Mason and I have produced our 12th MangaKast for your... well, I hesitate to say enjoyment, but, well, there it is: http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/a-dirty-dozen/
In this podcast, I also discuss a new anime that I'm watching called Yowapeda. In the podcast, I mostly talk about how it relates to Bleach (there are voice actors in common). But, here, I thought I'd take a moment to talk about how strange Japanese storytelling pacing often is for a Western viewer.
For instance, here I am, about to start episode 4, and the premise of the show--an "otaku" (Japanese nerd/geek) joins a bicycle racing club--hasn't really even happened yet. We've met our hero, had many discussions about the dorkiness of his 'mamachari,' "Mommy bike," and met a few other characters. People have mentioned the biking club in passing, BUT NO ONE HAS JOINED YET.
I think, by now, this show would have been cancelled in the U.S.
To be fair, there was an exciting race at one point, up a very steep hill, and there were many IMPLICATIONS that our otaku hero might actually be even stronger/faster than he knows. But, it kind of amazes me the extent to which speculation has fueled the "action" of this story.
I always tell my writing students that you have to start strong, lay it all out, get to the point, so that people will know what the story is about, what's at stake... basically, show why a reader should invest their time and keep reading. We spend a lot of time as writers talking about 'the hook' and how important it is to get our 'hooks' into readers so that they will be dragged deep into the story from the get-go.
There's something about this that is utterly and truly DEFIED by animes like Yowapeda. By rights, I should CARE LESS. I mean, really, all that I know that's at stake is that our anime-loving hero would really, really rather join the anime club, but it cancelled due to lack of interest. THIS SHOW SHOULD BE CANCELLED DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST, but it's in its second season and, frankly, I'm fairly captivated.
I wonder if it has something to do with character. Because character can be its own hook, and, frankly, our little nerd hero represents a lot of things a lot of people are and WOULD LIKE TO BE. I'm a nerd. I'm scared of sports clubs (or was, when I was in high school), and I would really, really love to be recognized for my specialness (wouldn't we all?) So, right away there's a kind of guilty pleasure watching people looking at our dork/geek hero and saying things like, "Oh, even on his Mommy bike, he does x and y like a pro!" The implication is: this guy is special. Without even having joined the biking club yet, you start to get the feeling that this little doofus is going to be critical in elevating everyone to a higher level.... and there will be cheering and trophies and heartbreak along the way.
Totally. Just on the IMPLIED promise alone.