El Cazador de la Bad Writing: don’t bother giving side characters goals if they don’t really want them

One of Kurt Vonnegut’s rules of writing is that every character should want something, even if it’s only something as simple as a glass of water.

Ellis, the blonde girl in El Cazador de la Bruja, has a profoundly bland personality because she was raised in isolation. So far as the audience can tell, Ellis doesn’t want much of anything.

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Ellis, the blonde girl in the pic, is a main character, and the viewer might be excused for ignoring her bland personality. So in Episode 9, the writers decide to hit the viewers over the head with some blunt characterization about goals.

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So we get a side character who has a superficial resemblance to Ellis, the blonde main character. Unlike Ellis, this side character has no compelling backstory and essentially serves to eat up screen time while the writers explain to the producers that they ran out of good ideas two episodes ago and the storyboards for the final showdown arc aren’t complete.

Sometimes mediocre television is watchable and entertaining, but sadly, Episode 9 is not one of those times. Episode 9 is notably bad filler in a weak sci-fi story. Some sci-fi stories have a lot of wonderful filler episodes – Cowboy Bebop comes to mind. Out of 26 episodes, Cowboy Bebop had perhaps six episodes that were necessary to the final plot arc, so it’s reasonable to say that about 20 episodes were picaresque, episodic filler episodes. But it only had one really bad filler episode (it was the one with the Space Shuttle, in case you’re keeping track). Some comedies, like Azumanga Daioh and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, don’t really have any over-arching plot, and thus every episode is a filler episode. I’m willing to embrace good filler episodes. But if El Cazador de la Bruja gets much worse I’m going to have to go back to watching Michiko to Hatchin.

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