Come join us in the Ani-TAY Café: your stop for discussing all things anime, manga, visual novels, and anything Japan. Today let's talk about trope subversion, or (in laymen's terms) when a story deliberately undercuts a trope or a story device the story itself created.
Header from Killer Queen.
Easily one of the finest tools in a writer's toolbox is that of subversion. Subverting a trope entails taking an accepted fact or assumption (ex. a trope) and deliberately undermining it. The purpose of this is two-fold: it serves to show the flawed logic that you made in trusting the assumption, and it also undermines all of your other assumptions about the world. Effectively, trope subversion changes the ball game completely when strategically used.
Now I turn to the visual novel I reviewed yesterday: Killer Queen. While the first episode of the story was good, and perhaps even nice in a faith-in-humanity restoring way, it wasn't really great storytelling. That's when I made the discovery that there were two episodes to the story.
Having launched into the second episode of the story, I quickly realized that the game had changed after the writing progressively took a very different turn from the previous story. It effectively began subverting (and perhaps deconstructing) the tropes that episode one had gone to long lengths to reconstruct.
While I wasn't caught completely off-guard, I was taken aback by the audacious change-of-direction the story took. This reconstruction-deconstruction/subversion combo was easily one of the the reasons that it can be considered a great example of the thriller genre and of the death game story archetype.
Have you ever encountered a situation where a story was made better or worse deliberately undermining its tropes and ideas like this?
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