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13.06.2014
This is a rewriting of the information I gathered over the course of two and a half months in preparation for a panel I hosted at Anime Boston 2016 (click to watch). These were all series that 1) Were completely original stories, and 2) Okada did the series composition for, as well as several if not all the episode scripts.
Very simplified, the Director is the head of the anime, and decides what direction to take everything as well as oversees all parts of production (this task is also passed down to Episode Directors for individual episodes, although they simply do as the Director instructs, and don’t necessarily have creative input*). The first point is perhaps the most important, especially considering how common misunderstandings are in anime. For the record, Hikari actually wasn’t misunderstanding them, he was just lashing out. Characters in her stories will be incredibly, almost idealistically honest to each other about their feelings.
So you would think from all of this talking, then there wouldn’t be any conflicts to start with, right? The climax of many of these stories comes when the main character has gone through a series of painful trials, which only then leads to them learning who they truly are. At this point, I can say that I’ve already hit at the heart of why her writing is so incredible. One vital thing that pervades her compositions are that many if not most episodes will end with a cliffhanger, but this won’t be preceded by a plot twist. To be honest, I haven’t compared it to every single other anime out there, but pretty much all of her series include symbolic birds at some point. This one scene actually indicates the complexities of Hiromi’s feelings and circumstances, and how much she has to hold back in her daily life. I had nothing snappy to connect this to the last point, but it is of vital importance to the enjoyability of her anime. You might not remember if you last saw it five years ago when it aired, but every single member of the Super Peace Busters has their own bit to add to the fateful day Menma died, and it’s slowly revealed from the very first up until the very last episode (seriously, Poppo only opens up in the last 12 minutes). This was my longest run of slides, which is unfortunately almost all examples and not much to define.
Both within single episodes and spread out across entire series, there will be events, conversations, and character developments that occur more than once for different people.
Nako in Hanasaku has some strange episodes between the cour 1 climax and her focus episode in 17 or 18. In NagiAsu, Miuna falls in love with Hikari when he saves her from drowning, but the form her crush and personality takes is all over the place when other writers show up.
That 42 second flashback in Wixoss of the Oath scene immediately after it happens to Yuzuki?
Wew lad, I have to say I was never thinking that deeply about those shows when I watched them, but I did enjoyed the hell out of BRS, AKB0048, Wixoss and IBO.
I know what you mean, of all the ones listed here, the only one Ive watched all the way thru was akb. Before this, I didnt know that she had written all of them, so I cant say it was any sort of bias against her tho. I just clicked the video for a moment and find funny you used the image I extracted from a pixiv fanart from back 2014’s threads, so in some way part of me was there at your presentation may not in physical form but in spirit. SincE I watched Hanasaru Iroha, Nagi no Asukara, WIXOSS and M3: Sonno Kuroki Hagane I realized there was a pattern in her writing but at the same time inconsistencies in terms of scriptwriting. The research you did is outside my usual experience, and I find it hard to trust info without solid sources, especially links without Japanese original sites. I invested my time in watching or rewatching 12 series, over a course of 213 episodes, which totals about 82 hours of straight anime, plus the time I spent taking notes during each episode which is another 30-40 hours, plus the time to collate, interpret, and format the data which is another 20-30 hours. The Director discusses the overall story with the Series Composition writer, who decides the flow for what goes in each episode, as well as all the key plot points and scenes. Even Tsumugu is just taking precautions, not misunderstanding HikariNow, it is important to note here that lies and misdirections do not count as misunderstandings. They will spill out the deepest contents of their hearts, admitting their love or hatred, sharing their secrets, and holding nothing back when a friend or enemy has done something wrong. While they share what they can with others, it’s often not enough, as they must first look within themselves to find the answer.
Art imitates reality, as only with our backs pushed against the wall do our true colors show. Over the years, I’ve spoken with many people about why they love or hate Okada, and I believe that it all comes down to your own personal experiences in life. It tells of a bird who flies around collecting the beautiful colors of the world, until it becomes overburdened, blackened, and dies.
Maybe Okada actually admired this strange girlish tradition and wanted to do it herself, so she lives it out through her anime. Okada makes liberal use of shared bathing scenes, fully believing in the idiom that baring your body relates to having nothing to hide, as mentioned earlier.
