Lethargic Ramble: Execution is Everything

In the medium of Anime, a series breaking new ground is kind of a big deal to a large number of fans. People like new ideas. They salivate at the thought of a show doing everything it can to be “unique” or “fresh”.

tumblr_o5sb7rOiko1uxvvvzo1_500.png
Like my strawberry milk

And while I definitely share these sentiments to some degree, I still often find myself enjoying shows that don’t necessarily break new ground or bring new ideas to the table that many feel are “generic” due to the fact that they cover familiar ground.

I get why people feel this way. A new idea is always exciting. When we see something that tries to be innovative or stand out from its contemporaries it’s immediately interesting because we don’t know what to expect. We’ve never seen it before. It’s new. It’s “fresh”.

However, I don’t believe that “unique” is necessarily synonymous with “good”. To me a show being “interesting” doesn’t elevate it to a level above something that could be labelled as derivative.

A show can be the most unique thing imaginable, but if it executes its ideas poorly then I can’t find myself caring for it. Sure, it’s “interesting”, but if it fails to deliver itself in a way that keeps me invested then it’s nothing more than that, and that’s boring.

11

Meanwhile, there are plenty of shows out there that don’t do a whole lot of new things but execute previously established ideas, formulas or tropes to such a fantastic degree that it being “derivative” does little to affect how enjoyable it is.

To give an example, let’s take a look at My Hero Academia.

1394249_English_KeyArt-OfficialVideoImage_fdf01b2d-2426-e711-8175-020165574d09

My Hero Academia follows the Shounen Jump template perfectly. The series does everything you’d expect from the average Jump title. It follows an underdog protagonist who’s ridiculed for his lack of talent and weirdness as he works his way up the ranks using his newly acquired special power to eventually become the best of the best. It has a rival character with violent tendencies and an antagonistic attitude towards the protagonist. It has tournament arcs. It does literally everything you’d see from just about every major action-based Jump title.

Yet, despite hardly breaking new ground, My Hero Academia excels at following in the footsteps of its predecessors by executing all of these predictable ideas in the best way possible. We know that Izuku is going to receive a special power that makes him a force to be reckoned with, but the incredibly satisfying character arc that is presented in the form of him training endlessly, day and night, to master that power and “earn” its prolonged use is well executed because by the end of it all, it feels emotionally gratifying. We know that Bakugo is a hot-blooded bully who is destined to lose to Izuku because of his antagonistic personality, but the show builds up their intense rivalry in such a genuine and realistic way that the immense satisfaction the show makes us feel when we finally see it happen makes its predictability completely irrelevant. We know that tournament arcs are going to be an inevitable part of the story, but that doesn’t matter when the challenges and battles that these tournaments revolve around are packed with creative powers and interesting scenarios and match ups.

8fQvK2o.png

This is true for any series that could be labelled as derivative.

To give an example on the other end of the spectrum, let’s take a look at Shinsekai Yori.

Episode_04

I liked Shinsekai Yori quite a bit. It was a unique little series that stood out from most other shows I’ve seen. It had interesting ideas. It was anything but derivative. But despite rather enjoying it, I found it to be far less engaging than a lot of shows that didn’t do anything “new”, because the execution was often flawed.

It had an interesting setting, but the characters living in it were far from interesting individuals who were severely lacking in personality making it difficult to care about the events that were happening at times. There are a lot of creative ideas but there are many times where they aren’t utilised to their full potential and are instead used in bland or anticlimactic ways. It’s not a bad show by any means, but it pales in comparison to a lot of shows that lack any of these unique aspects because those shows are executed in a way that makes them a far more engaging, rewarding and worthwhile viewing experience as a whole.

tanaka-kun-01

That’s not to say I don’t like shows that try to do something different. Many of my favourite Anime are series that stand out from their peers, such as Hunter x Hunter, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Scum’s Wish. But being groundbreaking and having interesting ideas isn’t what made those shows great, it was how their ideas were executed that did.

Uniqueness does not inherently make something a worthwhile watch. Not every show needs to be an attempt to redefine the genre or a deep and complex insight into its conventions. It’s all about the delivery of its ideas. Whether they be new, never before seen concepts or something that we’ve seen time and again for the past three decades, the execution is what matters the most. At least to me.

