One piece of advice that writers are very frequently told is “show, don’t tell.” Inexperienced writers have a tendency to explicitly tell a reader information, which at best makes a read feel dry and at worst can feel condescending. They are instead often encouraged to show that information instead, or convey the information without flat-out stating it. To give an example: “Bob was sad when he read Alice’s letter” is telling. Showing would be more along the lines of “Bob’s hands shook as he read Alice’s letter. Her words became harder and harder to make out as he fought back tears.” The first example just tells you Bob is sad. The second also tells you he’s sad, but it shows it through how he reacts rather than just stating it.
Darker than Black isn’t a masterpiece by any means. However, one thing that’s always impressed me about it is how it handled worldbuilding. In worldbuilding, so many works will fall into the “telling” trap by awkwardly shoehorning in an explanation of how things work so that the audience understands. This is usually done through the use of a newcomer to the world (or someone who’s more removed from it and is consequently inexperienced) who acts as an audience surrogate for a mentor to explain things to. It’s something that I’ve seen in so many fantasy series. Darker than Black, however (at least the first season; I’ll get to S2 later), manages to avoid using those archetypes and manages to drop you into a world in a way that feels completely natural just by showing you how it works rather than telling you. Continue reading “The Writer’s Guide to Anime: Darker than Black and “Show, Don’t Tell””