Great stories make you stop…and just feel

I just finished Steins;Gate, an anime I promised I would finish before the Backlog section of the upcoming RandomC podcast. This was the series I had in mind when I thought up the Backlog section, because I wanted to force myself to finally make the time to watch it, and just as with this blog I thought announcing it publicly (and by a certain date) seemed like a great way to make myself get it done.

It was worth the wait.

I could go over all the amazing storytelling lessons I’ve learned in the past week from this stellar show, but everyone else already experienced them out years ago, so I’ll limit myself to one. Just this one lesson I must get across in the afterglow of the tale.

A great story will ruin your day.

A truly great story will work its way inside you. It will move you, it will change you, it will shake you to your very core, and when it’s done with you you’ll sit there stunned. After a great story–no, a great drama is finished, everything else pales in comparison, and nothing you do will be able to compete with the feelings warring inside. It’s hard to do anything after that, hard to do anything but sit there and feel. To do anything else is to not properly savor the moment.

This state isn’t the goal of all great stories – only the great dramas can aspire to it, and there’s nothing wrong with all the other forms. But when it hits you, oh my, how beautiful it is.

This, my friends, is why stories are so powerful. A well-told story can be more real than reality, more powerful than the strongest of weapons, more persuasive than all the words that make it up. They’re our greatest teachers, and our most dangerous of enemies. We humans need stories to learn how to be human, and to make us feel alive.

Oh how alive I feel right now.

6 thoughts on “Great stories make you stop…and just feel

  1. Reminds me of the time I marathoned Shiki just before midnight… Couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night… I just had this feeling of disgust for hours…

    • It was the same for me, Stilts. After I finished it, I was just… lost. So many built-up emotions.

  2. I was actually contemplating on dropping it at the beginning because everything was pretty slow but thankfully, I didn’t and I got to experience one of the best rollercoaster rides of emotions and whatnot ever.

    Once it finished, I was left with that “empty void” feeling and that’s when I know it was a good anime.

  3. All Quiet on the Western Front was the first book that ever made me just sit there staring at the last page, drained of all emotion. You followed the MC from boot camp through his time in the trenches of WW 1. It just drew you in as he interacted with everyone and everything around him. And as he became isolated and alone, you just hoped that out of everyone that he would survive.

    The last scene was of him reaching for a flower thinking of his friends, and…. then a sniper kills him.

    Grave of the Fireflies, Texhnolyze, the scene from Gunbuster where Noriko screams she’s sorry to her friend on Earth, and Asuka’s mind rape are some examples where I’ve ended up empty because I was invested in the characters so much.

  4. Oh man, how true this post is. Steins;Gate was definitely like that; Angel Beats had me sitting there, stunned, for hours after I finished it. I still feel pangs of emotion from shows and books I experienced years ago. They’re this wonderful, focused dose of all kinds of feelings, thoughts, and happenings that have the ability to teach us so much about ourselves and the world around us. It’s amazing.

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