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My Way or the Anime – All Good Stories Must Come to an End

Stilts Out Loud   013   Crop rises poster

Not the post we deserve, but the one we need.

I write this after having finally seen The Dark Knight Rises, over a month and a half after its release. Yeah, I’m weird like that. Yet, as all good stories are apt to do, it has put me in a writing mood, so it’s time to get these thoughts down before they melt away. This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time, and I’ve saved its release until the end of this season because that’s the only time it could come out. This is a time of endings, along with a few not-so-endings, and that’s exactly what I want to talk about today. Here is my not-so-controversial (but frequently ignored) thesis:

All good stories must come to an end.

Now that’s important, so I’m gunna repeat it – all good stories must come to an end. If there is an inviolable rule of storytelling in my eyes – though there really isn’t, as I wouldn’t be surprised if one of you pointed out an exception to this very rule that even I would be forced to agree with – this would be it. Let’s tackle this from two directions: the stories that never end, and those that, to their great benefit, do.

Stilts Out Loud   013   Crop One Piece lunch

Guess which one we’re starting with?

When I got up to leave the theater earlier tonight (well, I guess that was two weeks ago now), a couple behind me exclaimed how they hoped there would be a fourth movie. Now, I’ll spare you the details in case you haven’t seen the flick, though if you have then I’m sure you can guess what they said, and if you haven’t then you’re really missing out. Anyway, so they said they wanted to see a fourth movie. This seemed eminently reasonable to me, almost as much so as it was completely and utterly wrong. Compare Nolan’s Batman trilogy to…well, everything else that has been done with the character ever. While some individual stories have been great (and rightfully came to an end, I might add), by and large Batman – and Superman, and Wonder Woman, and every major American comic book superhero franchise to speak of – is a giant flaming example of “How Not to Do It.” They are zombie franchises, endlessly resurrected and rebooted every time some money-grubbing executive wants to make another money piñata to smack around until all the dollar bills fall out. Can you honestly tell me that the world is a more interesting, varied, and creativity-friendly place for having Superman schlepping about the place since 1938? If so, I heartily disagree, and I’ll leave it at that.

I suppose I ought to tie this all back to anime, and there are plenty of examples to talk about there. One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, Fairy Tail…the phrase “never-ending shounen” came into existence for a reason, people! Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a long story. Though I don’t read it myself, I don’t often hear people complaining about One Piece’s length, and Naruto appears to be drawing towards some sort of conclusion now (maybe, eventually). Yet you can’t tell me – or you can, though I won’t believe you – that Bleach, which is now being forced to wrap things up, wouldn’t have benefited from snappier storytelling, or really any sort of plan for bringing about a satisfying conclusion. And I don’t even just mean the anime, which was plagued by fillers, but also the manga itself. Why in the gods name didn’t it end when Aizen was defeated? Other than that money piñata thing I talked about earlier, of course.

This isn’t something confined to shounen stories, either. I could quite literally go on for paragraphs on end about other stories that didn’t end when they should have, but I’m going to confine myself to one more example – the manga GE – Good Ending, which is as ironic of a title as I’ve ever seen. I started out enjoying this manga quite a lot, but as it dragged on and on (and on, and on, and on…) I’ve come to hate most of the characters, as their constant indecisiveness and bad decision-making is dialed up to 11 in order to keep the story going for just a little longer. Now I read it only as a constant reminder of How Not to Do It (there’s that phrase again!), and get angrier and angrier with each passing chapter as I vow (as a storyteller) to never do anything so blatantly bad. I usually drink and curse a lot too, but that just comes with the Stilts package.

Stilts Out Loud   013   Crop a beautiful ending

Now, the other side.

Now let’s talk about some stories that were unequivocally enhanced by ending properly. Let’s start this with one of the examples that I love to trot out at the slightest provocation, Ano Natsu de Matteru. This story could have been stretched out into a two-cour series no problem, but would it honestly have benefited from it? I don’t think so. In fact, I think it would have been irrevocably harmed in doing so. Snappy storytelling with a constant drive towards the (then unknown) conclusion was one of the (many) things that made that show so wonderful. It knew the story it wanted to tell, it told it in a clear, concise, and entertaining fashion, and then it ended. More storytellers should take note of what was done there, because it was done well.

Other examples: Puella Magi Madoka Magica comes to mind, as does Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, but honestly, I’m just cheating by throwing out such obvious ones. Others include Mirai Nikki, Moshidora, Inu x Boku SS (especially if you read the manga), Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, and nearly every dating sim adaptation I’ve ever watched. In fact, dating sim adaptations are actually quite good at this – sure, there are alternate routes in the visual novel, but nearly every anime adaptation does us the favor of picking a heroine, telling her story, and then ending. That gives us closure for the story that was animated, even if we happen to know that someone wrote out all the other options, just in case we wanted them. So really, the best of both worlds.

Stilts Out Loud   013   Crop cute girls

Also, cute girls.

Still, the thing about ending a story is…well, it’s hard. Hard for the viewer, yes, but even harder for the storyteller. Part of this is financial. These aren’t just stories to them, they’re brands, and if a writer brings one to an end and isn’t able to get another one going, then it’s back to flipping hamburgers for them. Given that, it’s understandable that they would want to hold onto a story for as long as possible – it’s hard to take risks with your very livelihood, even when you should.

But the problem is more than that. Take it from someone who has taken a few (albeit stumbling) steps into the world of fiction – after you spend months, even years1 with a world and its characters, it’s not easy to let them go. It’s the same reason that authors sometimes give their characters happy endings even when the story would have been a thousand times better had they not. After spending so much time with them, you truly come to care about these characters, these creations, these children of your mind, and it’s hard to set that aside. It’s like leaving your best friends behind forever, when it would be so easy to continue holding on. No one would stop you! They might even cheer you on! Ugh…it’s a hard decision to make.

Yet make it we must. Now as I’ve said, there’s nothing wrong with a long story, so if you plan for it to be long from the beginning – I’m looking at you, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon – then by all means, keep going for as long as you need. Likewise, we should not punish those stories that take the time necessary to tell their story, even if it takes a while. For instance, I don’t think Space Bros would have benefited from a 1-cour length, and in fact would have been ruined by it. Most shows need to Know When to Stop, but we have to be careful not to punish those that Know When to Go On. Yet, like one of my old favorites (Negima), all stories must eventually come to a close. The villains must be vanquished, the long-lost father must be found, and the end girl must be chosen…or not. You don’t have to give everything away, even in the end! But an ending is essential to prevent a story from sliding into crushing mediocrity, from becoming a zombie franchise that pops back up every time somebody says “You know what would be awesome? If Wolverine fought Ant-Man. Yeah, let’s do that!”

Stilts Out Loud   013   Crop Shoryuken!

But this one? This one was awesome. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day etc.

Every show, every series, every story told has an ideal length. It could be long, or it could be very short. Whatever the case, every writer must figure out the ideal length for their story, write to exactly that point…and then stop, the money-counters and screaming executives be damned. That is what allows a story to end on a high note, and stay in people’s minds forever after, even if only a little bit. That’s what can make a good story fantastic, and a fun tale truly grand.

But what can you do? Since this is a blog about watching anime, not writing it, I’ll assume that most of you are on the consumer side of the equation. Well, what you can do is simple – reward those stories that dare to come to an end, encourage with your money and attention those creators who have the courage to stop and risk anew, and abandon any that prove willing to march on forever, down on into the stinking bowels of mediocrity. Look for stories with solid arcs and a clear plan, or even just ones that show a little self-awareness about how long they can keep telling the same jokes before they get boring and stale. Though it won’t win any awards for originality, at least K-ON! was kind enough to end after high school (save for those small backslides into spin-off mangas, though I’m going to forgive those since they ended pretty quickly).

Stilts Out Loud   013   Crop LagRin suggestion

If you like, I could give some suggestions.

