How I learned to stop worrying and love PWP
When I was first introduced to writing narratives, I was taught that every good story has a good plot; and that every good plot begins with some exposition – which leads to a climax – which then ends in a resolution.
(The usage of the word ‘climax’ may or may not have any relevance to the featured image.)
I’m not saying that my 10 years of Ministry-regulated, Ministry-supervised, education is wrong. Most stories do follow this path, with some deviations – perhaps with an extended exposition with hints of teasing or multiple little climaxes before leading up to the big one.
But due to the possibly overzealous enforcement of said Ministry-approved syllabus, I ended up thinking that stories HAD to have an exposition, climax, and resolution. I ended up thinking that stories HAD to follow this formula strictly.
I ended up thinking that stories had to have plot.
But what exactly constitutes plot?
My first few years of anime watching (long before I even knew of the term ‘otaku’) were not particularly memorable ones.
Due to a rather closed-minded indoctrination and a burgeoning interest in Star Wars, I had begun to associate plot with giant hulks of metal blasting other giant hulks of metal into smaller hulks of metal. This happened to coincide with my burgeoning interest in Gundam.
Which somewhat conflicted with my more than burgeoning interest in Cardcaptor Sakura.
To my young, inexperienced mind, it was simple logic: Metal and Explosions were Plot. I should only watch good Plot. Hence, I should only watch Metal and Explosions.
Then I lost control and watched all 3 seasons of Cardcaptor Sakura at one go. The self-reflection in the aftermath led me to a startling realization…
… anyway, it led me to recognize that Explosion and Metal weren’t the only things that made a good plot. And allowed me to be a little more discerning in my choice of anime.
Which brings us back to the original question: What exactly constitutes plot?
The way I see it, people expect plot to mean conflict. They expect plot to mean mystery. They expect plot to mean murders, detectives, supernatural activity. They expect plot to mean, by logical extension of murders+detectives+supernatural activity… Death Note.
I have nothing against Death Note, by the way. I like it, it’s one of the few manga I finished, and I would be eager to proclaim my fondness for it if not for the hype and the tens of thousands of idiots who are gay for L/Light.
(That was not meant to refer to a slash pairing.)
But what I’m trying to get at here is that people have come to associate plot with things happening. Things such as swordfights, or breakups, or the destruction of the world as we know it. They have concluded that a good story = good plot = things happening.
They have come to regard ‘things happening’ as something worth watching. And from there, the only thing worth watching is ‘things happening’.
But if you go back to the original definition –
Plot is simply a literary term for the events that make up a story, and how the events relate/connect/influence each other.
What most people seem to have forgotten, or not realized at all, is that a non-event is still an event. A mecha battle is an event. But similarly, the lack of a mecha battle is still an event.
Therefore to be pedantic, the statement, “the plot of this story is non-existent” can never be true, because as long as there is an event, there is a plot. And since non-events are also events…
Of course, this is something that only etymologists and maybe philosophers would be interested in.
I’d like to get rid of the misconception that a good story must have loads of things happening.
You don’t need to have scenes of adrenaline-pumping action, or heartrending romance, or stupidly intricate mystery. You don’t need plot twist after plot twist or increasingly showier battle sequences.
A good story is simply one you enjoy.
Of course, I realize, at this point, that some people do need the explosions and whatnot for their idea of an enjoyable story. I don’t dispute that. I myself did willingly rewatch the trainwreck that was Transformers 2 to amuse myself with hot mecha on mecha action.
But I don’t believe that everyone on earth would always prefer to watch mecha explode over high school girls talking about the procedure of eating chocolate cornets.
Being a guy and speaking for guys; similarly, I don’t believe that all guys must prefer mecha over everything else. I suspect that the problem here is that there is a mental association with ‘lack of action’ with ‘effeminate’, or ‘impotent’, or ‘homosexual’, and guys just have to assert their manliness.
This kind of ties back to my defense of slice-of-life. It is my theory that guys tend to look down on slice-of-life because, even if they enjoy it, they would rather say they prefer watching mecha and harem and so on.
Then again, it is more likely that people dislike watching slice-of-life because of the lack of plot, or the lack of ‘things happening’.
Or at least, that’s what they think. Because things are happening all over the place in slice-of-life. They’re just overlooked, be it due to their lack of interconnectedness, or their ubiquity.
As Netto-san said,
“Slice of life usually presents us with the small little things in life that is so often forgotten due to the hectic [nature] of today’s life and that’s what I enjoy so much.”
I suppose, after all that text, I just want to say that it’s alright to watch anime that doesn’t have ‘plot’, however you define it. It’s alright to watch anime that you enjoy, even if it doesn’t mesh with society’s age/gender stereotyping.
Just because you’re a girl, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy watching harem or mecha. And just because you’re a guy, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy watching schoolgirls eating cake and lazing around for the majority of 26 episodes.
I mean, I managed to stop worrying about how people saw me when I said I would rather watch K-On! than FMA, or when I said that I would infinitely prefer to watch Lucky Star over Death Note. So why can’t everyone else too?
Yeah so I came across this pic while I was trawling danbooru. And I really really really love her. She is just beautiful and emotionally mature and just HNNGH in her own Yamato Nadeshiko way. Deserved her own arc, I think. And the status of one true pairing over bitchrep.
I apologize for the subpar writing in this post. I think I was trying to veer it towards anime relevance (because this is an anime blog, after all) but didn’t quite get there, causing a bad dissonance.
Anyway, here’s hoping the next one will be better.
(P.S. It occurs to me that my slice-of-life anime preferences seem to involve young/teenage girls. Hmm. Food for thought.)