The Power of the Prologue

One of the titles I have been watching here and there is Soul Eater released by Funimation. Check out the trailer below if your looking for a fun title to watch.

Anyways, I’m not here today to write up a review on the series, that will come much later. What I wanted to talk about today, was the use prologues as the first 3 episodes of the series. In Soul Eater, there are characters that are reapers and characters that act as weapons for the reapers. In the first episode we look at reaper Maka and her death scythe Soul. We get a chance to see the interaction between the 2 characters and also learn a bit about the universe the story is set in. Soul has to eat 99 souls and the 100th soul he eats needs to be a witch for him to become a death scythe.

In the second episode we meet the team of Black Star and Tsubaki. Again we get a chance to see the dynamic between the two characters and learn about them as well.

The final episode of their prologue is the team of Death the Kid and his two weapons Liz and Patty. We learn some of the perks of Death the Kid’s personality in this episode and see his weakness based on asymmetry.

Now some people may feel that prologues aren’t needed. Information in prologues could be integrated into a story, but on the flip side, by using a prologue, you can cut down on filler and recap segments. Another benefit of using a prologue, is that the story teller can tell a story and use a prologue to fill in some blanks as the story progresses.

For instance, I am toying around with the idea of utilizing prologues to flesh out more of the characters backstories before each episode. I haven’t committed to the idea yet, but I like the idea of being able to add additional information to the story and characters without having to dedicate an entire episode to it or by writing an extended paragraph.

You don’t see a lot of prologues for series these days, so it was great to watch a series and see them utilize essentially 3 prologues for each team of characters. I personally felt it was a great way to connect with a character before seeing how they interact with others and the decisions they will make in the universe of the story. Generally this type of episode, in anime series, tend to happen mid series or the later half. The series that tends to come to mind with this approach is Wolf’s Rain.

Another different series that uses prologues is the Crest of the Stars franchise, which would play a small prologue before each episode. Which is the approach I may take. Stay tuned for another update on Monday!

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2 thoughts on “The Power of the Prologue

  1. I’m not sure if a long prologue is always the best way to go, though it does beat obnoxiously long flashbacks. The thing with that approach is that it pushes back the real meat of the show until later. I think 5-10 minute short prologues, with a more meaty second half, work better. Or the Crest of the Stars short-tidbit approach, which you mentioned.

    My favorite intro is Tiger and Bunny, because it opens with a high-action chase and develops the main character in the second half of episode 1.

  2. Thanks for the comment 🙂 I would have to agree with you about the longer prologues. I believe after the first episode of Soul Eater they mention “the prologue continues” or something along those lines and it wasn’t until episode 4 I realized that they were serious when they said the first 3 episodes were prologues. An interesting approach for sure, as a creator, I would be afraid that the episodes would appear a little disconnected and may lose viewers. On the flip side, I thought the episodes were hilarious and that’s what kept me watching the show. Death the Kid’s prologue is one of the funniest episodes I have seen in a long time.

    I personally like the short prologues, because I don’t think the viewer needs to be spoon fed everything, just enough to help fill in some of the blanks.

    I haven’t seen Tiger & Bunny, but I agree with the fast beginning to grab the viewers attention, and then build the characters after that.

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