Backstory in anime is one of the most overpowered weapons OR the most powerful weapon that changes you, the watcher, completely. I am sure many a time you would have felt the power of backstory coming to change your beliefs, perspective, and whatnot. Right?
How many times Demon Slayer has pulled the same card and why does it still catch its watcher in its trap? Because the backstory is just that poignant.
Backstory in anime is not merely a word now. It is a means by which a new world opens before you, something even bigger than a shadow realm.
Whenever a backstory of a character comes up, you can’t help but say: “Ah shit, here we go again!”
Well, hold up “Talk no Jutsu”, your competitor has arrived. Well, it is still number 1 because you know, who could refuse the power of friendship?
As anime continues to expand in the world, and more people get sucked towards the incredible 2D animation that seems to set their hearts ablaze, it won’t be long when only Talk no Jutsu would be the sole weapon in the anime world (I am getting Naruto flashbacks).
People want some different content nowadays. They are getting bored because of the same old talking by which evil becomes good, an enemy turns a friend, a traitor joins the squad back, and that too in a blink of an eye!
These things start to repeat and really annoys the watcher. That is why “talk no Jutsu” could soon be dethroned by “backstory”.
Therefore, let me explain to you the power of backstories which is changing the anime world for the better.
Backstory increases a Character’s Depth
Without a character, a story is nothing. Without a story, a character is nothing.
Did you understand this?
A character needs a deep story so that they can play a big part in the main story and can have a major impact on the watcher.
Backstories reveal the motivations of the characters and tell us how and why they are the way they are.
Anime has a wide range of characters. Some are brave, some are cowards. And in order to justify their character traits, the backstory is needed.
Without a backstory in the anime, you will feel nothing towards most of the characters. They will be just like any other ordinary character.
Backstory changes your Perspective
Many people in the anime world still think from only one perspective, i.e. the main character’s. This is just WRONG. Are you one of them?
How many times have the creator of a certain anime tried to pull the UNO reverse card on a character?
How many times have you felt sad for a character whom you used to despise earlier to the extent that you would do anything to smash their head off?
There is only one word that changes you in a matter of minutes. You know what it is, right?
Backstory changes your perspective on a character by which you feel for them (if it is sad i.e.).
(Spoilers of Attack On Titan Final Season Part 1 and Demon Slayer below)
Instance 1 (Zeke Yeager)
Zeke Yeager from Attack On Titan had a really awful backstory. People, including me, felt like complete madmen when Isayama made us feel bad for a character who committed several war crimes (including the killing of the beloved, Erwin Smith).
No one would have thought that his childhood was a complete mess thanks to the most tragic character of the series, his own father, Grisha Yeager.
I felt so bad for him that he became my third best character of AOT (1st: Reiner, 2nd: Levi).
With the help of the backstory, my whole perspective towards Zeke was changed within an episode. Never in my life, I could have imagined that.
Instance 2 (Akaza)
The most heart-wrenching backstory of Demon Slayer. Akaza (Upper Moon 3 Demon), a villain who killed the fan favourite character by the name of Rengoku Kyojuro in the Mugen Train movie, was hated by most of the watchers of the movie.
Not even his massively hyped theme with those vocals was enough to save him from the wrath of Rengoku fans.
But only manga readers came to understand that Akaza is a precious person. His backstory crushed everyone’s heart and I couldn’t hold my tears when I read those pages in the manga.
It is just unimaginable how a sad backstory can change you. How it can change your feelings towards a certain person from just the character’s point of view. It is baffling.
This nine-letter word truly defines the quote:
There are always two sides in a storyWho said this by the way?
Perspective is one of the most important aspects of not just anime but any other media and it is beautifully handled by the backstories.
What should you do to understand the story better?
As the audience, we should think from both perspectives as to understand a story, it is extremely important to know both sides.
For example, in Attack On Titan, there are majorly two sides in the final season: Marley and Paradis. As a watcher, you are free to choose a side, but you must understand the full story of both sides.
We need to understand the motivation of both sides to find out why did both of them took such a drastic step to annihilate each other.
So, who are you rooting for? Marley or Paradis?
The Problem with the Backstories
Backstories do NOT always do justice to a story.
If a backstory is shown too much in the anime, it can drive off the interest of the watcher.
In Ufotable’s Demon Slayer, a demon’s backstory is shown every time a demon is about to die. That can piss some people off. There are many demons in the story and for the important ones, a backstory is in place.
But due to the utterly tragic backstories of those demons, every watcher, including me, feels sad for the umpteenth time and thus, Demon Slayer wins again.
But not all anime series can pull this card out. After some time, fans do get bored of them.
So the backstory should be relevant to the story and if it has some impact on the watcher as well, then what else does one need?
Sometimes, you will feel sick of a backstory as you will feel: “what is the need to watch a story which has happened in the past? What is the use?”
But a backstory in anime is really essential to understand the full story.
As I mentioned, they have the power to change your thinking and perhaps, make you even cry or angry, depending on the type of backstory.
Nevertheless, the occurrence of a backstory will only strengthen a story if it is appropriate, i.e. relevant to the storyline.
Right down in the comments, whose backstory hurt you the most?
For me, I guess, it is Akaza’s. Man! It was heartbreaking.
You can go to my Deep Fiction YouTube channel if you want to see more content or videos about anime and manga.