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Everything Else => Writer's Block => Topic started by: Kiniest on February 17, 2014, 04:43:32 PM

Title: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Kiniest on February 17, 2014, 04:43:32 PM
I've constantly dealt with people close to me that argue that anime, manga, and comic books in general are all poorly written. This claim is ascended by "in comparision to American classics", and is often backed up by "how many anime and manga become as popular as classics?"

I feel like getting input on this would be interesting, as we've all probably had a hard time dealing with other people when it comes to this. Manga/Anime in general are the kinds of mediums that look like they're badly written if you aren't used to them. I get that taste in writing is purely subjective and always arguable. But to those who believe that the medium is objectively poorly written, what would you say in return?
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Reckoner on February 17, 2014, 05:17:03 PM
This question/comparison is a bit too broad for my liking.

Are we talking about books, actual writing, compared to script writing in anime? Or are we comparing western television/movies to anime?

The first is a pointless one to make. Literature is a far more expansive, richer medium than anything out there. It's been around much longer and has had generations upon generations of humans contribute to it over the many centuries. Then there's also a question of type of appeal of each. We're not going to start comparing James Joyce novels to Ore no Imouto are we  :o?

Manga vs western comics?
Light novels/visual novels vs western novels? (lol)
Anime TV shows vs Western tv shows?
Anime Movies vs Western movies?
Anime vs western cartoons?

There's also the consideration of what type of anime are we talking about. Original? Manga adaptions? Light novel adaptions? Visual novel adaptions? They all have different types of writing and storytelling methods that affect what you see quite a bit.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Kiniest on February 17, 2014, 05:22:25 PM
This question/comparison is a bit too broad for my liking.

Are we talking about books, actual writing, compared to script writing in anime? Or are we comparing western television/movies to anime?

The first is a pointless one to make. Literature is a far more expansive, richer medium than anything out there. It's been around much longer and has had generations upon generations of humans contribute to it over the many centuries. Then there's also a question of type of appeal of each. We're not going to start comparing James Joyce novels to Ore no Imouto are we  :o?

Manga vs western comics?
Light novels/visual novels vs western novels? (lol)
Anime TV shows vs Western tv shows?
Anime Movies vs Western movies?
Anime vs western cartoons?

There's also the consideration of what type of anime are we talking about. Original? Manga adaptions? Light novel adaptions? Visual novel adaptions? They all have different types of writing and storytelling methods that affect what you see quite a bit.

Then, let's change the question up from the comparison to just the title question.

Are manga and anime, by principle, poorly written?
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Delphinox on February 17, 2014, 06:10:53 PM
Then, let's change the question up from the comparison to just the title question.

Are manga and anime, by principle, poorly written?

This is arguably an even broader question. But anyways.

The implication that this question carries is that there's an automatic creative disadvantage to anime and manga as a medium of art that a writer or director cannot make up for. Which is not only a huge generalization and an unwarranted discrediting of the creative minds behind the project, but because the only real objective disadvantage that manga and anime have in comparison to something like theater or literature is legacy/history, by making such a statement, you're essentially arguing that anime and manga are inherently poorly written because they aren't as firmly entrenched as other mediums of arts and entertainment. So in a word, no. If they're poorly written, it's not because of some predetermined principle. It's because the creator failed to make something memorable out of their work.

That's what my attempt at an answer would resemble if I had to take a blind stab at it. But there are too many variables to consider, such as purpose, ambition, accessibility, the aforementioned legacy, and many other intangibles. The only thing I could tell you definitively? Generalizing is stupid.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Kiniest on February 17, 2014, 06:18:33 PM
Alright, I'll tell you what this topic is really about, then. I'm very aware of everything you've said, and I agree that generalization is a bad thing. As a matter of fact, generalization is basically the reason why I tried to ask this question. My question is terribly vague, and in a way, I'm having a hard time getting this through.

What can you say to those who generalize anime and manga as poorly written pieces of work as a whole? Why do they generalize it as such? Where are they coming from? For the people who aren't just closed minded individuals who aren't willing to try anything other than what they're used to, where does their logic come from and why do they carry that assumption?

Perhaps I shouldn't beat the bush so much, next time. Or is this not straightforward enough, yet?
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: TypicalIdiotFan on February 17, 2014, 07:46:39 PM
Are manga and anime, by principle, poorly written?

