What the Anime Industry Can Learn from Kimi no Na wa. (Part 1)

Makoto Shinkai managed to produce the highest-grossing anime film of all time despite the number of challenges that came his way, while also disproving several common misconceptions about producing anime.


This article was written by Izuka-kun and edited by Skittles and pompy of the MAL Articles Club.
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Kimi no Na wa. was regarded as a masterpiece by many critics and became an impressive addition to Makoto Shinkai’s accolades, albeit missing out on an Oscar nomination. Box-office records in both Japan and overseas were smashed, and Kimi no Na wa. managed to single-handedly propel both the Japanese film industry and studio-distributor Toho to unheard revenues. This is even more impressive if we consider how Kotonoha no Niwa, one of Shinkai’s previous works, was released on just 23 screens. How did all of this happen, and what can other studios learn from CoMix Wave Films, Inc. in order to achieve similar success?

This article is the first part of a two-part mini-series analyzing the phenomenal success achieved by Kimi no Na wa. and will cover how Makoto Shinkai managed to produce the highest-grossing anime film of all time, despite the odds. Part 1 will discuss how Makoto Shinkai handled the budget constraints of the film, along with how other anime studios can do the same.

A small budget didn’t stop Shinkai’s brilliance, and it shouldn’t stop other directors either.


The most common justification of an anime not succeeding is because of budget constraints. Kimi no Na wa. is the highest grossing anime film ever with a revenue of $357,986,087 as of January 2018, and one look at these numbers would have anyone guess that Kimi no Na wa. had a huge budget. However, this is not the case. Even though there has not been an official statement on the exact budget of Kimi no Na wa., Genki Kawamura (the film’s producer) told The Hollywood Reporter, “Because [The Garden of Words] took only 150 million yen [$1.3 million], we thought [that] no matter how hard we tried[,] Your Name. could only do 10 times that amount, so the production and promotion budgets were kept really low, smaller than an average Toho release.”

As shown by Kimi no Na wa., it doesn’t take a large budget to make a critically acclaimed or commercially successful film. The opposite is also true, as we have seen several films in the past fail despite having a large budget. One example is Studio Ghibli’s infamous movie, Tales of Earthsea, which had a budget of $22 million—twice of that of Kimi no Na wa.‘s estimated budget. Despite its huge budget, the film failed to captivate Ghibli fans and international viewers alike. Even Hayao Miyazaki, the face of Studio Ghibli, supposedly disapproved of the movie during pre-production, citing the possibility of a failure.

So how does an animation studio overcome budget constraints and maximize its financial assets? For starters, Shinkai hired Radwimps to make the music. Radwimps was originally a lesser-known J-Rock band, and was even considered a B-grade band by some. Not only did this reduce the hiring fees, but it also allowed him to exclusively employ Radwimps to make all of the film’s music scores for the sake of cost efficiency. Yes, ALL of it. We have seen many films that had popular artists making their music, but this only adds to unnecessary costs. Uchiage Hanabi, Shita Kara Miru ka? Yoko Kara Miru ka? had an amazing soundtrack, with the most popular song, 打上花火 (Uchiage Hanabi) by DAOKO x 米津玄師 (Daoko and Kenshi Yonezu), racking up 100,000,000+ views on Youtube. Despite its extremely successful soundtrack, the actual movie has a rating of 6.58 on MyAnimeList, and is criticized by many fans and critics as being “extremely dull[,] and not a good movie by any standards.”

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Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? was a major letdown for Studio Shaft fans, as well as fans of the original J-Drama of the same title.

The most expensive and time-consuming part of animation is the inbetweening, where traditional key frames have to be hand-drawn by key animators in order to ensure fluid animation. This means that a simple moving train has to be hand-drawn across hundreds of still frames. Key animators are not only expensive to hire, but they also need time to draw these frames. Instead of solely relying on traditional inbetweening, the team of animators behind Kimi no Na wa., led by Shinkai, combined rotoscoping and computer-generated imagery (CGI) to make the movie. This was not the first time Shinkai had done this.

Makoto Shinkai is regarded as a modern-style animator who does not rely solely on pen and paper. Voices of a Distant Star is a testament to how computers have dramatically changed the animation industry within the past decade. He created the 25-minute film in merely seven months, using only a Power Mac G4 at a time when PowerPC processors were still reaching for the 1GHz barrier. In an email interview about the evolving landscape of 2D and 3D animation, Shinkai said, “If I had been born 10 years earlier, I don’t think I would be an animator.” This goes to show how innovative Shinkai can be when it comes to animation, up to the point that traditional animators would have probably rejected his methods.

