Bear with me. I’m going to wrap this subject around to writing, I promise, but I’m going to gush about my love of anime for a moment. 🙂
A few years ago, I stumbled across a reference to an anime series titled Shigurui. It is noted for its nudity, graphically realistic violence and the abrupt ending. Seriously abrupt. I managed to find it for viewing online, however, I could not watch it as it was in Japanese with Italian subtitles. Over the last year or so, Netflix has been increasing their selection of anime with impressive speed. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this series last week while browsing the category. The English dubbed version was released with the title Shigurui: Death Frenzy. I watched the entire anime in two days, including while on my lunch break at work.
The last episode left me thoroughly upset, as nothing was resolved from the beginning. Come to find out, the 12 episode anime is taken from only 32 of 76 chapters of the manga. The manga is based upon a period novel that is composed of short stories concerning a tournament set during the Edo period in Japan. I immediately went online, found translated scans of the manga and have been feeding my Shigurui fix the last couple of days. Concerning the show, I loved. It’s captivating. I recommend it. (Not for the squeamish, or anyone offended by violence, or kids.)
Now, I have not, nor do I read much manga. I watch a fair amount of anime. People who do not watch anime always give me one of two responses when I talk about it. They think it’s either crazy monsters having sex with women dressed as school girls or it’s all Pokemon in nature. I’ve personally never seen the first kind, and I’m not a Pokemon fan. (I did follow a couple of seasons of Digimon, but that’s a different story.)
In writing, there’s the adage ‘show, don’t tell.’ I think this is especially true of this particular art form. Anime is exaggeration. Action, emotion, fights. Sometimes dialogue. A movie is everyone walking and talking and easily showing, so the extreme expressions, voices, movements are essential to anime. How difficult it must be to bring to life a one-dimensional piece of paper. But isn’t that what all writers are trying to accomplish? Sometimes when I watch a great episode of anime, I wish I could make my own fantasy series into one. The flow, the exaggeration is what makes it great. And like all novels, it’s the characters we care about. The moments where people and events fall into place, or fall apart. When the hero can’t go on, or rises back up to finish the great fight.
After watching Shigurui, I have been inspired to attempt to tighten up some of my own literary fight scenes. The few fights that did occur in the show were short. I suppose if one had been trained as a warrior their entire life, they wouldn’t need more than a few strokes to fell an opponent.
I think I just love how different art forms can inspire us in ways we wouldn’t even imagine. And even though there are no more animated episodes of Shigurui, I’m glad I saw that first and then began reading. I might have been more upset knowing what animated awesomeness had been kept from the world. In the meantime, there’s always Bleach. I’m only on episode 208. 🙂