Not gonna lie, anime often depends on a fast production and quick release. So it’s very odd to see a show that’s been in production for over a decade. Yet the difference in the characters and overall story quality can be seen in how much time is poured into a show. In the case of Princess Tutu, the production took around 11 years and often it looked as if it might never really happen. If you want to get some kind of an idea just how many changes were made to the characters during that time, check out the pre-production trailer on YouTube and then watch the actual show. During all those years, Fakir changed from talkative to secretive and Duck changed from the typical perfect heroine to a doubtful girl unsure of her path.
Of course, not every show can take that much time to mature itself. As I said, speed is an advantage for most shows. Unfortunately, this often causes a horrid repeat of character and story types. We’ve all seen our share of pigtailed and aggressive females that are somehow still greatly loved by the male leads despite having horrid personalities. Or the never ending “I lost my memory, please take care of me” bit. Some shows are lucky enough to have amazing script writers that mange to make things interesting visually or through narration. Or the story comes from a novel or manga, allowing the anime adopters to set a more detailed tone in the animated adoption. Even so, it’s hard to find a good story in anime these days. Every now and again a show can surprise you with unexpected characters that seem to fit a stereotype only to break out later, such as in School Rumble. But it’s more common today to find shows that may have gorgeous artwork, yet come up woefully lacking in actually story. Shows such as Bamboo Blade and Kaleido Star, while clean viewing, are more for the eyes than the mind and often end up rather predictable. And, unfortunately for lovers of good clean fun, most shows that have more unique twists also end up with an embarrassing amount of A) fanservice or B) violence. Although, as a writer myself, I question any show’s desire to contain such items. After all, if a story is indeed good, it doesn’t need a load of violence or fanservice to stand on its own. Shows like Howl’s Moving Castle and the .hack series certainly don’t need such things to make their stories interesting. Even shows that do contain a bit of blood, like Fullmetal Alchemist, don’t require such tricks. They depend on their stories, characters and even their animation to appeal to viewers.
Perhaps the pull of a story and its characters is so important to me because it does not depend on some animalistic craving or desire, but instead on something deeper. Understanding and sympathy.
Or maybe it’s just because I’m a writer and thus highly bias.