Storytelling is subjective, more a matter of preference than science.
Schools of thought around storytelling are many and vary according to individual. Even among peers, answers to what makes a good story are different. I am not sure if I could even build a consensus among well read and watched individuals of what the proper method of storytelling should be. Should storytelling be formulaic? Should there be no formula? Is a story better if it relates to the reader/viewer personally? Do we want to enjoy a story at a comfortable distance with no personal investment?
Not to mention that every storyteller is living in a certain culture, at a certain time, and masters to an extent their own native language. Styles in storytelling vary from time to time even within the same culture.
That being said I can’t say with any objectivity or certainty that Anime has superior storytelling.
But what I can say with certainty is that after years of watching and exploring Anime, there are some very good Japanese storytellers. I can say with certainty that I prefer more storytelling out of Japan than anywhere else at this current time. There are certain writers that approach what I want most out of a story, the exploration of humanity.
Humanity, a condition that brings conflict between individuals and society, tells a story of what humans themselves are. Conflict itself is inevitable in every story, as it leads to either growth or demise to the people within the story itself. Conflict is the catalyst for change within the confines of a story.
But here is the catch, while many good storytellers know that conflict is the basis for a story, the real challenge in storytelling is to tell the story without judgement cast for either side. To present the facts of a story as they are and let the reader decide what to think is the hallmark of great writing.
It’s a difficult task for a writer to separate themselves from the subject that they are writing on. A writer has to be an expert about the subject they are writing on in order to give what they are writing credibility. A writer will have their own thoughts and biases when writing a story, a side they are naturally inclined to favor. But that being said a good writer will know how to present the side that they don’t like fairly.
If it were a court of law, the writer is both the prosecution and the defense. The protagonists and antagonists should both get time to present their ideas without interruption from the other side.
Resolution should only come after we know who each side is. But unlike a court of law, life doesn’t play by the rules. Individuals and societies are going to use their advantages to press themselves onto the other party. People in general will do what it takes to win or do what they consider to be right, even over the objections of their opposition.
Great storytelling will let each side be told, and it will leave the reader/viewer to extract the lessons of the said story. After all, a great story will capture the imagination and leave you thinking about the story long after it’s been told. There are plenty of anime and Japanese writers that do this to an uncanny degree.
If certain anime didn’t capture people’s attention or imagination, it certainly wouldn’t be popular let alone get translated into other languages. It would stay a small scale phenomena to a small geographical location. I would not be writing about it and I wouldn’t have a blog dedicated to it. Here’s to many more years of the current anime golden age we are living in.
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