The eleventh memory of 2012: an emerging trend in storytelling?

If there’s one complaint I’ve been seeing in recent few years, it’s that a number of original series have been made such that they do not completely stand on their own. Although a one- or two-cour series might present a relatively decent, self-contained story, finer details that enhance it may be found elsewhere in other media such as manga and drama series… Fans that speak only one language, usually English, will often criticise the creators and/or their sponsors for being ‘greedy’ and forcing people to ‘consume’ more. I’ve noticed that this happens particularly when the extra material is less likely to be translated.

Perhaps it’s been the shows I’ve taken a deeper interest in: Macross Frontier and K are two that spring to mind, although the way in which the other media of these franchises support their respective TV series differ. I’ll explore the former in more detail at another time, but let’s take a closer look at the latter here.

A rather mysterious project it was, right from the start...

A rather mysterious project it was, right from the start…


The universe of the K project is comprised not only of a 13-episode series – and a sequel that will probably be broadcast later this year – but also a manga, several novels and drama CDs. And possibly others that my eyes have passed over somewhere. Some of the annoyance expressed amongst on AS was due at least in part to this explosion of media, as some felt that the anime simply did not reveal enough for viewers to understand what was going on. For example, even though the show has ended, we have no idea who the green king is, nor even the colour of the final king. How the Kagetsu crater incident came about and what it meant is also unclear…perhaps some of this is revealed in the novels and/or manga? But what’s frustrating for us in the West is that we have very little access to these other materials, and thus cannot obtain ‘the entire story’.

At least, that’s what a lot of people assume.

But how true is that? From what I can gather, the other stories thus far have gone mainly into side stories about the Red and Blue clans, which I personally don’t think are all that important for the main plot of the anime series. Whilst I would hesitate to say the execution was brilliant, much less perfect, I felt that everything the viewer needed to know could be gleaned just by watching the show week after week. Though perhaps knowing Japanese helped a lot: after episode 9, where we encountered Weissmann as he was in the past, I was pretty damn well convinced that he and the Shiro we knew were the same person – and the reason he was in a different body was revealed in due time. Whilst I want to know more, this desire arises not from the feeling that the show was noticeably incomplete: I simply want to spend more time in this universe.

However, this kind of storytelling isn’t unique to Japanese anime. World building is a core part of a successful creation, and authors of such extensive worlds have often written mountains of words that will never be published, words that may only be revealed in interviews or other works. Middle Earth, Harry Potter’s London, the expansive universes of Star Wars and Star Trek all have settings that no fan can fully explore. To look at it in a different way, we’re lucky that these creators polish up those ideas into stories that can be published in one format or another – all we can do is to explore each story in its own right when we come to it. And the same is true of K.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

2 Responses to The eleventh memory of 2012: an emerging trend in storytelling?

  1. Pingback: Macross History – a shout out to Kawamori Shouji and postmodernism « HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

  2. Pingback: K: too many cooks spoil the broth? | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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