Making Viewers Suffer Before Good Endings


One enduring feature of Japanese storytelling is that, if there is ever to be a good ending, protagonists must appropriately suffer before it, and so must the viewers. Some shows can get very hard to watch. And not all endings are sweet.

I won’t name names, to protect people from spoilers, but I just finished one of the shows I have liked very much in recent times, and while the ending is not a “bad” one, the show spared no effort to create vast doubt about this until the last moment. Fortunately for my memories of the show, the ending was not a bad one, but the general point is worth commenting on.

From what I understand, in older times, Japanese stories had lots of suffering… and then bad endings. That was the dramatic element: tragedy as eternally destined, something to bring tears rather than a warm heart. But Japanese storytelling, too, has evolved over time.

Again, not all endings leave me with an ureshii feeling, but I’ll take what I can get.

(P.S. Heading reads, “That was quite a hardship.” – J)

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: [email protected]
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