Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dream Country

When people ask me, what kind of story would I want to do, I sometimes keep my mouth shut.

It takes too long to explain. SOmetimes, if pressed, I always give answers that befuddle them.

"I want to kill all characters at the end of the show!"


"Everyone fucks in the end!"

Why do I say all this? Because not many have the capacity to understand that I want to write stories where different individuals who watch the show would be cheering for different characters. I want the 'Survivor' effect for my stories. I want the 'Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket' effect.

Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is my favourite Gundam story. It's about this kid Al, who likes war toys, war games and the idea of war itself.

He meets the young soldier Bernie - someone from the Zeon something-something - basically the enemy in Gundam continuity.

Bernie is doomed to fail, spectacularly, losing his comrades and eventually his own life. And yet he tried to soften the blow of war for Al, even while knowing he will die. His video was heart-wrenching.

They say that normally, anime has very few things to say and that 'war is bad' is a generic 'lesson'. I believe that Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket has a large role in this.

Towards the end of the series, Al starts to think that war is not as fun or cool as he thought it was. And the audience, would also stop, think and reflect.

In most of my works, I have hidden something, somewhere in the middle of the story for viewers to get a message. It is my way of breaking the fourth wall. They say that maintaining the suspension of disbelief is all-important, but I look at jazz musicians like Count Bassie and they make full use of negative space in music as well as dischord.

I find that the great artists like Zack Snyder - who did 300, Watchmen and Legend of the Guardians - and Bassie understand a higher level of immersion than maintaining suspension of disbelief.

They take you out at some pivotal point, and then re-insert you - with your permission, and in fact with your full cooperation and participation - into the story.

Snyder's and Bassie's work are not seamless. Theirs are not smooth. For some reason, I detect commercial breaks in all of them. And yet, it provides for an extra dimension to their work.

Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket did just that. You're gearing up for this great duel, and then there's this big tragedy happening which is more human and impactful than two giant robots fighting. And suddenly you stop, and you're with Al all the way.

Now, that's storytelling.