You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'angst'.
Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 entries.

The Anatomy of an Anime Mental Breakdown

  • Posted on February 17, 2015 at 11:58 pm

As defined by TV tropes, Sanity Slippage  is when it is apparent that a character is losing their edge, and slowly sliding down the slippery slope to insanity. It may be that they now have a verbal tic they didn’t before, perhaps they’re spouting a Madness Mantra. Perhaps they’re simply not sleeping, or not eating, or maybe, just maybe, they’ve gone off the deep end, and are completely different from the character they were before.

So, how does one define a Mental Breakdown of this sort? How does one describe and even characterize such a thing? After all, nothing is more interesting than the breaking and splintering of a human psyche. Nothing gets us more than the suffering of another. Perhaps it’s Schadenfruede, or perhaps it’s just a need to see how far a person can be pushed before they break.

That's one hell of a smile you got there, Shinji

See, Shinji knows what I’m talking about.

So, we’re going to break down that amazing phenomena that is the Anime Breakdown.

Step One: Stress

So, How do we take a perfectly normal character, and make them into something broken and weeping? First, we have to start with that perfectly normal character! Whether this is your villain or your hero, or both, you need a base line for them. So start them off at their normal. Perhaps they’re a normal high-school student?

Yeahhh, I'd be bored in geometry too.

Take Light Yagami here. He’s a perfectly normal, bored high school student.

Stressors would be required to remove them from this normalcy state, and into something close to the sanity slippage we mentioned earlier. In the case of our example here, Mr. Yagami is introduced to a book titled the Death Note. This Death Note provides him a literal example of how “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility”.

Over time, the toll of his body count, as well as the things he needs to do to keep from being prosecuted, begin to take a toll on his sanity. Light grows paranoid, increasingly so, and emotionally manipulative. He hides from those who care about him, and performs actions that most would consider appalling. He meets people he’d never thought to meet, but can’t really call any of them friends. In fact, he’s withdrawn from humanity so much that he honestly begins to believe he’s a god.

These stressors cause his reactions to become more and more terrifying and odd, until we get this lovely number:

Yeahhhh….

So Stressors. But what happens once stressors take their toll?

Step Two: Symptoms

This is when we begin to show our homework. A lot of this is going to require research, because honestly, every character is going to react differently. Your stressors are different, and while there will be some crossover sometimes, you can’t just slap a sticker on it and call it good.

So, first, take into account the exact stressors. Is your character being spoken to by the whispering voices of dark gods, dreaming in the beyond? Well then, maybe they’d start listening to music, accidentally yell at their friends, maybe they would end up gouging out their ears? Oh, wait. We’ aren’t there yet, are we…

Here are some common symptoms and examples:

Madness Mantra – A character begins to repeat over and over something that was said to them, something they heard, something they thought, some small phrase that means a lot. This could also double as arch words, if the author is thoughtful about it!

Room Full of Crazy – Perhaps the character begins posting pictures of the victims on their walls, writing the connecting facts between them? Perhaps they start carving out a calender, representing all the times they’d lost time. Or maybe they simply don’t control their room any more. Things go missing, they can’t find something, and then it turns up in places they didn’t put it.

Paranoia – They may begin to grow distrustful of those they once loved, and those they cared about. Maybe they don’t quite know who they can trust. Maybe they worry that someone they don’t know at all will turn out to be their downfall? Who knows.

That’s right Shinji, You listen to Evenescence. That’ll fix everything.

Running Away from Responsibilities – That’s right. When a person is pushed to the limit, they often try to escape from the pressures restraining them. In this case, that means they refuse to fight, they hide. There might be a scene in which they lay about, while others do important things, or perhaps the character hides under blankets.

Now these are just a few symptoms, and to be honest, there are as many symptoms as there are characters. Each one is going to have it’s own reaction. But now you have a general idea of what to do.

Step three: The Catalyst

On  TvTropes, this is referred to as The Despair Event Horizon, which basically just means, the thing that pushes them over the edge into complete and utter breakdown. My favorite culmination for this is into what is known as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Which is basically a character who has undergone such a life of misery and woe, that they have decided the only way to end it is to kill themselves and everyone else along with them. It’s a great trope, give it a read!