“Digital animation, at least in the case of the Japanese animation industry (my films included), is a direct successor of hand-drawn animation,” Shinkai wrote. “I would go so far as to say that the industry’s being held back by an emphasis on recreating the techniques of hand-drawn animation. That’s one reason why, even though we’re in the digital age, new ways of representing things have a hard time getting a foothold. I think there are places outside of the realm of Japanese commercial animation where you can find digital animation used as a purely new technique. I think those creating amateur 3DCG and flash animations are able to freely master digital animation to a much greater degree than those in the industry.” Computer-generated imagery is cheaper and faster, but it can stick out like a sore thumb if not done correctly. For example, Berserk has one of the worst CGI animations in recent memory, making it nearly impossible for most fans to enjoy the series. What went wrong? Well, improper planning, lack of experienced animators, and unsuitable animation techniques were mostly responsible for the fiasco.
Makoto Shinkai uses CGI, too, but you might never notice it.

“Animation is created from two elements, the characters and the background,” he began. “Since the intrinsic feel of 3DCG is different from either of those elements, if it’s just used as-is[,] it introduces an unwanted third element to the animation. In other words, it prevents the animation from feeling like a unified whole. To prevent this, when using 3DCG, I try as much as possible to make it look like either part of the cel or the background. I’m not really drawn to 3DCG as an individual… but the down side to hand-drawn animation is the cost. Because of budget and scheduling issues, there’s going to continue to be a need to substitute in 3DCG. And[,] as long as that’s the case, there’s a need for the technology to continue to advance in its ability to represent things.”

Makoto Shinkai uses what is called a cel. The cel is an important innovation to traditional animation, as it allows some parts of each frame to be repeated from frame to frame—thus saving labor. A simple example would be a scene with two characters on screen—one of whom is talking, with the other standing silently. Since the latter character is not moving, both can be displayed in this scene using only one drawing with one cel or layer. Meanwhile, multiple drawings on several cels are used to animate the speaking character, who is then placed on top of the earlier cel or layer. Shinkai also uses a technique called rotoscoping, which is used to trace over motion picture footage, frame by frame, to produce realistic action or motion.

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This scene from Kotonoha no Niwa was made using a combination of hand-drawing as well as CGI.

On top of music and animation costs, voice acting is also a key factor in the budget of an anime. Well-known names, like Kana Hanazawa and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, would increase the cost an anime by a lot if they played a major role, so Shinkai opted for lesser-known names to voice the main characters. Hanazawa actually made an appearance in Kimi no Na wa., but since she played a very minor role, her number of hours was significantly less. This meant she didn’t have to be paid much for her part in the movie. Make no mistake: Mone Kamishiraishi, the voice actress for Mitsuha, and Ryunosuke Kamiki, the voice actor for Taki, are both very talented individuals, but since they are less popular, they cost less to employ.

Any production company will benefit hugely from the smart allocation of resources, as it allows breathing space for any miscellaneous costs. Furthermore, it will provide animators, actors, and musicians a sense of the direction for the movie—what can and cannot be done with the resources at hand. Poor resource management leads to poor animation quality, forced cuts to the story, and a rushed, underemployed production. Going back to Uchiage Hanabi, Shita Kara Miru ka? Yoko Kara Miru ka?, too much of its budget went into the music production and payment for the voice actors and actresses. Consequently, this forced Studio Shaft into using cheap, rushed, and unprofessional use of CGI, as well as drastically cutting some parts of the story. Animation companies should take Kimi no Na wa. as a prime example of how an excellent team led by a brilliant leader can make a masterpiece from a small budget, if used correctly.

In the next part of “What the Anime Industry Can Learn from Kimi no Na wa.”, we will look at how Kimi no Na wa. managed to captivate its target audience, both in Japan and overseas.

What the Anime Industry Can Learn from Kimi no Na wa. (Part 2)

Kimi no Na wa.’s brilliant story, setting, and music captivated its young audience, satisfying fans and critics both in Japan and overseas, which led to the overwhelming popularity of the film.


This article was written by Izuka-kun and edited by Skittles and pompy of the MAL Articles Club.
Interested in writing or editing featured articles? Click here!


This article is the second and final part of a two-part mini-series analyzing the phenomenal success achieved by Kimi no Na wa., and will cover how Makoto Shinkai managed to produce the highest-grossing anime film of all time despite the odds. In part two, we will be looking at how Shinkai left an everlasting impression in the hearts of his audience, further cementing his movie as an all-time favorite among lots of Japanese and international viewers.

