A Severe Lack of Lore Reasons

I love Metroid. It was one of the first games I ever played, and something about it enchants me. Samus Aran, the sci-fi trappings, Samus Aran, the interconnected world design, Samus Aran, all of it. It’s one of the few franchises I feel deeply fond of.

There was a question being floated around in the Waypoint community about what you Kingdom Hearts is. Meaning, what’s a franchise that you are wholesale bought into on its lore? Recently, I read the Metroid manga. And it’s good, it’s interesting, but it made me realize: on a deeper narrative level, Metroid hasn’t provided a lot for me to get excited about.

That’s not to say I can’t find things to look into. The manga actually adds plenty of substance to the world. The Metroid series has had themes of biological warfare, technology, ecology, and even things like trauma and motherhood for a long time. And there are absolutely readings (e.g. queer readings) of the text that enrich my enjoyment deeply.

But there is still, compared to some of my other favorites, a lack of substance, a lack of Lore Reasons TM if you will, when it comes to narrative. And that’s never stopped engagement. Supper Mario Broth should show that there’s plenty of depth to get out of even relatively simple franchises. But it’s very different from what I often consider my favorite qualities of art.

None of this makes me love Metroid any less. But it is a part of my relationship with it.

Is there anything you love that just hasn’t provided the kind of narrative depth you normally want? What would you want out of the series? What themes would you like to see explored? Or would you prefer that it stay simple and clean? How does all of this affect your relationship with the franchise?

I think Blade Runner is definitely one of those franchises. It’s one of those worlds you get so locked into, and is filled with so much history and and unseen depth. I remember thinking, “Man, how did the world get like this?” In the first Blade Runner, only to see the earth get much more ruined in Blade Runner 2049.

Ok, how did THAT happen? One of the big changes from BR1 to 2 is how much of the Earth seems to be completely out of power, or on the verge of collapse. L.A. looks like the only remaining city on the planet, other cities are radioactive wastelands or garbage dumps. Blade Runner 1 is a cyberpunk film, Blade Runner 2 almost feels more post-apocalyptic.

There have been some amazing short films with back story, but I’m eager for more. Thankfully, it looks as if we have both a comic and an anime that will explore that stuff:

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This is a really interesting response, because it really hones in on the “lore” part of this question. Blade Runner is often lauded for it’s philosophical themes, but you’re pointing out there’s a lot of empty space in the world-building that feels lacking. Which shows, I think, the various kinds of depth that can be in something’s narrative.
Though, I would recommend, if you haven’t, seeing if Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? fills in some of those gaps!

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Kind of on a similar note, I just finished The Sprawl trilogy, which is the trilogy around the first novel, Neuromancer.

I enjoyed both sequels, but at the end of the day, it feels like it was a bunch of extra content to just… reinforce the idea of there’s something out by Alpha Centauri. It felt like these two books were just getting to the same exact point Neuromancer was trying to make, and was fleshing out a story and world that didn’t really need it in the long run.

I think that COULD happen with all this extra Blade Runner content. Perhaps the reasons why aren’t important, and we should just let the dreamy setting inform the overall theme of the films, instead of getting focused on backstory and lore.

My hope is that they actually NEVER answer the Deckard question, if they do do these series. I don’t need to know, the audience doesn’t need to know… The question at the end of 2049 was fantastic for how little it told us.

I think I’m on the opposite end, I like that it doesn’t feel the need to explain everything to me. There is no bigger story turn off to me then when someone decided the viewer needs an exposition dump to explain it.

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worth mentioning theres a nearly 3 hour pod on the site where Rob, Austin and Danielle discuss Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. I also completely agree that Blade Runner is probably something where the lore should be left alone in terms of actually being explained and deconstructed. Doing a deep dive seems kind of counter to what the media itself is trying to do by leaving things unsaid.

EDIT: Dug it up: https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/evbbpp/blade-runner-2049-spoilercast-race-sex-politics

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I guess I kind of lean both sides.

I would LOVE more stories in that world, but I guess I don’t need the big questions answered for me.

In a way which is also intentional: Axiom Verge.

(I’m using this as a sort of good example of this: I personally, think it’s fairly obvious how you’re supposed to interpret the clues you’re given about the setting, but apparently other people don’t, and it’s certainly not made unambiguous or spelled out directly. But the result of this is that I really want a sequel to see if we’ll get the explicit narrative depth which is implied by the sparse hints throught the episode.)

My immediate thought was Pokémon, but that series is a strange case. Pokémon has a TON of lore—that’s after all the entirety of what the Pokédex is, a giant lore compendium. And that lore is often really weird and unexpected and sometimes creepy and very good (like the FireRed entry for Kadabra literally reads: “It happened one morning - a boy with extrasensory powers awoke in bed transformed into Kadabra.”). I truly hope we get a Lore Reasons Pokémon at some point because I think that secretly has a lot of potential.

