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Literature / Brave Story

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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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: 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).
  • Moral Myopia: Mitsuru has absolutely no qualms about harming others if it means his wish can be granted.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Kaori Daimatsu, in the original novel (in the movie, she's Adapted Out). She only makes a few appearances and doesn't have an active role in the plot at all, but meeting her and learning about her horrific backstory has a strong impact on Wataru that remains present throughout the story, to the point where his perception of the Goddess of Fate is an exact lookalike of Kaori.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Mitsuru and Kutz in the movie. The former is brought Back from the Dead, the latter doesn't die in the first place.
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • Guest-Star Party Member: Several characters, including Kee Keema, Wataru and Mitsuru. Even though they don't remain in the party for long, it's still possible for the hero to learn at least one team-up skill with almost every one of them.
  • Ice Palace: The Goddess's country is an (almost) uninhabited city of ice. It wasn't always that way.
  • Money Spider: Averted...slightly. Rather than getting money directly from enemies, you have to take the items they were carrying and sell them to shopkeepers. Later on in the game, you can pick up a bounty for the amount of monsters you kill, which can go up to ridiculously high amounts. Now if only we could figure out why those monsters were carrying precious gems...
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Actually, you can press the R-button at any time in the field or a dungeon to get a hint from one of your party members.
  • Palette Swap: Many enemies have size/color differences for the same race. In general, larger enemies have more HP and attack. The Crazed versions can also be seen as extensions of this.
  • Sequential Boss: The near-identical triplet waterkin and kitkin bandits in Chapter 5.
  • Shout-Out: A sidequest involved defeating a Giant Enemy Crab. After beating it and returning to HQ, the following conversation occurs:
    Trone: Well? What happened with the Giant Enemy Crab?
    Meladee: We stabbed its wea— It's, it's dead, Trone.
  • Stab the Sky: The main character does this whenever he receives a gem.


Example of: