Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#41
Since we are on anime and powerups... I think it can be compelling to sink or swim, but I'm always thinking about One Piece and luffy developing his first big new power (gear second)

In the show, from the get-go you have luffy, a guy made of rubber who uses it to fight by attacking like a rubber band or bouncing cannonballs back at people. He scrapes by for a large chunk of the story on grit, determination, and a little bit of clever thinking combined with being motivated and inspired and sometimes saved by people he helps.

When it comes time for the much beloved anime power up, it's after a pair of bitter losses. The first one, he was just sort of blindsided, and the viewers are too. The second time, it's a whole squad of guys who just out class him. He can't land attacks on any of them, and they are strong enough to harm him even through his rubber body because they can simply skewer him with their fingers.

Not too far down the road, he gets into a one on one fight with one of those squad members, and happily thanks him for the wakeup call, then floors the guy. It's set up to feel like a real serious fight and Luffy says 'hey, I got an idea because of losing to you guys' then uses a new power and CLOWNS the guy.

So, in other cases this might be overpowered, and an ass pull, but he even describes how watching his enemies and how they fought and beat him prompted him to rethink how he was fighting. The pleasure of seeing a character who was helpless turn it completely around is legit because he wasn't fake losing or 'had bad luck'... he was completely crushed in both the major fights he got into before turning it around.

The unexpected rally is great because it's openly supported by the previous failures, but those moments of triumph need to be supported by struggling... which once you hit that point of no return it's hard to keep applying. OP characters without a consideration are bad for the drama of the story, they undermine the gradual climb to a climax. The steepest hill is the first one the mountain that makes the character, then everything else has as much impact as a speedbump.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#42

"Let's look at anime."


Ugh. Let's not.
Anime is terrible literature. Heck, even my Japanese friends admit that in Japanese, Anime is generally terrible writing. Sometimes it has a somewhat decent overarching plot, but it's characterization, subplots, scope, and focus are all INTENTIONALLY bad reading, intended to exclusively favor the graphic nature of the genre. most of the 'best books' would be boring if turned into a comic book, as too many writers have discovered. Heck, Jackson had to practically wreck the plot of Lord of the rings just to make it a decent movie.
It's not about the writing, it's about the BAM! the BOOM! and the CRASH.
Even superman is a bad example. No one reads 'books' about superman, they are BORING. (although batman books do well, but that's because batman comics were always designed to tell a story about a non-OP detective type.)

comic books and movies are meant to be experienced visually, not as literature, and OP is a 'non issue' for genres designed around giant visual spectacle. Whether or not Yoda could defeat Wolverine only matters on deep nerd websites.

Why does someone always try to add Anime to conversations about actual writing? I am not sure if there are even any comic books on this site, and I KNOW there are no cartoons.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#43

Brian Wrote: "Let's look at anime."


Ugh. Let's not.
Anime is terrible literature. Heck, even my Japanese friends admit that in Japanese, Anime is generally terrible writing. Sometimes it has a somewhat decent overarching plot, but it's characterization, subplots, scope, and focus are all INTENTIONALLY bad reading, intended to exclusively favor the graphic nature of the genre. most of the 'best books' would be boring if turned into a comic book, as too many writers have discovered. Heck, Jackson had to practically wreck the plot of Lord of the rings just to make it a decent movie.
It's not about the writing, it's about the BAM! the BOOM! and the CRASH.
Even superman is a bad example. No one reads 'books' about superman, they are BORING. (although batman books do well, but that's because batman comics were always designed to tell a story about a non-OP detective type.)

comic books and movies are meant to be experienced visually, not as literature, and OP is a 'non issue' for genres designed around giant visual spectacle. Whether or not Yoda could defeat Wolverine only matters on deep nerd websites.

Why does someone always try to add Anime to conversations about actual writing? I am not sure if there are even any comic books on this site, and I KNOW there are no cartoons.


When I say anime I was referring to manga too. So maybe a little word-fuzziness on my part. You don't seem to like anime, and I don't like wrestling as a genre, but It's all story telling, and I'll take lessons from how characters are made in wrestling and wring whatever I can out of the ideas behind heels and heroes and playing the crowd and kefabye even if the subject matter is juvenile... because it works for somebody, and as a writer I want to know what about it works and why it does.