Look for stories that are marked by a sense of urgency. Stories like these, they don’t hold anything back – Gurren Lagann could have easily have been stretched out into another cour, but instead they jammed a time skip into the two cours they had and kept that glorious ride going straight up into the heavens until there was no mountain left un-climbed…and then they stopped. A storyteller with a plan will use his or her best tricks as soon as they have them, and keep going until they run out of things to say, at which point they’ll, say it with me here, stop. If you sense too much meandering about, consider getting out, lest you waste hours, even days of your life on a story without the common decency to shut up when it has nothing more to say.

Finally, when you find a story that is willing to end, and does, and does it well – stop, savor it, celebrate it, and then move on. Don’t sit their pining for a sequel, a continuation, or a reboot, just so you can spend five more minutes in that world you’ve come to love, when granting your wish would defile a story so well told. Exercise a little of that self-restraint our parents were always going on about, and let it go. There will be more, if you look for them.

Whatever you take from this post, I implore you to celebrate those stories that dare to end. It’s hard, giving up beloved characters and a comfortable, vibrant world, but in a world (I’m talking about the real one now) where branding is paramount and the suits will try to force a writer to march a dead story on forever, or at least until they’ve harvested every last dollar they possibly can – trust me, I’m a marketer in my day job, that’s one of the many sketchy things I’m paid to do – celebrate those who dare to put artistic integrity and the grand art of storytelling above complacency and an easy paycheck. Raise your glass to those who tell us wonderful stories, and then have the courage to do what must be done to keep them wonderful…bring them to a final, unequivocal, undeniable, close.

Stilts Out Loud   013   Crop give it a rest, Bruce

You did okay this time. Now, do us all a favour and stop. Seriously. Make room for some other heroes, Bruce.

_________________________

1 I’ve been working on my book (and the series to which it belongs) for about five years now, so I speak from some level of experience. [Back]

September 26, 2012 at 9:44 am
89 comments »
  • September 26, 2012 at 10:05 amAni_BEE

    Your brings up one things I hate about North American action comics….. They Just Don’t End!!!!! Don’t get me wrong I a peripheral lover of DC and Marvel. (cartoon, series, video games, & movies) But for the love of God don’t kill off the Boy Scout and resurrect him years latter like the messiah!!!! >_____<

    Bruce actually retire because he getting old in other story lines (not just the recent movie either). But a feel like they are beating a dead horse sometimes with the classic boy's/mythos tales.

    • September 26, 2012 at 10:11 amAni_BEE

      On a random note I’m finally watch Steins;Gate with 4 episodes to go. Their is nothing like feeling the pull to the conclusion or drive to and ending to keep you read/watching something.

  • September 26, 2012 at 10:25 amMatt

    I have to agree, i enjoyed Bleach, and honestly i think it should have ended with Aizen, and i loved the fact he possible lost his powers forever, and if it stopped there i would have given mad props that the main character didn’t end up in a place that was were people would have liked him to be, but a place that was very plausible.

    It goes back to the concept of telling a story, in the end people want closure, i think telling a story too long you get people who get bored and just want it to end. I can understand, that’s why i think the best story tellers are those who don’t get caught up in loving the character’s they create, to the point they are not willing to sacrifice them, but those who see the big picture.

    • September 26, 2012 at 10:34 amStilts

      I think loving one’s characters is absolutely valuable towards writing a good story…but as we certainly agree, not to the point where the author is unwilling to sacrifice them for the larger story. The love can be there, and it may hurt to sacrifice a beloved character if that’s what needs to be done, but the good author will do it anyway, will write through the pain to give us the better story. And those are the ones who should be celebrated.

    • September 26, 2012 at 12:04 pmZannafar

      I remember that back when the Aizen arc ended, there were some rumors around that the main character baton would be passed from Ichigo to his father and that is honestly something I would have loved. Moving on to the next generation is not that rare (Gundam Age being one recent example), but continuing a story with the previous generation is something I have yet to see.

    • September 26, 2012 at 12:16 pmschwegburt

      The conclusion of the Aizen arc definitely provided a good opportunity to end Bleach.

      That said, I do really like how Kubo picked up the Quincy plot thread as the last hurrah. He hasn’t done a good job of foreshadowing the Quincies or really establishing the emotional stakes in the war. NOTE – The author telling you that xxx (ex: Quincy wars) element is important doesn’t work half as well as getting the reader invested in the events through providing a solid narrative and characters (Basically Aizen’s entire narrative thread).

      Sasakibe’s death provides a prime example of Kubo’s flawed writing. He presents some interesting background for a character. But he does it too late. All of the sudden we need to care about the VC most didn’t even know the name of? You don’t beat readers over the head with a “This person/event is now important” stick. You establish that by showing us over the course of time.

      Kubo did hint at the Quincies being a part of a larger problem and I do love that Kubo’s finally made something of the Quincy vs Shinigami feud. But Kubo let it stagnate too long due to his neglect of the Ishida’s presence in the story from the Heuco Mundo arc till now. Ishida should’ve remained a more permanent rival the moment he stepped into Heuco Mundo but instead Kubo did the DBz buddy thing and relegated him as a punching bag to ape how strong Ichigo’s enemies were.

    • September 27, 2012 at 2:44 pmBane

      So, as Kubo continues Bleach, he will feed the readers hope to poison their souls. He will let them believe there may be chance for a good twist so that he can watch them clamoring over each other to ‘stay in the sun.’ You can watch him torture an entire fanbase and when you have truly understood the depth of your failure, he will fulfill his destiny… He will destroy the Bleach series and then, when it is done and Bleach is ashes, then you have his permission to stop reading.

  • September 26, 2012 at 10:29 amkumakaori

    *insert slow clap image here*

    You can’t go back and enjoy them again if they don’t end >). Great post Stilts. It is the fact that anime stories do indeed end that brought me into the genre, away from American TV that eternally strives to eke out another season, and another season, and another season.

    When a story ends, you can begin to tell another, and while there may be merit to finding a new way to tell the same story (.hack Franchise) it tends to get old none the less. (aaaand I’ll hold off on my rant about that franchise…)

    ^_^. These are always a great read :D. Until the next one~.

    ~Kuma.

  • September 26, 2012 at 10:34 amLightnDark

    Whatever the case, every writer must figure out the ideal length for their story post, write to exactly that point…and then stop..

    /seewhatididthere

    Jokes aside, indeed all stories, good or bad must have an ending. The same can go for RPG games as well (not MMORPGs of course). It might be long, short, whatever. There needs to be an end in sight.

    And that is the problem with some major long-running series, with the big 3 as a very prime example. I don’t really blame the authors for doing so, as they might’ve been pressured by the publishers to churn out more content (Yu-Gi-Oh lol), or they might have gained inspiration along the way and decided to throw in a few more arcs, introduce new characters etc etc.

    I have no problems with stories being dragged out as long as it isn’t solely for the sake of milking monies out of people, but again..there has to be an end in sight. For a random example I don’t mind reading Bleach for the next year or two, but if it continues to drag five, ten years then there is going to be a problem. I understand it is all to easy to get caught up in the process of writing and all hence it is important to know when to stop.

    Most movies after a trilogy seems to smell of milking but again, if it’s really good, no-one will complain too much. Marvel/DC comics reboot comes to mind, some were good, some bad. Transformers was like lol after the first (imo) but yeah, you get the point.

    Then there’s the heartache of watching all your blood and sweat just ending like that, albeit after X years. But everything that has a beginning should have an end. At the very worst case you can try to pull a To Love Ru: Darkness or something along the lines of that.

    PS: I really do hope I will get to see the ending of some long running stuff aka Horizon in my lifetime.

    • September 26, 2012 at 12:57 pmZannafar

      To Love-ru Darkness is a special case, as the first To Love-ru ended prematurely with neither the mangaka nor the publisher wanting to end it, but rather because of personal problems in the life of the author (the first result googling “To Love-ru cancelled” gives a good summary of the reasons).

