The vicious cycle of plot re-use

I’m reading mostly mainstream battle mangas, so something like this should be expected beforehand. However, sometimes the plot got reused so many times that even by mid-story arc, I can already guess where the story is heading, and pretty much how the arc ends. Not all mainstream battle mangas are like this, mind you. One Piece reuses plot up to some extent, but still manage to spice it all up with epicness. Naruto is… I don’t know, what’s the story about again? Bleach and Fairy Tail are prime examples of how manga use the same plot over and over again. I’ll take Fairy Tail for example:

The manga itself is written by Hiro Mashima, the author of Rave (or Rave Master in some region), which pretty much explains why most of the characters look like Rave characters. For a simple trivia, the protagonist of Rave is called Haru, which means spring, while the protagonist of Fairy Tail is called Natsu, which means Summer.

Fairy Tail has used the same plot pattern over and over again, that it eventually comes down to a point where I don’t really feel any excitement or anxiety whenever the characters are in a tight spot. Because I know the outcome: they win. Here’s the outline of pretty much any plot used in all story arcs:

  1. Usual mission / event where it seems that nothing could go wrong
  2. Then something goes wrong. Bad guys appear.
  3. Good guys get agitated and try to stop bad guys.
  4. Shocking revelation meant to advance the story.
  5. One on one battle everywhere.
  6. Good guys start losing, then win their own battles eventually.
  7. Everyone gather to fight against the final boss of the story arc.
  8. The good guyes appear to be winning at first, only to get clobbered later.
  9. Friendship, lots of friendship. At this point there’s a high possibility of ‘bad guys go good’ happening.
  10. Power up.
  11. ????
  12. Win!
  13. Some after victory dialog between the good guy and the bad guy. Blah blah blah I was wrong, regret regret, blah blah blah…
  14. Some foreshadowing about future enemies

That pretty much sums every single Fairy Tail story arc. Still, I hope more mainstream battle manga can adopt a creative storyline instead of one where the same plot structure gets used over and over again, or one where the writer throws anything that can be used in the story without thinking ahead (I’m watching you, Code:Breaker!).


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