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"Good writing" in anime/manga

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What exactly is it that makes you consider writing in anime or manga to be good or bad? I see people criticizing writing a lot on /a/ without being very specific about what they mean. Could you quantify what it is that makes a scene or a story "well-written?" Would you use the same criteria for any other medium or do you hold anime/manga to a different standard?

And without getting derailed by greentext and smug reactions, can we maybe provide examples of well-written scenes in anime or manga as a point of reference? I realize it's difficult to praise anything on /a/ without people rolling their eyes, but we might make an honest effort to.
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>>139000046
>"Good writing" in anime/manga

Thread's off a great start.
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I would say a story is well-written if the characters' motives make sense, the characters are consistent, the course of events is plausible, and the story grows and develops at least some of the characters in interesting ways. Sometimes something clever is reincorporated that shows a kind of consistency which is enjoyable and I think that's characteristic of good writing because it shows that the story is coherent and hangs together.

As for well-written scenes, the one that always comes to mind for me is the banquet in Fate/Zero, where Rider, Archer and Saber are all debating what it means to be a king. That was interesting not only because of the tension of three opponents being gathered peaceably like that, but because of how it drew out the distinct personalities and values of the characters, and how they criticized one another and gave each other different perspectives. Urobuchi is generally good at that kind of thing.
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If I like it.
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A complex plot that actually makes sense.
Witty banter if comedic.
Deep, well-rounded characters that you feel emotionally connected to.
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>>139000046
There's the subjective "do I like it" and the slightly less subjective "does it make sense." Are character motivations and the setting consistent? Do the events that take place have reasonable explanations, being set up ahead of time or otherwise adhering to causality? Does the narrative feel planned? Are there extraneous parts that don't go anywhere or are forgotten? Are there bigger ideas and themes linking concepts together? Does the story have a point?

I think a well-constructed story is judged by how much thought went into it and is evident to the audience. If you can deep dive into every part of a story and they all serve a purpose, a lot of thought went into it. If you can remove large parts of a story or things happen without satisfactory explanation, little thought went into it.
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>>139000956
This pretty much sums up why I find BokuMachi to be badly written.
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>>139000388
I'd agree, but I'd add in something about having a point to everything or presenting a coherent theme that ties stuff together.

I really think it's about looking at a story as a whole and feeling the intelligence behind the story instead of feeling like a writer was just making shit up. Consistency reassures us of that.
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>>139001859
I agree. I meant something along those lines when I said that the course of events is plausible. If a story develops the characters in an interesting way, I don't think it needs to have some overall message or moral to the story, it can be a completely amoral tale of characters in absurd circumstances. What matters is that there is some kind of character appeal that invests you in the story, not so much that it has a "point" to it.
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>>139002034
In cases like that, I think the characters developing end up illustrating some point.

By point, I don't mean like a moral, I just mean something the audience takes away from it. Could be a question or an emotion or a laugh. There's some things with likeable characters and fun dialog and then it ends and I think "what was I supposed to get out of that?"
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>>139002034
I disagree. You can create an absurdist story, but if you do the point of it is, at least on some level, a commentary on typical thematic storytelling or on the absurd nature of life. In doing so, the story has a theme, just one of absurdism rather than a typical didactic one.