      There are several reasons why I prefer Darkness over the original. First, the over the top ecchiness (not mentioning it or saying I don’t care would have sounded fake). Second, it actually has a real plot. Third, and most important, the shifted character focus from Rito to Momo. A harem story with one of the haremettes (not one of the main girls even) as the central character is something not seen to often.

  • September 26, 2012 at 10:45 amKandur

    “Why in the gods name didn’t it end when Aizen was defeated?”

    That is now how it goes in the case of mangaka who has been writing for more that 10 years. You cannot write a manga for money or for the entertainment of others for 10+ years. It is not humanly possible, no matter what all the poor idiots say about these mangaka doing it for the money. They say that because that is the only way of thinking that they can identify with. They would do anything for money. The thing is that it is not humanly possible. You tire yourself out and fall out of the race after 2 years. The only people who survive are those who love their created universes so much that they would be able to write them until they die, even for free, even if nobody would read it at all.

    So what is happening here, to use a simple metaphor, is that you are watching these mangaka masturbate in the format of a weekly magazine. They will not stop until they cum, no matter how satisfied you are with what you have seen so far.

    So you can talk all about where it should have ended but frankly nobody cares because from their perspective you are “allowed” to read their magnum opus, and not entitled to it.

    • September 27, 2012 at 9:51 pmStilts

      You’re not wrong, but my point was never that they didn’t love their works (though sometimes this is the case…I referenced Negima, and it was clear that at the end Akamatsu just wanted to finish the thing). My point was that their works should be ended despite their love. It’s the old “if you love them, you have to let them go” bit. Without an end, the story that they love so much suffers needlessly. Doesn’t seem right to me, or at least not worthy of reward.

    • September 28, 2012 at 12:11 amkingofconquerors

      About Bleach, i dunoo man, i wouldn’t have countenanced with Bleach ending after Aizen arc given the fact the ending of the arc didn’t exactly wrapped up some of the plot points that the Kubo had brought up (like what Mayuri found in that Espada 8 lab), hell, we didn’t get to know of the four strongest captains (Yamamoto, Unohana, Ukitake, Kyouraku), or even Urahara’s, yoruichi’s and Isshin’s….

      • September 28, 2012 at 12:13 amkingofconquerors

        sorry, i mean the “bankai” of the captains…

  • September 26, 2012 at 10:48 amTheBoyWhoNeverGrewUp

    The beauty of these franchises is that there is a new group of unexposed consumers every 10, or even 5 years. Nothing is going to stop them from coming back. In fifteen years from now, even daddy stilts will be dragged to to the cinema by his bawling kid who wants to watch the new ‘Batman’. Every good story/re-screening will spawn admirers, and from those there will be those so moved that they want to film their own versions.

    • September 27, 2012 at 9:54 pmStilts

      Hah, I don’t doubt for a second that you’re right. And it’s not like there aren’t occasionally victories in those. Why, this latest Batman trilogy is a great of example of making good use of an undying franchise. Still, it’d be nice if we could stop choking in the same characters for decades and get some new blood in there.

  • September 26, 2012 at 10:53 amMasterDragonKnight

    The way I like to explain it is, “A legend is not a legend until it ends.

    Only when something extraordinary ends can you look back at it and reminence its greatness. If it ends on a high note, then that is what it will be remembered for. Clannad is an example of this, ending with a heartwarming scene playing to the theme song.

    But if a series drags on beyond its stay, then people will start to pick at the many flaws. In this case, people will start thinking, “Do you remember when the series used to be good?” The longer it lasts, the more mistakes it can potentially make and the more fans it will lose.

    • September 26, 2012 at 11:36 amStilts

      Oooo, I like that. I’m tempted to splice that into my post…but I think I’ll just comment here, so that people read what you said and know that you’re the badass with the awesome saying ; ) A legend is not a legend until it ends…very nice, very nice.

    • September 28, 2012 at 7:21 pmRigelin

      It doesn’t have to end on a high note to become a legend. As a matter of fact, having had a high note throughout the series, then ending in a tragic note can be just as memorable and legendary. I.e. Death Note and Code Geass to name a few.

  • September 26, 2012 at 11:45 amCharle

    I think this is why, as a viewer, I’m so much more attracted to series that tell their stories in a way that’s brisk and efficient, rather than drawn-out and excessively meandering. It may also have to do with the fact that I have the attention span of a gnat (which I totally blame on the internet), but I absolutely find myself gravitating more towards 12-13 episode series, 26 at MOST. This is also why noitaminA is probably my favorite animation studio right now: they deliver endings in a way that leaves me satisfied with the conclusions, and wanting to see more of the characters without actually needing to.

    It’s definitely easier to get more attached to something when you know it has an ending date in site.

    • September 26, 2012 at 11:23 pminfinite

      noitaminA shows some of the best anime on tv. Only thing is noitaminA isnt a animation studio but is a television programming block, devoted to anime.

    • September 27, 2012 at 9:58 pmStilts

      I disagree; I think it’s easier to get attached to characters when a story is longer. As with friends and family IRL, the more time you spend with them, the closer you become.

      …or you turn to hating them, lol. C’mon, we’ve all had friends that started out good, but eventually the relationship soured. That’s my point – while we should try to keep good friendships going for as long as humanely possible, stories should be ended before the whole thing goes sour.

      That said, I do find myself preferring 1 or 2-cour series as well. To be honest though, that’s mainly an offshoot of this blogging thing…I don’t even much like doing 2-cour series (I’ve avoided them until this next season, if you don’t count split cours) because I want to look forward to something new every season. How we change!

  • September 26, 2012 at 11:52 amCherrie

    This is exactly the reason why I started watching anime (and dramas) in the first place. American TV shows (as good as they start) drag on and on for seasons and seasons… just to milk the audience and get all that they can. They never end unless they get canceled or they go on for like 10 seasons and the actors don’t want to play the part anymore. Sometimes the stories don’t even make sense anymore or they really start struggling for ideas. Anime on the other hand (and dramas) always seem to have a set budget for a number of episodes and then they end. It’s great for people who hate cliffhangers like me because that means there’s a concrete conclusion (albeit, there are some bad ones =P).

    Anyway, I can’t believe it took you so long to see Dark Night Rises Onii-chan! I expected better =P I don’t see why a movie TRILOGY should get another movie though… it was a good ending. Blew my mind O_O! Christian Bale <3

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:00 pmStilts

      Self control, my dear Cherrie. I have it in spades…though it manifests in strange ways sometimes, lol.

      I do agree with you about how that’s one of the nice things about anime. Granted though, it comes with downsides, including tons of series that get a satisfying(ish) season ending with a hook for the next season…that never comes. That still sucks! DX

  • September 26, 2012 at 11:53 amIsabel

    I actually don’t mind reboots so much, as long as the new directors/writers offer a fresh take on the retelling every time. I enjoyed the old Batman movies and love the Nolan ones immensely, and I definitely wouldn’t mind if the James Bond franchise continues endlessly with a new Bond every time as long as the story’s commendable.

    As for anime, however, I tend to gravitate toward conclusive series. I think it’s probably part of me investing in the characters more when they’re working toward some goal or when I feel there is some direction in the series. If I feel that the series is wandering listlessly, my interest and investment in the characters/series fades.

    It might be my bias, since I’m also been hacking away at my novel for some time (~10 years…sigh), but I feel that before writers actually write their stories, they should conceive an ending first. I know some writers admittedly write their stories without an ending in mind initially (i.e., Stephen King), and it occasionally shows as the story winds toward an unexpected and sometimes disappointing conclusion. When you watch or read a lot of stories (anime,movies,etc.) where the writer actually conceived the ending before writing, I feel that you tend to get more enjoyment out of them since you can see subtle hints as the story progresses and the pacing usually tends to be better.

