Literature / Brave Story

A Japanese novel by Miyuki Miyabe. It also became a light novel, which became a manga, which became a movie, which became a video game, which is naturally of a genre that the novel was designed around in the first place. Yes, it's complicated.

Wataru is a fairly ordinary 11-year-old boy living in Japan. He lives with his mother and father in an apartment complex, goes to cram school, tries to impress the new kid in his class, avoids bullies, obsesses over video games coming out, hangs out with his best friend—nothing big or out of the ordinary. He's heard rumors recently about an abandoned construction site and ghosts, but nothing else to report on, right?

Wrong. In the space of just a few days, Wataru's ordinary life is turned over when his parents turn out to have a few dramatic secrets of their own. On top of that, he starts hearing a girl's voice in his head late at night, and three of his classmates get beaten up and then vanish — at the hands of the new kid, using magic.

While visiting the supposedly haunted construction site, Wataru discovers a magical portal to the world of Vision — the place where people's hopes and dreams come to life, and magic is real. Brave Travelers, such as himself, have a chance to meet with the Goddess of Destiny, who will grant those who reach her one wish. Wataru knows exactly what he needs: he needs his family kept safe, and his normal life back. Setting off with only a tiny sword, and the assistance of a jovial lizardman and a cute Cat Girl, he makes his way across the strange world of Vision. But not all is right in Vision. Another Traveler is in Vision, and he looks suspiciously like the new kid. And rumors abound of dark things going on in the sky, of an ancient ritual, and of sacrifice...

Naturally, the Vision parts of this story borrows quite a lot from JRPGs, even a simplified two-option version of the Class and Level System.

Not connected to Cave Story or Brave.

