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Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

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  • Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

    Widgets Magazine
    As is the nature of every series, the cast that’s used to tell the tale can be pretty varied. Some shows focus primarily on just two characters with a handful of supporting characters. Others are so large and sprawling that remember who is who can be a major problem. Having just started*Horizon in the Middle [...]

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  • #2
    Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

    I don't think I'd ever prefer a large cast, if given the choice beforehand, but I don't know that off the top of my head I've ever truly minded a large cast when one appears. Certainly some shows are better about handling large casts than others, regardless of how they're introduced. Building up a list of characters over time is certainly a more gentle way of going about it, but being shown a bunch of brand new faces in the very first episode is, like those handful of shows that use an in medias res episode to start, one way of really getting my attention. A large cast also, through sheer numbers, gives me that many more chances to find characters to... um, follow.

    Horizon on/in the Middle of Nowhere is pretty sloppy about its cast, in that it's retaining the characters from the source material for the sake of being a thorough adaptation, yet doesn't go out of its way to utilize those characters evenly or take time to give them all the spotlight. That said, I think it's a nice alternative to the more common situation of having a bunch of faceless "other guys" in a class or squadron or team or whatnot, that are charging into battle in the background, or pulling off a neat move in a single cut of animation then never to be seen again. Pulling them up that extra notch so that they have names and distinct identities and are recognized offhandedly by their more distinct comrades, even if they only appear in the background in most episodes and have maybe three speaking lines all season, adds a bit of extra depth to the setting that I appreciated. For clarity's sake, it does make Horizon a rewatch show, if you get caught up in trying to remember each new name and relationship that's introduced.
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    • #3
      Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

      It all depends on the show, and how we are introduced to the cast.

      A show can be fantastic just throwing things around between a small cast. The first series of K-On had a very small cast, I loved it. Hidamari Sketch too, a close circle of characters. As the series expanded, so did the cast, and the shows weren't any worse for it.

      There are problems with large casts. Just ask Zazie Rainyday or Aika Kasumi.

      Likewise, small casts can be suffocating in their limited nature of connections and interractions.
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      • #4
        Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

        It depends on how it is handled. It can be rather detrimental in cases like Bleach where you get baited in by a story about a small group of friends who fight evil spirits only to have dozens of new characters dumped on you all at once and most of them never get any proper development or backstory over the course of 50+ volumes. Then you have positive examples like Index where a large cast is built up over time, introducing 1 or 2 characters per story arc and giving them enough time to shine before they are pushed off into the background as minor supporting actors. To answer the question: Yeah, I like big casts if the writers can be bothered to make me care about all of the characters to some degree.
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        • #5
          Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

          I don't like or dislike it. It simply is what it is. I'm more interested in what they do with the cast than the # of characters in it.

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          • #6
            Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

            Like others have said, it all depends on what the show does with its large cast, if most of the cast members are little more than faces with names attached, it was pretty pointless to include them.
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            • #7
              Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

              Generally speaking, No. If I need a program and a map to figure out who’s who and who’s banging whom and where everybody is and why they’re there, I will probably not enjoy the show. Give me a handful of strong, well-written and -designed characters, and I will be just fine. This goes for games as well as anime: No, Suikōden, I do not want to find all 108 characters, not this time, not ever!
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              • #8
                Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

                I think I like it more when the core cast of recurring characters is relatively small. There are also series that focus on episodic or short arc characters, and I tend to be fine with a lot of characters in that manner if they're interesting. If they are like 20+ characters getting focus over the entire run of the series, it tends to turn me off as a lot will feel extraneous and the characters I do like don't get a chance to make much of an impression. There are exceptions, probably, but this is how I tend to feel in general.

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                • #9
                  Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

                  One thing to keep in mind about the size of the cast is the idea of major vs minor roles. For example, a cast might have twenty different characters in it. However of those twenty, only five of them are actually major characters. The rest are in fact playing supporting roles in one form or another.

                  For example, Girls Und Panzer has a large cast. However most of the focus is likely to be on the core five. The other girls are mainly there to say "Other students exist in this school" and to occasionally mix things up a bit.

                  There's also the idea of stuff like Sengoku Collection where you might have over a dozen characters but in reality each episode only focuses on a few characters at a time.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

                    Originally posted by Jun Kuga View Post
                    Likewise, small casts can be suffocating in their limited nature of connections and interractions.
                    In other words, Kill Me Baby. Don't get me wrong, I like the series. However having 75% of the interaction be between just two characters really limited things.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

                      Originally posted by aku.chan View Post
                      Like others have said, it all depends on what the show does with its large cast, if most of the cast members are little more than faces with names attached, it was pretty pointless to include them.
                      Or if they get in the way of developing the plot. Bleach, and its tendency to pit minor characters against each other for multi-episode duels, has already been mentioned.

                      MS Gundam 00 is also a pretty bad offender. The cast is huge, but interesting. Too interesting, maybe - trying to capitalize on all of the different factions and memorable personalities, the writers start dozens of plot threads that compete with each other for screen time. Core characters have to wait ages for any development, while others who seemed important often meet quick and pointless deaths.

                      Now, don't get me wrong - I have nothing against a large ensemble cast. But it takes a certain degree of skill and practice to pull it off, and done poorly, it can really take away from the show.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

                        Especially with the recent trend of 11 to 13 episode shows, I generally much prefer a small cast. There simply is not enough time to develop the backstories and and interactions to make the charactarizations meaningful when things get to expanded (without the benefit of time). Obviously you do occasionally want a story that takes place on a grand scale (as much as I love shows that involve two or three people in a room just talking) and ramping up the numbers is one of the easiest ways to do it... But even with well told epics, usually we follow a few characters during their interactions with tens or thousands of people rather than try to tell the story of 20 people at once.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Questioning Fandom: Do You Like A Big Cast

                          Originally posted by One Vorlon View Post
                          Or if they get in the way of developing the plot. Bleach, and its tendency to pit minor characters against each other for multi-episode duels, has already been mentioned.
                          I totally agree with this. Bleach doesn't seem to understand that you don't need to develop side characters and devote multiple episodes to all of them. Major arcs have been ruined by having to sit through like 30+ back to back episodes of side character battles in an effort to appease every possible fan of the series. Mos of them shouldn't even happen on screen and it certainly doesn't help when they're all poorly animated on top of it.

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