Whats up with the distaste for supernatural elements in fantasy lately?

maybe im just seeing things, but i feel like there’s been a larger kick for more ‘realistic’ fantasy as of late, not just in the fe community but in the media space in general. well thats not inherently a bad thing i suppose, im just kinda curious why we all suddenly decided magical dragons was a bit passe?

Im guessing game of thrones had something to do with this, but still curious to hear peoples thoughts.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with it. In recent FE games these supernatural elements unfortunately tend to be slapped on top of the story to give it some more “epic” scope, rather than the supernatural being integrated into the world itself. A lot of the time supernatural elements are used to dismiss certain plotholes or contrive situations where there’s added drama (see: FE10 blood pacts, FE14’s Vallite curse) in lieu of creating good character-driven drama.

That is to say, proper character-driven drama arises from genuine conflict between parties. This is the sort of story that you’re more likely to become engaged with because it’s more likely to evoke empathy from the reader/gamer/viewer. Fantasy readers are grown up now: we’re not children and we’re probably less likely to be invested in a story where the dark dragon attacks and the hero must defeat said dragon. If you want to create good drama then you need to have characters that the viewer can empathise with and situations that the viewer can empathise with. No one can really identify with that kind of story.

Magical dragons are cool but using magical dragons as the reason two characters can’t have a simple conversation? That’s contrived drama. No one likes that.


thats not exactly what i was referring to honestly. People can put up with a lot of asspulling if the story or character interactions are good or atleast entertaining anyways, star wars, lord of the rings, marvels cinematic universe, star trek, anything popular of the fantasy genre tends to be riddled with the kind of contrivances your referring to (atleast what im assuming your referring to) and yet they often make bajillions of dollars and enjoy critical and creative success. Hell, I’d even argue that the vallite curse and the blood pact aren’t inherently awful storytelling devices as they facilitate the kind of drama your referring to as preferable (though i do feel the vallite curse was very poorly handled as it basically acted as the crutch/excuse for azuras single personality trait of being cryptic, despite the fact that she probably would have been very cryptic anyways as again thats her single personality trait and its what drives her conflicts with other characters and not the vallite curse itself.)

no what i was more referring to was peoples tendency to pull their noses up at supernatural elements at all, even when their inclusion would not be a detriment and could often be a net positive for a story from narrative perspective. peoples insistence that their magical fantasy adventure needs to be realistic ya know.

oh, uh… perhaps you could find some examples of this?

I think the assumed “distaste” in fantasy elements is from a standpoint that there are multitudes of projects/releases/stories/etc. that have been including magic and the like to the point that it just seems like everything has them these days. It’s made it a bit stale of a genre/concept (at least according to those that have this opinion), so it seems like it’s more of a wish for diversity of scope than anything else.

More importantly, I think it’s a case of how well the entire things are done - if you produce something great and/or unique, especially in its use of fantasy or supernatural concepts, then it’s probably going to be well-recieved, even though it contains those elements. Like, if Avatar: The Last Airbender came out for the first time now, I think it would still blow people away and be well-received, despite the “nose-turning” you’re describing.

It’s kind of the same thing as people complaining about the focus on/overuse of (European) medieval fantasy - sure, a change up to other cultures/eras would be fine and welcome, just like wanting some non-magic/supernatural fantasy is fine for the sake of having options, but there are still niches that can be told using that same genre setting that we’re used to that still produce wildly different products/end results.

well… honestly i dont have my finger specifically on what it is that bugs me, since its more in relation to peoples attitude towards storytelling then it is the storytelling itself, but i suppose if you dont mind i could use your previous post as an example?

like, well in this case i feel like you were atleast partly speaking in hyperbole, its this kind of sentiment that i feel unsatisfied with. the idea that in order for a story to be good nowadays in a wider media context, it has to be more realistic then fantastical. to be hyperbolic for a second, throw in a dragon and people will swallow it, throw in a magic dragon and people get pissy. i mean, this obviously isnt a particularly big deal considering some of the majorly successful franchises, but it is a sentiment i feel like is popping up more and more frequently recently.

or its probably just me…


that could be it yeah, overexposure makes the heart grow weary…

I think the reason is that supernatural elements are often used to excuse bad stories and they often bring bad writing into good stories. It is basicly a hard stereotype and stereotypes are not exactly the entire story. I gotta say tho, despite me loving FE when it is not written poorly af(The likes of FE7, Fates and the valmarc of awakening…and to a slightly lesser extend the celicaside of echoes), I much prefer stories where the magic is more grounded.

Xenoblade Chronicles for example had the case where magic is generated through either mastery or artificial control over the physical and biological essence of the world itself. It was not some weird secondary system that exists despite the world, the world exists in synergy with it instead.

1 Like