How to make a good story anime/bishoujo style

By bluemist on September 19th, 2008

image

Miya Maruyama

This April Fools post was indeed my personal sample venture into fanfiction writing. For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to write my own story, favorably in the style of Japanese anime and bishoujo games. Of course, there are expected challenges in this one. First and foremost, I’m not Japanese, so any culture references are just the usual (unusual) ones already found in existing Japanese anime, manga or games. Secondly, I have to write in English, which means I’m just emulating Japanese similar to the sometimes-wrong translation style in fansubbing projects. Lastly, I don’t consider myself a good writer in the first place.

Despite this though, I still want to have the drive to do it. Whenever I see other people succeed, I always say to myself that I can do it too. I may not be as good, but at the very least, “get it done darnit”, lol.

In this article I focus specifically on the characters, settings, and plot I envisioned on my own Miya Maruyama story.

Deconstructing Miya Maruyama
There is that short story of mine, featuring a girl named Miya Maruyama. The name of the girl sounds dangerously close to that tsundere meganekko, not necessarily modeled on her real-life counterpart, of course hehe. I envisioned, well, a tsundere meganekko iincho, much like a possible thousand girls before her. I borrowed her visual image from an existing eroge property (Braban!) because I cannot draw. It’s just a reference idea of what she may look like. Those commanding eyes with the requisite glasses make her look snobbish. But behind the strict image at school I tried to give her some sort of soft side, not necessarily dere-ish, because I didn’t write in the romance yet. Just a soft side to remind that she’s just a high school girl. She apparently plants some stuff over at the other side of the riverbank, in possible memoirs of something or someone, and it made her cry towards the end of the story. I left it open so that I can follow it up. Why was she planting the seeds? Who was this girl friend she was mentioning? What happened in her past? I think this “past” would be a key element in my storytelling, giving her some needed backstory so that we know what kind of person she “was”, effecting what kind of person she “is”. It’s a usual occurrence in these kinds of stories, and oftentimes, it makes the thing much more endearing. I love shoujo stories because they almost always delve on the backstories in vivid detail. It makes characters fuller.

Deconstructing Hiroyuki Sakurai
The name is: Hiroyuki from To Heart, Sakurai from Da Capo II. How unique. This is the weak sauce. How do I make a lead male hero interesting? In so many anime and game properties, male leads are freaking losers. They rarely move and only let the other characters do the talking. They are mostly pretty faceless, without character, sometimes without any good traits that could reasonably make the bishoujos fall for them. So I tried to set up a backstory for Hiroyuki on his own. Probably modeled after some of me, currently he’s the silent guy who loves calmness in life. He would normally refuse conflict with anyone, but when pushed to the edge, he could break. That’s what happened between him and Miya in the middle of the story. I plan to make his story coincide with Miya’s, with the preview being that he is mostly alone and isolated. It made him connect with how the girl feels, and that’s how they became friends towards the end.

Other Characters
My story was kinda boring because I forgot to write in other characters. I should definitely add some for the next installment. One good thing with anime and similar properties is that when you have a certain combination of characters, you can make them move in such a way that it exploits each characters’ abilities, traits and quirks. A recipe for good storytelling is when you utilize the character effectively. For example, a tsundere works best when an event fully exposes each of her stances – maybe a school event such as sports or cultural festival would keep her busy and active.

More importantly, you create cross-character dynamics. You create plot within them. For example, if you have two girls who are best friends, create some sort of conflict between them, from simple misunderstandings to love triangles. One of my faults in my story is that I didn’t delve on Kotori-chan. Remember that character? She’s the only ‘other character’ in the story, and merely served… well, she didn’t serve anything at all. If I connected Kotori-chan to Hiroyuki further, or maybe made her a friend to Miya, the story would have flowed smoother. She would have become the ‘conscience voice’ (making Hiroyuki understand Miya more), or the actual plot device herself. Well it’s not too late. I can still make a connection in the next installment.

The Plot
The delinquent guy and the tsundere-iincho theme is already made in so many ways. In To Heart 2, we see a softspoken iincho. In Hayate no Gotoku, we have a bright and shiny tsundere. In Haruhi, we see a tsundere-ish over-excited girl. In Da Capo II, we have a strict and snobbish iincho. How could I possibly provide a twist on a theme that has been done a thousand times? Well, by keeping a scene in a sort-of riverbank, I can at least free myself from the typical school setting. While we still have major interaction in the school (the wet bucket thing), most of the stories occur in the river. And weirdly enough, all the revelations come at once in the planting seeds climax. And the reasons, the backstories, the good stuff are all up in the air. Geh. In much the same way as I read my own blog to critique it, I can say that my story is not that interesting at all. What more if I hadn’t inserted those game CG? You only get a wall of text.

