Execution in Romance: Amelie, Your Lie in April, and Clannad

A romance with bad execution is like a popsicle made of plain water. While it’s still a popsicle, with a cold and a hard texture, what makes it fun to eat is missing. The popsicle is boring without any flavor.

Okay maybe the popsicle metaphor is a bit of an exaggeration, but execution is a seriously important thing to do well in a romance.

Think about the romances that come to mind when you think of something that sounds cliche or bad on paper, but for whatever reason, they actually turned out pretty well. The ones that come to mind for me are the movie Amelie and the anime Your Lie in April and even Clannad to an extent.

The narration in Amelie in of itself is dull. The way the narrator introduces characters is by listing things they like and dislike. On paper that reads as lazy writing, but because of the way the movie is shot and how it paces these introductions these character introductions actually come across as rather charming.

Amelie knew how to execute itself as charming to a T from the color palette, to the odd narration and characters, to the use of its soundtrack, to the facial expressions of the main character. Amelie knew how to look artsy and quirky in a way that would grab the viewer.

Speaking of color palettes, Your Lie in April is a fucking master at evoking emotion through nothing but the pure color of scenery and characters themselves. It will bw bright and vibrant one moment, monochrome the next, and near the end of the anime: simply more saturated.

When it comes to the actual the story to Your Lie in April, it has been done more than a thousand times at this point and the dialogue can be stale and unnatural, but man does this show know how to emotionally manipulate its audience. The production value is off the charts: the animation is gorgeous, the pacing is…well it depends-sometimes the pacing is steady and at other times it isn’t. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched Your Lie in April, but I think that can actually add to my argument. As more time goes by I separate different aspects of Your Lie in April. It’s easier to detach the beautiful scenery and soundtrack from the actual story. And as more time goes by the more mediocre I realize it was.  However, the way Your Lie in April presented this story made it something that people regard as a good and emotional romance. Your Lie in April could have easily been terrible if it weren’t for things like the directing, production value, and execution. I think the execution has more to do with it, I mean even the manga is well regarded.

Clannad uses similar tactics to Your Lie in April to get people drawn into the show. The pretty and dramatic soundtrack that amplifies itself whenever a character starts to cry in almost an exaggerated form is genius. I mean, really think about what happens in Clannad. Other than Tomoya and Sunohara, most of the characters aren’t specifically interesting. The plot moves at sluggish pace. It’s the way Clannad executes and presents itself that makes it so rememberable. I mean, I will never forget the scene when Nagisa and Tomoya first met. The way the cherry blossoms fell around them and the soft piano music played as Nagisa talked to herself, just for the piano to turn into a full-on orchestrated piece when Tomoya responded to her and got her out of her own head. Then the camera zooms out to capture the two together as the wind starts to blow harder than previously. See even writing how it worked, it sounds corny as hell. And plenty of people probably did find that scene corny, but when I think of really good romance scenes, this will always be one of the first ones to come to my head.

Now I’ve talked a lot about story in this post, and you know the truth is that romances don’t really need a good storyline or plot. The most important thing to get right in romance is the character interaction between the love interests. If the audience doesn’t see the love interests as having chemistry or if they’re not likable together than the romance has failed. That’s the number one thing to get down. And execution can help with making characters look more compatible than they really are. Think about the love interests in all three of the series I mentioned. Are any of them actually compatible? I don’t really think so. Amelie knows just about nothing about the guy she ends up with and Kaori and Kousei have a…weird friendship dynamic that never made me feel as if they were actually suited for each other, and in Clannad Tomoya seemed a lot more compatible with Tomoyo than Nagisa.

But even if Tomaya was more compatible with Tomoyo, who really wanted him to end up with her? Not a lot…I think. No, we knew we were supposed to want to see Tomoya with Nagisa- it’s the way the show presented their relationship. You see how bad execution would have made this an issue? (This is also where things like ships can come in but that’s an entirely different discussion that I actually plan on talking about in a different post)

Anyways I’m still trying to sort out my thoughts and ideas about execution in romance so I might come back to this topic saying something completely contradictory. This has been on my mind a lot lately though so I figured I should write about it.

If you’d like to see a post of mine from a while back where I talk about Tomoya’s character you can click here.

And just an FYI I meant nothing bad by this post, I don’t think any of the three series I mentioned are bad. I might be being a little harsh right now. This whole post was me basically giving all of them a backhanded compliment skngfjsnkgls. No, but really, I hold all of them in pretty good regards.

 Clannad is the cover gif because it’s my favorite out of these three. Literally while I was picking the gifs for Clannad I started tearing up a little bit.

 

original post here

(500) Days of Summer vs While You Were Sleeping

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Note: I couldn’t find pictures with the same size and I don’t know how to edit for the life of me so you’ll just have to bear with me. Sorry.