Generally?  Yeah.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Marid King on February 17, 2014, 07:53:16 PM
I can understand a bit of what proponents of that stance, or someting like it, are thinking.

For me, when I group every 'story' I've ever experienced, be it movie, book, play, musical, tv show, videogame, etc, none of the top 20, maybe even top 30, happen to be anime or manga. I praise Steins;Gate and Gankutsuo like  a broken record on this site, but really neither are all that impressive in the grand scheme of things. About 30% of Steins;Gate was stupid fluff, the rest is a shaky plot in the logic department, and despite being based on what is apparently one of the greatest books of all time, under heavy analysis Ganutsuo holds up maybe as well as some of the novels I studied in high school. Obviously my sampling is ludicrously small compared to what it should be for statements like this to be taken seriously, but there's not much I can do about that.

Another point I could make is that, on average, more anime/manga published are of poor quality than for other storytelling mediums. I'd set the value for Sturgeon's Law to 95-99%. There's what, 50 new anime per season? Most of them I dismiss without a second thought, almost everything else I watch by myself, and basically never make recommendations to people I meet.

There's a couple hypotheses I have for why, in my experience, these mediums seem to have a low ceiling and baseline. The first is that anime and manga simply haven't been around as long, and furthermore only one country produces it. So, say a true masterpiece is 1/1,000,000 works. Has anime and manga
even reached that threshold?

The other thing is that I feel most anime and manga are created with the intent of entertainment, and not for it's own sake, or for art. That is, the creator is more subservient to his intended audience than to his creation; it's difficult to expect brilliance given this limitation. This is why IMO soulless, carbon-copy overtropified garbage not only exists but is somewhat prevalent at the moment in anime and manga.

Overall, while I enjoy watching and talking about anime and manga, I think it's a medium-sized fish in an extraordinarily large pond. Of course, none of this means that we won't ever see a true masterpiece, but it might take a long, long time, enough time for the industry to possibly die off.     
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Reckoner on February 17, 2014, 09:43:57 PM
What can you say to those who generalize anime and manga as poorly written pieces of work as a whole? Why do they generalize it as such? Where are they coming from? For the people who aren't just closed minded individuals who aren't willing to try anything other than what they're used to, where does there logic come from and why do they carry that assumption?

I think the generalizations come from a very snobby mentality. It's the same reasons why a great comedy movie never wins the Oscars. Or why scifi and action flicks rarely ever win the Oscars. Things that can be interpreted as being "fluff" generally do not gain as good as recognition by critics as other things. People tend to criticize those mindless action flicks or stupid romantic comedies. I think this is a shortsighted view point to take because I think making a truly great comedy is harder than making a good serious character drama. But well without getting into a tangent...

What does a lot of anime contain? Fantastical elements, action, moe, etc. Lots of things that are seen as superfluous elements in storytelling. Even when anime is about character dramas, they usually revolve around a bunch of high school kids doing well, kiddy things. Sometimes just like a usual K or J live action drama.

And hey, a lot of anime really is badly written stuff. Light novel industry is the main culprit for the poor quality as of late, but even then, sturgeon's law is very much alive. However, that doesn't make anime any different from anything else, so again I think it comes back to the types of stories anime generally tries to tell.

To a degree I can definitely see why someone might think anime in general is by principle poorly written. It's pretty easy to see one too many Shakugan no Shana clones and think that the medium is creatively bankrupt of ideas and storytelling concepts that are all interesting. But then you see things like Shinsekai Yori last year and I think that this is very enlightening to what the potential of the medium really is like. Shinsekai Yori is a great television show, and there are few american TV shows in recent times that I would consider as good or better than Shinsekai Yori. Breaking Bad? Sure. Mad Men? Eh. Big Bang Theory? Oh please.

There's also things I find in anime that I just cannot see myself finding anywhere else (Least at the same quantity and quality of enjoyment). Finding a film like Wolf Children in the west is nay impossible. They just won't write those kinds of stories in the west. Let's not forget that anime sometimes inspires the west as well. Nolan cited Satoshi Kon's Paprika as his inspiration for Inception. Story writing can't be that bad in anime if it can inspire a pretty good director like Nolan to do something.