So, how do I improve it? I figured that if it were to become a visual or kinetic novel, I need to write more dialogue. This makes that story a rough draft, and the final version would be at least twice as long. A possible half-hour of reading. Kinda long for an introductory chapter, but it is needed. Having twice the length would allow me to flesh out the characteristics of my character more, as well as inserting more plot. I would have liked to delve more into the snob-phase of the story, those days after the wet scene when Miya refuses to interact with Hiroyuki. Also, I would have wanted to reveal Miya’s past (or part of it) early on.

The Future Backstory
Here is a draft of the idea that came up.

So, Miya had a girl friend in the past, the girl having the same “eyes” as Hiroyuki, meaning being the same kind of introverted, quiet person. To that girl (let’s call her Natsuki Aoshima for now [I love naming names similar to the girls I liked in RL lol]), Miya was her one and only friend. She is a special child whose father is a scientist in the field of botanical genetics. In Natsuki’s childhood, she was fascinated with plants. She likes plants in general, because she had been surrounded by them since birth. But she loved cherry blossoms most. She also loved the blue sky, indicating the kind of atmosphere she lived in (province, quietness). So one day as a child, Natsuki asked her father if he was able to “make the sakura blue”. Blue cherry blossoms people! I would like that too.

The Maruyama family and the Aoshima family are very close and Miya and Natsuki were close since childhood. I can put a lot of miscellaneous childhood stories in here, but I will cut to the chase. It is revealed that Natsuki had a terminal sickness, a devastating combination of eye and brain cancer (I’m cruel.) Eye cancer is needed for the drama: “I can’t see the blue sakura anymore”. Her father in the end wasn’t able to produce the blue sakura until a year after she died at a very young age of 14. Before she died however, Miya tried to cheer her up by dyeing pink sakura blossoms blue and showing her lots of them in the hospital bed. Natsuki smiled her last during that time. Those sad memories are still in Miya’s mind, and so with Natsuki’s father’s blue sakura seeds in hand, she moves away from the province and into the city, where she starts to plant those seeds in the riverbank, in memory of Natsuki. Hiroyuki became significant to Miya, because it took her into the past, a male version of Natsuki. There’s no romance yet, but at least there’s friendship.

Aha, so this isn’t Miya’s story after all. Of course, that’s the main dish for the far, far future. I made this Natsuki story in order to challenge myself in making a more tearful one for Miya herself. Natsuki’s was kinda tragic enough for a crying game.

Truth in Names?
I loved this part of my storymaking because it came with wonderful coincidences. Aside from making the Japanese names represent some RL girl I know (lolz), it actually had some basic meaning kinda relevant to the story I’m trying to make. Of course, I may be COMPLETELY WRONG in interpreting these names, but for one these aren’t bad.
Maruyama 丸山 – maru (circle), yama (mountain)
Aoshima 青島 – aoi (blue), shima (island)
Sakurai 桜井 – sakura (cherry blossoms)
Miya 実や – mi (truth)
Natsuki 奈月 – tsuki (moon)
Hiroyuki ひろゆき – meaning schmening… no meaning, I left it all in hiragana lolz.

Conclusion
Whew, there I have it. This served as a review, critique and preview of my own writing. At least you had a little peek of my madness. It may not have a title yet, and I don’t even have an immediate follow-up story written. But if it were to happen, assuming I had more free time to write again, I hope this will be a nice little achievement I should be proud about.

Now, off to find suitable game CG for the Natsuki archetype…

13 Comments

Posted By: Gawain On: September 19, 2008 At: 4:01 pm

Wow.
I like how you solved the ”boring protagonist” problem. Original fanfictions lack true calm character. This is because they don’t get in trouble usually and there is less action and plot twists – they are dependent on other characters. A tsundere meganekko iincho is also not THAT common, too. About other characters – having a few side characters involved is healthy. They keep the story fresh.