You will almost never (at least never that I can recall) see a single, full flashback shown in its entirety the first time. In episode 6, a strange man appears, has an antique house (Clain himself loves antiques), gets mistaken as pervert (like Clain), and in the end gives Clain a rare camera, a prized possession in this future dystopian age. In episode 8, Jinta cries for the first time all series, and it’s then that we see this silent flashback, and Menma begins to cry herself.


Ohana’s reaction to identical text messages from her mother and Kou are like black and white, and the connection between Hikari and the Sea God runs far deeper than you might see at first.
Besides writing characters like a boss, she picks a theme and sticks through it until the very end. In a True Tears interview, we hear that Okada for that series exercised heavy control over the other two scriptwriters, but later felt bad about it.
Hey, what if the same director as True Tears, same studio, same chickens, and same still shots get reused without Okada?
I was able to both summarize and include more info than what’s in the video above, and finally get this publicly available.
I myself will be checking out some of the others to save myself the effort of translating them as I get more info that I missed before. I must admit I’ve never dreamed of looking further than characters and seiyuu with regards to anime, so this was really new and insightful. I admit I really liked that one, but the rest, it wasnt that I hated them, but I just couldnt get into them.
The first clue was she not being the scriptwriter in some episode, but not only that, one could feel through a whole episode if Okada has done the script. I’m pretty much sure you know about how she often self-insert her former herself in her series. But after all of this there is no way I can leave the Mari Okada Bingo I’ve done recently intact, it needs to be corrected. Someone on twitter just happened to ping me (and a few other Okada fans) with a link the day you posted it. I have detailed notes of almost every episode of every single original series Okada has ever written (full disclosure: not M3, Aquarion EVOL, or Gundam). Seeing her name on the staff list is often a surefire way to know you’re in for a good show.
Any potential misunderstanding is immediately shut down by any and all nearby characters, as if they have a medical aversion to them. They are intentional falsehoods used by the characters for their own purposes, with full knowledge that they are deceiving others. In fact, one of Okada’s greatest strengths is in being able to write conflicts and resolutions with conversations grounded in reality, and not rely on fighting or violence.
I legitimately looked for as much as I could find, and there wasn’t enough to even fill out a single slide. There is love born of friendships and rivalries, of familial bonds, of admiration and inspiration. The least of them is Hanasaku Iroha, with the herons always getting in Ohana’s way and being used as a mirror for her emotional stability. It’s also a reading of the name of Takanashi Yomi, the framing of the ED animation, and compared to why nobody understands Mato. Despite the most famous example in BRS, it actually started with her first original series, Sasami.
She won’t console you, but rather believes in you with all her heart that you can overcome your trial by yourself and become stronger. It also starts in summer, has fireworks, letters, phone calls, and so on, all directly taken from the lyrics of the song. Every single song is meaningful, and the episodes are written to incorporate them flawlessly. Both of their LRIGs came to regret being with their Selectors, because the last thing that both Midoriko and Eldora admit are that they loved Hitoe and Chiyori. True Tears has flying and tears, with motifs of the storybook, chickens, and festival dance. Mato was running from her pain, and the entire purpose of the Otherworld avatars is to take your pain so you don’t have to suffer.
A friend associated with the color green who loses her memories of her friends, and who feels physical pain whenever she remembers them. Thus begins her style of composition, of allowing other writers more control over their episodes. But in one episode when he’s feeling particularly down, he suddenly hates old-fashioned things. I do plan on eventually re-watching AKB0048, and hopefully the second time around I’ll have learned a bit from you how to appreciate more of the writing in the series. Even with VAs I dont remember names, mostly it will be if I happen to notice a familiar voice. Yes, I’m talking abou Hiromi, Tsuruko and most likely the new Mako from Kiznaiver or sometimes she adds herself as someone she wanted to become like Noe, Mahmu, perhaps Mayu or the new one Nico. I’ve had no less than half a dozen dreams about how I would never finish this in time and fail once I got to the con, and each one showed a unique way to fail. But when asked why I liked her so much, I could only really answer that I found her characters and their interactions realistic, and maybe give a couple examples. Interestingly, Okada early on in True Tears takes a clear stance on how she feels about liars when Hiromi spends over half the series in regret for lying to Shin’ichirou, and faces the consequences and suffering almost immediately after doing so. This is not actually so rare a concept, but in the wider anime fanbase you see people often completely misunderstand entire stories because they can’t discern the difference.


