Management: Another brief one. This topic could easily be expanded into questions like “what is originality?” and “what is the intersection of craft and voice?”, as well as the way craft and insight inherently lead to a level of specificity in storytelling which makes any good genre piece “original” enough to avoid feeling derivative or superfluous. But those are easily essays by themselves.
When forming your opinion of a show, what do you value more highly: originality or execution?
Originality can make a show noteworthy, or even influential.
Execution is what makes a show good.
Either way, true originality is a very, very rare thing – generally, a unique idea is achieved by combining elements of prior stories, prior aesthetics, prior tricks of pacing and direction, in order to create a specific aesthetic and narrative which serves the purposes of a new show. And even if something really is unprecedented, that in itself might be valuable because it offers future shows a new tool, but if the show that actually introduces that tool is beset by other failings or doesn’t even use that tool well, it still won’t necessarily be a good show.
Anime actually has a leg up on mediums like literature or film here, in that it’s a far less fully explored medium (which could also be considered a nice way of saying it has a very limited critical catalog), so there are new visual ideas and aesthetics emerging fairly regularly. But if we’re talking on a personal level, then I have to admit I’m a person who approaches anime as a storytelling medium, where sound and visuals can certainly supplement or elevate narrative, but in a vacuum mean little more to me than a beautiful book cover does for a book I’m reading. I’m a story craft person, and I don’t find stories interesting because they surprise me with new ideas – I find stories interesting because a skillful craftsmen can spin well-worn materials into truth, enlightenment, empathy, catharsis. As I said, new ideas aren’t good or bad, they’re just new, and offer new opportunities. Whether a show makes the most of those opportunities is a reflection of execution, which is a combination of absolute mastery of craft and a creator’s individual voice, which is generally where most passion or creativity is expressed.
Most storytelling is not a result of spinning raw, brilliant and unprecedented ideas out of nothing – most storytelling is a result of taking maybe a dozen big ideas (a romance between a teacher and his former student! a story about how class relations are affected by generational shift! a fable about letting go!), tossing in a scattering of fifty or so small ideas (frame it around the condemning and eventual tearing down of their favorite bookstore! some kind of cat motif! his arc goes here->here->here! change the color palette depending on character perspective!), staring at the fifty thousand brushes, saws, and hammers known to every writer/director/etc, and setting to work.