SPOILER ALERT: This article has direct references to the movie that may spoil your experience when watching. Please read this article with that in mind. If you haven’t, go watch the movie and come back.

Please your audience, and reap the rewards.


Although fanservice can serve as the equivalent of clickbait, a series without a good story will always face bad critical response. The point of a movie is for people to enjoy it, so that its positive reception gets spread through word-of-mouth. If a movie manages to please its target audience, fans will naturally advertise it to the best of their abilities. These forms of advertising may include conversations with peers, Instagram stories, and even enthusiastic tweets. One may argue that Kimi no Na wa. built a lot of hype even before its screening due to Makoto Shinkai’s established reputation, but the movie actually found major success even outside of the usual anime crowd. It was the unique and heart-warming story that contributed the most to the success of the movie. Tomoko—a graduate from the School of Commerce at Meiji University, who did the marketing for Kimi no Na wa.—said, “Of course I did a lot of promoting, but I think that the biggest factor (in [regards to] the success of the movie) is that the story itself was interesting. Although I was asked to participate from the very first meeting, it was not until I heard the plan from the director himself that I became very confident in the story. That’s why I‘ve always thought ‘I want to do this’ from the start.”

An aphorism in the media industry says that movies should “be the same, but different” in order to succeed. There are outliers to this rule, but this is true for most cases. Kimi no Na wa.‘s target audience centered around young adults, and most were pleased with the film’s heartwarming love story. Body-switching love stories provide an insightful and innovative way for two characters to develop mutual feelings for each other, but this concept isn’t something new—as Kokoro Connect had explored it before. What turned out to be a surprise to most, however, was the time difference and destruction of Itomori, which created a much-appreciated feeling of suspense, thrill, and enjoyment. Many left the cinema feeling satisfied with a story that was unique, but stayed true to the traditional rules of a romance anime. An anime should avoid being too cliché, riding the coattails of a popular trend. For example, Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni took all the tropes of an isekai anime and had zero originality, causing huge backlash from anime fans. The opposite is also true: an anime cannot be too peculiar either. Seikon no Qwaser was one of those anime that tried to be different from its competition, but ended up making people question the minds of the creators. It has a low score (6.69) on MyAnimeList, and a quick look at its synopsis can tell you why.

When watching Kimi no Na wa., you start to realize how adept Shinkai was in adapting his own novel. Take the body-switching, for example. With all the changes experienced during puberty, teenagers effectively wake up in new bodies each morning. Adolescence can be a very uncomfortable and confusing stage for many, and Kimi no Na wa. portrays that struggle in subtle ways. Developing breasts do, of course, interest Taki—he’s a heterosexual boy, after all. But they’re actually something new and surprising for Mitsuha, too. So are the feelings experienced by the teenagers in this film: the tension between respect and rebellion; the urgent need to recall the name of the one they love, but can’t remember, from their uncertain dream. Taki sketches from memory a town he is sure to have never visited, and wonders, “Why does looking at it make my chest so tight?” You then start to realize that this is not the cute little switcheroo comedy you were initially lead to believe. It’s deeper, more resonant, and, in some ways, embodies the most important moments of a person’s life.

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A fan being asked what he liked about Kimi no Na wa.

Another way Kimi no Na wa. captivates its audience is through its portrayal of emotions, which feel very natural and human. Teenagers are at that stage in life where they begin to question occurrences around them, rules of society, and their own identities. It can be a confusing time in life, as they face many adversities, while being forced to overcome them on their own. Kimi no Na wa.’s portrayal of the teenage struggle appeals to young adults; deep down, they too feel the desire to protect and cherish—or, at least have—that certain someone in their life. The emotions of a teenager who feels betrayed by their parents, the emotions of a boy who feels as if he’s living a dream that will soon be forgotten; all of these complex emotions bind together harmoniously to form an absolute masterpiece. When the emotions of the characters are expressed in natural ways that don’t feel forced, the audience will have an easier time projecting themselves into the world depicted in the movie. “As it was an anime, I thought it would be kind of silly; I don’t watch anime, I’ve never even seen one Miyazaki film. But the story of Kimi no Na wa. was really moving and actually made me cry,” Hitomi Mizune, a Tokyo businesswoman in her 50s, told The Hollywood Reporter. That said, many romance anime unfortunately suffer from an exaggeration of emotions and either a rushed, forced, or even lack of romantic development. Anime like Glasslip make the audience feel as if nothing is happening, causing some anime enthusiasts to call the show, “the result of making a 13 episode anime without a plot.”

