The Asian Two-act structure

In a class I’m taking, the teacher mentioned the anime two-act structure. “It’s still the hero’s journey, but it breaks in the middle with a positive first half and an upside-down/reconstructed retelling of the same story second half.”

Of course, I’m thinking it might not be hero’s journey. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

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The examples seem to be all over the place.

  • Sound of Music (two seperate stories)
  • Romeo and Juliet (two acts in a five act play)
  • Princess Bride and Scarface (one is a triumph and one is a tragedy)

Basically it’s saying, in some stories things are light in tone and then they get heavy in tone. Which is undoubtedly true, but I don’t see it being helpful to a writer.

They’re usually identifying stories where the Plot Progression between two or more Throughlines consists of one diagonal move followed by another diagonal move through a quad–what the Theory Book refers to as a “Slide-Bump-Slide” progression.

This is a result of the justification process for a story and varies between Tragedies and Triumphs, etc. In other words, there is no strict commonality.

Since storytelling is detached from storyform, the light-hearted first half is something they are recognizing as a commonality through pattern-recognition, yet not really a part of the actual meaning of the story. Same with the second half.


This is what I was suspecting. The Midpoint has an unexpected and irregular transition to the next act, bending back to act one instead of forward to act three. The structure of Grave of the Fireflies is a Tragedy, Top-right (Progress/Doing/Being/Preconscious). So that might be why it feels strange. But what determines that something is Slide-Bump-Slide?

I tested on Dramatica Pro to create a slide-bump-slide. If the OS is in Universe, I can force it and it turns the ending automatically to failure, bad. But that doesn’t match the structure of Grave of the fireflies (maybe not what they describe by Two-act structure --i have not watched the movie)

Slide-bump-slide, or plot progression, is determined by a combination of factors: the inequity as it appears in the various Throughlines and the eight Dynamics (all of them). Each exhibits a force on the model that then twists and turns the elements of a quad into position.

For Grave of the Fireflies both the Main Character and Influence Character Throughlines exhibit a “Slide-Bump-Slide” pattern (hairpin). This could account for what others are seeing and calling the “Asian Two-Act Structure”.