D&A Breakdown: Plot Driven vs. Character Driven (in Anime)!

When it comes to anime a lot of us within the community like certain titles just a little bit more than others. Let’s face it; not all anime is created equally, and depending on what you’re looking for in whatever genre suits you, you might be into one of the following two things; a show driven by its plot, or a story driven by its characters. It’s very hard to find a show that contains an equal balance of both (if there is one or more let us know), as if you have one, the other usually ends up suffering. Our tastes in anime changes overtime, but one thing’s for sure…we know what we want to see. (And so does Japan.)

Before we dive further into this post, we’re letting you guys n’ gals know, that we’re just comparing and contrasting between anime that is plot driven, and anime that is character driven. If you think about all of the anime you’ve watched as well as all of the manga you’ve read, have you ever thought about what the artist’s (or creator’s) main focus was? This is one of the most critical questions they have to ask themselves when creating these wonderful worlds and dynamic characters for their audience and the rest of the world to see.

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When its about the plot, a couple titles come to mind…

Plot Driven

A story that is plot driven can be best summed up like this; a plot is a sequence of events that are connected by cause and effect. Plot driven stories are usually fast-paced and place the characters in positions where they have to solve problems and figure out ways to escape a deadly situation, or figure out how to solve a puzzle that may lead up to another plot point in the story later on.

There are a lot of anime titles out there that take on the plot-driven approach, leaving character development as a secondary element to the story. The choices made by the characters of a plot-driven story will advance the overall plot of the story itself, but depending on what type of story it is, it could lead to potential consequences for some of the characters should they find themselves making risky and unfavorable decisions.

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The prince has come a long way…

Character-Driven

A story that is character-driven is more focused on the characters than the actual complexity of the plot. This simply means that the artist or creator is 100% focused on character development; such as the dynamic relationships between certain characters, as well as the inner transformations and epiphanies they may have about themselves. Just like with plot-driven stories, character-driven ones focus on how the character arrives at a particular moment within the plot. The plot in these types of stories is what develops the character.

Take Vegeta for example; back in the first season of Dragon Ball Z his character was bent on arriving to Earth with Nappa, and killing everyone on it due to the fact that Kakarot (Goku) did not when ‘he’ first arrived on Earth. Since then he’s become a family man and has a much better relationship with Goku, who he still calls Kakarot due to his undying pride as a saiyan warrior. Characters in a character-driven plot are much more fleshed-out and connects the audience in a more realistic way; be it mentally or emotionally.

As we mentioned before there are tons of anime titles that can either be plot driven; where the characters of the story make choices and decisions that will advance the overall plot, or character-driven, where the story is used to develop the character. There are some anime titles that are able to pull off both; where not only the plot was good, but the character development was on the same page as the plot. (Bebop and Trigun can’t be the only ones…can they?)

So what do you look for in an anime title? Do you like a good story that pulls you in for a wild ride? Or are you looking for a title with characters who have emotions and feelings that you can relate to (or both)? Let us know in the comments below!

Until next post, stay nerdy my friends! 😉