A story with no theme whatsoever usually ends up being unsatisfying, simply due to how we expect dramatic stories to develop.
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>>139000046
If I like it is good. If I don't like is bad.
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>>139002505
I think this also touches on why stories that end on the status quo are so infuriating.
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>>139002630
This is the only correct answer.
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>>139000046
>character choices and flaws have consequences , realistic co-relation between environment and characters
Shinji would be mostly an unbearable guy to be around , but his personality realisticly pissed off the people around him , but they sometimes worry about him since he was a vital part to the defense of these people.
Sincce people saw their own well-being first , they put up with a good amount of shinji's shit, but being forced into the role also shaped his character , had his weak times and strong times.
>Character's motives make sense
very subjective , it could be that it only matters if the character himself thinks it makes sense, he could very well be a madman who lost track of reality.
"ideal" characters =/= well-written characters
people who go all about "but i would have done..." are people who take their self-inserting too seriously
>their flaws have impact on the direction of the story
the vital thing to prevent mary-suedom. Characters can pretend "i cant do this and that and..." but if the flaws have no importance , they aint flaws.
"perfect" characters fail to create tension , since we know they get shit done. take grimgar as an example , almost everytime you would think there is a possibility that shit happens, the characters have shown that their flaws have impact , creating real tension as the story progresses.
this , however can be solved in another manner. You have an OP character now. Saitama , Helck , whatever. The best way is to turn them into "Plot-devices" and tell the story itself from the view of the other characters. or put the focus on the things they are really bad are , like saitamas lack of motivation and his boringness as a person , or straight-up comedy.
OP protags dont work well in serious settings , especially like kirito in SAO.
Live-or-death situation , but no real tension since Kirito will make everything right again , and the viewer can already tell after a few episodes.
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>>139002505

Absurdism is fucking stupid. While someone certainly tried to say something with the idea at one point, there's no point in regurgitating the idea more than once and essentially all it does is allow a story to explain away anything by saying c'est la vie.

In anime, there is absolutely no work that tried to be absurdist for the sake of only that single idea and made a good story based on that principle. If a story wants to be crazy without meaning, that's fine. If a story wants to be crazy and not actually say anything, then have the gall to say that meaninglessness is the point, then it's pretentious, and that's it.
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>>139003226
>>139000046

>Characters which already come with a personality
now we have middle scholer x.
he lives a normal live blabla.
he meets a cute girl which crashes at his house, she probably wants to marry him.
or he finds super powers.
he is pretty much the most archetypical and mostly an idealized character.
So what? They be all chivalrous and shit.

Now take fucking GUTS. the narrative starts at a point where he is already somewhat fleshed out , and you instantly want to know how this guy came to be. BAM thats how you induce interrest , when the character by himself already becomes a thing of interrest.
That guy from tokyo ghoul? decent to watch , but i dont even remember his name anymore , he came with next to none personality , while Gutsw was more interresting even if he seemed like an edgy ass on first glance
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>>139003226
Shinji's really not unbearable at all. When pressure isn't extremely high, Shinji is hard working, dutiful, and generally courteous though he's not terribly warm or gregarious. When does finally open up he's still hard working and dutiful but his general courteousness is tempered by a fair dose of wit and sarcasm, particularly when people annoy him.

The only reason people find him unbearable is because in high pressure and unfamiliar situations, he has a tendency to break down. He's not really a coward but he can be incredibly obstinate and he tends to think about issues in a binary fashion, rather than trying to devise a solution that can work for everyone involved. This is illustrated most pertinently by in Shinji's battle with Bardiel, where he chooses simply not to fight, rather than attempt to fight but not kill the pilot. This is also related to Shinji not wanting to take on large amounts of responsibility, which is another important aspect of his character and why he usually thinks in a binary manner.

Anyways, my point is that most of the time, Shinji is an agreeable kid who would be very, very easy to get along with. We just tend to see him at his worse.
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>>139003789
oh damn , it was pretty long ago since i watched eva , /a/ and the like must have tainted my memory. thanks for reminding
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>>139000046
It's all opinions and bandwagoning. That's why characters matters more.
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It really depends on the story the anime/manga is trying to tell. It's extremely hard to talk about an universal or objective good writing.

Sometimes a deus ex machina is a shitty asspull or a brilliant plot twist, it's all very circumstantial.
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>>139004039

Characters are also opinions and bandwagoning, by your logic.
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>>139004054

