Show don't tell

This is a forum for casual discussion of Evangelion. Topics like "Asuka is hot!" or "Which Eva kicks the most ass?" belong here.

Moderator: Board Staff

xPearse
Ramiel
Ramiel
User avatar
Age: 27
Posts: 331
Joined: May 11, 2014
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Gender: Male

Show don't tell

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby xPearse » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:44 am

Why is it that sometimes Anno does the opposite, from Misato blantly explaining her character to Toji explaining why he hit Shinji. Where he says to get out my anger, as far as I know normal human beings don't do that. Maybe subconsciously but not stating it, I never liked those parts of Evangelion. Its similar to that guy from Gundam X who keeps saying I know you didn't kill my wife but I'm gonna act like you did just to express his anger, or at least it was something like that. I can't fully remember, anyway is this just Anno's style of directing or what?

pwhodges
A Lilin in Wonderland
A Lilin in Wonderland
User avatar
Age: 73
Posts: 10427
Joined: Nov 18, 2012
Location: Oxford, UK
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby pwhodges » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:50 am

Variety in style? Telling is not always wrong - after all, the phrase is "story-telling", not "story-showing".
"Being human, having your health; that's what's important." (from: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi )
"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?" (from: The Eccentric Family )
Avatar: "It's my intention not to see you again" (details); Past avatars.
Can't wait for 3.0+1.0? - try Afterwards... my post-Q Evangelion fanfic (discussion)

xPearse
Ramiel
Ramiel
User avatar
Age: 27
Posts: 331
Joined: May 11, 2014
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby xPearse » Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:23 am

View Original Postpwhodges wrote:Variety in style? Telling is not always wrong - after all, the phrase is "story-telling", not "story-showing".


Yea but it kinda comes off as lazy writing and a crutch to explain various things to the viewer, it was just silly when Misato said I'm talking so much to catch up for lost time. Also when Ritsuko gives suggestions about Eva 1, she's just like is it trying to do this or is it trying to do this. You should leave it to the viewer to make an assumption from the visuals. It was unnecessary for Toji to say I'm taking my anger out on you as from the visuals we can see he is picking on him. It not like that line added anything to his character anyway.

Alpha
Adam
User avatar
Age: 33
Posts: 83
Joined: Nov 29, 2012
Location: Godoz Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Alpha » Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:40 am

On the contrary, for Toji to say that, it means he's aware he's probably taking it out on the wrong guy, and shows some measure of remorse from doing it. If he just did it without it, it would come out as little more than him being a complete jerk.
This is what nature planned. This is nature's sacrifice.

HiImAnAlien
Embryo
User avatar
Age: 26
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 18, 2014
Location: Europe, Romania
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby HiImAnAlien » Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:48 am

Man, it's not the first time I hear about the "show don't tell rule" and it's kinda irritating. People thinking too much in terms of rules of writing are in-flexible in their thinking about art.
Like saying this about movies like "Persona" where the talking actually says something about the characters outside of the things that are actually said.

It makes perfect sense in the context why Toji says that: he knows he should be grateful to the pilot for saving them but on the other hand he's angry for his sister. So, it's like saying "I know I shouldn't have done this to you but I can't abstain myself, so don't take it too personally OK". He's not saying it for the viewers but for Shinji.
As for Misato, I thought it was Ritsuko who said that. If indeed Misato was the one, it's also very easy to explain: she apologizes for talking so much. Some people do that in real life.
Misato Katsuragi + Motoko Kusanagi :WIN

NemZ
Token Misanthrope
Token Misanthrope
User avatar
Posts: 15804
Joined: Jun 28, 2008
Location: St. Louis
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby NemZ » Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:29 am

It's also a form of characterization.

Toji is a forthright guy who speaks his mind. He keeps pretty much no secrets, from others or from himself.

