I was going to save this stuff for the eventual closing thoughts post on Kaminai but whatever. The Fairy has me by the balls, you know.
To tell the truth Kaminai immediately fascinated me and it sort of still does. It tickles me in a way that makes my imagination fly, and so over a day of cutting down brushes and letting my train of thought chug across the frozen plains of the Writer’s Block Plateau I reached an understanding on why. This of course was followed by a flurry of derivative thoughts because there are no breaks on the train of killing trees and chewing gum. And I’m all out of trees. Or something.
Now this may have sounded like endorsement but rest assured that I’m well aware of how sub-par the show is. It’s incoherent, introduces more mysteries without ever delving deep into anything, and has a range of characters who are completely uninteresting despite their colorful backgrounds. In other words it’s like any one of those shitty novels you wrote back in school because you thought you could be the next Tolkien or Asimov if you just wasted enough time on imagination you god damn nerrrrd. Wrote for a few hours, anyway, until the reality caught up to you. You realized that what you’re writing is pretty much utter shit, that you have no actual verbal prowess, and that above all the few cool ideas you came up with over the boring history class were the only damn things you had going for it.
…and he was the only one who knew they were actually living in a time loop!
Those Few Cool Ideas are a constant occurrence that have plagued my mind since forever, and the reason I’ve ended up writing a whole bunch of ill-fated novels. Not complete, mind you – most stop after a few pages. The longest one went on for about 60 pages before I woke up to the realization of what I had just done. These ideas pop up every now and then and usually persist for several weeks during which I idly expand on them and construct some sort of a setting. Most of the time I end up eventually dismissing them, but sometimes they get obnoxious enough and force me to open a blank text document, taking my ability to focus on actually important things as a hostage. So I write maybe for a couple hours until I realize that the Few Cool Ideas aren’t actually enough to make a real story. In fact they aren’t even enough to make a background for it, or anything else aside from the few awesome scenes I can imagine constructing somewhere out there on page 29 or 186 or 5004. That’s when I realize that damn, just getting up to page 29 is going a whole shipping ton of effort, because a good story isn’t made out of the Few Cool Ideas but characters backed up by solid writing and lots – let me emphasize here – lots of narrative and dialogue. And unfortunately none of these have anything much to do with the awesome ideas your mind just fermented out of a week’s worth of brain farts.
You see, writing a great novel or any kind of story isn’t up to one’s ability to come up with Few Cool Ideas. In fact, Few Cool Ideas are as common as water. A world where god decided to ragequit? A world where nobody dies? A city that never ends? An invincible demon girl who travels the world? The average highschooler could come up with a dozen of these before hitting the lunchtime. Back in WWII some nasty guys initially used pigs to clear minefields but soon switched to people, because people were plentiful and inherently worthless, while pigs were not. Now imagine those people standing at the edge of a minefield, all unique yet holding no inherent value to buy them a better task than stepping on exploding jerry cans filled with ball bearings. Among them are your Few Cool Ideas. And nobody fucking cares, because that isn’t the sound of the minefield clearing itself, little Bobby, now is it?
You probably appreciate Kongou more than all these pictures of disabled African children.
What sorts the novelists out of the neckbeards is the ability to write anything but the Few Cool Ideas. Because those ideas, as cool as they may be, hold no value by themselves. A good writer can construct characters with outstanding traits and personality that’s conveyed through the everyday dialogue they go through, and narrative that depicts them without being utterly silly. He is also able to lay down a plot and stretch it into a series of events that flow naturally and coherently without hopping from one funky occurrence to another like a god damn Duracell bunny on LiPo. And once I hit around the third page of my budding novel I realize that I can’t do any of that. Why? Because I don’t have the dedication to plow my way through pages upon pages of narrative, depicting people talking about shit I’m not even interested in myself. I just want to get to the juicy bits, damnit. But it’s like an MMO, there’s no other way but to grind it out. You want something, fine, we’ll see how hard you’re willing to whip yourself to get it.
Think Tolkien just decided to sit down and write something with elves and rings and shit, and out came The Lord of the Rings maybe a few months later? Well fuck you, because he spent over a decade writing it. During this time he meticulously went through the novel time and time again writing huge parts over because he just didn’t like them while completely disregarding publishing schedules. He also received continued support and feedback from fellow esteemed authors such a C.S. Lewis (Narnia, you uncultured swine) who wouldn’t even take a second look at your Hot Pocket-stuffed ass. And last but not least, Tolkien was also devoted to the point of insanity, perhaps because he was a devout Christian and believed that creating insanely detailed worlds was a way of getting closer to God. What’s the best you can muster? Shutting yourself in for a few weeks to write a 30-something document of “research” nobody will ever read anyway but you need to have one done because someone told you so?
You’d make a great Christian, at least.
Now guess why nearly nobody thinks fanfics are worth jack shit. Ping pong! Because they are the easiest way to skipping over the tedious parts. You grab a setting, introductory narrative, and characters from someone else’s finished grind and run your own Few Cool Ideas on them. Writing the dialogue is suddenly a whole lot easier when you already have a good idea of how the characters interact instead of having to constantly agonize over such things as consistency or conveying unique personalities in a natural fashion without ever mixing them up. Wow! Now all you need is a suitable forum community where everybody will pat your ass as long as they can count on your patting theirs.
Back to Kaminai, it’s exactly like the product of Few Cool Ideas lumped together with nearly nothing else – it’s what I would expect to see if I ever actually completed a novel. It explores a fantastic setting with little introduction only to quickly abandon it because the author got tired of the idea and found something else to focus on like a magpie in a bead factory. It doesn’t even really bother with binding things together into a proper sequence of events. Characters and stages are thrown onto stage and promptly booted out the back to make room for the next setup.
But you know what, I’ve written some 1300 on this show that totally doesn’t even deserve it so let’s just call it quits now. Remember kids, just say no to the Fairy. Here, a double serving of Kongou.