So to answer your question. No, anime is not by principle badly written (compared to other visual mediums). I think it comes with its own appeals that are a bit different from other mediums of storytelling out there, and it's still fairly young as well. There is still plenty to be added to the catalog of anime titles in the years to come.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Funky Dealer on February 17, 2014, 10:15:22 PM
I know you readdressed your original question already, but my response will touch a bit on everything anyway, so I'll go on.

I think that the generalizations regarding anime and manga as poor come from quite a few factors, most of which have been touched on already. There's certainly a cultural and international factor, considering that the two are Japanese by nature (assuming we aren't looking at "foreign anime" or whatever you'd call those mash-ups). Even with that, anime and manga are also made for entertainment as Marid mentioned, and that kind of entertainment - or even how they communicate messages - is also Japanese at heart. When it comes down to it, an open mind to anime and manga implies an open mind to Japan, and some people may not be open in that regard and more prone to generalize.

This doesn't have to be a negative thing, of course. Some people just don't get these things, and you can't fault them for it. I think the issue is that people start with an indifference to anime and manga and then add on their experiences with other mediums (books, movies, comics, so on), making anime and manga look even worse despite them not actually being worse off. Some people can't meet their own expectations with anime or manga, which is understandable considering the cultural differences, but this even makes the most basic mutual understanding difficult. You could possibly blame some of that on the mainstream anime and manga titles, but as it's been said before in this thread. anime and manga is generally poorly written. It's getting past the humps and finding the diamonds in the rough that makes it worth trying, but who'd be willing to try that when they're largely indifferent to it all?

And assuming the person isn't close-minded, it comes back to style in the end for me. Marid also makes a point about anime and manga being made for entertainment or profit, so some people might be pushed back by the quality of all those titles. Even if you take something like a Madoka and try to get someone interested in it, would they watch it for the meaning or the presentation? It could be necessary for the anime or manga to present it that way, but it doesn't always click with everyone. Though honestly, it's hard to tell why an open-minded person would assume bad things about anime or manga without considering personal reasons, so I'd just ask the person directly instead.

On another note, I never liked comparing anime and manga to most Western stuff or (more notably) "the classics," at least on a scale of preference. There's just too much cultural murkiness and hindsight issues to consider. As in, a classic will always be seen as a classic because it's been proven over time, but anime and manga have had very few time-proven series to even compare on a basic level. It's just not worth it for me.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: The Big Guy on February 17, 2014, 10:20:36 PM
Quote
Are manga and anime, by principle, poorly written?

By principle? No. The problem is that there is a lot of crap out there, just like every other medium. I really started to realize this when I was asked to make a spreadsheet of all of the TV acquisitions last year in November. 150 entries later, and I had to stop when I got to the beginning of October. And of those shows, very few of them get past the pilot stage and of those many get cancelled within the first couple weeks of airing (as opposed to anime, where shows rarely, if ever, get canned). Hell, even if they do air there are entire popular genres that universally suck, like reality shows. It's the same with movies (I would be interested to see how many movies got rated with Rotten Tomatoes last year alone, and of those how many got "fresh" ratings), books, comic books, etc.

If there is a problem with anime and manga, it is that the internet has made it very easy to put every new show and manga under the microscope, meaning that we have to wade through more crap than in other mediums. However, that's not a problem with the medium itself. It would be one thing if the medium of animation and comic books limited the aesthetic and narrative qualities of their stories, but I have yet to see any indication that this is the case.

Why do people dismiss it off hand, you ask? I hold a rather cynical viewpoint on this, but my best explanation is that the people want to feel better about themselves.There is a human tendency to have a "them," or someone that's worse off than you, or you hate, or you think is stupid etc. Consider, for example, the bizarre social stratification within nerd and geek culture. Many of these nerds have been looked down upon and made fun of all of their lives, and yet instead of breaking from that cycle by joining an accepting community, they join a community that looks down upon other types of nerds. For example, you have comic book fans looking down on anime and manga fans, anime and manga fans looking down on 4 channers, 4 channers hating on... basically everyone, and most nerds looking down on the bronies. I've come to the conclusion that it really does not matter what other people like, or what music they are into, or what shows they like. People like what they like, and there is little reason to judge them for it since it doesn't matter either way. By that notion, you don't have justify why you like something either. It is fun and interesting to talk about the merits of this show or that book, but what matters most is that you enjoyed it.