    • September 26, 2012 at 2:04 pmZannafar

      I totally agree with your point about stories tending to be better if the writer had an ending in mind when he began. I too began writing some years ago (never finishing anything) and have noticed that I kept the stories where I have a clear ending in mind, while dropping and forgetting most of the stories I thought up without an ending.

      Another important factor though, is the fun the writer has while writing and planning out the story. This may be biased as well, but I found that whenever I had a good time working on characters (I like to go into great detail here, even if I am the only one to ever read the notes I make), setting or the plot itself, my writing turned out a lot better.

      The story I planned out most meticulously and wrote the most for turned out to be a throwaway, experimental Touhou fanfic that was spawned from two stupid ideas a friend and I had. 1. How would the children of certain characters be like? 2. How many original characters can I think up for a fanfic? (26 major and 8 minor characters). In the end I wrote 1 page of detailed information per character that has shown up, several pages of aditional notes and about 50 pages of story itself so far (up to the middle of the third chapter, with two more chapters being planned out).

      Anyway, before I start ranting in detail about the story, the point I wanted to make is: While the original idea was stupid, as soon as I began working on it, – planning out every little detail about the characters, their abilities, their relationships to other characters – it became insanely fun and I think that also reflected in my writing

      • September 26, 2012 at 2:35 pmIsabel

        A little offtopic, but yes, I’ll agree with you also that the writer must have fun while writing. The foremost important thing! If you don’t enjoy it, that attitude will definitely reflect in the writing, and any reader will notice that. Why bother continue reading/watching something that the writer obviously didn’t enjoy themselves?

        I also write tons of notes about my characters/world/etc. (a big portfolio of handwritten notes!) and when I show it to people, they get scared by the insane amount of detail lol. But anyways, before I detract too much from Stilts’ wonderful post, I think that’s the best way to properly establish characters while keeping everything organized in your head.

        Good luck with your writing endeavors! Don’t give up! :) (Same applies to Stilts :D)

      • September 26, 2012 at 3:23 pmZannafar

        Thanks!
        Good luck to you too!^^

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:07 pmStilts

      Agreed on both points; stories do tend to be better (not always! but usually) when the author plans things out ahead of time, and the writing is definitely better when they’re having fun.

      On the former point, my tactic has always been to know the major pivot points of the story (the major, plot-shaping events), and then just wing the rest. So for the book I wrote (and I really ought to finish editing…), I knew how it would end since I began writing it. The series it belongs to as well, I know how that will end as well, and it helps keep me focused…though, funny story on that, the series ending actually changed a year and a half ago, but I hadn’t dropped any hints specific to the other ending yet, so no biggie! :D But yeah, it basically comes down to needing to know the direction you’re driving in. Once you have that, you can figure out all the fiddly little bits along the way.

      As for the latter point, I’ll keep it (uncharacteristically) short – as with writing fiction, that’s exactly the same take I use while blogging. That’s why I blog anime (which I almost invariably love), and am always looking on the bright side. The more fun I’m having, the more fun all of you will have too! \o/

  • September 26, 2012 at 12:32 pmErinTevra

    “On top of a mountain there stands an old temple, and inside the temple there are 2 monks. The old one tells a story to the young, and the story goes ‘on top of a mountain there stands an old temple, and inside the temple there are 2 monks. The old one tells a story to the young, and the story goes ‘on top of a moutain there stands an old temple, and inside the temple there are 2 monks. The old one tells a story to the young, and the story goes…’”

  • September 26, 2012 at 12:51 pmBakaMochi

    Omg. I can’t believe you didn’t watch when it came out. Can I slap you, onii-tan? :D

    The Dark Knight Trilogy is an iffy one to use as an example though, since Show Spoiler ▼

    But um yeah. Endings are good. Unfortunately, it’s all about sales these days so it’s rare to see a series get the proper ending that it deserves. And even for series like Madoka that got that elusive ending, the movies are a way to milk the cash cow – three movies, two of which are recaps. Lol there’s something wrong with that :/

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:09 pmStilts

      It’s true that it isn’t the best example around, since the trilogy is part of one of those undying franchises I didn’t have nice things to say about. Still, I can’t help what got me a-writin’, and at least compared to its brethren amongst the franchise, it ended decisively. Close enough!

      And what can I say…I’m weird ; )

  • September 26, 2012 at 1:04 pmTerrorhunt

    Being a big fan of Bat, I personally think that DC and Warner should give other characters a chance. Come on Warner, where my Flash movie starring Neil Patrick Harris? It’s bad enough that they’ve push the Justice League movie project after Marvel raking in tons of money with ”The Avengers”, now they’re gonna reboot Batman (again *ugh*) because they can. Great. Can’t wait to see how Bruce Wayne become Batman (again). Might as well reboot Green Lantern (because they can).

    Personally, I prefer my anime with a memorable ending.. Doesn’t matter how long will it take as long as it ends gloriously. I rather have become the precious memory of my past than having it drags on and annoys the living hell out of me. That’s how I prefer my anime or any other story/shows/comics I’m into. To steal a certain quote from the internet;

    ”You either end it as a great TV show, or run it long enough to see it becoming the hated TV series.”

  • September 26, 2012 at 1:22 pmSherylfan

    This is why I love anime for the most part a lot of shows end. Whether good or bad or a setup for manga/VN it ends. You pick your favs and maybe rewatch them one day and ignore the rest. Also that means for most part following a source they have a story to tell and tell it, ie they are a lot more focused.

    Things like books/comics/novels, even manga that have spin offs or sequels, and American shows that just seem to be in perpetual filler or procedural and overstay welcome even though it could have ended maybe 3 seasons ago is that it feels too drug out. Take supernatural a show I liked, it really had ended already with proper ending, but they made 2 filler seasons after and it’s just a sore sight to see in quality story telling because the guy is making it up as he goes along (although director is planning to write 3 seasons in advance). It’s also why I really hate lost as they drug you around when they didn’t even know where they were going.

    It’s that going nowhere feeling that sucks especially when everything is dependent on ratings. it’s why I loved shows like babylon 5 where everything was part of the story and written before hand or game of thrones where they have a source as guideline. For most part it’s big reason I love anime as they have set time and probably a source to go off to keep things moving and focused. Sure anime suffers too if dvd sales are low and they don’t continue but it’s a lot better then the cliffhangers in other media, atleast in anime you can go off to VN/manga/light novel, ie a chance to keep following a canceled show.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:13 pmStilts

      Me, I still prefer those series where the studio goes out on a limb and makes something original. They’re still great for endings, though…an original series has no right to think it’s going to get more than the 1 or 2-cours it starts out with, so they typically bake the ending straight in.

  • September 26, 2012 at 1:51 pmAth

    I definitely prefer stories that have a clear and finite ending. Pulling off a really satisfying ending is bloody hard, but I definitely prefer it to stories that keep on getting extended past their expiry date.

    It’s been mentioned so many times, but Fullmetal Alchemist’s ending to me was perfect. Everything I wanted to be resolved was resolved, and it brought everything together brilliantly with a sense of closure. I liked the original anime’s ending as well and I thought Conqueror of Shamballa was a very fitting close. Lucifer and the Biscuithammer also had one of the most ridiculously satisfying endings ever, and because of that it’s gone down as one of my favourite manga!

    On the opposite side of the scale, Mahou Sensei Negima had one of the most unsatisfying endings I’ve ever read. Unless I completely missed the point of the manga, Negi’s driving force and the thing that kept me reading was the quest for his father Show Spoiler ▼

    . It actually soured the entire thing for me and felt like I’d wasted my time! Which is a pity since it was easily my favourite long-running shounen. Damn you Kodansha for screwing with Ken Akamatsu! (If the rumours were correct).