If you are talking about overpowered characters but don't want to talk about superman or goku or one punch man you're not really engaging the conversation. Super man is a great example that you yourself tossed out where the creator had to write in an Achilles heel to have any conflict what-so-ever, and is a icon for bland invincible heroes on screens and comic pages and book pages alike. People like him less now because society doesn't really have heroes in the same way we used to, but he persists today because he for years WAS iconic and there was a desire for a figure of pure good to exist that would deftly handle the worlds problems. You don't want to talk about superman, but you DID and now I don't want to talk about him but I HAVE to because he's part of the foundation of the overpowered characters building.

You are going to have to suffer through a lot more anime talk if you keep posting, because more anime then ever started as web novels, and more then a few of the really successful novels on this site clearly have taken queues from the pacing and storytelling present in anime and manga. Especially stories designed to tell the reader about a different world by throwing someone from our own reality into a new one. You know, isekai stories? You can call it portal fantasy all you want, but the current surge in popularity is based around japan's voracious appetite for stories of people diving into comfy generic fantasy worlds. Or VR... thanks SAO and Hack.sign!


As for what I picked to talk about:

One Piece made it's creator one of the five richest people in japan, and in that regard alone is probably an okay serial story to consider when drafting serials stories in other media. Especially long term stories, since it's titanic length is used tremendously well by the author in terms of planting plot hooks and small details that he ties back into the world years and years later in ways that reward clever readers and make the world feel complete and connected.

People hate the art. No really, most people when they sit down after being badgered to read it are repelled by how it doesn't look... cool. I didn't think it looked good. What kept me in the game was the world building and story and careful drip of information about both. The author has iron tight control over what the audience knows, and leaks details about secrets in the setting that keep the readers (and the anime pirate crew) going forward on their quest. He combines it with knowing how to tell a story in a way that draws out emotions. We meet characters, grow to like them as they bounce off the main characters, then we get a tragic backstory that helps tie together the little mysteries of why they acted so odd into a cohesive whole.

So yeah, that's why I keep talking about anime in the writing forum? Because somebody wrote it. Somebody wrote the really good stuff, and the bad stuff. It's written for a visual medium, but I visualize things in the stories I read. The concepts of building action, tempo, climaxes, resolutions ect ect all apply to books and anime. Shortening your sentences is the same sort of trick during a fight as anime adding moving lines behind characters doing action, even if they are wildly different in execution.

There are bad anime shows, just like I'm sure some of the pulp serial stories that ran along with Dumas's Count of Monte Cristo were terrible too. I have no idea what they'll talk about in 200 years, but right now I want to discuss them and understanding why they are bad and what about the bad ones that I don't like lets them keep an audience anyway.



As an aside: You might want to pick... anything else besides the lord of the rings movies to make the point you're trying to make about cross-genre adaptations often being less successful in other media. I actually agree with almost UNIVERSALLY it's a bad idea to move entire stories across genres. You just picked one of the worst possible examples:



Quote:From Wikipedia: Like the other two entries in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, The Return of the King is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. The film received numerous accolades; at the 76th Academy Awards, it won all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated, including Best Picture, tying with Ben-Hur and Titanic as the movie with the most Oscar wins. It also became the second film series whose entries have all won Best Visual Effects, after the original Star Wars Trilogy.


Yeah, the hobbit movies didn't work too well but uh, maybe talk about how video game adaptations are terrible. Or live action anime's track record.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#44

Roof Wrote: As an aside: You might want to pick... anything else besides the lord of the rings movies to make the point you're trying to make about cross-genre adaptations often being less successful in other media.

I wasn't talking about its success, it was obviously successful. I was talking about it requiring an enormous amount of changes to make into a decent movie. And I will admit that it did make a decent movie, it was just very much changed from the original literature. In the books, Gimli wasn't a joke, Legolas wasn't a sex symbol, Liv Tyler's character didn't exist, most of the battles played out very differently, and many scenes were cut or never happened in the book.