And the games sometimes imply really fleshed-out worldbuilding or origins for places; Black and White especially go deep into the history of that world and its conflicts, and I love Sun and Moon so much because they finally gave the series’ structure an actual narrative reason. Legendary pokémon always have the kind of lore that makes the question “well why the hell can a ten year old trap this sort of eldritch being in a little ball” the video game iteration of “why doesn’t lois lane recognize clark kent?” (And also now I’m thinking about cosmic horror pokemon like obviously that wouldn’t work but can you imagine?) There are also some fairly well-known fan theories at this point that are almost assuredly unintended and not canon but still really fun reads. And there’s so much roleplaying potential—like I remember following Twitch Plays Pokémon back in 2014 and loving every moment of it.

So I think my actual wish is that, man, wouldn’t it be great if the games actually engaged with all that lore in a meaningful way? To be fair, there is the Pokémon Adventures manga, which, is awesome and pulpy and brilliant and everything I ever wanted but will never get from the games themselves. But that just goes to show how much more those games could do, even in their sidequests and small moments. And gah I want that so bad even though I know they never will.

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Breath of the Wild Pokémon version when

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I’ve talked about this before, but mine is definitely Bad Robot properties like Lost, Alias, and Cloverfield. Cloverfield is probably the strongest because the ARG meta-narrative was very solid for the first film, and was still pretty solid for (though slightly undermined by) the second film, 10 Cloverfield Lane. But, by the time The Cloverfield Paradox got ret-conned into the story and necessarily ret-conned the Cloverfield universe by its mere existence, there was no longer any foundation at all to support further worldbuilding.

To clarify, in the first Cloverfield, the monster is apparently awakened by ocean floor dredging, and it’s about 20 stories tall. In Cloverfield Paradox, it comes through a wormhole and breaks through the clouds it’s so fucking huge.

Abrams & Co. have a tendency to come up with a fascinating, mysterious MacGuffin (what if an island could do crazy shit? what if there was a sea monster? what if Da Vinci created future tech hundreds of years ago?) but they never know how to build the details around those concepts. They just allude to details over and over again, to the point that their allusions begin to imply a web of nonsense, one allusion overriding another. There’s no apparent core truth. That fact makes the mystery much less interesting and honestly, pretty frustrating, especially for all the work they put in to making viewers think they can suss it out if they are attentive or clever enough.

I would absolutely love if a Bad Robot pseudo-sci-fi property started with a lore bible that they were not allowed to change at any point in production. That’s probably the film or television production I lust after the most

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Have you watched Person of Interest? Because it sounds like exactly what you’re asking for. It’s a Bad Robot production but with actual planning and continuity and was clearly planned out and designed from beginning to end. And overall it just has really, really good writing, but flew under the radar to an extent because it was on network TV just as cable and premium channels really heated up.

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ughhh yes and i watched most of the first season but it wasn’t workin for me! I think I’ll try it again. also I think Cavaziel is legitimately just a bad actor.

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It has admittedly been a while, but I remember it taking most of the first season to figure itself out. It’s only in the second and really the third season-onward where it really comes into its own and starts paying off on all the little lore bits and season-long plots up until that point. Seasons 4 and 5 then go much more efficiently because it finally dropped its facade of being another CBS procedural. Maybe I got used to Caviezel murmuring his entire performance but I do feel like he got better as well. I’m not sure how far you made it—his character gets A Lot of backstory in the last 3 or 4 episodes of Season 1. If you didn’t get that far, trying again might be worth it.

I do also think it’s safe to skip a fair amount of Season 1 if it’s dragging for you, because a lot of them are self-contained procedural episodes. From briefly skimming the episode list, I think the crucial ones are 1-2, 7, 9-13, and 19-23. A lot of the others do have those small lore bits and worldbuilding pieces, but those should get you all the major characters and subplots.

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Can we talk about the fact that China, Russia, the U.S. and South America are straight up named in Pokemon?

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Oh yeah and also how according to Lieutenant Surge the American army apparently has Electric-type pokémon fighting along with soldiers??

For real were they all mentioned in Gen I? Because I remember South America (I think they alluded to the Amazon specifically) is where they found Mew, but I don’t remember much after that point.

Surge was also apparently a pilot, along with using pokemon to electrocute/shock people in a war. Mew is from Guyana if I remember correctly.

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wow please keep my sparky boys out of your imperialism america

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Annihilation the movie was a ride that made me feel unmoored the entire time and even though I don’t want final “answers” about the setting but I do want more.

I’m currently reading the first book, but in some ways it feels MORE obtuse.

Yeah, I think this an example though where the lack of answers is actually 100% the intent of the text. Like, one of my issues with the film was actually that it was trying to explain more than it needed to.

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