    Bleach is a weird one for me. I pretty much despised the Hueco Mundo arc onwards, but I was still reading just to see how it would end. But I thought the final fight with Aizen was such a massive anticlimax that I would have been left totally unsatisfied if it had ended there! So part of me just wished it had ended back at Soul Society while the other part keeps reading to see if Kubotite can actually end it nicely!

    When it comes to anime endings, the original El-Hazard OVA has one of my favourite endings of all time, it was beautiful (and set up so we can conveniently ignore El-Hazard 2 and Alternative)! Welcome to the NHK’s ending stood out for me as well – the anime’s ending, not the manga (which did it’s own thing away from the original novel that I didn’t like as much). Toradora, Anohana and AnoNatsu as well (Tatsuyuki Nagai sure knows how to end a series!)

    But yeah enough rambling from me :P To cut it short, when the ending is nailed, it really does make a story ever more satisfying for me. A series with no ending in sight usually makes me lose interest if it keeps dragging on. A really horrible ending will sour my overall opinion of the series altogether.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:18 pmStilts

      You have good taste! *thumbs up* :D I do have to say that Toradora’s ending, at least for the anime, was a bit too rushed. They could have amped up the drama and satisfaction and everything several degrees, but they had to blitz to fit a bunch of stuff in, which was a shame. Still, a great show overall, and until Ano Natsu dethroned it, it was my fav anime romcom of all time!

      As for Negima, I really suggest my post on the final manga chapter if you haven’t read it. I do agree that the ending wasn’t great, but I at least describe how he could have turned the ending into something truly remarkable, if only he had gone for it. Such a shame.

  • September 26, 2012 at 1:58 pmRummy

    I feel that Bakuman best exemplifies the sentiments of this post. Heck, the mangaka even goes about literarily explaining the appropriate time/way, to end a story within his story.

  • September 26, 2012 at 2:03 pmBlackbird

    One piece is actually an aversion almost. It is indeed virtually never-ending, but the mangaka has stated that he had the whole thing planned out from the start. Once it became so popular the series was fleshed out, and everything was done in more detail. He’s also stated that it is now half way through. One Piece is probably the best example of a long running series that has a well planned ending, that just hasn’t been reached yet.

    On another note one thing I think is that no really good comedy should last more than 6 episodes per series, as is the case with many British series. British brevity works, and shorter more concentrated series tend to be better imo.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:21 pmStilts

      Ahhh, but Binbougami Ga! was 13 episodes this past season, and it was hilarious! (Note: I just watched the final ep a few ago, so it’s still on my mind ^^)

      And yeah, I hesitated on mentioning One Piece, which is why I mentioned that “I don’t often hear people complaining about One Piece’s length.” It seems to do it quite well, which is why it’s the one never-ending (well, long running) shounen manga I’ve always kind of wanted to get into…but it’s just so blasted long that I’ve never had the time :X That’s another of the downsides of those.

  • September 26, 2012 at 2:28 pmCarVac

    There is something to be had about the right duration. Many shows are short-changed for episodes, causing rushed anime-original endings that don’t satisfy. Others (more often in the past) had far too many episodes, dragging things out without adding enough to the atmosphere.

    Something about pacing the adaptation of source material is important; I can’t think of an adaptation that truly did a plot-driven weekly manga justice. The arc lengths are just somehow incompatible with 13-episode cours. However, several monthly manga adaptations come to mind, LN adaptations (depending on the length of the novels) can succeed at wrapping things up well, and VN adaptations can often divide things into episodes however they fit best.

    Also, anime-first shows have much a higher proportion of well-executed endings, I have found (Madoka, Gurren Lagann, AnoNatsu), but they also more often go off track and lose steam (HanaIro).

    I realize this is a post about ending things at the right time instead of dragging things out, but often the available times are awkward unless you do extra episodes to cover more material (Bakemonogatari) or wrap up at whatever length you need (FLCL, Hyouka).

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:25 pmStilts

      Very true! And in fact, that’s one of the reasons I so enjoy original series. All of the mediums through which a story can be told (TV, movies, comics, books, plays, radio, web sites, operas, musicals, the spoken word) have their own quirks, so it’s the stories that are tailored specifically to those mediums that have the highest chance of performing best. That doesn’t mean it can’t work – I enjoy Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, despite the fact that its story is obviously unsuited for a visual medium, even if Sunrise is doing an admirable job of it – but it’s certainly an advantage if its got it.

  • September 26, 2012 at 3:43 pmDelwack

    Reboots, as you mentioned, are very popular precisely because of this. You see this trend a bit in anime to some degree with some ‘shared world’ stories, even if the individual stories don’t really impact each other. They both benefit from a known brand, a shared universe, but allow generally new ideas to flourish. Perhaps an unfortunate reality when money gets involved. This is perhaps one way to partially marry the economic concerns with the artistic ones.

    I think everyone can agree to throw more money behind those series that they loved and were good: but regardless of if a story is long or short, has an ending or not, you aren’t going to throw money at something that isn’t good. A story having an ending doesn’t make it good, but I think we can all agree that a never-ending story is bad.

    I have to say, all my favorite stories do end, and I love them for it. Without a climax to build up to, there is no true emotional payoff. This imo, hurts franchises more than people realize, and over time people do lose interest. The reality of commercialization though is that people on both the consumer and the creator side tend to hold onto established settings because it is ‘safe’ and ‘known’. You don’t want to take a chance on something you don’t know when it might be a waste of time and money, so you continue on what your mediocre but at least known quality. It’s the same reason why many pay $4.00 for a cup of starbucks coffee and refuse to pay $1 for an app on our phones.

    Those never-ending stories may achieve commercial success, but are not likely to be counted among the greatest and best. I guess the question is to you as as an artist is: do you create for it to be a commercial success, or to move the hearts of many as far as you can?

    I personally prefer to support those works that move me the most.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:32 pmStilts

      You emphasized a good point. Neither the creators nor the suits deserve all of the blame for endless reboots of tired franchises – we (the consumer) are owed part of it as well. After all, we’re the ones who keep buying their crap! That’s what this was about, especially the last paragraph…to point out what’s happening so that we can all try to reward the well-told stories that end rather than endlessly throwing money at the ones who keep coming back.

  • September 26, 2012 at 3:51 pmgrant

    I thought about The Wheel of Time as soon as I read this. While that has to be one of the finest novel series I have ever read, I think its gone on way to long, though luckily I won’t have to wake to long for the final book.

  • September 26, 2012 at 4:00 pmRyougaZell

    In my case I hadn’t read DC and Marvel for over 20 years when I suddenly jumped into them again with the ‘Blackest Night’ storyline in Green Lantern (Zombies… dang). It was a jump to my childhood I liked and then… ‘the new 52′ came and ruined it all.

    My main problem with the American -eternal- comics is that they have thousands of writers and according to their mood of the week, the characters get changed. A lot. Actually, this was one of the reasons I liked anime better. One author… and an ending. I’ve seen bad endings, normal endings, great endings… but that’s the thing… an ending. When I love a character, I hate it being ruined by a stupid new author that will change its name, gender, sexuality, actions, environment or whatever just to get a few bills.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:34 pmStilts

      A good point. Though honestly, I don’t know how they do it. I tried writing a fanfic once…and then got pissed off at writing someone else’s characters within a week or so and chunked it, lol. Maybe they oughta do the same :P

  • September 26, 2012 at 4:26 pmCollectr

    See also: this blog entry (shameless plug).

  • September 26, 2012 at 4:55 pmblahblah

    Well about the Batman trilogy, don’t be like that. Christopher Nolan said that it would be definitely the LAST and he ended the movie on a GREAT NOTE. It was the perfect ending, the best anyone could ask for. I was emotionally impacted and it left me with a sense of nostalgia as I left the movie theater. So you didn’t need to keep on insisting that Batman shouldn’t continue, we get it.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:37 pmStilts

      And that was exactly my point! He ended it well, but the next doffer who tries is probably going to mess it up, so better to have said next doffer at least try to create something new and original. Then we may just see something interesting, instead of seeing Bruce’s parents killed for the 15,532nd time – they’re tired too guys, give em a rest. Erh, a final one.