This book and its direct adaptations provide examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Many important subplots and story elements regarding the nature of Vision itself are absent in The Movie, largely because such things would only further prolong the already over two-hour children's film. The movie is still an exceptional work, despite these flaws.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Mitsuru in the movie. He's still far from being a hero, but definitely a lot more sympathetic than in the novel.
  • Androcles' Lion: The dragon Wataru saves.
  • Anti-Villain: Mitsuru in the movie. He's nowhere near as sympathetic in the books.
  • Ascended Extra: The dragon—it's a minor character in the book, but the full-on Team Pet in the movie.
  • Back from the Dead: Mitsuru and his sister in the movie.
  • Beam-O-War: In the movie, one takes place between Jozo the dragon child and Mitsuru.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Vision will exist forevermore, but Mitsuru's dead, never to fix his screwed-up life, and Wataru will never again get to see—and will probably forget—the friends he gave up his wish to save. Oh, and his mom is still sick, in more ways than one. The movie mitigates some of these factors, including Mitsuru's death.
    • Well, we aren't completely sure Mitsuru died in the real world, considering the fact that Wataru came back the moment he left for Vision. We're just told that he moved, but if that is the truth might be debateable.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Kee Keema
  • Captain Ersatz: All of the PSP game characters are slightly altered and renamed versions of the book's characters. To make things more confusing, you meet the book's characters as guest party members in the game, and they all have exactly the same moves as their counterparts.
  • Cat Girl: Meena, of course. The PSP game also features a Cat Girl companion.
  • Class and Level System: Travelers get one of two classes depending on personality. Sorcerer, which uses elemental magic and summon spells and wields a staff - or Brave, which get super-reflexes and a magic sword.
    • In the manga, there are a lot more than that. Cannoneer license, Beast License, Chase License... and so on. There was also one that looks like a maid in the guide's hands.
  • Clear My Name: Wataru in Garsala. In the movie it's over the kidnapping of a baby dragon. In the novel, it's because he was framed for murder.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Wataru's mom, Played for Drama. It's revealed shortly before Wataru leaves for Vision that his father's mistress was the woman he originally planned to marry. Wataru's mom faked a pregnancy and drove her away. Her mental health begins to deteriorate pretty badly when Akira gets back together with the other woman.
    • This is not the case in the movie, however, where his father leaves apropos of nothing, and is generally a Jerk Ass.
  • Corrupt Church: The Church of the Old God in General, and the Church of Cistina in particular.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kattsu/Katz.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Vision, being based on the imagination and fantasies of human beings, features plenty of history that mirrors real-world events, including the Holocaust and even Jonestown.
  • Door Stopper: The English translation runs about 800+ pages.
  • Dream Land
  • Disneyfication: If you see the film before reading the book you will be surprised to find out that
    • Kaori, a character who doesn't even appear in the movie, is left mute and "broken" after being kidnapped - Wataru himself suspects she was raped.
    • Mitsuru doesn't just put the bullies to sleep; the leader is left vegetative like Kaori.
    • Wataru's father doesn't leave to have his own life, he leaves for the woman he was originally intending to marry before Wataru's mother faked a pregnancy and miscarriage.
    • The reason for Wataru's mother's collapse is ambiguous in the movie but in the novel she tries to gas herself and Wataru while they are sleeping.
    • Wataru isn't just accused of stealing, he is caught literally red handed as a serial murderer after waking up covered in blood next door to a grown man with a slit throat.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Especially in the book. To say Wataru goes through hell is putting it mildly.
  • Exposition Fairy: Subverted. It's evil.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against the animal people, mostly.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Lampshaded every time.
  • Five Races: Seven actually, but two are kind of the same and one hardly ever appears.
    • Ankha/Human are Mundane, obviously.
    • Cute: Kitkin, a race of people crossed with adorable pet-type animals, mostly cats. They are essentially like humans but more agile.
    • Stout: Both Waterkin (aquatic creatures) and Beastkin (large land animal men) who have super-strength and are large. Waterkin are more adept at swimming, that's about it.
    • Fairy: Pankin (Rodent people), who excel at magic.
    • High Men: None. In fact, a major theme of the other is that all the races should be treated equally.
    • Also, there's a race of talking birds called the Karulakin who are intelligent and work mainly as clerks. Notably, one of them saves Wataru when he first comes to vision.
  • Funny Animal: Lots of people in Vision.
  • Genre Savvy: Wataru is a big fan of RPG video games, and he's able to do fairly well in Vision as a result.
    • There's also some hinting that because Wataru loves RPGs, Vision is operating on videogame RPG rules as a result.
  • Harmful to Minors: Wataru wakes up to the smell of gas, with his mother passed out. She was trying to kill them both.
  • Head Pet: The dragon, in the movie only.
  • Hot-Blooded: The main reason Wataru matches with the Brave Sword.
    • A lot of people in the manga is this.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Seems to be a theme of the story. Even Wataru, who is ostensibly a good kid with good intentions who is never consciously malicious, is implied to be not only cowardly and jealous but subconsciously racist, vindictive, and even bloodthirsty.
  • I Believe That You Believe It: Wataru's uncle's reaction to Wataru telling him that he saw a wizard.
  • Informed Ability: We are told that the reason that Fantastic Racism is so prevalent in Vision is because Wataru has hidden racist tendencies. Nothing he ever does backs this up at any time. Perhaps it's a Take That! against general Japanese xenophobia?
  • It's All About Me/Moral Myopia: Mitsuru has absolutely no qualms about harming others if it means his wish can be granted.
  • Lighter and Softer: The movie as compared to the book. The movie is, for the most part, a cheerful fantasy romp with some terror splashed in just to keep people on their toes. The book, on the other hand, is nothing short of grim, although it ends well. Ish. The manga is lighter and softer as well (the mangaka even says in the author's notes that it turned out more humorous and fluffy than she'd expected).
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Mitsuru.
  • Murder-Suicide: Mitsuru's father killed Mitsuru's mother and sister and then himself. Another character also attempts murder-suicide, but fortunately doesn't succeed at either.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands
  • Off the Rails: It's heavily implied that much of each Traveler's journey is pre-planned out by the Goddess like an RPG - with them following plot threads and befriending people. Mitsuru ignores these plot threads repeatedly, and instead of following them, kills the NPCs that offer them. And boy does he ever pay for it.
  • Opt Out: Neena the Fairy
  • Prolonged Prologue: It takes a little while (around 200 pages) before Wataru manages to reach Vision. However, Brave Story provides a very good example of this trope done right - The Prolonged Prologue manages doesn't tell us how Wataru's life is screwed up, but rather, shows it.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Really more a case of Death Equals Redemption, in the case of Captain Ronmel.
    • Mitsuru much more than Captain Romnel, as Captain Romnel didn't really "die", and had nothing to really redeem himself for.
  • RPG Elements: Yes, in a novel. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Many variations between versions, for example:
    • Lord Wayfinder Lau in the novel translation, Master Guru Lau in the English subtitles on the Japanese DVD and just Monk Rau in the UK DVD subtitles.
    • Kee Keema in the novel and Japanese DVD but Ki-Kima on the UK DVD
    • Waterkin in the novel, Water Tribesmen on the Japanese DVD and "water Gods"(?) on the UK DVD.
    • Kutz in the novel translation, Kattsu on the Japanese DVD and Cutts on the UK DVD.
    • Meena in the novel and Japanese DVD, Miina on the UK DVD.
  • Selfless Wish: Wataru uses his wish to keep Vision safe.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Mitsuru and Kutz in the movie. Although Mitsuru still died, he gets better.
  • Stat-O-Vision: Mitsuru's staff has this power.
  • Summon Magic: Mitsuru, and all sorcerers apparently.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: The Brave Sword, especially in the movie.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Hoo boy, the first part of the book really puts Wataru through the ringer.
  • Victory-Guided Amnesia: It doesn't take effect immediately, but it is certainly implied that Wataru will eventually forget all about Vision and his friends there. This isn't the case in the movie, however.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Mitsuru and his sister, in the movie only.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: In a more literal sense. Vision is made from the thoughts of people in the "real" world, and there are slightly different versions of it for every traveler who comes there (well, most of the time), depending on that person's ideals and subconscious.

The video game Brave Story: New Traveler provides examples of: