Okay, today we're going to spend the next couple of days talking about originality…and why it doesn't count. Yup, you heard me.
What, you thought you always had to be original? That anyone going for something that isn't original is dull and just copying? I'm sure that you've heard the old maxim that there are only five/seven/twelve different stories (or if you haven't, read Tamara's outstanding article from earlier in the week) or that Joseph Campbell only thinks there's just one – albeit with a thousand variations. And of course, the old saying that "there's nothing new under the sun."
So there you have it: originality doesn't count. Still don't believe me? Well, I guess the words – or rather the images – speak for themselves.
Okay, name which one of the anime in there was the first to do it in their opening (first to run, first to have birds, etc.)? Don't know? Can't do it? Does it even matter?
Let me tell you a little saying we have over here at Megami, one that we take to heart: it's not that originality matters; it's how original you are with the unoriginiality. And I'll go straight into that by mentioning our series. It's about a team of "professionals" (read: mercenaries/conmen/crooks/etc.)…
…who use their talents to go up against corrupt governments and corporations and teach them a lesson…
…in a futuristic, trans-human world…
…causing lots of damage in the process.
The main characters include a jaded former special forces operative and cat burglar, a sniper whose life changes when a cute teenage ninja girl enters it, and Chinese twin girls, one of whom is the team businesswoman, the other the ship pilot and resident greasemonkey, and both skilled assassins.
In short, you could take my series – or any of the series above – and run it through TVTropes in about five minutes and find a billion different things, all of which are the same. Based on the desciption above, it seems very derivative and nothing anyone would want to read; at worst, a few lawsuit-happy people and companies might want to pull the trigger to loose their lawyers. But…wouldn't that be the way for a lot of other works?
Where would Star Wars be if The Hidden Fortress hadn't existed? Where would The Magnificent Seven be if Akira Kurosawa never created The Seven Samurai? For that matter, where would Kurosawa's film Ran be if he'd never read William Shakespeare's King Lear?
Hell, as Ayne is fond of pointing out, the oldest known piece of literature is a real person slash fic.
Name a book, film, anime, comic, videogame, play, even music – and somewhere there's an antecedent. Human culture is all about finding the unoriginality and making it original. It's in our blood – all you are, genetically speaking, is a remix of your parents' genes; and they in turn a remix of theirs; and so on and so forth.
And that, in itself, is the key. Be original in your unoriginality. Remember, bad artists copy – good artists steal.
Of course, I'll show you what I mean by that, tomorrow.
TOMORROW: Day 17, Originality is SO Original, Part 2: Composition is Not a Crime