TL;DR Don't worry about it. Watch what you enjoy and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: gedata on February 18, 2014, 07:49:28 AM
if you wanna go with the Sturgeon's principle, sure.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: hyperknees91 on February 18, 2014, 12:37:49 PM
People are fooling themselves if they think there is more crap anime/manga/comic books then there are crap books. Trust me...there is plenty of things out there you would not be caught dead reading haha.

But regardless, whether or not something is "classic" is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. People watch and read what they enjoy.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Pebble on February 19, 2014, 02:18:00 AM
People are fooling themselves if they think there is more crap anime/manga/comic books then there are crap books. Trust me...there is plenty of things out there you would not be caught dead reading haha.

I find it amusing how people usually glorify books as the best medium out there. Clearly they have been very selective about which section of the library/bookstore they visit.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: KS on February 19, 2014, 10:31:49 AM
I think there might be a point to make here for Light Novel industry being largely centered around ill-conceived wish fulfillment fantasies of a hapless guy getting roped into some crazy adventure with beautiful girls that have overbearing personalities, but even Light Novels have their moments.  With Light Novels though I find there is often a lot of really poorly planning and consideration for the sustainability of premise a lot of which are just kind of ludicrous.  Rather than develop established characters and premises too a lot of them tend to keep introducing a new bishoujo character per episode and just end up getting bogged or never really going anywhere.  They also tend to be aimed primarily at otaku and the prose written at a fairly low reading level.  I often like it too pulp fiction and can't argue that I see a lot of poor writing tendencies in the format.

Manga though for example seems to be broader in scope, tones and demographics that authors are willing to write about and some of the most celebrated graphic novelists in history have written in the format like Osamu Tezuka and Naoki Urasawa to name a couple. 
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: TypicalIdiotFan on February 19, 2014, 11:23:16 AM
Basically it boils down to two things:

1).  Limited acceptance of what is appealing to the audience.
2).  Japanese writers have never been particularly good.

The first one has to do with the general cynicism that publishing companies have towards otaku, the primary target audience of manga and light novels, and the unwillingness to take risks because that doesn't sell.  The second one is more of my own personal interpretation of even "good" authors and storytellers.  There just haven't been that many, and this is doubly so amongst the manga community.  There are a few guys that were / are interesting, but I don't think even they have written any kind of real magnum opus.  They seem like they're trying to push envelopes by expanding upon already tried and true establishments, but they haven't really been given free reign to "go nuts" yet.

I imagine if we really want to find the best authors, we should probably look to the ones that AREN'T popular as hell.  Maybe amongst one of them we can find someone that is an unappreciated gem.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: KS on February 19, 2014, 12:54:10 PM
Basically it boils down to two things:

1).  Limited acceptance of what is appealing to the audience.
2).  Japanese writers have never been particularly good.

The first one has to do with the general cynicism that publishing companies have towards otaku, the primary target audience of manga and light novels, and the unwillingness to take risks because that doesn't sell.  The second one is more of my own personal interpretation of even "good" authors and storytellers.  There just haven't been that many, and this is doubly so amongst the manga community.  There are a few guys that were / are interesting, but I don't think even they have written any kind of real magnum opus.  They seem like they're trying to push envelopes by expanding upon already tried and true establishments, but they haven't really been given free reign to "go nuts" yet.

I imagine if we really want to find the best authors, we should probably look to the ones that AREN'T popular as hell.  Maybe amongst one of them we can find someone that is an unappreciated gem.

Wait a second are you saying that the manga community has historically had weaker authors than the Light Novel one or just overall in terms of worldwide literature?
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: DrIdiot on February 19, 2014, 01:04:29 PM
2).  Japanese writers have never been particularly good.

I understand you're making a statement about personal preference, but I think that's a somewhat ethnocentric way to put it.  First, there's the issue of translation -- between Asian and European languages especially, it's very difficult to translate certain qualities of prose.  This difficulty is compounded with very basic cultural and aesthetic differences.  The import of having written a magnum opus is one of them; "going nuts" is another.  Modern Japanese writing is, by nature, a bit subdued, minimalistic in a sense, with on emphasis on smaller works (I'm a personal fan of Kawabata).  I know Murakami writes big books but he learned that from the West.  The hardest thing about comparative literature is shedding our own baggage.