Misato doesn't really know how to motivate Shinji so she tries to infodump on him out of desperation because all this conspiracy stuff matters to her. It's also how she deals with stress... she wants all the info there is all right in front of her so she can squint at it until some crackpot plan comes to mind. She also tends to talk to herself (or anyone around her, but even then it's mostly to herself) when the pressure is on.
Rest In Peace ~ 1978 - 2017
"I'd consider myself a realist, alright? but in philosophical terms I'm what's called a pessimist. It means I'm bad at parties." - Rust Cohle
"Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize that half of 'em are stupider than that." - George Carlin
"The internet: It's like a training camp for never amounting to anything." - Oglaf
"I think internet message boards and the like are dangerous." - Anno

xPearse
Ramiel
Ramiel
User avatar
Age: 27
Posts: 331
Joined: May 11, 2014
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby xPearse » Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:45 am

I know stating it can sometimes help but I guess it's always down to how someone prefers storytelling, I really hated the blunt "is this the part of me that wants to be with him" that was in the DC. Not for reasons some of you may say though but because it was very blunt and stupid.

beyond
Embryo
Age: 26
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 14, 2014
Location: Greece
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby beyond » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:08 pm

xPearse, you are wrong on a few accounts.
Misato didn't state herself that she was speaking so much to make up for lost time. I am pretty sure that it was Ritsuko narrating that added that observation.
And I don't think Toji grabbed Shinji and said "this is for hurting my sister" either, it was Kensuke that explained the situation to Shinji as he was getting beat.

But at the end of the day, even if I'm wrong and those characters said those things (and after all they did say other blatant stuff anyway), it is a conscious choice to have them speaking their mind so openly.
Much of NGE's runtime is spent on introspection, characters talking to themselves and to projections of people they know. This theme carries on in reality as well, with people often confessing things (like Misato straight up exposing all her daddy issues to Kaji) not because they want to get this information across (Kaji for example probably knew what kind of woman she was already, he didn't need to hear it from her mouth) but because of the importance of the act of laying yourself bare.
This also makes a nice contrast with the many situations where a character vehemently insists on a constructed persona that he puts forth, like Asuka proclaiming that she only cares for her own approval every chance she gets.
hello

Ray
Banned
User avatar
Age: 26
Posts: 6638
Joined: Feb 10, 2014
Location: USA
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Ray » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:30 pm

Well. . . okay. A certain user on EvaWiki brought it up several times, and I want to discuss it on a thread that has something to do with it.

Why do some people say Eva is hopeful when all it does is talk of hope, but never show any of the characters actually experiencing said hope?
Last edited by Ray on Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I’ll escape now from this world, from the world of Jean Valjean, Jean Valjean is nothing now! Another story must begin!
Avatar: "There's a Starman, waiting in the sky. He'd like to come and meet me, but he thinks he'd blow my mind."
Phew, I’m not tense anymore… now I’m just miserable.
People say "be yourself" but that's bad advice, if we were all to "be ourselves" many of us would stop wearing clothes. -Chuckman

beyond
Embryo
Age: 26
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 14, 2014
Location: Greece
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby beyond » Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:04 pm

It isn't hope for its pilots, it is hope for humanity. Weather you like it from Seele's perspective (giving an alternative form of existence to the human race, in their eyes better) or Yui's (basically a glorified, less informative voyager golden record).
But again, this is an opinion of the people who planned EVA, not an objective fact, and as many people have noted, "EVA brings despair to the life of anyone affiliated with it in any way".
hello

BlueBasilisk
Lilin
Lilin
User avatar
Age: 32
Posts: 1518
Joined: Nov 14, 2010
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby BlueBasilisk » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:17 pm

"Show Don't Tell" isn't an end-all-be-all rule. It's okay to tell your audience things sometimes if showing would cripple the pace of your narrative or if the information isn't all that important. It's all a matter of degrees, really. Showing everything leads to decompression, and telling everything leads to The Last Airbender.

Telling might have been necessary in Misato's case. She has a very harsh opinion of herself and believes some things that don't line up with the reality that we're shown. She tells us she's a loose woman who uses men, but we see that the truth is different.

Ray: The message they're trying to get across is that you can make something for yourself as long as you have the will and persistence to endure, and giving up hope is just a road to destruction. You can actually apply this in a meta sense to the movie/series itself: It tells you there's hope, but you have to fill in that hopeful future yourself, because the narrative's not going to do it for you.

xPearse
Ramiel
Ramiel
User avatar
Age: 27
Posts: 331
Joined: May 11, 2014
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby xPearse » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:55 pm

Yea maybe so, I just got sort of annoyed when they stated certain facts.

Reiggae
Adam
User avatar
Age: 21
Posts: 73
Joined: May 12, 2014
Location: Nebraska
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Reiggae » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:14 pm

This is the first time I've heard anybody say Eva explains too much.
We are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.

xPearse
Ramiel
Ramiel
User avatar
Age: 27
Posts: 331
Joined: May 11, 2014
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby xPearse » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:08 pm

View Original PostReiggae wrote:This is the first time I've heard anybody say Eva explains too much.


