It’s been suggested by folks who may have seen the raws that the ending of Goyshuso-sama Ninomiya-kun is going to a train wreck. I can’t say as I’m surprised by that at all; while I may have voted for “Who cares, I’m just watching Mayu,” (and I am, or was, until Red-eyed Reika returned), I definitely have not expected anything like a logical, well-planned ending since the head-fake around episode five. Nor was it high on my list of expectations prior to that, actually.
But the question I am considering is: “What kind of train wreck are we going to have?” Simply put, “train wreck” is one of those lovely ambiguous phrases that means different things to different people. As a result, they tend to get into arguments based on mutual misunderstandings, and being otaku, such disputes generally don’t end without the involvement of large mechas and the general destruction of Tokyo. Fortunately, orbital lasers are only involved in the worst cases.
To prevent such dire events, I have decided to step in and provide all potentially warring parties with some useful definitions of train wrecks, and the types thereof. That way, they can rationally discuss which variety of train wreck they believe a series to be, and hopefully, keep the mayhem down to the level of swordplay and minor psychic powers.
Yeah, I know. Naive of me, isn’t it? Oh well, on with the show. Now I’m being hampered a bit here in that I’m not really that well-versed in some of the classic train wrecks to be had out there, especially since one of my goals has always been to read reviews and avoid the wrecks. Who knew I’d ever find myself lacking, thanks to that? Well, I’ll just have to do the best I can, but if you, dear reader, feel the urge to add a few examples (or even an entirely new type of train wreck) who am I to refuse to profit from your example?
So. And sa. (I wonder, was that the Nike logo in Japan? It seems appropriate.)
Kinds of train wreck:
Deus Ex Machina: The classical train-wreck ending, perfected by incompetent playwrights a couple of millenia before trains were invented. Everything is so screwed up and the writer is in such a corner, God himself (or a substitute thereof) must show up and fix things. Offenders: Crescent Love.
Splatterscreen: The writers can’t think of anything to finish the show properly, so they throw everything at the screen, whether it makes sense or not. Hopefully, something will stick, i.e.: it’s enough that something will appeal to someone. Offenders: Nuku-Nuku Dash!
Subversion: The writers spend 11 or 25 episodes building up to a grand climax, and then, at the last moment, reverse course against everything they’ve established in the series, leaving the audience betrayed. This type of ending tends to result in smashed TV sets. Grand Offender: Mahoromatic.
Incoherent: The ending is incomprehensible, either due to bad storytelling skills or something else forced an abortion. Offender: Evangelion.
Rush’em up: The series moves along at a sedate pace until someone realizes “OMG, we’ve only got two episodes to finish this in!” Then things start happening too quickly to keep up with, major plot points get dropped, or the narrative’s time frame gets compressed badly. Offender: Kanon.
Big Kaboom: A close relative to Splatterscreen, but more action-oriented. The writers don’t know how to end it, but figure if they make the final fight exciting enough, no one will notice that the end (or even the entire show) made no sense. Offender: Coyote Ragtime Show. Non-animÃ©: Matrix triolgy.
Unresolved Ending: The show’s run may end, but nothing is resolved, or enough loose ends are left for a dozen sequels. Offenders: UFO Princess Valkyrie, Sister Princess, Martian Successor Nadesico. (Arguably, the latter was part of the parody and on purpose.)
Reset: A sub-type of the Non-ending; everything is put back the way it was so the series can be milked for further profit. Offender: Those Who Hunt Elves.
Neverending Story: It doesn’t end, it just goes on, and on, and on, and on…. Offenders: Inuyasha, Detective Conan, One Piece.
Endings aren’t always purely one or another. A sufficiently inept ending can manage to pull from two or three different types.
Given all that, what kind of train wreck are we in for with GSNK? My guess: a combination of Splatterscreen & Incoherent. We’ve finally remembered that Mayu is a succubus, and revealed most of Shungo’s repressed memory, but Mayu’s sudden illness (and connection to Shungo’s fainting spell) are terribly contrived, as is the obvious rendezvous set up for Ep. 12. But we’ve got Sexy Red-Eyed Reika and big kabooms galore in episode 11, so you know it’s going to be somewhat flashy…
I guess we’ll see this weekend, but I might be out of town. If so, I’ll comment later.
Oh, and my order from Robert’s is in. Woohoo!
Update: Will adds the following type:
Rocks Fall: Everybody dies. I can’t think of an anime offender at this point, but Aliens 3 is a good SF example.
Update: SDB suggests Blake’s 7 (British live-action SF series from a few years back) as an example of Rocks Fall. I never watched much of it, but I caught a few shows here and there. Definitely didnt like the last year, which seemed to run counter to what I thought was the theme of the show, making it also a Subversion.