Tag Archives: kokoro connect

Doctor Who and the Single Part Stories

I have a big problem with Doctor Who at the moment, one I have gone on record about in my Twitter feed and on my Podcast. I am getting increasingly sick of the constant barrage of single episode stories. For years I have disliked TV shows going in that direction, it is just that I have been able to give Doctor Who a lot more leeway than I would any other show. But this is starting to run out.

I understand the theory behind having weekly shows that you don’t make you feel punished for jumping in partway through. The problem, though, is that this also means yo don’t get rewarded for sticking weekly with a show. Too much TV these days feels like it does not have a real ongoing presence. Doctor Who is really getting to feel like this, now.

I have seen it in other shows where they have an ongoing plot but one of the seasons gets orders to have more standalone content and less “mythology arc”. These often, to me, end up being the weaker seasons.
I know that some people dislike shows where most of the content is ongoing plot but I love it.

I like TV shows where as well as being an ongoing scenario about a setting or characters, the actual plots are divided into arcs. Maybe between three and five episodes in length. Where each story is given room to breathe and grow over multiple weeks. They don’t even need to have major “event” cliffhangers, just a run of a few episodes that are clearly an ongoing narrative,
It doesn’t even need to have really long episodes. Drop down from the 45 minute template to the half-hour show and it can work just as well.

And before people think I am just being nostalgic for “Classic Who”, it really isn’t that at all. I have recently been watching an Anime show called Kokoro Connect. Seventeen half-hour (OK, 25 minute) episodes covering four plot arcs. Two five-partners, a three-parter and a four-parter. Each arc its own plot, yet still part of an ongoing world and characters. Each arc really affecting how the characters interact with each other.

I have got more enjoyment out of that show than I have from nearly anything else I have watched in recent years. The structure of several short multi-part stories appeals perfectly to my narrative preferences.

I guess it just makes it that much more annoying for Doctor Who seeing that the stories used to be structured that way. I have missed it somewhat since DW returned in 2005. Up until now, though, it hasn’t really been a dealbreaker. But after Series Six’s heavily River-focused plot, to drop back to seemingly overly isolated episodes whilst other shows are doing the multi-partners so effectively? I just want a return to that type of storytelling.

Why I watch what I watch

I know my personality influences what stories I like, as well as what aspects of the stories I like. At first I thought that this was just to do with personal preference. Liking aspects that people don’t just because I have a different angle when enjoying stories. Then there were things to do with my job and the like. Empathizing more with the techie-types than the end-user types. If one side gives a rational reason for something and the rest keep waiting for “their answer” then I side with the former, even if they’re heading in the asshole direction.

More and more, though, I am realising that the nature of my personality and my history with depression and mental illness, as well as some of the circumstances leading up to them, really colour what I like about stories.

I never got the “Luke Hate” in Star Wars. Partially, I guess, because I was late to the party. I didn’t see the trilogy until my university days. Shortly after university, I felt very trapped by circumstance. No job, living with parents, growing depression. These were all things that beginning to resonate with me around the same age I finally saw Star Wars.
Feeling trapped and having people who mean well trying to tell you what to do? I’ll side with the whiney brat any day. I’ve been there. Moving past it (I hope, somewhat) now, but it’s still something I empathize with.

I love the stories where people go against authority. Most of the recent shows, especially Anime, that I have been watching centre around groups of socially-inept people banding together.

I’ve recently watched (twice) a show called Kokoro Connect, which has a group of five outsiders who formed a school club together because there wasn’t anything out there that suited them. They then get various phenomena forced upon them by a mysterious entity who is seeking to be entertained. And you see them all struggle with things like body-swapping, acting on impulse, regressing (physically) to childhood and having their thoughts shared with the group.

I loved watching the struggles of Inaba and Iori. Not because I like watching people suffer but because I can feel their pain at times. Whilst Inaba struggles with not being a natural people person, and has to learn to deal with her true emotions, Iori struggles to learn who she really is beneath all the masks she wears over her personality.
These are things I have struggled with, and continue to do so. The strain of “putting on a personality” to deal with people, even friends and family, is a very real one. I don’t struggle with it as much as Iori does, not anymore anyhow, but I know what it can be like.

Still, I find myself quite interested when I look at what I watch and read and who I empathize with. As a general rule, these are the “take crap from noone” or the “fundamentally broken” characters. These are my heroes because they are exactly how they appear or, if not, you get to see the effort and strain involved in being “somebody else”.