I made a new year resolution to watch more romcom movies this year and finally, six months into the year, I acted on that resolution. A prime difference between these movies structure-wise would be that While You Were Sleeping would probably be considered a chick-flick while (500) Days of Summer would…not be. What really separates these two movies would be the aimed audience. Or maybe it’s the method each movie uses to appeal to their audience that separates them. 500 Days of Summer was a romance very clearly written by a man. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that the main guy character feels especially real. His perspective of love and the way he views Summer and his relationship with her showcases how love can be difficult for men. Which you don’t see a lot in romantic comedies. Probably because it’s a market for women and why would a woman want to see a romance movie with a guy that struggles to find love? That was sarcasm. While You Were Sleeping was also written and directed by only men, which is also obvious but for different reasons. While You Were Sleeping panders. It’s the kind of love story the writers and directors to this film think women would want. (500) Days of Summer is lot more about creating a love story out of one’s on own experiences. Who’s the targeted audience for 500 Days of Summer? I don’t really know. I could imagine anyone past the age of 15 enjoying it to be honest. That’s because it wasn’t trying to appeal to anyone it was just trying to tell a story that would feel real. Even at the beginning the movie makes a joke “If any of this seems familiar to your own life then it’s probably a coincidence. Even you, [i forgot the name used]. Bitch”- that’s a loose quote, but you already know this is the type of romance that’s not a self insert fantasy, but one that you’ll probably find a way to relate to. You get that from one small joke at the very beginning.

Yeah so While You Were Sleeping tries very hard to get women to watch it. You have this nerdy woman who has no family and lives alone with her cat. She thinks she’s in love with a guy she’s never even actually talked to and over time she actually falls in love with another guy. Lucy doesn’t really make choices except for when she saved the guy she thought she was in love with despite never talking to him at the beginning of the movie. Everything else just kind of happens to her. She didn’t mean for the guy’s family to assume she’s the guy’s fiance, that was the nurse. The family forces her to spend Christmas with them. When the guy wakes up from his coma and when he can’t recognize Lucy and everyone thinks he has amnesia Lucy just goes along with it. She doesn’t make any decision of her own until the wedding. She waits until the wedding of the guy she’s not even actually engaged to-to finally make her choice in the movie. While You Were Sleeping was meant to be a self insertion romance. They want the viewer to be able to fit the shoe of the main character. It’s every woman’s fantasy, to be accidentally engaged to a handsome guy, or to unexpectedly fall in love without actually doing anything to pursue the relationship yourself and okay I’m being really harsh on this movie right now. While You Were Sleeping wasn’t a bad movie. A lot of what I just splurged applies to chick flicks in general. While You Were Sleeping isn’t a bad movie, it’s just a stupid one.

(500) Days of Summer on the other hand was definitely not a self-insert kind of story. Have there been similar relationships to the one in this film? Absolutely. And that’s kind of the point considering it’s meant to feel relatable, but there’s also a sense of uniqueness to the story and the writing is good enough that this relationship feels genuine-it’s not an easy copy and paste formula. The writing. The execution. It made the story feel like someone’s own personal experience.

As for the comedy aspect in these two romantic comedies, Summer’s was really good. I laughed out loud a number of times. The humor in While You were Sleeping was corny and not very good.

Something I’ll give both movies credit for would pacing. Both of these movies had really good pacing. Neither of them ever felt like they were too long at any point

I’ve talked about the main characters, the humor, and pacing of these movies. But what about the actual romance within the movie? The romance wasn’t bad in either of these movies. While You Were Sleeping was a story about ‘the chase’-how they got together, while (500) Days of Summer is story that is looking back at a failed romantic relationship. So it’s obvious the romance in each movie will be very different just by that. The romance between the characters in While You Were Sleeping was extremely average. It did the bare minimum. There was a sense of chemistry, but it was small. The characters are just so bland that it’s hard to really care about this romance. Why did they fall in love? I don’t even know the answer to that. Maybe it was because the characters could relate to the one thing they had in common, that they were unhappy with their current job but both felt as if there was no alternative, that it was too late to choose another career path. That’s the only thing they had in common on screen. The romance felt like a relationship that happened out of coincidence. Neither of them really did anything to pursue each other it just fell in place for them. (500) Days of Summer, had a relationship that felt as if it was about to all fall apart at every corner. It was a relationship that was constantly trying to be kept intact. Especially by the main character. What I really liked about (500) Days of Summer was that it was easy to see why the two characters liked each other while also making it easy to see why the relationship wasn’t going to work , and did this without leaving either of the characters looking stupid or sleazy.

The last thing I want to talk about is the final verdict of each movie. They both had pretty solid endings. Unsurprisingly, 500 Days of Summer’s was better. Both endings were satisfying and left you with a feeling of completion. While You Were Sleeping does this to the bare minimum. 500 Days of Summer, however, leaves you feeling something even after the movie is over. It has a sweet and hopeful after taste. I felt happy after finishing it. After While You Were Sleeping I felt nothing.

So yea if you couldn’t tell (500) Days of Summer is the better movie of the two. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to do compare two movies in one post, but I’m planning on talking about romance movies more on this blog. I’m trying to balance out how much I talk about romance anime and western romances because as of right now I talk about anime waaay too much on my blog that’s supposed to cover all romances. Anyways if you haven’t seen (500) Days of Summer then I would seriously recommend giving it a watch.

 

find my original post here