My point still stands that Literature and movies/cartoons/comic books are entirely different mediums and have vastly different requirements by entertainment standards. No, I don't particularly care for anime as a block, but there are certainly some that I like as exceptions, such as the original (animated) Ghost in the shell, some of the battlefortress macross movies and pretty much anything that revolves around giant battling robots or Kaiju, a genre which Japan still totally dominates. (The American Kaiju movies are usually just pale imitations at best, or do I really need to bring up Matthew Brodericks' Godzilla?)

But both Manga and Anime have utterly different standards from what is considered literature, to the point that unless you are a weeb, most of the personality quirks are completely incomprehensible by western audiences. I understand them, but that's because I have weeaboo friends that yammer constantly about them, and you pick it up via osmosis... But no, 'one punch man's' dilemna only makes sense within the context of that particular subculture's insistence on finding eternally harder fights. Western culture is vastly more focused on the 'I was the best now it's time to beat swords into plowshares' and would revolve around the guy getting dragged reluctantly back into conflict again and again by forces outside of his control, not by his ongoing angst about being the best with no more challenges.

Without the animation, anime-style fiction is like reading the imdb Blurb for old he-man cartoons.

BTW, there are a couple of cool video game adaptations to the big screen, but they are rare and generally only make sense to a certain set of audience that never actually played the games. 
I did get funny looks as I laughed my way through Uwe Boll's 'rampage', though. It was comedy gold, but I guess some folks didn't get how much of a laugh riot it was.

To be honest, I was really getting a ton of useful information out of this thread, as it's a problem I am wrestling with in my book right now, but the minute it shifted over to anime it became completely useless, thus my dissatisfaction with the instant tone shift to talking about Japanese cartoons.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#45
Sorry for highjacking... Your question earlier was about weak characters needing plot armor and making them OP, and I'd shift to an RPG thing that I try to remember when thinking about failure.

It was some game system where the results of every 1d6 dice roll were '6: You do the thing you wanted, 5 was: You do the thing you wanted but there's a twist, 4: you don't do the thing but don't make the situation worse and can try again, 3: you don't do the thing and there's a twist, 2: you fail with a twist, or 1: you just fail.'

Like, you unlock a door but a guard hears it and comes over to investigate. The character barters for the thing he needs, but a rival hears what he's buying and runs off to blab it to their consortium trying to box him out of making the perfect wand of tickling for the emperor. The idea is that you make a loss twist things sideways while making a plan ahead of time as to what the character is going to have that lets them get out of it. 

Try to sometimes aim for losses that are not catastrophic only because a character plans for it, that a backup plan or quick lie moves them from one jam to another. The big idea is that as the story progresses, they face challenges that require them to be better then who they started as. Be it skills, friends and connections, or they realize something about themselves that they work to fix that lets them win where they should have failed.

If they have limited powers, you really need to plan for when a character fails. I'm trying to draft a story that's a series of heists by a character living a double life at an adventurer's academy who's VERY weak, and sometimes when they mess up it gets someone else in trouble in a way that makes enemies who might not kill them, but will make their lives hell however possible and turn non-lethal situations into possible death traps ect, like locking them in a room after they had set a fire to start the alarm and get everyone out of a building.

If you don't want to kill or maim, a bad injury, capture, getting blackmailed into working for an enemy, having a friend taken hostage, losing wealth, having a friend turn against the MC from the loss, losing an opportunity, or a scandal that hurts business are all fail states that might happen in a social setting. The best failure state is something that adds another ticking time bomb to the character that forces them to take bigger risks and lets you amp up the stakes, or something that prompts the MC to change. It's good writing to place those 'only an idiot would do this' pieces into place so that a reader can delight when they go 'I'm an idiot so now, in I go'

Just like strong characters need flaws so that they can be challenges, give your weak characters things to take away as they get toughed up by life.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#46
At the end of the day it depends on how well written the series is. One punch man? Good story with an OP Protagonist. Solo leveling? Good story with an OP Protagonist. 

Most stories that you find on RR or webnovel/webtoon sites with an OP protagonist? Absolute trash. 

If your purpose of having an OP protagonist is to have some sort of self insert fantasy where the MC gets whatever they want with no real work or growth involved, then I would consider that a bad story. If the MC works towards their OP status, or has significant character development throughout the series despite being OP, then I think it can be a very well done story. 

