Friday, January 18, 2013

Anime Powers and Writing Dark Fantasy

The one consistent trait in Dark Fantasy is the characters have special abilities. The issue I had with my trilogy is how to dish out unique abilities to a cast of over 30 without completely overwhelming the reader.

All my characters are experts at molding the Power one certain way, and not always the same way. Thinking about it, I set myself up for one ginormous headache. How can I come up what so many skills?!

Here's where anime comes in. One thing you can say about anime is the type of power the characters have are numerous and diverse...and pure awesomeness.


1. Wielding a magical sword

A weapon that does more than cuts flesh. The great thing about this one is 7 characters could have a sword with 7 completely different abilities. My favorite weapons have to be the two fangs from Inuyasha. 


Sorry it's not in English but this was the best example. My character's abilities aren't that extreme...at least not always... but you get where I'm going. They can use the Power to create swords that do more than cut down their enemies...some of their blades aren't even sharp.  

2. Abilities based on a character's soul (Zanpakuto)

The Zanpakuto (zon-pok-to) is from Bleach and is similar to the magic sword only its "shape and abilities are based on their [user's] soul. Once a [user] learns his/her sword's name, they are able to communicate with one another and grow stronger together. Zanpakutō are born with their [user] and they die along with their [user]" (Bleach Wiki). I might like this one better than the magical sword.
In my series, the Power source is alive (not natural). My characters have to develop a relationship with it to use it to its fullest potential. If they misuse the Power, then it gets mad and kinda attacks them. And, like the Zanpaktuo, the character's expert skill is, for the most part, based on who they are.

One of my characters has a keen eye. He's brilliant at reading people, a great listener, even tempered and patient. These traits coupled with his naturally sharp senses means his ability is tracking. There is nothing he can't find...or hide.

3. Creating a weapon or an attack out of thin air

The characters in Fullmetal Alchemist don't really create weapons out of thin air.  They use alchemy and would be highly insulted if you called what they did magic. But, at its bases, they're using "power" to create something out of nothing.

This video is not for the faint of heart. It's a little gory.


The male in the video sort of  "conjuring" fire. I know Fullmetal fans, I'm over-simplifying what Roy Mustang actually does but you get my point. This is a big one for my characters. Once they develop a relationship with their Power, they can create almost any attack just by thinking about it.

This video is also represents another ability. Transformation. You watch anime and come across some interesting looking creatures. It gives you ides of shape-shifting abilities beside someone who turns into an animal. I read a lot of fantasy but the most unusual types of creatures I've come across are in anime.

And, since my characters aren't human and they live in a world I created, I can have someone with dark brown skin, bright green eyes and long pale blue hair. Where did the inspiration for such a character come from? I'll give you three guesses ;)

Thinking back, most of my world-building inspiration comes from anime. In my first novel, one of my characters is called a half-breed. I heard that word, with its negative connotation, from Inuyasha and stored it. It didn't occur to me I had regurgitated it from my favorite show until my brother pointed it out.

Now, I'm not writing this to say every Dark Fantasy writer needs to watch anime. Just know, if you have a world and you're stuck about what to populate it with or you need powers for you characters, watching one episode of a popular anime could be just the inspiration you need. Keep an open mind.