Thunderbolt Fantasy – Compelling Storytelling

For years I ignored Thunderbolt Fantasy but I shouldn’t have waited. 

I was sitting in a friend’s living room years ago discussing Anime as per the usual. As can be the case with friends groups we like to share stories and swap ideas for anime to watch. There was the usual trade-off discussion that if I watch this anime you should watch this one. It isn’t a bad way to share anime to watch but sometimes it just turns into a session where it becomes really an anime wishlist. No one actually ends up watching the recommendations but we politely say we will. 

During the conversation the topic of Thunderbolt Fantasy came up. I had admittedly zero interest in watching it. For one it wasn’t even anime, and second off the visuals weren’t interesting to me. It was just a puppet show. I didn’t understand why my friends were obsessed. 

It wasn’t until recently I had a viewing party for Thunderbolt Fantasy that I actually was somewhat interested. Hiroyuki Sawano wrote the music? I am interested. I love his music. The first few episodes were catchy. But they weren’t really enough to keep me watching episode to episode. The story telling pace was slow and I was admittedly a bit bored. It was something I put on the back burner. I would watch an episode here or there. But then something changed. 

The writer’s flipped the script on me and suddenly I was keenly interested. I watched the rest of the episodes in one sitting. I finally understood that this was more than a show of puppets with an awesome orchestral score. The writing won me over and I was very happy to have viewed it for the storytelling elements. As they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. This was a classic example of ignoring something because it was strange and I didn’t understand it. 

It made me think of when I first got into anime. It was strange and weird. But I stayed in the game. The medium can sometimes be a turnoff. The power of a good story can overcome the weakness of the medium. I wouldn’t have thought to have ever been interested in puppets, or even the animated medium in reference to anime. The magic of storytelling is that it can draw you in regardless of presentation. Whether that presentation is oral, written in the form of a book, a comic, a movie, an animated series, or acted out on stage. This isn’t to exclude the other many forms in which stories are shared. 

In short storytelling done right is compelling no matter the form it comes in. I came for the experience of hearing what happened to someone else whether fictional or real. When done right I am glued to my seat. 

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts? I want to know!

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One thought on “Thunderbolt Fantasy – Compelling Storytelling

  1. I loved Thunderbolt Fantasy, and contrary to your experience, I think I first got into it precisely because it was a puppet show and I’d never seen one before. The elaborate puppet designs, movements, CGI…every fight flabbergasted me!

    Of course, Gen Urobuchi doesn’t fail to tell a good story, and the remarkable twists and compelling character motives were what ultimately made the show so solid. Still, I might venture to say that regardless of the story, I would have greatly appreciated Thunderbolt Fantasy simply for being a collaboration between anime and puppetry.

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