  • September 26, 2012 at 5:15 pmSyouke

    That title gave me a fright for a few minutes until I got into the 3rd paragraph, I’m like YES STILTZ IS NOT QUITTING!

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:39 pmStilts

      Ahaha, I didn’t even consider that! My bad for giving you a fright *bows furiously* You don’t have to worry though…if I attach the “My Way or the Anime” tag onto the front, then I’m yakking about storytelling. It’s the posts without something tacked on the front you have to worry about :X

  • September 26, 2012 at 5:19 pmKentaiyoshimi

    Tsuritama is another anime series which I felt did an excellent job at telling a story while being extremely character driven.

    Full Metal Alchemist and Bakuman comes to mind as the recent ones (manga) that ended on a very good note. FMA lasted for about 10 years, but being a monthly manga, hiromu Arakawa always had a plan and direction for the story. Add in very memorable and bad-ass (Pride comes to mind) characters, it made for an extremely entertaining and worthwhile read. FMA is shounen, but it wasn’t plagued by the disease that tends to affect most shounen series.

    It’s interesting Death Note was brought up. Weren’t the authors forced to extend it by executives because it was a huge cash cow? The intrigue and quality of Death Note just wasn’t quite the same(IMO) after the defeat of L.

    Mahou Sensei Negima definitely ended prematurely. There was enough material to comfortably fill at least two story arcs, but instead, we get what was essentially a Wikipedia article summarizing the rest of the story.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:41 pmStilts

      True, you’re not wrong on Death Note. I guess I was thinking more of the last few scenes than on all the Near/Mello jazz that happened before it. Those last few scenes, man…powerful stuff. That sticks with you, overshadowing all else.

  • September 26, 2012 at 5:24 pmAccess

    The choice of words for the title wasn’t particularly wonderful. I thought you were leaving the site and nearly had a heart attack.

  • September 26, 2012 at 6:21 pmewok40k

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • September 26, 2012 at 7:26 pmVelox

    You really hit the nail on the head. I cringe every time I hear someone suggest that Cowboy Bebop, for instance, needs a sequel. The story is over; let it be.

    That Naruto and One Piece have managed to run longer than the infamous Dragon Ball (One Piece is closing in on fifteen years, and Naruto passed the twelve year mark this spring, versus the ten-and-a-half year run of DB) should be notable. That, by the way, was another case, in my opinion at least, of a story continuing past its natural ending. The end of the Cell saga was a perfect place to conclude that story. Instead, by continuing it, all of Gohan’s character development—which had been the central theme of everything from the Saiyans saga forward—went to waste. Not only did the Buu saga feel obviously tacked on, it sacrificed what appeared to be the plan of the whole series, just to keep the cash cow going a little longer.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:45 pmStilts

      AND THEN THERE WAS DRAGONBALL GT! *slams head on desk* I’m glad younger-Stilts stopped shortly after the Cell saga, lol

      Also, more Cowboy Beebop would enrage me. I’m just FINALLY getting a few of my friends (who refuse to watch anything that’s not Beebop quality of higher) to branch out a little bit. If a sequel came out, I’d lose them forever >_<

      • September 28, 2012 at 1:52 pmDa5id

        Hey, the Buu Saga was fine! Vegeta being tempted by his old ways, Gohan getting stronger than his dad again and finding a love interest who was also the humanizing side of Hercule (Videl was awesome), learning more about the dynamics of Other World, and a villain who can regenerate from a single molecule! Also, the Spirit Bomb actual being successful at something!

        And GT was okay up until the end of the Baby Saga. It at least seemed like the arc with the most work put into it, even if there were a few inconsistencies here and there. Super 17 was a pointless fanservice arc, and the Shadow Dragon saga was a neat idea (not being able to use the Dragonballs anymore and having to fight them to seal them away for good)…but it was just wasted so hard.

        Oh yeah, and they’re making a new DBZ film in 2013. It’s set during the 10 year timeskip so at least it won’t mess with the canon.

  • September 26, 2012 at 7:47 pmfragb85

    When one conceives a story it has to be complete before it is written. That’s why things like the Dramatic Structure exist as a base guideline. If the outline of the story isn’t complete it falls apart on the execution.

    Bleach for example reveals Aizen as the bad guy(which to me was always a great plot twist) and builds him up as the Big Bad. Then it drags for the longest time so by the time we got there, Aizen became a joke (A butterfly? Really?). The payoff that fans had hoped for just wasn’t worth it. It was clear that Kubo had no idea where the plot goes from the SS arc and was making things up as it went all along.

    Then there’s Mass Effect 3 where its ending was so bad, it took a giant dump on the themes and canon of an entire franchise. Because why have the entire of experience of three games and various side-materials be worth it if that was how it ended? For all the build up it got to an epic finale, it destroyed it all in just ten minutes. Its blatantly obvious that the ME franchise didn’t have an ending in mind until the last minute.

  • September 26, 2012 at 8:24 pml3reezer

    Interesting points brought up, of which I agreed and disagreed with.

    Ultimately, I’ll have to disagree with all stories having to end. Technically, a story does have to end eventually because the creator cannot outdo eternity, but I don’t think that necessarily means a story cannot be never-ending. (A strong point I try to make to others who see movies, manga, anime, television, comics, etc. as nothing other than measly entertainment value is, “If someone put his/her life’s effort into publishing something like this, you better damn believe it’s for more than just to entertain you for twenty minutes. It can mean more than the world to him/her.”) And I draw that last episode/line of the Baccano! anime adaptation as a good basis for my claim. Of you think of something in the sense of Earth’s story, it has been never-ending up this point. And to counteract the rebuttal of the Earth dying someday, just expand the story to that of the universe’s or some such. It’s all about how things interact with each other and whatnot.

    Retreating from the quite much too universal view, I do believe some stories have been long overdue in their lifespan, and Bleach does seem to be the epitome of that opinion. I’ll also have to agree with someone’s comment about tiring of American comics, because they literally seem to be tailored to never-ending happenings. No matter what changes, whether it be the author, artist, characters, etc. the story continues. This does kind of contradict what I said in the previous paragraph though. But in this case American comics are just recycled material with the same formula while the story of Earth is a pure and genuine story. (I’m sure nobody would say that the story of humanity on Earth is a boring one.)

    Finally though, bring me to the point I wanted to make across in the first place, establishing One Piece with its justified ongoing length. It’s just undeniable. The story isn’t done yet the ride so far has been nothing less of exhilarating. So yeah, I just wanted to say that One Piece is a prime example of an extremely justified lengthy story void of lackluster elements, as well as express some connecting thoughts I’ve had for a while to your article!

  • September 26, 2012 at 9:44 pmGuido

    I do share the same feeling of frustration about American comics never stopping like a rain that never ends, but 1980′s American animation cartoons like, for example, Jayce & the Wheeled Warriors, Real Ghostbusters, COPS, and among other examples that I enjoyed in my childhood exarcerbated that frustration. That’s because they told a clean start of how everything began in the story, but going season after season of the goodies thwarting the schemes of the baddies with no clear direction ahead of the main plotline getting resolved. Worse about those aforementioned shows were that they ran in syndication and based upon a toyline, if the toyline stopped being popular amongst the children consumer demographic then it ceased production meaning that the animated series totally stopped without warning, and thus the cartoon was left behind unresolved and going forever in an endless loop of rebroadcasting the same episodes back to the beginning over and over, until the show was retired for good.

    The only known American animation show that I know of had a clear start and ended appropiately was the Roswell Conspiracies:Aliens, Myths, & Legends. That show last about 40 episodes, but the narrative was constructed decently to allow episodes running in quite a semi-serialization that gradually revealed who was the true, end Boss manipulating all the warring factions that led to the climax of the final confrontation, and then to a quite convincing ending for the heroes and the rest of the alien cast.