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#47
I'm fine with overpowered protaganists, but only if winning the fight doesn't drive the tension. I think fights are generally a bad way to construct a story. Obviously, combat oriented stories can be great (I'm writing one), but I've become the kind of reader that skips over a drawn out fight sequence because the choreography often doesn't matter.

My own protaganist is technically overpowered, since he can't die and there is no super-human level up mechanic. He's good in a fight and doesn't die so he has a lot of experience despite his young age, and no fear of death. That is enough to win a fight, but not a war. The story focuses on armies and politics and the forces of nations. Him being good in a fight is only relevant because it makes him inspiring as a leader.

So, all that said, I think the problem is when the world acts like they aren't overpowered. People being constantly shocked by how strong the person is gets old quickly and makes them all look dumb, which robs a story of tension.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#48

Roof Wrote: If they have limited powers, you really need to plan for when a character fails. I'm trying to draft a story that's a series of heists by a character living a double life at an adventurer's academy who's VERY weak, and sometimes when they mess up it gets someone else in trouble in a way that makes enemies who might not kill them, but will make their lives hell however possible and turn non-lethal situations into possible death traps ect, like locking them in a room after they had set a fire to start the alarm and get everyone out of a building.

I strongly recommend the 'Dortmunder' series for ideas. I am trying to adapt it right now, but since my character isn't really a heist planner, it doesn't work so well.

Right now I am trying to find a way to work in 'utterly overconfident know it all that is wrong', but I am worried about it actually pissing the audience off :P The trouble isn't so much coming up with decent fails, it's coming up with decent fails for a character that used to be strong but is now weak that don't get him plot armored instead of killed. Most of the best examples involve overconfidence, and anyone that's ever played an MMO knows exactly what happens to overconfident players.


Krake Wrote: I've become the kind of reader that skips over a drawn out fight sequence because the choreography often doesn't matter.


Most fights I read on RR I skip over, but they often seem incredibly boring. It's like, a fight is described that takes 3 pages, that doesn't have even 1 decently evocative paragraph. Reading the fight, you have even less clue about what's going on than just skipping to see who won.

the advantage of going wuxia/xianxia/animeish is that you can use some truly florid (or lurid) prose to describe quick fights between masters that just don't work for a fight between a couple of toughs with rusty swords. But to be fair, the last 6 books I have read here have had fights where the author abused the hell out of the word 'blade'. One scene had the guy use the term blade 6 times in one sentence, and over 22 times in a single paragraph!

Fight scenes take real work. I love doing the work, but some authors just don't, can't, or simply don't understand what they are doing wrong. I wish I could help.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#49

Roof Wrote: If you don't want to kill or maim, a bad injury, capture, getting blackmailed into working for an enemy, having a friend taken hostage, losing wealth, having a friend turn against the MC from the loss, losing an opportunity, or a scandal that hurts business are all fail states that might happen in a social setting. The best failure state is something that adds another ticking time bomb to the character that forces them to take bigger risks and lets you amp up the stakes, or something that prompts the MC to change. It's good writing to place those 'only an idiot would do this' pieces into place so that a reader can delight when they go 'I'm an idiot so now, in I go'
You know I will use this.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#50
I don't tend to like OP MC's unless it's an actual obstacle the MC has to overcome or they're held back by something. Take Saitama from One Punch Man, or Mob from Mob Psycho 100. Both of these characters are too strong. Saitama is bored af and Mob can't quite control his power and he doesn't want to hurt people.
Superman is broken as hell, but he's held back by his moral compass, and the occasional kryptonite. 
In almost any other case I tend to dislike it when they're OP, it seems like it's just people going on a power trip, if that's the case more power to them.

Re: How do you feel about OP protagonist?

#51

Brian Wrote:
Roof Wrote: If you don't want to kill or maim, a bad injury, capture, getting blackmailed into working for an enemy, having a friend taken hostage, losing wealth, having a friend turn against the MC from the loss, losing an opportunity, or a scandal that hurts business are all fail states that might happen in a social setting. The best failure state is something that adds another ticking time bomb to the character that forces them to take bigger risks and lets you amp up the stakes, or something that prompts the MC to change. It's good writing to place those 'only an idiot would do this' pieces into place so that a reader can delight when they go 'I'm an idiot so now, in I go'
You know I will use this.

Go for it  DrakanWine