No deus ex machina is a brilliant plot twist. Contrived is contrived, and a good plot twist is always foreshadowed, or elsewise just makes sense.
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>>139004065
My opinion, the correct one.
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>>139004039
Part of writing is writing the characters. Probably one of the more important parts.
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>>139004099
A deus ex machina can still be a good plot twist. Just because it is a deus ex, doesn't mean you can't prepare it or foreshadow it.
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>>139004332
I was referring more to plot than anything else. Sorry. It's usually what people talk about when they diss writing in a series so I made a few jumps in logic.
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>>139004332
characters carry a story , without good ones , even the best setting will be for nothing
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>>139004406
If you prepare or foreshadow it, it isn't deus ex machina.
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>>139004406
No, he's right, that's what deus ex machina means (not literally): a conclusion that comes out or nowhere. If it's foreshadowed, it's not deus ex machina.
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>>139004406
Deus Ex Machina are by definition contrived. In other words, not prepared nor foreshadowed.
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>>139004332
Yeah, especially since anime tend to be character-driven.
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>>139004487
>>139004498
then i'm just a retard and messed it up with something else. Nevermind me then.
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>>139004472
No, I don't think you necessarily need good characters to carry a show. It certainly helps, but you can make up for deficiencies in the character department with thematic strength or engaging episodic scenarios.
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>>139004598

I agree that you don't need them, but generally it's perfectly possible to keep powerful themes and write great characters. That's the kind of quality that separates a 9/10 and a 10/10.
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>>139004472
A good story can work with shit characters and vise versa.
On the other hand good characters can carry a shitty story but it's really hard to do this the other way. So yea good characters help a lot.
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>>139004598
You need good characters that fit the story.
What you don't necessarily need are complex characters that have emotional struggles.
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>>139004713
What are some good stories with shit characters? In my experience if the characters aren't good, it puts a dent in everything else.
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>>139000046
If a character has any kind of depth beyond being a single cardboard cut-out, especially villains, I consider them well written by anime standards. LNs/Manga are held to a higher (or more like different) standard. they don't have the flashy animation or production to catch the readers attention, so they actually focus on character interaction more. Many still turn out trashy, and these are the ones that follow a formula and don't try anything new or interesting.

Honestly, you don't watch anime for gripping stories and you don't read LNs or Manga for incredible writing, but when you find something that catches your attention you know it's a higher quality than other works in the genre.
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>>139004598
well , it depends on opinion in this case. Clever settings vs plausiblility in characters . I grew up with Ghibli stuff where characters were more in the focus of the story.
Things like Grimgar for example have a purposefully generic approach to the setting itself , but the characters are extremely realistic which already makes them enjoyable by themselves

>>139004795
emotional struggle? if it is just he cheesy kind , it can fuck off. otherwise , it should always be there if it makes sense within the context. Guy getting forced into army , and going into real war? emotional struggle inevatable. and it also makes for a good direction in narrative.
You can do the same with every kind of conflicting characters , but if it gets cheesy , generic and basicly lefts no impact on the character , it wasnt worth the trouble
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>>139000046
I miss the is video game. I think I had the best homu NA
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Good writing is writing that panders to taste, bad writing is anything else.
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>>139004888
>What is Lord of the rings

Joking aside, tell me all you know from the characters from lord of the rings, without any extra books or materials.
Besides very few characters there's not much to tell about them, and some of those few characters aren't even the main cast for a lot of the time in the story.
But the world building is freaking amazing.
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>>139004982
>but the characters are extremely realistic which already makes them enjoyable by themselves

Definitely do not agree with this. Grimgar's setting has realistic elements, and the writing definitely tries its hardest to express to the viewer that the world the characters live in is a real one and not a game, but the characters themselves don't really react the way a real person would react to being thrown into a world like that. Especially Ranta, who's too concerned with acting cool and being himself despite risking his and his team mates' lives to do it.
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>>139005185
Ranta is an ass , and the setting deals with it realisticly. people just dont throw him out for pragmatic reasons.
he is pretty much a madman , yes
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>>139005185
As an addition to this, the characters are also extremely limited in how they can develop because of the amnesia stuff. Without a solid starting point, there's really no where they can go as far as bettering themselves.
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>>139004982
>Guy getting forced into army , and going into real war? emotional struggle inevatable.

What is GATE?

Only watched the first 6 episodes so I might be wrong here.

>>139005114
No good writing can be appreciated even if you aren't the target audience.

