Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

The Same Story Across the Mediums

Isn’t it funny how when something is a hit, we’ve got remake it over and over and over and over and…

You get the point. But we don’t just remake it in the same form. We make a movie form and a book form and a television form and a video game form, and then we twist it and tell the same story again, with new twists or new settings or with some characters now a different gender or whatever fits our fancy.

(I actually took a lovely online class a few years back about how stories change to fit different mediums, which we explored by comparing the same “scenes” in the Lord of the Rings, through the movies, books, and LOTR online. Also we read a lot of romantic (time period, not romance-based) poetry and stories which form the basis of modern fiction.)

I recently noticed that the Japanese do this too–though they do it differently. The stories never seem to make it to the twisting phase. Let’s take one of my favorite anime series, Ouran High School Host Club, which is utterly ridiculous at almost all times, yet still manages to make you care about all the characters.

Ouran High School Host Club (here on out shortened to Ouran) started as a manga (for those unfamiliar with the term, manga is kind of like a comic book, so pictures and words in a sequential order) and the beginning of the manga was made into an anime (essentially a cartoon). Many anime are made from manga series, and, for the most part, anime series tend to follow their manga counterparts pretty closely.

(Manga series can be quite long–over 500 chapters–so you occasionally run into problems when the manga and the anime are running concurrently and the anime catches up to the manga. Anime sometimes goes through “filler arcs” which tell a story outside of the manga’s storyline but for the most part sticks to the same world and doesn’t alter anything major. Some of these are more successful than others. Or the anime may strike out on its own.)

Some years after the anime came out, they made a live action series of Ouran. Like it sounds, live action series have real people in real locations.

(If you’d like to see a character comparison, well:

ouran cast comp

What’s interesting is that the story doesn’t really change between mediums–when watching the live action, I recognized almost all the episodes from the anime–and when additions are made (such as a filler arc or a movie) they’re always made to fit into the world and story lines that already exist. If an anime gets too far from the manga, they remake the anime to fit the manga better.

But, as far as I know–and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong–they never twist. From Peter Pan they wouldn’t get Hook, or Jake and the Neverland Pirates, or Peter and the Starcatcher. No Wizard of Oz except they’re all insane, or everyone’s a grown up and steampunk, or told from the witch’s point of view.

You have Bleach, and Bleach goes on for 696 manga chapters, 366 anime episodes, four movies, a live action film (which JUST came out), five musicals, two trading card games, several light novels (essentially a novel with occasional manga-style pictures), and at least five video games. Or One Piece, which has been going since 1997 and has over 800 anime episodes. A story can go on forever, being retold from one medium to the next, and then, when they’re done…they’re done. On to the next thing. Or the same thing in a different form.

(Not to say that everything does this, of course. Trigun, for example, is quite manageable at 97 manga chapters and 26 anime episodes–though it is a case where the anime took liberties. Cowboy Bebop–which started as an anime and then became a manga–also has 26. And these are ~25 minute episodes in many cases.)

I just think it’s interesting, to look at how a story can mean so much that we’re willing to watch it–or read it, or play it–over and over. And to see how different cultures go about doing just that.

Am I wrong about Japanese storytelling not twisting the same story into new forms? (I know there are some manga/anime that are twists on Western stories–Pandora Hearts, which I’m reading right now, obviously has its roots in Alice in Wonderland–but I’m unfamiliar with any stories that are twists on other Japanese stories.) Favorite version of a favorite story?

Non-Traditional Storytelling

Yesterday I finished reading The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero (and am slightly jealous, because English is his second language and you totally cannot tell). The story is told through journal entries, letters, video and audio recording transcripts, and one of the character’s (who is mute) notes.

(Also, there is an unexpected twist right at the end, so I am at turns annoyed and impressed.)

The format reminded me of House of Leaves, though less headache inducing. For those of you who missed the HoL cart ten years ago or whenever it was, HoL is a horror story told through a variety of formats as well. It also plays with text location (such as having text appear only on a portion of the page, depending on the physical location of the characters).

When done well, non-traditional storytelling can be amazing. When done poorly, it comes across as contrived and overworked.

I am not prone to fanfiction (because I find it hard to manipulate characters that are not my own), but I did a group fanfic once. I was a teenager–15 or 16–and it was for a computer game series that I have never played. A friend asked me to join because she knew I liked to write. There were quite a few of us–10 or 15–and we rotated chapters. The last few chapters someone programmed to be interactive on the Internet (such as it was, back in the late 90s). At the time it was amazing.

Now you hear about new media storytelling, where stories bridge formats. You have interactive stories where the reader has to help the story along, or can get different results depending on choices (Choose Your Own Adventure books being an old-school version of this). When The Da Vinci code came out, they had a game set up where you had to call phone numbers, email “people,” and solve puzzles to get to the end. (The latter is arguably something called an ARG: alternate reality game. ARGs fascinate me and I think it would be fun to do one, but also a huge amount of work.)

It was interesting reading The Supernatural Enhancements because I am also reading Charles de Lint’s Moonheart, which is about as traditional as you can get.

Do you like non-traditional storytelling, Squiders? I do, but in small quantities, since sometimes I feel like they can be difficult to work through. (TSE, however, is a nice, easy read, so I do recommend it.) What’s your favorite non-traditional story? Ever done an ARG? If so, which one and how did you like it? I did Perplex City for a while until someone solved it, but found it hard to keep up with the narrative on top of the puzzles.