“The best fights are the ones where they are an externalization of inner conflict”
This is a quote from an article I read on Moe Sucks in regards to shonen anime that stuck out to me. After reading this I thought about recent shonen I’ve been watching such as Hunter x Hunter, Jojo’s, and Fairy Tail.
My position regarding this statement comes down to “What kind of show is it aspiring to be?” I’ll break down the shows below
Fairy Tail: It seemed in the beginning FT was trying to be character focused with its Galuna Island and Tower of Heaven arcs. Yes it wasn’t creative with creating the conflict through a backstory but it was trying nonetheless. In fact Tower of Heaven in particular I like the most out of all the Fairy Tail arcs because we see Erza’s struggle of fighting Jellal because on one hand both of them bonded through escaping childhood slavery together but now he’s trying to hurt her current friends. Now though it seems Fairy Tail has given up on being character focused and has become a shallow plot driven show. In it’s latest arcs, there are 3x as many fights as its previous arcs but in my opinion 3x less the impact. However it’s something I’ve come to accept. This show isn’t trying to be all that deep, just a flashy one
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure 2012: The concepts in the fights themselves were and arguably still are ahead of their time. There isn’t much at stake though when it comes to character conflict however, the rivalry between Jojo and Dio is pretty black and white when it comes to who is good and who is bad. But here’s the thing, the show takes advantage of that to the EXTREME. The anime even does a better job at hyperbolizing Jojo’s emotions of killing Dio and vice versa. Dio has always been a dick to Jojo since episode 1 whether to him directly or harming his life whether it be family, love or his own home so Jojo has all the reason to harm Dio. Because the show KNOWS what it’s trying to be and does it well, I don’t expect it to be a deep character focused show and it’s all the better because of that.
Hunter x Hunter: Currently my favorite ongoing shounen, this show/manga manages stew CREATIVE inner character conflict that we haven’t seen a hundred times in other shows. These conflicts are then reflected as big fights in their respective arcs. I just have to stress how amazing that Togashi is able to do that, other shounen manga often rehash the same conflicts over and over or just don’t have them. For example Gon vs Hisoka in Heaven’s Arena is such a big fight because Hisoka damaged Gon’s pride in the Hunter Exam by pretty much passing the 3rd exam for Gon. We knew how much Gon was mad/sad/ other negative emotions so when they do finally face off it’s a big one. That’s just one example and each arc has a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT inner conflict for the main cast that hasn’t been done to death. (Manga spoiler: Chimera Ants nuff said)
So are the best fights the ones that reflect inner conflict? Short Answer: Yes
Here’s the thing though not all fights can be big character focused ones. If they were, they wouldn’t be big fights anymore. You need peaks and valleys in the story line so when the good fights do come, they come knocking the door down.