Another brilliant aspect of Kimi no Na wa. was how the soundtrack complemented the scenes of the movie so well. No songs felt out of place; rather, the music enhanced the story’s narrative. During the scene at dawn where Taki forgot Mitsuha’s name after meeting her for the first time, the song “Sparkle” started playing, and it was absolutely fantastic. The melody and lyrics literally summed up Taki and Mitsuha’s feelings for each other. In this scene, Mitsuha tried to save her town from the meteor, while Taki was distraught from forgetting her name. Part of the lyrics go: “Tagai no sunadokei nagame nagara kisu wo shiyou yo sayonara kara ichiban tooi basho de machiawase yo,” which means, “Let’s kiss as we watch each other’s hourglasses and let’s meet up at the place farthest from goodbye.” The hourglass refers to the short time they had with each other, and how they should’ve spent their remaining time together, as opposed to leaving (sayonara). Such little details in the music score, harmonious melodies, and sounds that appeal to most young teens made the anime much more memorable. One particular fan was interviewed and asked, “What is most memorable about the movie?” His response was, “The combination of music and video.” The reason the music was so perfectly made was mostly due to the freedom given to Radwimps. When Shinkai contacted Radwimps to make the music score, he told Yojiro Noda to compose the music “in a way that the music [would] supplement the dialogue or monologue of characters.” One misconception people have is that, by employing big names, the music will automatically make the movie receive positive feedback. While it’s true that big names are able to draw in a lot of viewers most of the time (ex. Daoko in Uchiage Hanabi), popularity doesn’t actually make a film successful. Radwimps was previously not a huge name in Japan, and hardly anyone overseas had ever heard of them, but look at them now. Radwimps didn’t just make Kimi no Na wa. more popular; Kimi no Na wa. made them more popular, as well.

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Radwimps’ popularity skyrocketed after just 2 weeks of their song’s release, even before the movie had actually premiered.

One of the most crucial, but underappreciated, contributions to Kimi no Na wa.’s success was its setting. While the town of Itomori—one of the film’s settings—is fictional, the film drew inspirations from real-life locations that were backdrops for the town. Such locations include the city of Hida, in Gifu Prefecture, and its library, Hida City Library. The most famous real-life location in the film is the staircase at Suga Shrine, in Yotsuya. Many flocked to the location and posted images of them being there on social media, advertising the movie in the process. Moreover, Mitsuha and Taki keep journals about their switched life on an application similar to LINE (a popular chat application used in Japan). The setting appealed to young people in their teens and twenties, captivating them. Social media went crazy as these young adults kept spreading the word about the movie. People who usually don’t go to the movies or don’t usually watch anime were caught by surprise at the hype. Seeing that the hype was justified, they, in turn, took part in spreading the news.

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Taki using an application very similar to LINE.

Another reason why the story was so touching, especially for Japanese viewers, was because it reminded some viewers of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. What seemed at first like a glistening, teen rom-com turns into a dark, affective, very different sort of story—a harrowing survival tale that blends elements of Japan’s recent real-life nuclear reactor meltdown. This made the story much more personal and deeply connected towards the Japanese audience. To no one’s surprise, Kimi no Na wa. blew up very quickly in Japan right after its release.

The Fields Research Institute of Shibuya conducted a survey of 11,646 Japanese people aged six to 69, asking if they’d seen the movie and whether they had liked it. Unsurprisingly, not many six or 69-year-olds watched the movie in theaters. Many teenagers, however, had watched the movie. 36% of male and 31% of female high school students watched Kimi no Na wa., and most of them loved it. As expected, these teenagers were also hugely responsible in spreading the word about the movie. The best advertising always involves the fans directly, so anime companies should always tailor their production towards pleasing their target crowd.

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Twitter blew up when Kimi no Na wa. aired.

In conclusion, animation companies must evenly distribute their budget to all aspects of their film, rather than focusing on only one. They should also try to reduce unnecessary costs that contribute little to nothing towards the success of their film. While doing this, they must also stay true to their audience, pleasing them with what they want, so their films can succeed in drawing bigger crowds. Kimi no Na wa. might not be perfect, but that is not to say that what Makoto Shinkai did was not a spectacle to behold. His movie is probably one of the best success stories in the anime industry, something that other creators and studios should try to emulate. If the whole industry grasps a firm understanding on the winning formula Shinkai used, we might soon see the second golden age of anime. Taki and Mitsuha thought they were dreaming, and after about the first 30 minutes of Shinkai’s shimmering film, we all felt like we were, too.