    Aside, from that show and a few other examples out there, don’t hold your horses about the rest of modern-day American animation shows ever ending.
    I mean take, for example, Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls. Seriously, does anybody knew or recalled when Jack defeated Aku for good and returned to his proper timeline? and what about Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles staking their lives for a final confrontation deciding the destiny of Townsville once and for all?

    I do agree that writers must take their time at properly telling a story to allow the pacing fleshing out its characters, the conflict, and tribulations they face, citing Avatar: the Last Airbender, as an example of good American animation storytelling. It started its story, introduce its characters, later introduced the antagonists, over the course of said series all factions were given room to properly grow-up, and by the end of the road when the climax to the final battle came and concluded all loose plots got resolved to allow for its deserved ending.

    On the other hand, they must not get overwhelmed by the consumer market stirring them to go on and on endlessly just for the sake of milking a cash cow.

    All series whether be animationr or live-action must be carefully planned with their creators asking in mind beforehand how long should be enough for their characters to go on for the ride.

    The same case applies to both manga and anime, as well.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:54 pmStilts

      Just wanted to say that yes, Avatar: The Last Airbender was a great example of good storytelling in American animation. Not sure on Korra…mainly because I haven’t started it yet :X I’ll get to it eventually!

  • September 26, 2012 at 11:05 pmAT

    We will miss you!

    • September 27, 2012 at 6:54 pmComM3

      Did you even read the post? This ain’t a farewell post.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:54 pmStilts

      I appreciate it? D:

      I really ought to be more careful with my post titles…

  • September 27, 2012 at 1:51 amtMmy

    Ah! My Goddess!

  • September 27, 2012 at 7:16 amPrimusLune

    “stop, savor it, celebrate it, and then move on” was exactly the way I felt after reading DJ Machale’s PENDRAGON series. You just narrated my entire stream of feelings. :) oh the tears.

  • September 27, 2012 at 7:49 amBonnie

    one ending I thought should have have happened is the nanoha francise. the creator should have ended it after A’s instead of aging the characters up when it isn’t needed. do we really care about nanoha, fate, and hayate’s lives as adults? not to mention the lack of screentime they all got.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:57 pmStilts

      I dunno, I think that had more to do with execution than anything else. Growing them up wasn’t a bad idea, they just didn’t tell their story all that well. IMO, it was better that they tried that than do a 3rd series while they were still young. If you’re not going to try something completely different, you might as well take what you’ve got in a new direction, ne?

  • September 27, 2012 at 8:18 amKob264

    This post made me remember Chrono crusade’s ending, so sad but so good and fitting for a series that started as an action/comedy and slowly turned to romantic/drama.

    A good example of how a memorable ending can help you remember the whole story many years after.

  • September 27, 2012 at 11:20 amOverMaster

    “You did okay this time. Now, do us all a favour and stop. Seriously. Make room for some other heroes, Bruce”.

    This is a logical fallacy, since old and new heroes can co-exist without a problem.

    Is the world creatively richer and better for having Superman around since 1938? Hell, yes. Like Robin Hood or the Greek Gods, modern culture heroes have to persevere and continue. Most manga characters are dusty forgotten notes after a decade of inactivity, but a true cultural icon keeps going. That brings some bad along with the good, sure, but that’s also true out of every other fact of life.

    With no reinterpretation of the King Arthur myths, we wouldn’t have Fate Stay Night. Without the Christopher Reeves movies, Toriyama wouldn’t have had the inspiration from Dragon Ball Z (he has stated, for instance, he based Vegeta, Raditz and Nappa on the Phantom Zone Kryptonians, and later killed Goku right after the Death of Superman, also inspired by it).

    Not to mention being the original creator doesn’t mean someone can’t make your characters BETTER than you later on.

    God, I would kill for a Negima revival that ENDS WELL this time around…

    • September 27, 2012 at 11:06 pmStilts

      It’s true that there’s nothing truly new under the sun. Well, save for select paradigm-shift inventions like farming, interchangeable parts, microchips, and the internet…but that’s a different topic entirely! Anywho, all stories tend to be created by their author picking out bits they liked from other stories they’ve seen/read/lived and then stitching them together in a slightly different way. Everything is derivative, in a way, and everything can inspire. And yes, it’s a false choice – there’s nothing to say that both can’t exist.

      …and yet every comic book shelf choked with Superman books doesn’t have room for more than one or two editions of Atomic Robo (if that). When there are a bunch of Batman, Ironman, and James Bond movies cluttering up the screen, there’s less time and money to make other things. Attention is finite, so the longer these zombie franchises continue shuffling around, the more light they steal from the shoots of original works (even if only slightly more so) that are struggling for life around their feet. It’s not the most evil thing in this world by any means, but neither is it something to celebrate. I’d prefer to celebrate those who dare to create something new and dare to bring it to an end myself.

      But of course, we can agree to disagree :)

  • September 27, 2012 at 11:14 pmThe Moondoggie

    All good stories must come to an end.

    A common dillema for newfags of the anime fandom, Stilts. “I hope it never ends!”, right?

    Yes, even I am not an exemption: took me a while to get over the end of Yuyu Hakusho, years ago. But eventually I got used to it. I said to myself “When one story ends, look for another to open.”

    BTW Stilts, you may want to change the title: It sounds like you’re leaving, like Enzo. XD (No way, though! You just recently became the third(?) gen head blogger for RandomC. Even Divine and Omni took a few years before declaring quits. Don’t leave yet.)

    • September 28, 2012 at 7:13 amStilts

      Bwahaha! Well, I don’t know about that head blogger thing (I’m just a pushy sonofagun who doesn’t like to leave things up to chance), but I shant be be leaving any time soon. I will never die! (/famous last words)

  • September 28, 2012 at 7:37 amtrogdor

    One Piece is honestly the only lengthy manga series I havent gotten tired of. I dont want it to run forever, but I don’t want it to end now either. Having read all of it so far, the plot isnt even close to asking for an ending just yet, and still manages to be quite a fun read. A great example of a lengthy series that actually packs a large enough story to justify only being half-way into it after 600+ weekly chapters.

    I do hope it gets a 2-3 chapter pacing anime reboot at some point, as its current state of 1 chapter per 24 minute ep only makes the story feel much slower than it actually is.

  • September 28, 2012 at 10:14 amSacchi

    “After spending so much time with them, you truly come to care about these characters, these creations, these children of your mind, and it’s hard to set that aside. It’s like leaving your best friends behind forever, when it would be so easy to continue holding on.”

    “Need to kill more main characters” – George Martin

    Really good article. I do enjoy authors that know when to end a show, and know when to disappear/kill somebody that is no longer necessary. And then there’s Game of Thrones….that screws with my emotions in amazing yet tragic ways…

    • September 28, 2012 at 12:20 pmStilts

      To quote Stephen King:

      Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

      He’s talking about trimming the fat out of the narrative word-wise, but it applies to characters as well – though they be beloved to you, a good storyteller can’t be afraid to dispose of them when it’s necessary. To do anything else would be insulting to the story you have crafted.

      BTW, I’m not a big fan of his generally, but his On Writing is a fantastic book. Highly recommended.

  • September 28, 2012 at 12:09 pmBonnie

    I suppose but remember Card captor sakura the sealed card movie that ended while the characters were still young and had a very satisfing wrap up.

  • September 28, 2012 at 1:30 pmCasual Comic Book Fan

    Can you honestly tell me that the world is a more interesting, varied, and creativity-friendly place for having Superman schlepping about the place since 1938? If so, I heartily disagree, and I’ll leave it at that.