It’s only at the end of the final episode 11 where we hear what her last wish was, and that was to fulfill her promise to make Jinta cry.
Plus it has the benefit of being one of the most nostalgia-inducing songs in all of Japanese pop culture. This also shows up in smaller ways in how you’ll often see more than one scene running at the same time, with cuts back and forth between them. But to make real connections, to be honest with others, you must learn to accept the pain of hurting others. Kirito in Hanasaku (yes, Kirito, voiced by the SAO guy and named the same thing years before the anime) gets rejected by the girl he likes, only to get his revenge, once again voicing an important side character, by dumping a girl in BRS.
And a girl with white hair who’s horrified of reality and sends out an avatar of herself into the real world to do her bidding. It’s unbelievable how good Spread is episodes 9-12 after the lacking middle part, so much that I feel bad defending it.
I had the privilege of seeing episodes 1 and 2 early thanks to Crunchyroll, and nothing could confirm how accurately I’ve gotten the science of Okada down than proving it with a totally new series of hers and seeing almost every single point I made above being shown one after the other.
Yet, I would like to remind you Okada does perrmit creativity freedom not only for the scriptwriters, but also the storyboarders (obviously, when she is the scriptwriter) according to some interview.
Also, how does the story composition affects the character design, there cannot be coincidence with the Yomi, Hitoe and Mahmu, just to point two stuff by now.
I’m impressed you found this though, unless you had already known it was coming from the few places I mentioned it. After several revisions with the Director and such, the final script is passed down to the Storyboarder who puts it all into visuals, which then goes on to the rest of the team (a thorough explanation of the other roles can be found here, here, or here). Even so recently as Wixoss we see this, with Mayu forcing Tama to hear the truth about Ruuko lying to her in the finale of infected. It’s left as perhaps the most depressing and sobering scene in the entire show, making you really feel how terrible the Fractale system is, rather than just seeing it in others. But when the tables turn and Chieri demands that Nagisa only quit after losing properly to her, we hesitate. This adds together to make Okada-written episodes some of the most dense in terms of pure scene count that I’ve ever seen. Mayu is shown as being made up of only black and white, of being isolated from the outside world. There was obviously something deeper in her style that clicked with me every time, and I wanted to find out what that was so I could share it with others. So, Okada does series composition and scripts, and often is in charge of other scriptwriters as well.
Did you enjoy shallow but fun friendships, or did you like to have deep, meaningful talks about yourself or other members of your group? Afraid to face her fears, she turns around and jumps off backwards, perfectly encapsulating her character in a single action.
The difference in my written notes between episodes she wrote and didn’t are incredibly obvious, case in point. Ano Hana, as well as many others, is all about change with a focus on what makes an adult, as all their time stopped when Menma died. Okada wrote an episode where they become close and hold hands (notable since only people who like Nessa can do so), yet the next episode she didn’t write we see Phyrne hesitant to do the same thing. Then there’s the strange case of Hikari being extra haughty in two school introduction scenes, one before and one after the time skip.
There must be a reason she’s won awards for her work, and keeps on being entrusted with the foundations of all these anime, even being called the most prolific anime writer of our time. But this, too, is left as an exercise for the viewer to work through, to see through her facade to the love she has for Nagisa. The last thing MatoRS resolves to do is hurt IBRS, and thus to connect with her inner feelings. Assuming shenanigans I checked the writers, and as it turns out the same guy did both of those strange episodes with his weird concept of Hikari’s personality.
When I started watching her anime for this, I had no idea what I’d find, if anything at all. Maybe you can relate to not understanding yourself, whether that be you or someone you know, and either accept it or look back with scorn on how foolish you were and the mistakes you made. The Otherworlders in BRS only act because they love their girls, and LRIGs in Wixoss often do the same. No, it’s the beginning of all things, a blank canvas for her to start anew, as a single rainbow butterfly comes from within the fluttering of countless black and white ones from her past life. If even now you can’t understand her, then please try to open up and be more empathetic. Look at their expressions, try to see through the white lies they tell to protect themselves. Don’t ignore or attack perceived inconsistencies—think about why they were deliberately written in.



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