A Story Within A Story

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.

8 thoughts on “A Story Within A Story

  1. yeah, indirect storytelling exist. A show about the subtext rather than the context, like FLCL or Evangelion
    but seriously, Star Driver is a stretch, lol. This is just my opinion though, but that anime also had a story about island maidens needing to be defiled to unleash robots, lol.
    but I just don’t like that anime in general, and I know i’m in the minority. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol! Well I can’t say anything in defense of Star Driver in regards to the maidens! And the indirect storytelling really is a small part of the anime, I know I make it seem like it’s bigger than it is – I just wanted to write about it specifically because such a small piece of the anime became the most memorable part for me

      I’m actually waiting for FLCL to completely finish airing this year so I can binge it all haha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do remember the fish story being particularly good, but I just really don’t like the show in general, lol.

        FLCL 3, right? I hope itsas good as the first

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah! A person of culture, I see!

    I’m a massive fan of Monogatari, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t figure out how planned it is. Or if that even matters.
    (Like, did you hear the rumor about the author making Nadeko Nadeko because the voice actor said she wanted to voice a character with a terrible personality?)
    But yeah, Monogatari is all complicated and layered and existentialist- and all some people see is a toothbrush!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t hear that about Nadeko! Would be a pretty neat fact if true. And yeah, I like to think Monogatari is more planned out than people realize, there’s so much depth.
      Kaiki’s failure is foreshadowed through various means for example.

      Plus on the topic of Kaiki, he seems like a petty character on the surface but when I really paid attention to the anime I learned that there was a lot more to him than I had realized the first time I had watched through the series.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kaiki is the most developed adult in the series, as well as the darling of the fan base. Even Hachikuji and Nadeko fans can come together to admit that he is Best Grill!
        But yeah, Monogatari is ridiculous in its depth… and most of it is hidden behind puns I can’t understand! (Though I still can appreciate Mayoi’s “Kami ga ita”)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: I Was Wrong.. (Darling in the FranXX Final Thoughts) | Umai Yomu Anime Blog

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