Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Yu-Gi-Oh Effect

In last Saturdays post I mentioned a discussion I was going to save... and I could not save it any longer. In that post I called it something like Pulling Something out of a Hat in the Eleventh Hour. Here I would like to call it something more simple - The Yu-Gi-Oh Effect.

For those of you who do not know, Yu-Gi-Oh is one of those japanimation cartoons. I am not too familiar with it. But the basic premise is they go around playing this card game (complete with holographics - very cool). It is a great kids show, however in every episode there is a scene that goes something like this:

Opponent: Ah ha! I have just played this incredibly powerful card which you could not possibly defeat.
Yu-Gi-Oh: (Draws a card and smiles). Ah ha! I have just drawn a card that you have never heard of - but has the ability to perfectly counter act your card. It just so happens to be in my deck - never mind that I have had the same deck all season and you have never seen it before. And it just so happens to be on the top of the deck for me to draw. What a coincidence.

So what is wrong with this? No foundation. Totally pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I read a post a while ago that called this something else. But it has slipped my mind. Basically the post said that you can't set up this terrible situation - and then have other worldly being swoop down and save the day - without laying the ground work.

Here is another example of things gone wrong. Harry Potter. Near the end, Harry's opponent's wand won't work against him because he disarmed someone who disarmed someone. Anyway, I got confused. I remember thinking - that is not how it was in the previous six books. Where did that come from? I should mention that since reading the book, I have talked to others - and they assure me that it was a special case for that one wand. But come on. Harry can't win a duel of his own accord? It has to fall back to that?

Let me give you two examples of surprise endings that properly set up the surprise so that you don't feel cheated. These are from film.

First, The Others. WARNING: SKIP DOWN TO THE LINE THAT SAYS: "Second, Flight Plan" IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE. All through the movie we get this idea that the house is haunted. But we know that the servants who mysteriously appeared are dead. And that her husband is dead and some how shows up. So, in the big reveal at the end when we find out that they in fact are the ghosts. We go.... "Oh, yeah!".... not.... "Huh?"

Second, Flight Plan. WARNING: SKIP DOWN TO THE LINE THAT SAYS: "Spoilers Over" IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE. We see her daughter at the beginning of the movie. We think she is really there. But then other characters start revealing things and we start to wonder. Through out the whole movie we see both sides of the coin. Then, leading up to the end - the truth is all laid out for us. A surprise twist of an ending - but it does not leave the viewer feeling cheated.

Spoilers Over

Now. I am proud to announce that this post does not mention any other discussion. Not to say that I won't bring more up. It just might be a while. So enjoy the respite from my ranting.

Have you read a book or seen a movie that handles the twist at the end really well? Or really bad?


  1. The only real problem is that my life is sometimes just like this. LOL!

  2. Yeah, I know. Sometimes as writers we can't portray reality - because it won't be believable.

  3. I completely agree! I got to that part of Harry Potter and I was like what... he disarmed who with what and what just happened? I had to go back and find that it and it was still confusing to me. I've seen movies that handle that twist badly and good ones, but both can still slap the viewer in the face if they missed the tiny microscopic hint.

  4. Great post & I love examples. I am one of those people that get confused with abstracts, but all it takes is one simple example that applies to the situation & the big light goes off in my head.

    I know what you mean & yes, I recently read a book, but I cannot think of the name right now, but the ending twist came out of nowhere & without any foreshadowing. It was completely unbelievable & I felt cheated. It was as if the author tried to tie up something at the end that she had not thought through.

  5. Those are awesome examples! I think the sixth sense fits into this category as well, great post!

  6. Yes. In both areas. Laying the ground work for the big reveal is what I like to do best. Great examples! :)