There's also the issue of what is being translated.  Karl Ove Knausgaard said something like, there are hidden gems in every country, because what decides whether a book is translated isn't necessarily any innate quality of the work but whether there's a selling argument or hook to a foreign readership.  He then went off and listed a bunch of his favorite Norwegian and Swedish authors, most of whom, of course, no one in North America has ever heard of.  I read a book by a Taiwanese author that I really liked, but it's untranslated, and I can kind of see why -- there isn't a hook for Western audiences.  I think if you're really interested in finding "gems" you should be listening in on a lot of domestic channels.  This is, of course, hard to do if you can't read the language -- and then there's the issue of finding them.  Visiting used bookstores is also useful, but that's even harder, because then you have to live there.


As an aside, not really a response to any comment in particular, I think there's still a lingering and unnatural divide in people's perceptions of books and movies -- people perceive the former to be more "legitimate" or "high culture" than the other.  Increasingly, I think this is becoming untrue.  A Chinese writer (forgot his name, he's not well known) remarked once that he didn't think books mattered anymore, that movies would replace them (though I don't really agree).  I think Sontag also once said something about literature as being the most conservative and least avant-garde form of art, which is actually kind of paradoxical given that it has the least production cost.  Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is that if ignore this artificial divide for a moment and expand ourselves to Japanese film, we'll find plenty that are appreciated by Western standards, if that is the metric that we choose (it shouldn't be) -- check the Criterion collection and I think Japanese has some of the most.  Yes, writing is a different art in a practical sense than filmmaking, but it is really different in such an important way that we should narrow our questions?  I'd say no.

Going even further off topic, I think that in developing countries film has really taken over as the main narrative form, rather than writing.  I'll use an example I'm more familiar with, which is China and Taiwan.  Taiwan went through a golden age of directors which are internationally acclaimed (Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao Hsien) but never had anything like that for writers.  This is somewhat personal opinion, but I also think Chinese writers are not so well-received abroad (the international focus seems to be on writers which satire the government, which IMO is a little politically motivated and also more importantly is too narrow), while their directors have won some acclaim (Jia Zhangke is my favorite example).  Part of this is an issue of translation which is easier in film, but having read a few books I think it's not just that -- even from an internal standpoint it seems like there are just more films -- there might be something about film that's inherently compatible with Eastern cultures or languages or there might be some cultural baggage which they lack.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Reckoner on February 19, 2014, 02:06:59 PM
Slight tangent but I believe the main reason written prose is seen as higher culture or legitimate is because no matter what film does, it cannot be as descriptive as a book. Books have so much more to absorb, from a pure storytelling perspective, than a regular old movie. It would be different perhaps if movies or TV shows actually were as lengthy as books. For example, even the Game of Thrones TV series with all its episodes does not adapt anywhere close to the same amount of content that actually exists in Song of Ice and Fire book series. Nor do I think it's possible to ever truly capture the greatness of these books 100% since there is so much detail that gets left out in the TV series.

Now there is a lot of other things that visual mediums have that books don't have, sound and imagery can very enriching, so I wouldn't necessarily see a good way to qualify which is the better medium. The only thing I see as being true as that books have a much deeper history behind them that's been built up, and other mediums of storytelling still have a long way to catch up.

One thing that might always keep visual mediums below books is ease of access. Not anyone can just go and direct a film, that takes a lot of money and connections to even get into that position. However, a book can be written by anyone (No, it's not necessarily good) so you just get more human minds contributing to literature in general. The pool size of humanity is larger, and the history is longer. This means a lot of bad books are written, certainly, but also more great books.

As for the notion of Japanese writers not necessarily being any good, are we just talking about manga/anime/ln here or in general? There are plenty of great Japanese writers if we're talking about books. If you're looking for great writing in light novels though, you're looking into the wrong place. Manga is by far the richer and more interesting part of the industry.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: The Big Guy on February 19, 2014, 03:00:49 PM
Quote
It would be different perhaps if movies or TV shows actually were as lengthy as books....visual mediums have that books don't have, sound and imagery can very enriching,

On a tangent off of your tangent, I wish that was the pitch for visual novels instead of the inane "choose your own adventure" schtick that is more commonly associated in the US with the cheesy "turn to page blah" children's books. Not that the medium needs the help with its slow but steady increase in popularity, but still. Speaking of comparisons...