Well in a certain way, not overall. I was just wondering if anyone else didn't like those parts, im probably alone on this.

Ornette
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar
Age: 46
Posts: 11808
Joined: Dec 26, 2005
Location: Pittsburgh/New York City
Gender: Male
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Ornette » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:01 pm

It's a pretty common way of info-dumping in old mecha and (still) shounen types of shows, where there's entire episodes of 2 people fighting each other, and either having bystanders explain the story outright (to each other, but of course we're getting info-dumps as a watcher) or the two people fighting are shouting the story at each other during a fight. This is especially prominent in TV shows and it doesn't necessarily has to be a fight or a competition.

Xard
Sex God Bastard
Sex God Bastard
User avatar
Age: 29
Posts: 14187
Joined: Jan 03, 2008
Location: Finland
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Xard » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:50 pm

While it might seem rather clearcut and easy to obey on first viewing "show don't tell" is particularly tricky storytelling "rule" that is nowhere near unambigious. There are times when line between showing and telling is anything but obvious and there are many times when "telling" instead of "showing" is simply correct choice.


As for your picks as problematic instances I don't see any issue. As said Toji's case makes perfect sense for the character and in itself provides characterization and pretty much same can be said of Misato.

The difficulties in separating the two becomes also increasingly difficult more high concept and focused on the concepts per se (instead of leaving them just to subtext to be inferred) given narrative gets. At mindfuck stages of Eva the narrative is pretty much exploring and taking apart the inner life of characters. It's not "character drama" in the sense we get cues about their mental states from semi-realistic scripted behaviour, what we get are their inner mental states and thoughts per se. You can't avoid degree of bluntness when your artistic aim is like this and it definetly isn't desirable. Leaving out Misato's lines about herself as examples of "telling not showing" in context like this would be like shooting action scene with lenses out of focus, frankly. If you want more "usual" psychological exploration of course Eva offers that too - no one would ever accuse ending scene of ep 4 or psychologically loaded elevator ride in ep 22 with blunt and clumsy characterization! :lol:


Anyway, the degree of bluntness or "telling instead of showing" in Eva is not even out of ordinary or unacceptable for work of purported merit. Think Bergman's "Silence of God" trilogy which "breaks" this rule far more harshly than Eva for (most part) no visible harm to artistic quality, Dreyer's theatrical dramaturgy in Ordet, the way Godard typically uses dialogue to explore characters and ideas or just about every single droning, moody and thematically loaded dialogue scene in any Oshii feature.

Hell, just about anything by Kurosawa makes Anno look subtle as fuck and that does not make Ikiru or Ran any lesser explorations of the involved core themes.

View Original PostHiImAnAlien wrote:Like saying this about movies like "Persona" where the talking actually says something about the characters outside of the things that are actually said.


I don't think you can even in all instances say this much but it's not necessarily knock against those scenes; sometimes you can get best dramaturgy out of blunt dialogue combined with strong delivery (straight to camera, lol). I mean, Persona is hardly even about the "characters" who are most probably representations of different elements of same psyche (a la The Silence) or walking embodiments of the themes OR both at the same time. So saying certain talking provides extra hints about characters might be fundamentally wrongheaded in that film's case. :lol:


As for why Eva has this general in-your-faceness in execution (contra, uhh, Ozu I guess) Anno has gone on record saying it was increasingly intentional because without blunt confrontation the otaku audience would just brush the explorations aside and be able to focus just on the things they like. Besides, Eva (and Anno elsewhere) is capable of great ambiguity, nuance and subtetly at the same time some elements are hammered down so it should be fairly obvious.


Now the subject of explaining shit/technobabble dump is I think different entirely from "showing not telling" question. It's simply question if it's good way to balance "realism" and needs of dramaturgy in said scenes. I think it is. You see, in this regard Eva follows tropes of tokusatsu and mecha anime that have gone back decades and for a good reason. For example upon rewatch one might notice all the exclamations and on the spot explanations Ritsuko etc. offer in Sachiel attack (it's AT FIELD!) don't necessarily make perfect sense as lines character X knowing relevants facts 1,2,3... would say - however, for the ideal dramatization of such material things can be very different. You might think "visuals" alone would be enough but there is a reason why in super robot shows it became pretty much instantly a trend to call ones attacks out. Otherwise it would simply be too confusing.