>>139004888
Konosuba would be a recent example.
It's not good, but watchable.
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>>139005127
I only read the Hobbit, and I liked the story as told by Bilbo. The movies made the characters memorable.
>>139005263
It doesn't matter if we don't know much about them, or if they are very simple, they can still be good characters. Not everything needs DEVELOPMENT.

>>139005283
Aren't people always gushing about the characters?
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>>139005350
>Aren't people always gushing about the characters?

Only because it's their flavor of the season and they have shit taste.
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>>139005283
gate a shit , the author put more emphasis on his /pol/itics , the fantasy-part gets as generic as it can , and the military enthusiasm is somewhat overboard in some place (the fuckin guy in the helicopter playing fly of the valkyre while shooting down castle walls) , but still takes itself seriously.
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>>139005283
Konosuba's characters aren't bad at all. I think they were probably handled somewhat poorly in the later episodes and they relied on their gags a bit too much but they all have unique, interesting motivations and well defined personalities. I also don't think the cast has that fantastic of chemistry, which puts a serious damper on group scenes.

>>139005350
I disagree. If you don't understand a character, they cannot be a good character. What makes a character good comes from understanding who they are as a person, how they tick, and what they live for. If you don't understand these things, the character is probably not a particularly good one. They can still be functional, but those three aspects are pretty much vital to a genuinely good character.
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>>139000046
I think a story that knows its place has good writing. I think a light novel trying to act like it's a powerful and moving experience(Sword Art Online) is stupid because it makes a promise it isn't capable of keeping, while something like Konosuba which is just dumb fun and never promises to be anything more than that is successful because it does what it's setting out to do well.
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>>139005283
Konosuba is almost nothing but fun likeable characters doing things. The rest of the stuff is a framewotk.
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>>139005475
would have been better if they went full ham or full gritty realism, the "nippon stronk, nice, majestic operators" theme is way overplayed for sure. Nothings wrong with /pol/itics either as long as its believable.
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>>139004099

Well I don't think that Deus ex machinas are inherently bad just because they bring an external element to solve a situation. Yes, the vast majority are shitty copt-outs because the author ran out of ideas, but they can be used to create an unexpected turn to amaze the audience.

Take Slayers Next's ending that is one of the most classical Deus Ex Machinas in anime I can think of since it actually uses a goddess. The existence of the LoN was foreshadowed but it was never considered as someone that could help. When Lina is tortured into casting Giga Slave all we know is that the world would probably end, but she gets possessed by the Lord of Nightmares, rekts Phibbrizzo and saves the world.

How much foreshadowing makes it stop being a Deus Ex Machina? well, that's one big debate but I think that it's pretty clear that, while the plot told us that the LoN existed and was almighty and that Giga Slave drew power from it, no one ever expected that she would appear and resolve the situation directly and as such was a Deus Ex Machina very similar to what the greeks used in their plays.
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>>139005557
That just seems pretentious. Take a load off an enjoy things.
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>>139005680
You just seem like an idiot who doesn't want to think about anything.
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>>139005283
If I can appreciate good writing where I'm outside of the audience then it panders to me on some level.
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>>139005475
dont forget the badly stuffed-in harem elements

cant have bad anime without fanservice and objectification
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Fridge Brillaince
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>>139005557
>they relied on their gags a bit too much
>a bit

You are right about the chemistry part.

>>139005611
They were fun at times but it was really predictable and often just the same jokes slightly changed.
Really dragged it down for me.
There are some fun moments and it's not bad, but it's nothing special either.
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>>139005785
No. It's that you don't have to think about everything all the time.
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>>139005945
You realize that this is a thread about good writing, right? We're supposed to be thinking. If you throw around a show like Grimgar, and someone criticizes the writing and the characters, you can't just come around with "lol ur thinking about it too much." Defend yourself or let it go.
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>>139005915
I completely disagree. Konosuba had great characters. Episodes like exorcising the mansion didn't reuse any of the gags.
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>>139006058
I'm not even that guy. I just disagree with your attitude. Calm down.
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>>139006058
You're saying things can't be good if they're not deep enough. Well, a simple character with a one-track mind can be good, it's all about how he does things. Everything has to do with writing, technically, so the OP should be more about story and plot.
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>>139006065
That episode was really good I must admit.
But at the beginning when they visited the women, they made the same joke like 10 times.
>lol she's evil, let me kill her
>cmon she's a demon lord leader, let me kill her
>I want to kill here, pleeeeaaaase

I was honestly shocked at how many times they made that joke.
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>>139006119
And I disagree with yours. You weren't providing interesting discussion, just insulting me for daring to actually criticize something.

>>139006182
No, I'm not. Simple characters can work, but only in certain types of stories.
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>>139000046
Plot: The introduction conveys enough information and context to the audience about the world the story takes place in. Is is dystopian? An alternate version of our reality? Or is it plausible for the story to take place in real life? What are social cues, taboos, or motives that are encouraged?

Characters: Emotionally complex characters. Real life isn't a two way street for most people, and neither should it be for characters as well. What motivates them? What do they believe in? What is their involvement in the plot, and is there room for their involvement to increase or decrease? What are their opinions on the issues at hand? Are they relevant? If their characters emotionally and/or physically express their beliefs and ideologies, either consistently or variably, then it would be good. And even though it is undoubtedly better if the character is relatable to the audience, sympathy for the said character is also important.

Progression: What is the ultimate solution to the issue at hand? Is the solution logical? Is the solution realistic in the universe that the story takes place in? Is it unfeasible? If so what are changes made within the universe that could possibly explain this as both a logical and satisfying conclusion? Is the progression towards this conclusion reasonable? Is it engaging and emotionally investing? Does it explore complex ideas, or is it rather shallow in its presentation and execution?

Most importantly, does it all fit together?
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>>139005915
>They were fun at times but it was really predictable and often just the same jokes slightly changed.
Yes but miraculously it didn't affect the humor. I saw him stealing panties the moment he met the thief but it still had big impact. Each subsequent time. Darkness is basically a one trick pony but she delivers every time. Some jokes don't get old after one or two uses and can still be funny despite being predictable.
There's something special in KonoSuba, what fails in 90% of the shows, worked splendidly here. This anime honestly made me laugh one time after another.

I admit that Kazuma getting arrested at the end didn't amuse me at all but Destroyer's history was golden.
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>>139000046
>good writer
Urobuchi
>bad writer
That faggot that wrote SAO and Accel world
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>>139006343
You're the only one in this thread throwing insults around. Go take a walk or watch some cgdct.
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Either clever or really fun, doesn't make me frodo.jog
Doesn't try to overstay it's welcome

Succeeds at making me feel whatever it tried to convey
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>>139006489
You threw out "pretentious" first dipshit.
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>>139006289
I'm fine with that. It's all in her established character traits. She's petty and she hates undead. How else was she supposed to react when she fibds out Wiz is one of the demon lord's minions? Then the drain touch thing also makes sense for her character, and then sets up the situation later where Wiz can't take Aqua's energy. Everything's consistent.
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>>139006537
I told you I'm not him. Please stop dragging down this otherwise great thread by being offended over slightest things (and no, no matter how you spin it, "That just seems pretentious." isn't an insult).
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>>139000046
Actual writer here. Firstly, people who think that writing isn't objective are absolute cancer. Nobody would consider a story written by a 5-year-old to ever be good, and anybody willing to argue this point isn't even worth speaking to.

Secondly, "writing" only encompasses plot, characters, and setting. Some people seem to get confused about this for some reason and lump prose in with it, even though that's essentially the text equivalent of directing.

Thirdly, "good writing" is a much harder thing to pin down than "bad writing". In anime, a good anime is one that doesn't have bad writing, rather than one with good writing. The latter are essentially masterpieces within the medium.

