I recently got back into anime after taking maybe a five-year hiatus from watching it. I watched shows ranging from light-and-fluffy OHSHC to Tokyo Ghoul to Black Butler to Hellsing Ultimate. (Previously to these shows, I’d only ever seen Miyazaki and maybe a few episodes of Naruto when they appeared as Saturday morning specials) After watching a few anime shows, I realized that my writing changed because of it.

And it was largely positive (though there were some negatives too, mostly resulting in binge-watching). Without further ado, here’s what I learned from watching anime as a writer.

  • coolness goes a long way in making you like a character. If the protagonist is badass, you will keep reading just to bear witness to more badass-ery
  • the villain having a tragic backstory really spices up your storyline. At the very least, you don’t have to sympathize with the villain, but they should have complex personalities.
  • Don’t go killing off characters just because you feel like you should. And if you do kill off characters, do it sparingly, and set it up for the most emotional impact possible
  • It’s possible for an antihero to be both evil and good. You just need to show moments of both without having them obviously lean one way or the other. In DnD terms, make them true neutral. (Or chaotic or lawful, I suppose. But NEUTRAL)
  • World-building really gives you a sense of place and makes the entire story more beautiful.
  • Characters drive a story. Even if there’s plot confusion, characters drive you onwards
  • Humor before tense situations helps lighten the mood before you head back to the dark side
  • Cliffhangers are powerful, yet deadly

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