Anyway, so the Catalyst can be just about anything. From a Woman in the Fridge to a Kick the Dog moment, it really depends. Basically, the final straw that breaks the camels back. This is the thing that will finally cause that “Everything is over” moment that shatters the character’s (and if you did it right, your reader’s) hearts. This should be your climax, the high point in your story, and the culmination of this character’s arc. After this, it’s all downhill, and healing.

So congratulations! Those are the three big ingredients to writing an Anime Mental Breakdown. There are of course other tropes you can invoke, or even revoke, in order to make it more interesting, and more unique, however, these are the three main things you need. I would recommend reading through those pages, if only so that you can get an idea of what’s already been done. You don’t wanna accidentally overlap, after all.

Eggs of the Golden Variety

  • Posted on April 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Papi didn’t have life insurance. He worked part time for four different companies. But he didn’t have anything to leave us when he passed. Mama was distraught. She was too used to being able to be pretty, nails done, hair cut every week, too used to being pampered to accept the death of the only man who ever truly loved her. My brother left town, on some bender through the next several towns on his way to Santa Monica. I was left with the baby, and the birds.

We had four chickens, Allah, Monica, Veronica and Dolce, one goose, Ricardo, and an old rooster named Bernardo. They lived in a coop in our back yard, and the noise they made sometimes kept the baby awake during her naptime. Little Isadora never did sleep very well. She kept us all awake at night with her crying, unless Papi came home, and held her. He sang to her, little songs from his homeland. I loved those songs.

Life was dull, colorless, without Papi’s songs, without his strength. I took to selling the eggs in the morning so that we could buy milk for Isadora, and bread and cheese. I barely felt it one morning when Ricardo nipped my fingers so hard they bled. We were all different, now that Papi was gone. Armando hadn’t been back home in weeks. Mama wouldn’t come out of her room, and spent all her time talking on the phone to grandmama in Oregan. I think she might have been planning to move us out there.

One day, though, there was a new bird in the coop. Isadora babbled on my hip, old enough to walk, but still easily tired out by the distance between the back door and the coop, reaching for the new bird. It was… beautiful. It shone in the sunlight like gold, it’s eyes dark and fathomless. Long plumes like a peacock I’d seen once at the zoo spread out behind it. Dolce was cozied up to it’s side, cuddling up like she did with any bird that sat still long enough, and she looked drab in comparison. This new addition lifted it’s head, and then, I swear to God above, spoke.

“Mi Flora, take a feather. Sell it, and use the money to buy food. Sell the eggs no longer.” It was Papi’s voice. It was Papi’s voice, coming from the bird, and I was going loco. Isadora squealed, and I must have put her down without realising it, because she toddled over, and just like Dolce, cuddled up to the bird’s side. The bird nuzzled her with it’s beak, and she burbled at him in baby language. Him. Oh god, now I was thinking of it as Papi.

I stepped closer, and again, I must have taken a feather without realizing it. The bird was singing, one of Papi’s old songs, and the golden feather was warm in my fingers. I must have dozed off, to the sound of Papi singing. Isadora and I woke up with the chickens clucking around us, and the strange bird gone. I sold the feather for a fifty in the city, and paid it forward to the landlord. He was happy. Mama asked me where I got the money, but I shrugged and didn’t answer, scraping the last of the mac and cheese out onto Isadora’s little baby plate.

It happened again the next day. And the day after that. Months passed, and we were caught up, had food on the table, Isadora had new clothes and a new blanket. Papi came and sang for us every morning while I fed the birds, and Ricardo got fatter, and the girls’ feathers were shining and their eggs had tripled. Life was good.

Then one day, Mama came out of her room. She took money from the pretty yellow jar I’d found for the extra money. It looked like an egg, and Isadora loved playing with it. She disappeared for hours, and came back dolled up. This became the new routine. Weeks passed. We grew wealthier. I put a new roof on the house. The garden started growing better with the fertilizer we bought. Mama got prettier each day.

I came out every morning and spoke to Papi, and he sang, and then one day, Mama must have heard… because she found us there, and gasped. “Orlando?” She breathed, and Papi turned his golden head to her.

“Mi corazon, te amo, you are more beautiful than ever.”

Mama wept. She cried all day. All day and all night. And then, the next morning, when I went out to feed the birds and listen to Papi sing…

He was dead. Again. Mama sat next to his headless body, and held handfuls of swan-feathers, none of them gold. None of them glittering. Isadora screamed, and then cried. And the world turned grey once again. Papi was dead.

Follow

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Email address

%d bloggers like this: