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Initial Thoughts About Ragnarok Manhwa - Show, Don't Tell

Monday, December 09, 2013
chaos, balder, fenris fenrir, manhwa, ragnarok: into the abyss
I'm currently still reading Ragnarok: Into The Abyss, but I decided to write about some things that I've noticed about this manhwa, particularly regarding its tendency to tell instead of show.

But what exactly does this mean? The phrase "show, don't tell" is something that most will have heard of especially if they are into reading and writing.

This is a very good advice and rule to follow because it keeps readers interested in whatever story you're telling and prevents them from becoming bored with the blandness of merely being told things.

Of course, there's more to "show, don't tell" than that, but this is not a writing lesson, so let's get to the main point of this post, which is that there are several instances in the Ragnarok manhwa wherein I've observed that there was definitely a lot of telling instead of showing. So, what are some of these instances? And why can they be said to be telling instead of showing?
ragnarok: into the abyss, manhwa, show, don't tell
One of the first instances where I noticed a whole lot of telling rather than showing was in Ragnarok Volume 2, specifically in the very beginning of said volume. Before we get to that though, let's recap the information that we know or learned from reading volume 1:

  • We are introduced to a number of characters
  • We know Iris' last name is Irine because it was mentioned in this volume
  • We know that Iris and Chaos are apparently friends since they are traveling together
  • We know they killed that monster for the reward money
  • We know that Sara Irine has been ordered by Freya to stop Fenris Fenrir from getting Guarding Wind, Balder's sword
  • We have an idea that Sara and Iris might be related to each other because they share the same last name and they appear to look alike
  • We know that Skurai is apparently wanted and he appears to have the tendency to talk to his sword
  • We saw two shadows watching Fenris Fenrir
  • We know that Lidia tried to steal from Iris and Chaos

Of course, a lot more things happen than the aforementioned, but let's focus on those for now. Now, when we get to volume 2 of the manhwa, we find that there's this character player handbook of sorts with some information about the Ragnarok characters. There is also a summary of the story so far.

But we soon find that the supposed summary isn't exactly a summary or at least, it's not all a summary as both it and the handbook reveals far more information about the manhwa, which, technically, we should be finding out as we read the series instead of being told outright.

fenris fenrir, ragnarok: into the abyss, manhwa
So, what are these things that we're told in the summary and handbook of volume 2 (none of which we ever know from reading volume 1) instead of shown?

We are told that Iris Irine is the heir of Fayon. We are told that she is being trained by Chaos and that the guy also lives in Fayon.

We are told that Sara Irine wants to take revenge on the city where she was born because it apparently abandoned her.

We are told that Skurai has a cursed sword named Talatsu and that he has a huge bounty on his head. We are introduced to Odin's Beholders and told some things about them. We are also introduced to Lord Irine and also told some things about him such as being the father of Iris.

The summary tells us that Chaos and Iris are off to Fayon for Iris' 18th birthday. Also, apparently, Lidia decided to tag along with Chaos and Iris as the two head to Fayon and they agreed to let her go with them.

We wouldn't have known about any of the aforementioned if we hadn't read the handbook and the summary because these things haven't been shown in Ragnarok Volume 1. Volume 2 (regrettably, unfortunately and even annoyingly) begins as if you already know all of this.

talatsu, skurai, manhwa, ragnarok: into the abyss
The question is why? Shouldn't all of this be incorporated into the story instead of simply being told to us?

For instance, in volume 1, we see the shadows of two people watching Fenris Fenrir. Thanks to the handbook, we know that these two are actually Odin's Beholders, but why couldn't these two have just been properly and formally introduced into the story itself?

It can be easy to miss their shadows in volume 1 because, as of yet, the readers don't know anything about them, much less who they are.

Besides, since they were only just shown as shadows in that first volume, most would probably not pay much attention to them since there are other characters and scenes to pay attention to.

Another question that warrants an explanation is how Lidia ended up traveling with Chaos and Iris. Volume 1 ended with her attempting to steal Iris' weapon and failing miserably. There was nothing about her joining the two on their journey.

Besides, considering how much trouble she caused them, why would Chaos and Iris even let her accompany them to the city of Fayon anyway? How did they all suddenly become friends?

If you start reading volume 2 without having read the summary and the handbook, you'd likely be lost and confused (and it may even cause you to wonder if you somehow missed some pages of the mahwa) because it starts with Iris all by herself.

Considering how it was in volume 1 with Iris and Chaos traveling together, we are immediately confused and wondering why she is alone, where she is and where Chaos is. By reading the summary and the handbook, we find out that they must have arrived in Fayon now and the raveling trio must have split up.

These are just some of the instances wherein Ragnarok: Into The Abyss did more telling instead of showing. What do you think? Do you think the manhwa would have been infinitely more interesting and intriguing if we're shown how things happened instead of being outright told?

- Image with added text was modified by Freya Yuki based on the image by sinvia (CC:BY) from deviantArt
- Said image is meant to symbolize the concept of "show, don't tell" in that, with the figure's eyes closed, she can be told things, but she wouldn't be able to be shown any of these things
- The rest of the pics are enlarged product images from; links shown above via Amazon's Native Shopping Ads widget

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