Quote
I often like it too (as) pulp fiction and can't argue that I see a lot of poor writing tendencies in the format.

You know, the comparison to pulp fiction is an apt description of the whole light novel genre. It makes it seem less like its own unique level of crapiness and more in line with other pulpy genres that don't seek to churn out masterpieces. Like everything else, it has its place.


Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: DrIdiot on February 19, 2014, 03:20:04 PM
See, I disagree.  The thing about film is the viewer is left to his own to be attentive.  Reading is a more active process than viewing.  In terms of pure descriptive power, I think film has the edge -- instead of figuring out how to describe a room in a sufficiently prosaic way (hard to do) you can set it up like you imagine and take a shot.  Length might present a practical issue, but it's not particularly damning, because there are long films and short books and I would say this is a more practical issue than essential one.  You had also brought up Game of Thrones, which I understand (have not read) as an "immersive"-type narrative -- for these types, perhaps books, for which there is no practical page limit, are better suited.  But this is again specific to this genre and not a universal strike against film.  I don't think the difference is something like "more descriptive" but something like "subjective/objective."  Books allow for musings (in the style of Proust) and they have a voice which they cannot escape (though they try).  Films are more objective.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, the idea that books are easier to write seems to indicate that we should be seeing *more* avant-garde literature but in fact we are seeing less compared to film and other visual arts.  The reason I think is cultural baggage and conservative attitudes toward the novel.

I'll repeat, the difference in perception between books and film is cultural, not essential.  We read books in school, we watch movies at home (this is a killer -- no one forced you to watch Seven Samurai, but they made you read Moby Dick).  Books are older, movies are newer.  The first books were serious, the first movie was frivolous.  Books were the realm of scholars, movies the realm of businessmen.  But since these are merely cultural, and so over time they lose their import -- the New York Review of Books doesn't only review books anymore, and no serious book critic will be found to shun film.  It's just that public perception lags behind, which it always does.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Pebble on February 20, 2014, 04:38:57 AM
I don't think the difference is something like "more descriptive" but something like "subjective/objective."  Books allow for musings (in the style of Proust) and they have a voice which they cannot escape (though they try).  Films are more objective.
Uhh... this sounds like shaky ground to me. Novels often operate on a far more subconscious level than we make them out to. I don't think you can pull off Franz Kafka without some serious psychological meddling with the readers' heads. In that sense, there is a very solid objective dimension to books, even if it is only a socially constructed one.

Slight tangent but I believe the main reason written prose is seen as higher culture or legitimate is because no matter what film does, it cannot be as descriptive as a book. Books have so much more to absorb, from a pure storytelling perspective, than a regular old movie. It would be different perhaps if movies or TV shows actually were as lengthy as books.
True. Film has relatively severe practical limitations, and cannot adapt the internal monologues ubiquitous in books, which, by the way, is an incredible, and sometimes underappreciated asset that books have. Imagine the Notes from Underground without a monologue: it just wont work. Now imagine it with Dexter-esque monologues: it'll be obtrusive and blunt. That is a big, big weakness for most film, especially in plot-driven shows. In plot-driven novels, you can develop unobtrusively with these musings. In film, you end up with Gundam Characters.
However, we have yet to consider shows which rely on abstraction to 'bookify' themselves. An immediate example would be Monogatari, but I think Millennium Actress is the real example of a film which muses like a book, but is paced like a film.

For example, even the Game of Thrones TV series with all its episodes does not adapt anywhere close to the same amount of content that actually exists in Song of Ice and Fire book series. Nor do I think it's possible to ever truly capture the greatness of these books 100% since there is so much detail that gets left out in the TV series.
Yes and no. I've said this already, but the real art in writing a good immersive novel is not in adding more and more content with little regard for pacing, it is in selecting the content you throw out. This is a tendency that books have; they bloat the amount of content in themselves so much that the whole package becomes lumbering, unwieldy, and unimpressive for it's length. That's what I felt when I read what I read of A Game of Thrones, thatís what I'm feeling reading The Eye of the World right now, and that is sure as hell what I think about all of the Lord of the Rings. That's not what I thought after 60 pages of The Last Wish; I was too busy being amazed that a fantasy novel of all creatures had done so much in the number of pages that are normally the prologue of an average fantasy novel. Length is a double-edged sword as well; it opens up possibilities, but I think we've all put up with enough glacially paced, plodding narratives, both inside and outside books, to know that it opens up the possibility of failure even more.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: DrIdiot on February 20, 2014, 11:08:19 AM
Do films not operate on a subconscious level?  Don't get me wrong, I am not against books.  I read books.  I also watch movies.