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge - 09.png

I’d rather watch something familiar and well executed than something fresh and poorly handled. Sure, I may know what to expect a lot of the time from the former, but if I’m getting something that is delivered in the best way possible, I’ll take it over something that isn’t getting the same treatment, even if that something is less predictable.

Ideally though, I’d have both. We can have both too.

Of course, this is all just how I feel. Perhaps you feel different.

bDuvSv9.png
Guys…?

Do you value execution more than new ideas? Let me know how you feel below and thanks for reading!

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Lethargic Ramble: Execution is Everything

  1. So, my position on this is pretty much the polar opposite. I’d rather have a series that tries to experiment but falls short rather than one which is serviceable but generic. For one, it’s much more interesting to analyze a unique series whereas the analytical potential of a derivative series is low to none. But more importantly, failures act as building blocks for new ideas and approaches, something that an artistic medium needs at all times to keep from stagnating. Sure, there are templates in place that can work one-hundred times over but for the medium to advance you need artists who are willing to take a risk. The loss of innovation is how mediums die out.

    This isn’t to say there isn’t value in the familiar when executed well. There’s a balance to be had and a series like My Hero Academia is great on the merit of learning from the mistakes and successes of similar series that came before it. But think about it: you never got to that point if artists didn’t take chances. For every My Hero Academia there were countless predecessors that paved the way for it through trial and error. What starts as a bold experiment, a new idea, can and will mature when we allow it room to grow, and failed experiments are the key to such growth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can definitely see why you have the opposite mindset, especially when looking at things through an analytical mindset. Despite what I say here, I do appreciate something trying to be fresh, even if it falls short.

      I’m all for the progression of the medium myself, but I’d never call something amazing solely for being progressive as opposed to just being a well told story.

      Of course, that’s just my own opinion. I’m aware many will disagree with me there, and that’s cool!

      If I can get something that’s both innovative and well executed (Monogatari and Hunter x Hunter immediately spring to mind), then that’s the best thing I could ask for really.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your own thoughts! Much appreciated! 😀

      Like

      1. I think you misunderstand what I said here. I never insinuated that being experimental makes something good, but it *does* make something worthwhile irregardless of its execution. In fact, my point was to say that even when experiments fall on their face–and the majority do– their *existence* is a boon to the industry. Through these are how we get to refined products like the ones you enjoy, and imbue the industry with the fresh ideas it needs to survive. Mediums die out when they stagnate, and if we fail to encourage constant experimentation and innovation then we are effectively failing anime as a whole. This isn’t to say formulaic content can’t exist but execution is definitely not everything.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah, I get you now. I only half grasped what you were saying, sorry!

          Yeah, I can’t really disagree with that at all, in fact I don’t. Like I said, progressive stuff needs to exist and I’m glad it does exist, otherwise things would remain forever stuck in a formulaic loop or die out, as you said 😛

          Like

  2. I like both. Generic but well executed can be great fun and I find these a very relaxing watch (and they tend to be the shows I rewatch many times because they are just relaxing and fun to watch). But I also like shows that do something a bit different even if they dont’ end up being particularly good. I like seeing how things might go or ideas that don’t normally get a lot of time in stories play out. I may never rewatch these shows, but some of them become favourites and they tend to be a bit more memorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I too find those kinds of shows the easiest to rewatch as well as the most relaxing to watch.

      I definitely appreciate shows that try to be something different, but they have to be well executed (by my own standards) for me to really consider them memorable beyond being “unique”.

      I agree that regardless of quality though, something unique can always wind up being very memorable.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to admit, Tatami Galaxy is one of those shows that’s a bit different, and I remember it, but I never really enjoyed it. It actually is well executed and quite good at what it is trying to accomplish, but it just isn’t my thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s exactly how I look at it. A clichéd idea with great execution is always better than an original idea with mediocre execution. An original idea can be a great hook, but it isn’t enough to carry a story if the execution isn’t good enough to support the idea. I love original ideas as much as anyone else, but it needs to be well executed too. A lot of my favorite anime (Gurren Lagann, One Piece, etc.) are so great because of the execution more than the idea.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s