I think prime case here would be the opening act with Mari in Eva 2.0 - now Mari's shouting there does in fact get a bit excessive even given de facto legitimacy of dramaturgy involved but take out those lines and what goes down in the action becomes incomprehensible. For this not to happen there'd need to be multitude of scenes giving the required background info on the base, the experimental Eva unit she's using, the captured Angel etc. but obviously you can't infuse such scenes to the overall storyline without considerable harm.

Hence the traditional toku way (that Eva is fond off in general, the whole series is from certain pov Ultraman fanfic anyway) is the responsible option for creator to pick.



I'm not saying "show don't tell" is not decent rule of thumb or that one can't legitly criticize works at times for failing to live up to the spirit of the principle but this is really matter of degrees - and context determines pretty much entirely on its own the "right degree". I can't think of instances in Eva that don't make sense in overall context of the series. Perhaps closest we get to this is in EoE when Fuyutsuki blabbers on and on about Tree of Life mindfuck that is going on but even that is above all aesthetic tool that builds up atmosphere (and hence justified per se) and like with above considerations without such "running commentary" what is going on would become plain inscrutable to audience, even moreso than in 2.0 opening fight scene.
Last edited by Xard on Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
Mugwump: Goddamn it, Xard! Take me in your arms, you magnificent sex god bastard!
And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
Eva Yojimbo: You really are the Otaku equivalent of a Catholic and Jew rolled up into one giant dakimakura of guilt.
Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.

FreakyFilmFan4ever
(In)Sufficient Director
(In)Sufficient Director
User avatar
Age: 32
Posts: 8468
Joined: Jun 09, 2009
Location: Playing amongst the stars
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:57 pm

I agree weigh NEMZ. Touji is a guy who speaks his mind, and Anno conveys this aspect of Touji by showing us Touji speaking his mind rather than having an off-screen narrator telling us that Touji is a guy who speaks his mind.

“Show, don’t tell” isn’t used to argue for the absence of dialogue in a film. Rather, it’s an argument that an off-screen narrator shouldn’t be the one giving the viewer important story or plot points. (Sometimes the character becomes the narrator through a cross-dissolve and a voice-over.) In fact, I think the term people think of when they say “show, don’t tell” is actually “kill the narrator,” which is also something Eva does beautifully, only using the narrator for arhymmatic poetry. A scene where Misato explains something to Shinji that the viewer doesn’t know yet is still utilizing the idea of “show, don’t tell,” since its showing the viewer information being conveyed from one character to another as the two characters speak to each other. But “kill the narrator” argues that the film shouldn't use last-minnute voice overs of an off-screen narrator in order to convey important expositional scenes. (The Last Airbender comes to mind as the most egregious example of a pointless reliance in the narrator, as does Gigantis, The Fire Monster, AKA the English Language version of Godzilla Raids Again.)

The only time a narrator in the conventional sense appears in NGE is when Shinji sees Misato crying over Kaji’s last phone message on the answering machine in Episode 21, as well as Ritsuko reading aloud letters to her mother earlier in the same episode. It sticks out in my mind since it was the only time used in the entire TV show. Death heavily incorporates the use of the narrator, but all of them appear to be journal entires as well. Rather than simply being expositional dialogue or narration, this is a brief audible look into something very personal to the characters, almost turning it into a form of arhymmatic poetry from the characters. (Arhymmatic poetry that was first introduced into NGE with Rei’s soliloquy in Episode 14.)

Most of the examples given by the OP aren’t really important points of plot exposition. They are simply dialogue elements that better present the finer details and nuances of the TV series. Nothing is conveyed through dialogue in the TV series that doesn’t also show us something else about the characters through how they interact with each other while using dialogue. So, “show, don’t tell” is technically being applied here, as we see how the characters interact as they use dialogue in everyday life.
Last edited by FreakyFilmFan4ever on Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
Live-Action Lofi Hip Hop Radio beats to relax/study to

Details about the making of the video here.

Chuckman
Chuckman
Chuckman
User avatar
Age: 37
Posts: 8902
Joined: Nov 11, 2011
Location: Chuckman
Gender: Female

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Chuckman » Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:36 pm

Show, don't tell is more of a dictum for prose.
the prophecy is true

Statistical fact: Cops will never pull over a man with a huge bong in his car. Why? They fear this man. They know he sees further than they and he will bind them with ancient logics. —Marty Mikalski


Return to “Evangelion Chit-Chat”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests