No, Idiots, it wasn’t Obvious

I’m not going to bother attempting to define obviousness, but I’m more than happy to point out a few things idiots often confuse it for:

  • Intuition
  • Hindsight Bias
  • Help (Can’t figure it out yourself? Not obvious.)

Let’s jump straight into a few recent examples. SPOILER ALERT.

Attack on Titan

Back when I was reading the Attack on Titan manga, I didn’t predict the human identity of the female titan. You know why? Because I had no good reason to presume the female titan had a human identity. It’s certainly possible to arrive at her identity before the big reveal, but to do so, you’d have to go through the following logical steps:

  1. Buy into a human-titan theory (before the characters do)
  2. Assume the human in question was a previously introduced character
  3. Process of elimination

Reasonable? Sure. Obvious? Not at all. It takes too many leaps of faith, especially when you consider the character’s personality and military post. Yet half the internet not only knew her identity, they had the audacity to claim it was obvious. I was shocked. Was I stupider than half the internet?

I dug into their reasoning and discovered their eureka moment: their hair kind of looks the same. You fucking morons. First of all, no, it doesn’t look the same. If anything, her hair looks the most like Krista’s, followed by Armin’s. The only similarity is that it’s blond, and that would only be a giveaway if you’re suffering from a severe case of confirmation bias.

Here’s how the internet really discovered her identity. Every jackass who picked up the manga after watching three episodes of the anime started telling their friends, “I know who the female titan is!” This spoils them in two ways. First it tells them the female titan is a human. Second, it suggests that her identity was previously introduced. The question of “Who is the female titan” spreads around the internet like wildfire, and the internet collectively looks back at all the clues, goes through a process of elimination, and arrives at the correct answer.

Sword Art Online II

Death Gun’s true identity was so obvious! Except Death Gun is 3+ people. And the one that got revealed wasn’t the main Death Gun. And the main Death Gun wasn’t a previously introduced character, so his identity was not only not obvious, it was impossible to discover. But hey, one of them was a previously introduced character. So what if there was absolutely no evidence pointing to him? “It’s always the quiet ones!” Except it wasn’t in the last arc, or the arc before that.

Here’s a case where people are crying “obvious!” not because it was obvious in any way, shape, or form, but because they don’t like the show and are looking for every excuse to bash it. Some of them are just pissed off about the rape scene. I agree, it was traumatizing. In Japan there was a huge spike in rape after that episode because Death Gun made rape cool again for boys and girls of all ages. Isn’t it obvious that violence against women on TV causes violence against women in real life?

Akame ga Kill

The show tells you that one of three characters will die in a fight. When the fight is over, what fraction of the audience starts gloating about how obvious the death was? You guessed it: 1/3.

Then some geniuses thought it was obvious that Esdeath would fall for Tatsumi. Why, exactly? Even in the most shameless harem anime, older women are just teases, and dominatrix characters are only thrown in for gimmicks. Did they guess that Tatsumi and Esdeath’s relationship would be an integral part of the story? If so, did they guess how it would be an integral part of the story? Simply knowing the relationship will exist doesn’t ruin the excitement; that’s when the fun begins!

The moral of the story is that Esdeath is really fucking hot. That much is obvious.

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11 idiots can't tell the difference between obviousness and hindsight bias

  1. Flawfinder says:

    I think people overhype the whole “obvious” dilemma. If being obvious was so much of a problem, then why are so many people still praising Evangelion and Bebop when anyone who has any knowledge of the anime medium would at least be aware of their endings, the same way most people with knowledge of the film medium would be aware of the ending to Citizen Kane, even if they haven’t seen it? And besides, whilst it does have its fair share of haters, Attack on Titan is pretty damn high on MAL, which means that a big majority of the Internet really loves it. I refuse to believe that said majority doesn’t include a good chunk of the crowd who said the female Titan’s identity was obvious.

    I have my own qualms with the three shows you mentioned, of course, but being predictable isn’t the end-all-to-all of my beef with ’em. At most, it’s an extension. Besides, it’s not like being unpredictable is an inherently good thing either. I’ve seen lots of stuff that tried to depend on the plot twists and…well…you get stuff like Robotics;Notes or Princess Tutu (latter is based on your opinion, as I don’t even remember what I saw of the show). Angel Beats too to an extent, although the ride was so much fun that people are willing to excuse that the insane twists ended up leading to a convention conclusion (shocked you never saw it).

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      A few thoughts:

      – There’s a big difference between knowing the ending and thinking it was obvious.
      – Intellectual/artistic/deep shows are harder to criticize for the plot.
      – Classic status is always a strong shield against criticism.

      While obviousness is pretty much always a knock on a show, I agree that its impact on the overall rating is usually fairly minor. When the final score is low, obviousness is more often than not one of many complaints being checked off the laundry list, unless you’re dealing with a mystery I suppose.

  2. gedata says:

    The thing that gave the female titan’s identity away for me was how both Armin and Krista appeared, yet Annie didn’t. That’s not really enough for me to start pointing my criticism finger at the show since I had to put the effort in to do the whole process of elimination thing. You just gotta except that their are folks out their who’d gnash their teeth at anything popular for the dumbest reasons.

    The 3 Death Guns thing may have been unforeseen, but the identity of the one that actually mattered most for this arc was an easy guess given that one scene at the end of episode 3 or something that showed being an ominous internet stalker. That punch may have been telegraphed, but the show was still holding back enough cards for me to forgive it. If anything, they should complain about how the plot felt stretched out and how much of the Kirito/Sinon dialogue was a load of cringeworthy drivel.