I am also writing a story. It’s location is in middle Europe, but a fracture of it will be happening in Japan. My writing style is similar to a visual novel. I watch anime to get inspirations sometimes. Some of my characters have elements of characters from ToHeart2 (thanks for the summaries!).
I started writing (typing) in July and I have written about ~320 pages and extra 60 pages of documents which help me write (schedules, brainstorming, issues…).

Good luck and have fun writing your story!

Posted By: bluemist On: September 19, 2008 At: 8:56 pm

Wow that’s amazing… 320 pages… the moment I reach even a hundred pages I would start to worry about inconsistencies and stuff.

I love shoujo-themed stories because they include everyone, male or female, in the plot. Why it doesn’t translate in bishoujo or harem, I have no freaking clue. Maybe they just want to keep the male protagonist as generic (or otaku-ish) as possible to make their prime audience (the otaku) relate to the boring male archetype.

Posted By: Moonlight Bomber On: September 20, 2008 At: 9:14 am

So that’s what I’ve seen last April Fool’s. I was fooled…

But then, since this is your first attempt at making a visual novel, start small. Hanging out for more than a year at the Lemmasoft forums has taught me a lot about making VN’s in general (though admittedly I’m getting lazy in making my own).

Posted By: Gawain On: September 20, 2008 At: 8:06 pm

@bluemist
Handling 320 pages is a burden. I have to write down open things in the story to prevent plot holes and make documents about what is going on, the way this is moving. I sometimes forget what is going on, too. I took a little break and made a new schedule (I was ahead of the old). I am always planning ahead and have concept for two possible continuations.

Making the protagonist generic and otaku-ish is a very good move because the prime audience will relate easier. One of my continuation concepts features a boring character with no great skill, but his life changes when he witnesses a special event.

Another thing, I also don’t draw my character, but I try to imagine them. I borrow elements from characters (mainly ToHeart2 and Type-Moon stuff) and mix them together, except for major characters.

Posted By: bluemist On: September 22, 2008 At: 9:52 am

@Moonlight Bomber
I used to have an account there at lemmasoft, I tried to call for art help, I was so juvenile back then.

@Gawain
Nice that you have some plan. I’m a guy without plans, thinking things on-the-fly. By weird accident sometimes it works. I guess it won’t work when my story becomes longer.

Posted By: thenightsshadow On: September 22, 2008 At: 3:19 pm

I think I may have found my writing buddy.

Posted By: sakurachan On: November 17, 2008 At: 2:32 am

kinda waaaay too traditional! i mean, i do love traditional japanese anime stories, with these sakura flowers thingy to be turned into blue, but, who am i to care? i love magic, and magic is part of my stories to tell you! hell yeah with the blue sakura!

Posted By: sakurachan On: November 17, 2008 At: 2:46 am

i’m sorry. i didn’t mean it that way. i’m just kinda freaking out because – well, yeah – i have something – to be accurate, an anime of my own – in my head, and im kinda plotting it till the brim pops out and then i’m gone out of ideas! that freaks!

Posted By: mangafreak45 On: January 01, 2009 At: 7:51 am

wow that is som good thinks to consider when making an anime! I am acctually in the process in making one called “Happily ever after” I am writing page 50 now!

Posted By: havenisle On: January 06, 2009 At: 3:25 pm

hi, i found your blog here while I was doing a search on the name hiroyuki.

I’m a writer as well, and I’m writing a story which features a Japanese boy living in the states. I’ve always known that hiroyuki means “wide-spread happiness,” but I was curious to see if I could find any additional information. I know the word “Yuki” means snow, and that “Hiro” means “Understanding,” but I was curious to see if the kanji that made this name up could be interpreted some other way.

There’s a scene in which a girl asks him why he goes by his family name instead of Hiroyuki. I wanted to give the reader something better than, “Oh, well in Japan, we all go by our family names unless we’re really close to someone.” The thing is, he lived in Hawaii most of his life, and has only been to Japan a few times to visit his grandparents. Furthermore, his mother is an Australian and his father is a lecherous scumbag.

If you can point me in a more profound direction for this character, I would be eternally grateful! ^__^

Posted By: emme On: March 03, 2009 At: 6:08 am

You rally are a good writer! Don’t doubt yourself! Keep it up!

Posted By: emme On: March 03, 2009 At: 6:08 am

You r a great writer keep it up!

Posted By: khairil On: September 14, 2010 At: 9:11 am

You are great writer!!!Keep it up!!ok…

-->