Foreign Friday: Thoughts About Serials 1, Continuity

For the next few weeks, the Foreign Friday topic won’t be a particular series, but on some thoughts that have struck me as I read x-many different manga. As a reader, these things are interesting, and as a writer, these have been bits of enlightenment that I hope will improve my own writing. These retrospections were brought on by the recent publication of the 60th volume of Naruto in English.

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Continuity. One of the biggest things that can make or break a series is its ability to cohere nicely over a long period of time. Naruto is the longest manga I’ve read, and I am greatly impressed with Masashi Kishimoto’s ability to keep the plot (and the characters, and the jutsu, and the biju) going so smoothly. There are still rough patches where you can see that he made changes in order to bring the plot in a different direction than it was going in the beginning, but he smoothes these over, so that only the people like me who have read it 20 times pick up where he altered from the original idea.

On the other hand, Bleach has suffered as it continues. I’m not sure if Tite Kubo had meant for it to end at a *ahem* particular climax, and was then asked to continue it, but since he’d essentially finished the story he was just throwing things together at random, but the plot has become really…weird. I can forgive him for the occasional plot holes in the past (and some of them were rather large holes), but I just feel like he’s not trying to make it make sense any more.

What I take away from this is the knowledge that people do notice when the plot takes a sudden swing out into left field, and they do get confused when the Big Secret is not only no longer a secret, but no big deal to any of the characters. While changes to the direction of the plot are good (twists are always enjoyable), you have to make them make sense as much as possible.

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