    I’ll be honest, Esdeath falling for Tatsumi caught me off guard. Probably would’ve clicked with me quicker if I saw that part in the anime first but eh.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Even if I’d gone down the path of assuming there was a human culprit, and even if I’d realized that Annie wasn’t there, there still would’ve been enough doubt in my mind to keep things interesting. Annie was lazy, unmotivated, and sought a safe life inside the innermost wall. Why would she run around outside? There’s also her story of being trained to fight by her father. Sure, it could’ve been made up, but if it had been true, when did she go from being a normal human to being a titan? Why was she more skillful in Titan form than Eren? Too many unanswered questions. This is also why I think people could still really like the show even if they’d guessed Annie was the titan. Simply knowing that plot point isn’t the end of the intrigue.

      The scene at the end of episode 3 showed the side of the dude’s mouth and his headphone-covered ear. You couldn’t tell it was him unless you were specifically looking for it.

  3. The Walker says:

    For me, the Female Titan reveal wasn’t even all that obvious in hindsight. Female, Armored, and Colossal titans were nicely hidden sleeper agents to me. The Dancing titan wasn’t obvious, but I could definitely see the connections after all the hints dropped about the character and the nature of titans in general. One of the truths about titans I happened to guess correctly due to the way Eren acted when he was in berserk/autopilot mode combined with the only way to kill a titan.

    I didn’t guess anything about Death Gun. I was too busy complaining about how ‘Death Gun’ was a stupid, redundant name that sounded like some 12 or 13 year old boy made up to sound cool. I was suspicious of the creeper friend. Didn’t think he was ‘Death Gun’; just thought he was a thirsty dude. The whole psycho after the damsel thing was stale. Replace the crazy man screaming “Asada-san!” with “Asuna-san!” and you have pretty much the same thing as last time.

    None of the deaths in Akame ga kill were predictable to me. Guess i can blame One Piece for that line of thinking. So, imagine my surprise when mai waifu dies while I hold out hope for backup, and another dies while I hold out hope that they are just taking an extended nap. The EsdeathxTatsumi OTP I saw at the very last second so it doesn’t even really count as obvious to me. It was when the tournament was down to the last fight and she was all like “I am le bored.” That was when the notion popped into my head. I both envy and fear for Tatsumi. Esdeath is dangerous in that she can be such a terrible human being, but damn can she be sweet when she actually cares. Also, I’m not generally one for breasts that reach into basketball territory, but that bedroom scene when she came out of the shower…wow. If they had that image for a recruitment poster, Night Raid would be in trouble.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Let’s be honest, there are plenty of stupid-sounding Japanglish names in anime. SAO is hardly the worst offender.

      You bring up a legitimate criticism of Death Dude’s rapeyness. Is that so hard? Why do social justice warriors quit at “rape = bad” when legitimate criticism is right around the corner?

      You made that prediction at a reasonable point. There’s always a cutoff point for being able to call something obvious. In Frozen, for example, when Evil Prince dude was revealed to be evil, I bet all my chips on what the ending would be. I was right, but despite being pretty harsh on Frozen, I never said the ending was obvious. It was just a reasonable theory from the beginning the got bumped up to a near certainty after a plot twist, at which point it was too late to call it obvious.

      Mai waifu isn’t that stacked in the manga. Still plenty big though, an ideal size for an ideal woman.

      • The Walker says:

        No, “Death Gun” probably isn’t the worst name to enter the ranks, but it still sounds like a 12 year old trying to sound cool in XBox Live. I’m sure the reason for my being extra critical is because ever since the the second half of SAO season one, I’ve been waiting for the show to really wow me like the first half of season one. I wanted to feel that immersion and excitement again, but with each successive game Kirito has jumped into, it feels like he is OP to the point of breaking the game. Add to that fact yet another girl being herded into the flock by Jesus Kirito and yet another handsy psycho who wants to live in the digital world forever with the main girl, and there ya go.
        I think people have a tendency to stop thinking the moment something offends them. Rape and murder are big deals, but acts of extreme violence and sexual acts (deviant or otherwise) are treated worlds differently. I think both Rape and murder are ok to use as in telling a story, as long as it has a purpose. If you chose to do these things to a character, why are you doing it and what purpose does it serve to the story and interactions from that point forward. I dislike it when someone dies solely to prove that the story is serious business, and I dislike it when women are sexually assaulted because “lulz thats wut happins ta wimins” or for the sake of titillation (unless its that kind of story, but that is a different subject to tackle). Its important to understand the intent and then constructively speak against it if what you observe angers you.
        I saw the pics of your waifu and her proportions don’t seem as exaggerated. I approve. But, since a man cannot serve two waifus I am pro Sheele now and forever.

        #SheeleMyWaifu #NVR4GT #SheeleBesGirl

  4. Travis Pritchett says:

    …I just guessed it was Annie because of the nose. But I *did* know that some of the titans were human inside to begin with, even if I didn’t know who they were, so I won’t claim it was “obvious.” I agree with the general gist of this post, which is, as far as I can tell, “Reasonable =/= obvious.” And that I can more or less dig.

    I may have *problems* with a show, but I’d like to think I’m big enough to admit that a problem in one area of a show doesn’t cause it to fail across the board.

    Unless it *does* fail across the board, but that’s rarer than the cynics of the world think.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I didn’t see anything in the nose, but Kaiji and Escaflowne aside, I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to noses in anime.

      Lots of crappy critics out there will let their hatred of some aspects of a show spill over into unrelated aspects. Same with love. Not me though. I keep my love and hatred in perspective. It’s why I’m so popular.

  5. Epi says:

    Well at least I thought there was a possibility after episode 5 that Death Gun was who he was…

    http://www.seaslugteam.com/2014/08/04/sword-art-online-ii-05/

  6. […] ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider wasn’t obvious, but it was no match for Umineko logic + the process of […]

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