Kishōtenketsu Plot without Conflict?

Thoughts? Discussion?

I think one of the author’s biggest problems is conflating conflict with violence.

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Just to be clear, I don’t think the author is talking about physical force here. “Violence” in this context is about one thing dominating and imposing on another, possibly to the extent of silencing or absorbing it (they’re talking about Derrida, so I’m feeling confident about this). And if conflict is about two (or more) things that cannot coexist at the same time…

I looked into Kishotenketsu a while ago. If I were to put the difference between “conflict-driven narratives” and “contrast-driven narratives” simply, I would do it like this:

Conflict: Thesis + Antithesis => Thesis OR Thesis + Antithesis => Antithesis
Contrast: Thesis + Antithesis => Synthesis

Dramatica uses the first. A story is considered “broken” if both principle characters/perspectives change. One HAS to win over the other to be considered complete. If compromise wins out then it must be one of the perspectives in the first place.

Kishotenketsu uses the second. You juxtapose two contrasting ideas and then connect them together. These ideas can coexist together.

Neither of these two approaches is better than the other, and I don’t think the author is suggesting the contrary.

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I think there is definitely something interesting here, but I have trouble using the word “plot” without a sense of what the goal is, or what the stakes are. It’s almost like this is something else.

What is the ‘plot’ of “My Neighbor Totoro”? Goal? Stakes?

Is this a general question, or is Totoro specifically kishotenketsu

I have seen Totoro being analyzed using Kishotenketsu. Whether it was written using it, or whether it “is” kishotenketsu, I don’t know.

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I consider that movie to have no plot or stakes. Just loveliness.


I think Kishōtenketsu Plot is more like a storyweaving technique:“Meaning Reversals”

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I disagree. It is not about reversing or changing meaning.
The wikipedia article on it gives two okay examples.

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What a great article.

Looking through the lens of Dramatica’s Storymind concept, it looks like the Author is talking about the difference between Companion Pairs and Dynamic Pairs.

The West favors Dynamic Pairs, which is why the current model is setup with that bias in mind. Both Chris and Melanie mention the possibility of other models with different biases in place–this preference for Companions being one of them.

The example given in the article is still considered “conflict” within the definition of Dramatica–specifically the idea that all conflict comes from context and an inequity between things.

Someone should start working on developing the different SuperClasses…(bias other than Dynamic/K)…


I want to thank you because all of a sudden I am remembering a European non-English movie I went to by myself about 15 years ago, where I thought nothing happened (she went to a party, talked to people, got asked out on a date that was to take place in the future, then soon after at the film’s end she walked out by herself spreading her arms in joy). I walked out of the theater, telling a stranger leaving at the same time. “I can’t believe that this movie got made! Nothing happened.” He smiled, “Some films are about a slice of life.”

So thank you because now I see her goal was to have a social life (must have been). Getting asked out on a date reached that goal and provided the plot summary (or what ever).


Maybe. I see your larger point here. The analogy in my life is that I was brought up in the industry with people telling me that all stories were quests and unless they got something, then there was no motivation for the protagonist. When I stumbled across Dramatica, and saw that Conceptualizing could be an OS Goal it all tumbled into place for me. (Well, it took years to fall into place, but I could see what was at least possible at that point.)

BUT, “slice of life” stories are generally not storyformable. They aren’t Grand Argument Stories, any more than any given day is a story because (luck aside) anything with arbitrary starting and ending points won’t be a story.


Would it be a tale? Or would it be the beginning of a tale … haha. Are tales just one quad? I forget.


I tend to think of things on a gradient.

Something that is almost a Grand Argument Story is deficient.

Something that is missing a lot of things is a Tale.

I don’t generally find a lot of middle ground between these two though. There are complete stories. Then there are deficient stories, which miss a few points, like having a poorly defined Limit.

Then you have Tales. These tend to lack Main Characters or at minimum, don’t have an Impact Character. (I see a ton of these when I read young writers in Hollywood.)

I haven’t come across anything that is missing a lot of points, but has the MC and IC. Unless they are weird in that they have no RS. But I see that as a different design problem.

But then you have things that make me cringe. They flip Start/Stop or something. So they are basically complete, but they’re uncomfortable and clearly the result of some weird rewrite.

Some stories, like Ida, seem to be missing one signpost from one throughline, but the experience is still fine. Just hits a bump.


I’d say it had no impact character. But memory is constructive according to my Cognition psych prof. It was kind of a famous foreign movie at the time, and I’m trying to track it down. Of course I forget the title. Being so popular at the time, I just have to figure out ‘why’ … haha.

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It’s either a GAS or it hit some emotional/cultural bull’s-eye. I think those are the only reason things get hugely popular.

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So, I am determined to track it down because either it was GAS or it was because FINALLY a foreign film that was not a downer with a realistic bleak ending … haha … and I HAVE to know.


I just ran across this discussion and find the concept fascinating!

This article mentions Kiki’s Delivery Service as an example. Having not seen the show I’m not sure if this is true, but I thought it might help.

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I loved Kiki’s Delivery Service! I watched it a few years ago and felt that it definitely had a Dramatica storyform. One thing I remember thinking is that the MC’s Change (I felt Kiki was a Change character) came quite early in the narrative, and the rest was about her sticking with it.

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