/Key tear train is certainly famous by now, and the likes of kororo connect and tari tari have really made me feel this season. Steins;gate, though, is the very first show I thought of as I was reading this.

    Evoking emotions in the audience is a key part of what makes any story, in any medium, great.

  • August 23, 2012 at 2:54 pmxellfish

    Not trying to advertise here, but I think the best thing about coming out has been that all those pretenses and expectations about “masculinity”, that way males are supposed to feel and act and behave, all just dropped from me like a 10 ton shell. You’re suddenly free to feel and express your emotions whatever the f*ck you deem appropriate. It is so unbelievably liberating. Amazingly, life’s so much richer if you don’t try your hardest not to enjoy yourself.
    You people should really try it yourself sometime.. well, not actually being homosexual, but at least not caring about whether others deem you straight enough.

  • August 23, 2012 at 2:59 pmSeishun Otoko

    I can’t remember when was the last time I shed tears and I don’t think I ever did while watching animes. Maybe I’m dead inside :X
    Thanks for the Moshidora shout out, while I didn’t cry when “that” happened, it was a great show and it deserves more attention than it did.
    And now I can’t stop seeing Stilts as Dan Eagleman, maybe it’s time to update your gravatar Sir ;)

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:54 pmStilts

      That’s okay, you can still be my otouto even if you’re dead inside. And yes, Moshidora is a phenomenal show, it needs some more love.

      As for my avatar, I’ve already promised that my next one will be Hand Bra Jeans Sempai. I just have to catch up on the manga so I can deserve to use it!

  • August 23, 2012 at 3:45 pmmac65

    Stilts – excellent.

    I wish the times were different where we could go drinking together.

  • August 23, 2012 at 5:00 pmMasterDragonKnight

    Ah, the resident perverted oniichan is back…and talking about something besides ecchi. Just kidding. XD

    Anyway, there is no shame in crying. Even the largest and strongest men cry. Take Raoh from Hokuto no Ken for example.

    Key anime in particular is made for wrenching out your tears. I have, and I’m not afraid to admit, that I have cried through Clannad, Kanon, Angel Beats, and I probably will cry when Little Busters come out.

  • August 23, 2012 at 7:31 pmfishell

    Stilts! mind covering THE IDOLM@STER episode 26 at RC?

  • August 23, 2012 at 9:59 pmIntricateRadiance

    First off: Stilts, I love you. Just sayin’.
    Secondly: Am I the only one that almost started crying when watching Chihayafuru? That one got me.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:24 amdustShadow

      Didn’t cry. But that birthday pie scene made me squeel.
      It also made me shout KISS HER!! (although I totally understood why he couldn’t)

  • August 24, 2012 at 1:48 amwaystland

    It’s weird for me. Before CLANNAD, I remember crying only once. (Grave of the Fireflies) Watching CLANNAD, I burst into tears multiple times. Since then I seem to get into shows on a more emotional level. Things that never use to get to me, now do. Kokoro Connect ep 5 was completely amazing. The range of emotion I felt during that ep was quite something. I loved every bit of it. Anyways, due to emotion, I enjoy anime even more than I use to. It’s like a whole other level of immersion.

  • August 24, 2012 at 10:28 amJunglepenguin

    Just wanted to mention Hotarubi no Mori e. This always seems to stay hidden under the radar every time a discussion about sad, sentimental anime takes place, but it definitely deserves more attention. Haibane Renmei comes to mind as well.

    Heck, anything that has impressed me deeply has had some sort of emotional impact on me. I’ve never considered the idea of viewing anything without emotion before, because it makes no sense not too. So being swept away by something touching or depressing has always been part of the experience for me. so instead, I’m puzzled why people would choose to bury or hide the emotions they feel when they see something meant to evoke feelings.

    And as always, a wonderful job with the post, Stilts (more so this time, for having done this on a whim, without prior preparation)!

  • August 24, 2012 at 11:15 pmgrey

    LAHV DIS POST STILTS! Imo I think it’s your best one yet!

    Don’t hate me! But honestly i sort of get a feeling that you have a more..limited experience/completed shows list of anime series. I’ve listened to every podcast and it seems like you just get more and more good series to add to your ‘Plan to Watch’ list. Honestly, i’m surprised that someone that i feel has such a limited experience (and i think you’ve mentioned that you’re quite new to anime..?) can provide this level of insight! It really shows what a true fan you are and that makes me very happy.

    It’s kind of too bad that i’m not watching any of the animes that you’re blogging about..I think i’ve only ever read AnoNatsu. Definitely going to pick up at least one series you’ll be blogging next season just so i can read your posts lol.

    • August 25, 2012 at 1:00 amStilts

      Ahaha, thank you very much. I do admit, I probably have a smaller watch list than many people who read this site, on account of my not having something like one and a half jobs in addition to the whole blogging (and occasionally having a social life) thing(s). Still, while my examples are fairly recent and anime was certainly the catalyst for this epiphany, I can think of books and movies and other stories that have been enriched by it as well.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m just a lover of stories in general. Whether they’re anime, movies, books, plays, anecdotes, political stump speeches, or the little lies we tell ourselves every day of our lives, stories fascinate me. And stories, no matter the medium, are always the same…even when they’re totally different.

      You know what I mean? :D

      • August 25, 2012 at 9:47 pmgrey

        Yes, I definitely understand. Kinda same here fort he epiphany thing, something i sort of realized recently about my personal preferences. I get that type of sense too! I feel like I..sometimes..just delve into stories for the sake of it in other mediums. But anime is the one medium where i try to devote myself into it completely, and the only one that i’ll watch/whatever in any genre.

  • August 25, 2012 at 5:29 amNeo

    The very idea of death or sacrifice is very emotional to me. From scene like when Ed sacrifice his leg to revive Al in FMA to Issei sacrivice his hand to save rias in Highschool DxD.

    I like harem genre because there is so much emotion come from the cast like sadness, anger, joy, and many other emotion that usualy very straight and clear. Like for example is my favourite heartbreaking moment is in chapter 41 of Rosario + Vampire II when Show Spoiler ▼

    • August 25, 2012 at 2:27 pmpetitorenji

      “I like harem genre because there is so much emotion come from the cast like sadness, anger, joy, and many other emotion that usualy very straight and clear.”

      Whereas you don’t like love that isn’t straight and clear? Are you too lazy to pursue it if it’s not at your doorstep? Because the real world is not a harem anime. Few females nowadays are as receptive and open to “I love you because I love you.” As a man, you’re expected to bring something more to the table. But of course, you can also try to find those few who are.

  • August 25, 2012 at 11:39 amronri

    I enjoyed this blog Stilts, haven’t been talking much on RC but this one really caught my eye. I definitely agree with the idea that all three aspects must be handled/balanced well so as to create a feeling of wholesomeness within the experience.

    In this regard, my personal favorite is Kara no Kyoukai: The Garden of Sinners and it remains as my most favorite anime because of this. Its story is riddled with concepts of pure instinct, it delves in philosophical topics with a narrative based on logic and finally all of its story development emphasizes on the emotional aspect residing within its characters. Some may point out what they may see as faults within the story’s narrative, but in retrospect (and repeat viewings) I would argue that the decisions made within the story (even those that were aimed at creating emotional moments) still retain a form of logic that remains strongly consistent throughout the series of films. Even with all of its intricacies as a supernatural story, it never neglects to touch on “human” part within its stories. It is this strength of the series that truly makes me appreciate it so much. And of course, I’ll be one to admit that watching it still makes me cry even to this day.