Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Cliches Aren't Bad

Archetypes and cliches aren't bad. A story full of them doesn't mean its bad. All it takes is some creativity to perceive the archetype differently, and it becomes a whole new story. Many themes in visual novels and japanese anime take these differing perceptions to turn a normally bland or shallow story into one with so much meaning it takes an entire nation by storm. I haven't really seen this deconstruction in western medias, instead I see a grimdark horizon coming along, taking archetypes and trying to make them darker and edgier. The only things I seem to find that take the whimsical, maybe-things-aren't-as-they-seem approach to archetypes would be Tim Burton's movies, and even they seem somehow off the mark of what I'm looking for.

This used to be a magical girl.
I'm not one for darker and edgier everything, to be honest I prefer a much more whimsical approach to traditional stories. Take the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a very beloved anime in japan. It has only spanned 12 episodes purely about magical girls trying to solve the world with their hope, but somehow it has broken records for popularity. Why is this? Simply put, it is a deconstruction of magical girls, taking the archetype and twisting it so that suddenly, even though the core of the archetype hasn't changed, the situation has and a story about a girls trying to give the world hope suddenly becomes fruitless, depressing, and a warning that we all must find joy in ourselves, lest we spit in the faces of the girls who gave their lives for our joy. This lesson hit so hard only because of how familiar the concept of a magical girl was to the Japanese society. It would not work with the same emphasis in another nation.

In short, I don't think that darker and edgier is the way to go, I think it'll just devolve to violence on violence and 'scary' things. I think that if we took a very common archetype and constructed it perfect, then deconstruct it so thoroughly it changes one's view on that archetype forever, it could potentially be a very successful piece of work. I just hope something like this happens soon,  I have a feeling it would be a brilliant way in introducing a new take on how to make old things fresh again.


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