Essentially, bad writing occurs when there are inconsistencies within a work. Bad writing pulls you out of things, and breaks your immersion. When "smart" characters act stupid, when the plot moves forward by contrivances that would never happen, when someone breaks pre-established elements of a setting, etc, this is all bad writing. Code Geass is a great example: The entire series is one clusterfuck of retardation after another. How did Euphie die with the best medical treatment from 1 bullet, when Mao gets shot over 100 times and returns with inferior treatment? What were the odds of Rurush's shit activating at the exact moment that it needed to to twist his words into "kill everybody"? Shit like this absolutely destroys any sense of seriousness that a work may otherwise posses, for anyone over the age of 18 at least.

I'd love to write up a bigger essay, but I'm running out of space, and I've probably ruffled plenty of feathers as is. Not sure why I even bothered to type this up honestly, but maybe somebody will benefit from it.
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>>139006644
Pretentious absolutely is an insult
>pretentious
>attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.

Also, I don't care if you're him or not, you're defending a shitter. That's probably worse.
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Evangelion has good writing.
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>>139000046
Teppu, Taiyou no Ie, and I'll Send Her Home on the Last Train are some manga I consider to have good writing.

Teppu is impressively paced, covering a lot in a short amount of time without feeling rushed. The characters are layered and complicated and how this is shown is interesting. It feels like you can share their feelings.

Taiyou no Ie is so down to earth and thematically consistent that I adore it. It has a message and it isn't cheesy about getting that message across.

Last Train is a series of tight, superbly paced one shots that demonstrate character kind of like Teppu+, where it's really easy to understand character's feelings. It feels good.

As an example of a bad manga...Velvet Kiss. It's not standard, but this manga fucking sucks. Characters pretty much just fuck in order to communicate with one another, the plot is horribly contrived and bullshit, and it's horribly melodramatic. One of the worst things I ever read, and I don't understand why I read it.

Generally speaking, a lack of internal consistency will piss me off, as will melodrama. I consider these signs of bad writing. Believably and genuinely interesting ideas will earn my "good manga" opinion.
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>>139006418
Well it's comedy so I can't really argue.
And I have to admit, that plenty of jokes were really funny, Kazuma defending the succubus was fucking god-tier.
But then in contrast there are scenes like after the frog quest when Megumin and Aqua are covered in slime and they ask Kazuma a favor, he denies and they talk about how he got them covered in slime and the nigga gets so embarrassed he give in. It's this typical beta faggot humor the Japanese think is funny.
Darkness really is a one trick pony and what annoys me is that every time her music plays I know the next 20 seconds will be the same shit she's always spouting. Some scenes with her are nice though.

I don't want to get to much into it and explain my reasoning on for every joke I dislike so I'll leave it at that.

I still think Konosuba is just slightly above average and that it's worth watching even if some parts were shit.

>>139006692
I wish more people would put the effort into thinking about the writing in anime like you do.

Would you agree that Death Note handles the "smart character doing something stupid" well?
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>>139007004
I haven't rewatched DN since I was 16 and thought it was a masterpeice, but as I recall, a lot of it was pretty stupid and contrived. There were plot holes everywhere, and Light can only really be considered insane, which is a pretty cheap move in terms of writing characters.
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>>139007004
Megumin blackmailing Kazuma was hilarious. And it made sense. Of course a reasonable person would want to clear up misunderstandings. Then it comes up again later in the story with Mitsurugi.

I also think Darkness was well-handled. That could've gotten old fast, but they start switching it up as soon as the second dullahan encounter.
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>>139006692
Actual logician here. Where is the proof for what objectively good writing is?
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Honestly anime "writing" is average or bad most of the time, especially when you compare it to books or movies, but I never really expect anime to have good writing to begin with. Good animation, OST, the atmosphere it creates, the seiyuu work, the characters that I like even if they're nothing special in terms of writing, all of this is enough for me to overlook overused generic anime tropes and dialogues and predictable plot
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>>139008104
Not him but I am also an actual writer.

I say similar things like "there is an objective good to writing", but technically there isn't. It would be better to say there are quality standards, because there definitely are. Writing is so insanely varied you can't apply objectivity to it. Even "shitty writing" can be utilized to great effect.
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