June 18th, 2014.
Peeling Off The Narrative Structure of Suspense
Last episode not a lot happened, it was the setup for the game. And before it ended, we had a secret huddle between Humanity’s representatives. Secret? Kept from us. As always, the true tension in this show isn’t whetherthey’d win, but how, which is a secret not just to their opponents, but also us.
But yes, having the appearances of a tension of whether they’d win also adds more flavour, so the episode ended with Sora and Shiro rendered helpless by a recreation of the real world, from which they hide.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Into the Game:
1) “Hit her with your bullet of love!” – As if I don’t know what you’re talking about :P Basically, it’s a dating sim where they throw all the possible girl types at you, and you have to make it through without falling for them. Then again, “Dead or Alive”, and “bullet”, so might be a shooter.
2) CG-style idols. Fits the “game”, but still, not a fan of the style :<
3) “It’s a game, so you’ll be safe.” – “That explains why I can be out in the sun.” – Oh you. And yeah, Sora and Shiro should’ve known better, but an immediate reaction, the definition of phobia.
4) You know, they can’t handle reality, but they can handle games. Why not treat reality as a game, in order to conquer it? They still have a long way to go before they catch up with Lelouch and Light Yagami. They should begin by changing their initial to “L“.
5) No wonder the old man feels uncomfortable, to win Sora has to “Shoot his love power” at his underage granddaughter. Furthermore, will she truly fall in love with him, should he win? It’s a game inside a world decided by games, so it just might happen.
2) Panties and Panzers:
1) “Love is a battle”. The girls chase those who love those other than them, those who try to reject them, but once they’d been won over, they’re discarded. Girls only want those who don’t want them, is the message?
2) Oh my, how quickly they turn on one another! :P More seriously, the bit where Shiro shoots Sora and yet immediately thereafter goes “No, we’re blood siblings!” shows the tendency of shows to try and convince you they’re not that way as they keep repeating it, yet keep pushing the characters into such situations.Very convincing ;-) (Looking at you, Mahouka! :P)
3) “Let’s go, you two!” – Steph is abandoned once more :< I actually wonder if in the end victory will not depend on her, somehow.
4) “I give up, this is a race of morons.” So, shots touching clothes remove them, but if they touch the body, the girl also dissipates. And why are we spending so much time even thinking about it? Sora is having fun by injecting the game with his own goals, his own mini-games – harder shots, but which will yield more rewards than simply landing head-shots.
5) It’s interesting, Jibril feels ever so slightly creepy in her slavish adoration. That might be it. She’s on the verge of being a yandere. Considering her history as a mass-killer, it’s not that much of a stretch,
3) Can’t Have Fun When You Cheat:
1) “If they say it’s a sixth sense, there’s nothing you can prove.” – It just hit me, there’s a very simple plot-hole here. How are cheats possible? You should be able to enter into any game’s rules an additional rule – “After the game, all players must play a game where they will be forced to lose, where the “cost” of losing is to say whether they cheated or not.” – Also, if anyone can make any claim and you can’t argue with that, is that a dig on “I feel God, therefore he exists”? ;-)
And if you say the challenged define the rules, it’d have been a globally accepted rule, and the loser could always challenge the victor to a game like this, and should the challenged not indeed come up with this as the game, they out themselves as cheaters.
2) Of course Izuna isn’t enjoying her games. Not only is a lot riding on her, she’s aware of what the opponent stands to lose. More than that, she can’t go all-out and enjoy the opponents going all out, seeing as they cheat. Even the joy of a “fair fight” with no holds barred is removed.
3) Sora losing hope against cheaters? Didn’t the first episode open with them defeating cheaters? But that probably was because they cheated as well. Time to change the game, or introduce new cheats, eh?
4) Peeling Off Clothes and Narrative Structures:
1) Clothes protect you or not, as the plot demands.
2) “Everything, including Shiro joining the other side, is part of the magic formula that is Blank’s power!” – Yes, this is “magic”, or in other words, an ass-pull. I’m not saying it with hate, it’s just the way it is. They’ll win because they’re the protagonists, and everything else is immaterial. Stop overthinking it. The only real thought is on the narrative structure level, rather than actual content, in terms of conflict here.
3) See, we got our small clue here. We see Shiro walking around without her blue overshirt, following Sora’s orders (where she had her blue overshirt), there’s the bit about if you hit the clothes they disappear to protect you… so in other words, she’s not truly working for Izuna, but only pretending to.
The answer was “Blank”, and the answer is Blank is still together. They found a cheat that isn’t “in the system”, they’re pulling a fast one on the other’s mind.
And then they tried to pull a fast one on me, to make me think I was wrong, and that she had been converted, before revealing it wasn’t truly so. It worked. For a moment I thought I was wrong and it trulyhad been an ass-pull. This is their way of hedging their bet, of catching both those who didn’t get the “hints” and those who did, to try and shake it all up for a tension now that Izuna is here.
4) Izuna, going full-beast. Having fun, and there the episode ends, meaning now the real game “begins”? I wonder how long before it’ll end.
Post Episode Thoughts:
This was a fun episode! On the narrative structure front, I actually think it was quite well-done. The “clothes can disappear instead of conversion” which began with the game to get girls’ clothes off ended up being plot-relevant. I thought it was an ass-pull when something didn’t obey it, but it did, they just pulled a fast one on us.
The reveal went as expected, except for a moment they tried to pull a fast one on those of us who saw it coming a bit earlier, and that was a good narrative way to try and inject tension in case someone had “figured it out” and thus disarmed the situation of its tension.
The way they’ve found to cheat reminds me of some shows about conmen. How do you cheat when you can’t break the rules? You don’t, you play on people’s expectations. That’s also much better in a narrative, because while it’s very easy to cheat by making something appear out of nowhere, it’s not as satisfying as pulling a fast one over your audience, which is what this show is about, as it recognizes that is its vector of tension.