Fairy Tail: Teaching Foreshadowing and Plot Arcs

Note: Fairytail spoilers

I spoke about this anime a little. I love the anime due to the rich characters, well planned and thought out plot, and the pretty colors.

So admittedly I started watching due to a series of music videos. Lucy, the blond, was generally in something really enticing. Erza, the red head, could switch her armor at a whim. A quarter of them followed MMO female armor rules: the less you wear, the better the rating! Let’s be impressed three fourths of her armors were actually practical.

So I watched the anime under horrible pretenses: the women had cantaloupes in their bras and the men could wash clothes on their abs. However, it all turned out for the best because it was actually very insightful for writing. Let me explain!

1. Characterization

Each character is quickly introduced. They all have very strange quirks that honestly just seem random. One character was a womanizer, but he wouldn’t get near the blond because she was a celestial wizard. I just took it as some strange relationship he had in the past. Another was an ice wizard who often accidentally stripped down to his skivvies. All the time. He’d be clothed, camera would pan, we come back to him and he’s wearing boxers. Basically every character had some overwhelming, over the top personal issue.

Around episode twenty something, we find out why the guy is a womanizer (he’s more or less programmed to be), and that he hates celestial wizards because he was an abused celestial spirit. There were hints all the time, too. It wasn’t just all of a sudden “New plot arc!” About ten episodes earlier they started playing up that his magic was unusual and his body felt weird during a mind transfer. Gray, the stripper, was trained to endure harsh cold temperatures in his underwear by a mother figure. She made such a mark on him that the habit continued. Again, there are hints about a mother figure and trainer throughout the story.

2. Plot Arcs

Every plot arc was immensely easy to discern, yet they still moved into each other. There would be a six to ten episode major arc, followed by an approximately three to six miniature arc. These side arcs were both to bring relief from stress, prepare us for the emotional abuse of the next major conflict, and reveal something about the world in a nonchalant way which will be vital in the future.

In one plot arc we slowly learn about dark and forbidden magic through a relic. Long ago, old dead people made scary things that are evil today. It was made by Evil Wizard 1. The next mini arc reveals a group in the modern day practicing dark magic. It teaches us and the wizards several powerful lessons. Dark magic is alive and well, it has severe consequences, don’t dabble in it. Then we find out there’s an entire guild that is dabbling in this! They don’t just shove it in our face, but build the world up around the reality and then shove our face in it, saying “You didn’t see this coming? Really? I mean, we warned you.” On top of that, Evil Wizard 1 is referenced again and again until we get to the “You’re trying to revive who!?” story arc. Everything is planned out.

It’s something I loathe in American TV shows. Every season is winged. There are no hints within the characters as to what’s to come. It’s rarely even foreshadowed. One day the ratings drop. The next day Dean is supposed to become an angel while Sam is supposed to become Lucifer. There may have been hints about Lucifer, kind of, if you really fight to make a case for it, but Dean? Where in the world did we get he’s the angelic type? Since this was from season two and three, and we’re to around season nine, I’m not so worried about spoiling it for you.

This is something I love about anime overall. Almost all anime has foresight. They have a beginning, middle, and end. You don’t milk the cow until it’s dry and everyone is tired of the heifer. You milk her until just the right time, then slaughter her and feed us steak while we mourn her death. They another story will be written and we will all be waiting eagerly to see what the next tale tells. It teaches all writers a lesson: Don’t just keep your book going to keep it going. Have a purpose.

3. A Challenge

I want you to look at what you’re currently writing, planning to write, or just start something. Give each of your characters some strange quirk that will show up early on. Perhaps a super strong person hates blonds and there’s a blond. We find out he hates them because blond hair is the only thing that can bind him. Another character has a strange itch on their back due to a rash. The rash is an ancient curse and will continue to grow until they deal with the issue. There are a lot of quirks. Use them to create plot points through your characters

Have the quirk come up regularly and now and then put a little more emphasis on it. Give us the key to open the door before you open it for us. Make sure when you open the door we realize we had all the required information to open it ourselves. Some people will figure it out themselves.

Good luck in your writing, and I hope you check out Fairy Tail. It is a paretty amazing anime. I also push that you watch the fairly standard anime to get some writing ideas. TrigunCowboy Bebop, and Evangelion are all great starters, though Evangelion gets a little weird. By that I mean incredibly strange.

Let me know what you come up with, and happy writing.

8 Comments on “Fairy Tail: Teaching Foreshadowing and Plot Arcs

  1. Can I be a nit-picky editor? Shouldn’t your headline read Fairy Tale (instead of tail)? I didn’t read your post yet because I was so concerned about the use of “tail” versus “tale” – so it may be intentional. But I had to point it out because my inner red pen couldn’t control itself. 🙂

  2. I have heard of Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion (I presume Neon Genesis should proceed it?). My anime experience does not stretch past Dragonball Z and Samurai Pizza Cats unfortunately.

      • Staple of my childhood, SPC was. Just brought out on DVD in a local shop, but $80 for 2 series is a bit steep, especially when your favourite childhood series never hold up against your memories of them =\

        When I have expendable income, I must try and find Cowboy Bebop.

        Pardon my terrible English. I meant precede, not proceed.

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