Visual Cues and Panel Layouts

Manga combines drawings with text, so missing a visual cue can easily trip up your translation.
You also need to take panel layouts into account when translating certain types of spoken lines.
Here are tips on how to deal with these two issues.


Article written by Tomoko Kimura


kimurasan
Manga tells stories using a combination of drawings, dialog and sound effects. Here’re tips on how to deal with two issues that arise from this visual storytelling medium.

(1) Visual Cues

Make sure you’re paying enough attention to the drawings so you don’t overlook information only the visuals provide.

Visual cues such as facial expressions and body language often reveal how a character is really feeling. If you miss them, your translation could be way off the mark.

Here’s a scene where girl A and boy B are talking. A eventually gets up and says

行きましょうか
(Ikimashouka)

“Shall we get going?” is a possible choice here.

But what if A is grabbing B’s hand as she says “Ikimashouka,” forcing B to get up and follow her?
A is obviously not giving B a chance to say no, so this line shouldn’t be translated as a question. It should sound more like a command such as “Just come with me.”

Students in my translation courses have tripped up on similar examples, so be careful!

(2) Page-spanning lines

Manga panels are laid out on two-page spreads so the last panels of odd-numbered pages work as page turners.

When a speaking line spans an odd-numbered and even-numbered page, the difference in Japanese and English sentence structures could cause trouble, resulting in spoilers on the odd-numbered page.

A simple page-spanning line can be translated as is:

Japanese:
そ… (So… )
そうですか… (Soudesuka…)

English translation:
“I…”
“Is that so…”

In the second example, the first translation puts a spoiler on the odd-numbered page. The second translation avoids spoilers by maintaining the original word order:

Japanese:
紅い瞳の (Akai hitomi no)
帝王! (teiou!)

English translation 1:
“The emperor…”
“…with crimson eyes!”

English translation 2:
“The crimson-eyed…”
“…emperor!”

Same with the third example. The first translation results in a spoiler, but the second translation is spoiler-free:

Japanese:
一番 (Ichiban)
大好きで、憧れたおとぎ話は (daisuki de, akogareta otogi-banashi wa)

English translation 1:
“The fairy tale…”
“…I loved and adored the most was”

English translation 2:
“My favorite…”
“…fairy tale, the one I most adored was”

Step back once in a while and read the manga you’re translating as a casual reader. It’ll help keep your focus in balance so you’re not missing anything.

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Why Main Characters Sometimes Have to Lose

Despite the potential satisfaction of seeing the main character succeed, sometimes a loss is far more beneficial than a win.


This article was written by Coddlington and edited by uberguber and Shymander of the MAL Articles Club.
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Fights and tournament arcs in anime often end with their main character(s) losing. Obviously, seeing a main character we like win can be incredibly fulfilling, but anime usually doesn’t take this route. It can often be much more beneficial to make the main character lose than cash in on the enjoyment of seeing the good guy win. While some anime focus their arcs on getting the most action and pure satisfaction out of every fight, it’s also possible to instead focus on setting up other parts of the story. Backstory, plot progression, character development, and more can all require a main character to lose. Taking big risks with who is victorious in a battle can have drastic effects, positive or negative, on nearly every aspect of the story later on; many characters or even the whole cast can be affected by who wins important battles. When so much pressure lies on one competition, you can run into situations where the main character winning wouldn’t change anything, therefore losing out on a lot of thematic opportunities. Mixing things up by making the main character lose can open up a lot of new doors for a show.

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In Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season, both Midoriya and Todoroki have yet to use their quirks to their fullest potential before their fight at the U.A. Sports Festival. Because of conflicts with his father, Todoroki refuses to use the Quirk he inherited from him, severely limiting his own power. Midoriya has an amazing Quirk, but can’t use it without hurting himself. If Midoriya had won the tournament, he wouldn’t have been able to realize the fault in his Quirk. However, if Todoroki easily beat all of the competition with only his mother’s power, he would continue to harm himself by rejecting his father’s. During the tournament, the entire fight between Midoriya and Todoroki is a struggle and Midoriya pushes Todoroki to use his fire constantly. The way the tournament unfolds allows Todoroki to finally ease into accepting his other side and Midoriya to understand the fault in his power.