    Are you seriously saying that we’d be better off without the most iconic comic book character ever, one that basically started off the superhero genre of comics? See wiki for how much cultural influence Superman has: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman#Cultural_impact The world is without a doubt a more interesting, varied, and creativity-friendly place for having Superman gracing comic book covers since 1938. For shame…

    • September 28, 2012 at 9:34 pmStilts

      …OR, we could have Superman plus a host of other superheroes that could have been just as interesting (or even more so!) than ‘ol Supes. Of course, this is all a pipe dream that’s destined to never happen – once we humans find something we like and are familiar with, we invariably want more of it – but I never claimed I wanted to ban unneeded sequels and continuations or anything. I merely wish to encourage the alternative : )

  • September 28, 2012 at 2:46 pmPrimeHector

    Characters don’t have to come to an end. The Comic Book characters that will always have a spot are Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Wolverine.

  • September 28, 2012 at 5:52 pmNeo

    Yu-Gi-Oh is an anime that i watch when grow up and i still like it. I watch the original, GX, and 5D’s and never tired of it. Then come ZeXaL witch kill my mood because the protagonis is too idiot and mainly because the suporting cast role is feel to forced (except Anna and her crazy high attack monster). Nowdays i only read the duel on wiki not bother with watching since the duel is more epic than the story itself.

  • September 28, 2012 at 7:23 pmNoSicko

    Once again, very insightful article Stilts.

  • September 29, 2012 at 5:18 pmtendo

    I prefer long animes to short ones.
    One piece is the best long anime and I wish it would not end, ever, but it will. Just as Neo from the Matrix was told: “everything that has a beginning has an end Neo.”
    I see it the other way. I have seen many short animes that could have been a lot longer and I don’t like that they are cut short. If I have to choose I prefer more long shows (some will be excellent most will suck) than all perfect short shows.

  • September 29, 2012 at 10:07 pmSupreme

    Well, If you had read the last few chapters of Bleach then by now you would have most certainly realize that these current works are indeed some Kubo’s best writing in a long time.
    Pulling the Izen stick out and beating people with in while in the context of wrapping it in other animes which are poorer in quality certainly will drive your point across, but it wouldnt be true.

    I mean seriously, watch it again. Then tell me that there isn’t half a story missing if you factor in all the sub plots, 0 squad, Remaining Arrancar, Quincy’s, Ichigos father and mother backstory, Ichigo’s hollowfication and why he has it, Remaining Bankai’s, 1000 year blood war ….

    I’ll stop there because i have better things to do with my day as to direct attention towards the finer points of life to people who already have a tainted opinion of how anime SHOULD be.

  • September 30, 2012 at 12:30 amAxel

    I love that you mentioned GE – Good Ending! After this most recent chapter, I’m starting to get impatient for them to just wrap things up and be done. Same with Bleach. I actually stopped reading after they showed the Quincies had taken over Hueco Mundo. BLAH! If Kubo still wanted to let that cat out of the bag, he shouldn’t have taken away Ichigo’s powers after defeating Aizen. OR maybe Aizen should’ve stayed under the radar still to help defeat the Quincies, THEN attempt his coup d’etat! That kind of progression would’ve made a ton more sense. As a writer, I too fall in love with my brain babies and never want to let them go, but I’m a storyteller. Not a rambler. If there’s no definite and irrevocable conclusion, then it isn’t a story. It’s incessant rambling!

    As for ones that do it right and end it before it all goes to crap… I have to admit, it’s hard to see them end because they were THAT good. I’m going to bring up one that I don’t hear about anymore but I love to the depths of my soul. Michiko to Hatchin. Now I’m not sure if it was well received by a majority of anime-viewers or not, but it was well received by me and I am incredibly picky about my anime. If the animation looks shoddy, I won’t stand to watch it even if the story is good. If the story is crap, I won’t stand to watch it even if it’s pretty (Guilty Gear damn youuuu!!!) But this had it all and I never wanted it to endddd! I wanted to see more of the adventures of Michiko Malandro and Hatchin Morenos! Especially after the ending they gave it. *writhes* Ahhh I ached and continue to ache for a sequel. *end of writhing* But it was not meant to be. It couldn’t because any more and it might have become One Piece or Bleach! And then I’d rage against Manglobe for ruining my precious show!

    So I say all this to say… I agree Stilts. Lol. And they really do need to stop rebooting all the same stories/characters so that new ones can have a chance at greatness. No one is saying Superman and Batman aren’t iconic and haven’t done some good in the culture of the world. But for Christ’s sake, is there no one else out there saving the world in epic proportions?

  • September 30, 2012 at 7:16 amphawq

    I personally have no preference in length of a series in itself. More, I prefer it when the length of a series matches its story’s actual size.

    One Piece is a good example of a long manga series that actually keeps the story intact and at a decent pacing. Rarely has it ever felt dragged, and I can definitely believe that more stuff is to come ahead. Ending it now would be dumb.

    The 560+ episode anime adaptation, however, Is longer than it should be. I blame the fact that they have it running with no significant breaks when the manga itself is still ongoing. 1 Chapter per ep doesnt work as a single 10-30 page chapter cannot easily take up a whole 22 minutes of screentime. It generally only makes the plot feel much slower than it actually is. I would love to see a DBKai-esque reboot to fix such pacing issues.

    But I cant for the life of me, imagine how much of a trainwreck it’d be if One Piece’s entire story was compacted into a single 13-52 episode/chapter series, unless they removed a large chunk of details and plot, which would in turn, remove the essence and point of the series.

  • September 30, 2012 at 3:47 pmlegend72012

    I’m really glad you posted this not only related to TDKR, but you also pointed out the never ending stories and possible ending stories that can related to Nolan’s epic Batman Trilogy and that’s a good choice to go with. I’m a huge batman fan ever since I was 6, And I love that quote highlighted in green “A legend is not a legend until it ends.” Because every great story out there has a beginning, middle and an end. Christohper Nolan, and along with his brother and the rest of people with him that redeemed Batman and made him more then just a popular icon again, but made him into a memorable symbol of a legend that can be told to the next generation of how a man can own the power of fear and turn it in his greatest strength and with that of TDKR’s ending was the best ending to Batman’s legacy being carried on through someone else “With the Will To Act.” . With all the animes, and TV shows I’ve watched over the years it’s come clear to me that it’s more meaningful remembering something that phenomenal and an inspires a new generation to look back saying “Wow, so that what it was like to see it when it was in it’s prime.” One Piece is my fave anime and manga. It’s a long series yes, half of it is still left to be told and right now it’s there plain as simple. But with all that in mind, I still wish to continue to see how Oda’s story will develop as Luffy and the StrawHats fight their way into “New World” as Luffy carries on the legend of Gold Roger to become the next “Pirate King”. :) Naruto, Bleach, and Fairy Tail looks like they are reaching their epic conclusions as well and it’s sad to see them end, but I look forward to it with all the high hopes to seeing a fantastic climaxing end for Naruto’s, Ichigo’s and Nastu legend’s grow as well. And I can say this; when I get older and have grandkids I’ll enjoy telling them these stories I grow up see when I was their age and thus telling the epic legends that came to be. LOL “Endings” Leaves an impression on you that makes you realize how nostalgic they were’re back then when you remember, and no matter what kind of rebooted incarnation of “Batman” that will come sooner or later; I can still say without a doubt with a big grin on my face when I’m an old man telling the kiddo’s when they see all these newer version’s of DC’s best superhero I’ll tell them “You may have grown up seeing this kind of Batman these days, But I WAS THERE growing up through the times going through 2005-2012 when seeing Nolan’s legendary epic story of The Dark Knight unfold into cinema like shocking bolt of lighting. That was the real deal and these newer version’s can never match the phenomena level it had back then.”

    ^_^ Good plots, good stories, good endings have meaning. No matter what the writer’s form it into. As long as it will remain memorable and it gives you the satisfaction to move forward to a new story filled with great anticipation for what’s next.