The use of indirect storytelling in anime is something that I think we could use more of in anime. Oftentimes anime is very direct, telling you what you need to hear, and showing you what you need to see. Indirect storytelling is different – it can be about what you didn’t hear, or about what you didn’t see. It can also be that what you hear and see have multiple meanings. This method of storytelling can be used to foreshadow the plot as well as provide details that enrich the plot. It can be very rewarding for the viewer to catch on to the indirect storytelling, but it is a double edged sword. If the indirect storytelling goes over the viewer’s head, then they may be left with the feeling that the anime was confusing, bland, or incomplete – after all, missing parts of the story that were told indirectly still means missing parts of the story.
And this brings me to the main topic of this post – Star Driver. More specifically, the story within the story that is Star Driver.
Make no mistake, Star Driver is no masterpiece. At face value, it’s an average shounen anime. The fights feel like they are on a schedule, and the characters are not very memorable. I did enjoy the colourful art design, as well as the world design. But the aspect that I enjoyed the most, and found the most memorable, was the use of indirect storytelling – a story within a story.
Star Driver takes what I consider a very honest approach to indirect storytelling. Instead of leaving the burden on the viewer to catch on and interpret, the anime makes it easier. I like to think of it like this: the information that is provided indirectly is a puzzle, and normally the viewer would be required to both find the pieces AND put them together.
A good example of this is the Monogatari Series, in which a very large portion of the world design and enriching details are revealed indirectly. When I went back and re-watched the entire Monogatari Series, and was working on my post about Kaiki Deishuu, I was blown away at how much I had missed the first time through the series. Once I became very invested in Kaiki, I began to pick up on the heavy foreshadowing – to the point where I realized the anime was basically telling me what was going to happen before it happened. Re-watching the series gave me more time to focus on these fine details and interpret them (pick up the pieces and put them together), because I already had a general understanding of the world and the plot going in.
Now Star Driver doesn’t take this as far; as I mentioned I like to think of it as a more honest way of indirectly providing the viewer information. Instead of having the viewer both find the pieces and put the puzzle together, Star Driver gives you the pieces directly, so that all you have to do is put them together. It does this by telling you a story. This story runs parallel to the main story, and it’s up to the viewer find links between these two stories. If you manage to make connections you are rewarded with a basic overview of the entire plot, both past and future – but it doesn’t explicitly spoil anything, because it can be interpreted in a few different ways. It’s sort of like a cryptic prophecy that we often see used in storytelling, only I actually enjoyed the form it took in Star Driver of a simple story – a boy on a fish planet.
And the thing is, you don’t have to participate in this storytelling device if you don’t want to. The indirect storytelling is an optional part of the anime – the main plot is your typical shounen anime that plays itself out regardless. And I think this is what really impressed me about the story within a story; it’s a simple and honest way to provide the viewer with more engagement, should they choose to partake. Unlike the Monogatari Series, you don’t have to re-watch the anime or get bogged down in the fine details to get the whole picture. The pieces were all given to you so that you don’t have to go back to find them. You can even put them together after the anime is over, and still gain some satisfaction in seeing what the anime was trying to tell you indirectly.
Indirect storytelling is something that I really enjoy, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this in a shounen anime. To me, it made the anime much more memorable, and honestly I feel like the anime is a little underrated because of this. Maybe I am making too big of a deal out of this one small aspect of Star Driver, but it left a nice impression on me and led me to enjoy the anime more than I would have. At the very least, it’s left me with a positive memory of the anime. And for that, I felt like I should give it the credit it deserves with this post.