Anyway, I think I'm not communicating this correctly.  When I say objective and subjective I mean in presentation.  The skilled craftsman can bend this tendency (and the subjective/objective dichotomy doesn't really exist anyway) but it's still a fact: the difference between the camera versus the voice.  They're inherently different but you can't attach values like "better" or "more cultured" to them.

For example, you're assigning a lot of value to the ability to have inner monologues, but I can't see why.  It's not an essential part of the narrative (your favorite films didn't need internal monologues, why?) -- you can do without it, and even in books, if it's not done well it can make the book sound like a tract and not a narrative.  I can say as well, that in books, visuals and audibles have to be translated and thus dulled through language, and so film allows for direct audio and visual experience.  Again -- not an essential part of the narrative.  My argument is just that books and movies should be viewed on the same plane, as two sides of the same coin, because they're both devices capable and in practice used to create great narratives.

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As an aside w.r.t. inner monologues -- even in books, excessive internal monologuing sometimes results in books being overwritten, specifically because writers think of it as a crutch.  I think a classic example would be Thomas Mann (I've read Doctor Faustus) -- the narrator is quick to provide his own interpretation of events for the reader.  It's still a great book, but in a way, handed to you on too shiny of a plate.  On the other hand, I really liked Karl Ove Knausgarrd's first two installments in his series where he just talks about anything and everything under the sun.  He's great at it, he's analytical but in a very personal way.

Also, more examples: Tatami Galaxy used amply the internal thoughts of the main character to great effect.  The internal monologuing of shounen characters tend to bore.  Boundaries can be bent, it just takes a creative director to do it.
Title: Re: Agree/Disagree/Qualify: "All manga books are poorly written."
Post by: Pebble on February 21, 2014, 03:37:46 AM
Do films not operate on a subconscious level?
Yes, they do. My argument was that the things both books and films exploit for subconscious manipulation come from biases that are either (generally) cultural, and so, are objective things for the social frame of reference used. A book has a limited number of interpretations and a general direction the majority of them will take, even if it is presented in the vaguest way possible. The same is true of film. Clearly they both have some degree of objectivity.

Anyway, I think I'm not communicating this correctly.  When I say objective and subjective I mean in presentation.  The skilled craftsman can bend this tendency (and the subjective/objective dichotomy doesn't really exist anyway) but it's still a fact: the difference between the camera versus the voice.  They're inherently different...
True. A book simply puts forward less sense-data than a film does. It does, however, direct your inner eye towards a general direction, the same way minimalistic films(Angel's Egg especially comes to mind) direct your inner voice towards certain topics. I think I'm starting to see what you mean by this 'different sides of the same coin' thing.

...but you can't attach values like "better" or "more cultured" to them.
...I suppose I should have out forward a disclaimer on this from the start. I'm staunchly with you as far as the perceived superiority of books over other media is concerned.

For example, you're assigning a lot of value to the ability to have inner monologues, but I can't see why.  It's not an essential part of the narrative (your favorite films didn't need internal monologues, why?) -- you can do without it, and even in books, if it's not done well it can make the book sound like a tract and not a narrative.  I can say as well, that in books, visuals and audibles have to be translated and thus dulled through language, and so film allows for direct audio and visual experience.  Again -- not an essential part of the narrative.  My argument is just that books and movies should be viewed on the same plane, as two sides of the same coin, because they're both devices capable and in practice used to create great narratives.
It's certainly not an essential part of a narrative; I was just making a (somewhat tangential) point about how books have some advantages that films don't, just like films have some that books don't. With both, it takes a good deal of skill and cleverness to adapt one medium's methods to another medium. It's definitely a writing crutch, and is sometimes lazily used. The same is true of film's crutches, chief of which is music.

Also, more examples: Tatami Galaxy used amply the internal thoughts of the main character to great effect.  The internal monologuing of shounen characters tend to bore.  Boundaries can be bent, it just takes a creative director to do it.
Well, shit. You already said it. Stole all m'thunder...