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However, a main character’s loss doesn’t always confine its effect to the tournament’s participants. Before the Grand Prix Final in Yuri!!! on Ice, Yuuri Katsuki and his coach, Victor, were getting incredibly close, even going so far as to buy rings for each other. However, Yuuri plans to retire after the tournament, allowing Victor to return to his independent skating career. Victor is upset by this. After fighting, Victor and Yuuri bitterly end the night, agreeing to decide on the paths for their careers after the tournament has concluded. Once the first round begins, JJ still seems to be the obvious winner, but he quickly buckles under the immense pressure and loses his chance of winning. His fall not only raises the tensions for everyone else by making the top spot up for grabs, but avoids a predictable outcome with little opportunity for character development. Once Yuuri takes his turn on the ice and beats Victor’s record, it ignites a flame in both of them. Victor finally has competition, giving him motivation to return to the rink. Now having broken a world record, Yuuri realizes that just because he’s older, he still has room to improve. When Yuri Plisetsky takes his turn, his routine is a massive nod at Yuuri that he can’t quit yet; that he’s not done with him. With Yuri barely inching out on top of Yuuri in the end, Victor refuses to kiss Yuuri’s silver medal, saying he would only kiss gold. Yuuri’s loss sets him in the perfect position to continue his skating career. The way the tournament plays out puts everything into alignment for Yuuri and Victor to retain their partnership while still being able to continue with their own skating careers.

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While some examples of losses in tournament arcs may complement the plot, it’s also common to see a character lose because of their personal flaws rather than their power. In the Autumn Elections Arc of Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara, Souma, Ryou, and Akira seem to be on an even playing field. All having equally incredible performances in the previous rounds, the three had been unparalleled in their skills. With the final battle in motion, not one of the three participants seems to have an advantage. We’re given a ton of backstory via flashbacks for Souma, Ryou, and Akira, especially pertaining to their childhoods. The one surprising difference between them though, other than the “individuality” that serves as the tiebreaker in Akira’s favor, is their motivations. Souma, Ryou, and Akira are all here because of Joichiro, Alice, and Jun respectively. However, Akira fights for Jun, while Souma and Ryou fight for the sake of competition. Souma and Ryou have a hard time accepting that there are those who are better than them, largely because of being raised around people much less skilled than them. However, Akira’s intentions are always to fight for Jun. After being rescued from poverty and homelessness by Jun, he dedicated all of his cooking to her. Souma and Ryou’s losses serve as a wake-up call for them. They realise that they still have to expand their horizons, accept that they aren’t the top of the world, and fight for more than just themselves if they want to improve. As Souma says in season three, “I’m actually glad I lost that day. Thank you, Hayama. If I hadn’t lost to you that day, I wouldn’t be the chef I am now.”

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Though a tournament can affect episodes to come, sometimes they can be presented in a way that set up the next arc. In Hunter x Hunter (2011), the tournament to decide who will and won’t become a hunter follows a strange format of 8 winners and 1 loser where nobody receives an even amount of battles. While it seems unlikely for Killua to be the weakest of the 9 different contestants, he is taken out of the tournament by force. Gon and Hanzo, being selected as the participants with the most hunter potential, end their intense battle with Gon becoming unconscious. Later, the participant Gittarackur turns out to be Killua’s older brother, Illumi, and doesn’t have Killua’s best interests in mind. Gittarackur manipulates Killua by telling him that he doesn’t need Gon, or anyone for that matter, as a friend. Killua becomes convinced that he, an assassin, doesn’t need or deserve friends in the first place. He also decides that he doesn’t need a Hunter License, killing another contestant for the sake of being disqualified. Gon, being unconscious from his match with Hanzo, was unable to help Killua, who had already returned to his home. This is a perfect setup for the Zoldyck Family Arc, an incredibly important arc to Killua’s character development, along with the establishment of his family in the story. Instead of letting Gon and Killua predictably pass, get their Hunter Licenses, and go on the road without much trouble, HxH throws in a massive twist that jumpstarts an essential arc before continuing with the plotline.

It can be incredibly beneficial for side characters, such as Todoroki and Hayama, to have character development through winning. While a main character can be more easily developed by winning or losing, a side character not winning a tournament arc often has no effect on them as a character. Hence, it’s often valuable for a side character to win so more development can be given to the cast as a whole. A lot of main characters are overly confident in their abilities, unaware of how much room they have to grow, struggling to find motivation, etc. Losing a tournament can make a character realize how much they need to grow and in what areas. A character’s placement may not only affect them, but affect those close to them as well. Sometimes, a loss by the main character can create a butterfly effect to set the story up in the exact way it needs to be for the plot progression. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of ways to make a main character’s loss much more beneficial than a win.