True Ends

September 11, 2015

For anime fans among my readers, in case you haven’t heard: There’s a Fate/stay night OVA coming out next month, which is supposed to depict the Good End of the Unlimited Blade Works arc.

For the non-anime fans, let me give you some background that’ll lead up to my point.

Fate/stay night is a visual novel—think a choose-your-own-adventure book, but on the computer. Depending on the choices you make during the game, you’ll get different endings. Some of them are good, and some of them are not so good. There’s also one canonical ending per arc, the True End.

And, though the True endings are usually good, they’re not usually the happiest one.

Take the one that’s about to be released on DVD/BD. The TV series gave us the True Ending, where a beloved character faded away … but in the Good End, she doesn’t. She stays with the others, and they all live happily ever after. It’s the best ending of the bunch.

But it’s not the True one.

The lesson for storytellers: A 100% happy ending might not be the best one. Happy endings have a way of closing doors, of answering all the questions. But the endings that stick with us are often bittersweet, in part if not in totality. They end with a dash of “What if?”, which keeps us wondering long after the story is finished.

I’m not arguing against happy endings, or even against idealistically happy endings. All things have their place. But it’s not a coincidence, I think, that while the True endings are happy, they’re not perfect. That’s a much more human way to end most tales.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

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