How Much Do Explosions Contribute to Enjoyment Factor?

We can’t all be Megumin (from Konosuba) now, can we…?

Just as a preface, this post was inspired by Scott’s Concrete Revolutio post. He mentioned he liked stuff exploding, but he had to have a baseline of “passable” characterisation first.

I’ve noticed in several anime I’ve watched recently explosions seem to feature in things, especially action anime movies/TV anime, which can die (for fans) if they don’t deliver on spectacle…welp, that’s what happens when you watch Human Lost and Ghost in the Shell Arise – Alternative Architecture (a set of movies turned into a TV anime) in the same month. (Come to think of it…in a sense, fireworks are their own kinds of explosions, but they’re highly controlled for a reason so they don’t really count for this.) Anime, as a visual and moving medium, is most prone to having explosions, but of course other media is not above having them as well.

Explosions are one of the staples of action and thriller anime, particularly things featuring bombs, missiles and other things that have a reason to explode, but like any other thing, they have to be used sparingly if the user/writer wants them to have an impact. (That’s probably why Megumin herself only has one shot to blow stuff up every once in a while.) The audience can get desensitised to things, especially if they show up a lot in a short span of time.

Movies are a prime target for using explosions because they are an instant (or “almost instant”, if you include timer bombs) way to grab people’s attention, as well as think about what caused the explosion, what comes after it, possibly who caused the explosion and why they needed to blow things up. To go over the examples I mentioned briefly, Ghost in the Shell is very much a “shoot the vehicle’s tyres to ignite the fuel in the engine!” series and Human Lost‘s transformation particle effects resemble explosions. However, Concrete Revolutio doesn’t actually have that many explosions in comparison to those – I always took Jirou’s powers to be the “fire” sort and not the “explosion” sort, anyway.

Then there are explosions that just seem to happen because they’re Cool, but may or may not be justified. For instance, things explode a lot in Hypnosis Mic and there’s at least one explosion until the 4th episode (where, it seems, opponents sink into the ground instead). As proven by that bit in brackets, things don’t need to explode to prove you’ve defeated an enemy (just talk to guys with swords about that), so it’s very much within one’s ability to tolerate gratuitous explosions as to whether you like these.

I guess it’s just this: you only get out of anime what you want from it and your preferences for certain genres will inevitably drive you away from or towards whether you like explosions or not, so it’s hard to give a straight answer depending on usage, context, definition and so on.

That said, as an action fan who just likes to go, “LOL, explosions!”…I can live with most uses. There’s just a part of the lizard brain that just gets excited at seeing things go kaboom.

So, is there a series that uses explosions so gratuitously you got turned off from it?

6 thoughts on “How Much Do Explosions Contribute to Enjoyment Factor?

Add yours

  1. I love action, and a good action film/anime has explosions in it. That’s mostly a given. However there’s also action that just has explosions in it because, as you say, that’s cool to include. Almost as if they are saying if we don’t include explosions, than our film/anime is a failure. That I think is just dumb. I guess what it comes down to is that explosions are good as long as they fit the scene and have a sense of well…belonging I guess is the correct word😊

    Liked by 1 person

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