I’ve been pretty stressed out recently, so whenever I get a chance, I like to just conk out in front of the TV and relax a little. However, on one of these mindless couch potato outings, my cat decided to curl up on my lap and go to sleep at about the same time the movie on TV ended. This is generally a more than welcome occurrence, but the next movie that came on was… the movie version of Ella Enchanted. I looked around. The remote was out of reach.
“No,” I said to myself.
Since I obviously couldn’t push my cat off my lap, I ended up, to my immense regret, sitting through most of the movie. Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted was one of my favorite books as a kid (and still is today, if we’re being honest). To get the bad taste of the movie out of my mouth, I immediately went to reread my old copy, and I started thinking about why I loved it so much. It’s obviously a revisionist fairy tale, like the many other takes on Cinderella there have been throughout the ages, and what I really admired about this particular take on Cinderella was its worldbuilding. Unlike Maleficient, which didn’t exactly succeed in adding magic to its story, Ella Enchanted added magic to its story in a way that subverted tropes and enhanced its plot and characters.
I mentioned a while back that I had started replaying Final Fantasy XIII. There are a lot of things that I don’t like about the game—such as the storytelling for the first couple chapters—but one thing that I really love is how magic is used. I find magic much more of an interesting concept when it has limits and specific rules that it needs to follow. I like those rules and limits to be rather strict, otherwise, for me personally, magic then runs the risk of becoming a deus ex machina—it’s capable of solving any problems our heroes may have. But what I also like is for magic to have consequences.
Sometimes rules and consequences go hand in hand. Some stories, like The Inheritance Cycle, say that using too much magic can kill a caster, and therefore, there are limits to which spells a person can use. In others, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, using magic can be addictive and corrupt the user. What I find interesting about FFXIII, though, is that using magic doesn’t have consequences. Having the ability to use magic, on the other hand, does.
I think this is the first shoujo I got into, and like many manga, Fruits Basket just seemed to go on for way too long, though it never quite reached Naruto and Bleach levels in terms of length. (Then again, not many things can.) At the very least, Fruits Basket had a set ending and a more or less cohesive plot, and though it also has a fair number of characters, it never actually deviated too far from its plot to develop them separately from what was actually happening in the story. What I’m trying to say is that it never punishes the reader with more filler than actual plot. It only punishes them with fluff, which is almost just as bad. It is twenty-three volumes, which is a pretty decent length, and if the story’s decent as well, there’s definitely nothing wrong with that.