Intentional Spoiling Effect of Starting with the End

Start > Middle > Finale vs Finale > Start > Middle > Finale (full)

Effective? Ineffective? Possibly disputable but opening scenes are one of the biggest pros and cons for any show since it’s the first thing your eyes see and they become the first impression you get out of it. Not all shows have over the top opening scenes (would that be something) to brag about but having one is a surefire way to get the viewer’s attention is by showing them something that will catch their attention no matter what.

You know something that gets me? When a show has a scene from the end as their opening scene. It’s something. Maybe not the very last one as it’d be too much of an spoiler to bear but a scene close to it.

Aside from a show’s premise what do we know about it? Main character, a problem arises, something is about to start (or end). They are musts for a story to feel complete and make sense, which the show will eventually explain  as it goes. When we’re unspoiled of any kind, knowing nothing whatsoever of the show, that is great. When the viewer is ready to experience something new, then it happens. The movie just starts and there it is – the end. Starting with a scene of the end in the highest form of  direct foreshadowing like a premonition like we saw something we shouldn’t.

Who are these people? Why are they (or not) doing that? Based on the little information I couldn’t know and you couldn’t know either. Scenes of dark rooms, out in the open, ones where character is out of himself or herself or maybe the world just ended or something has gone really wrong – absolutely nothing makes sense. Before we know it the show moves back to the very beginning and the story starts as if everything has reset to the very beginning when it in fact it hasn’t because the movie just started.

Opposite to the more standard format of Start > middle part > Finale, everyone is used to, starting with the End (or very close) works out differently and has a strong effect depending on the viewer. This technique operates drastically different by introducing us to the final scenes before kicking things off and transforming it into a Finale > Beginning > Middle > Complete Final. This way we go around counterclockwise by starting with the shocking final scenes moving to the beginning so the show gets back on track to the traditional routine and proceed as planned. The rest is well known history.

On the other hand, there it is also – the already knowing “how the movie is going to end” more or less. When shows start with a scene of the finale there goes the big surprise of “not knowing the conclusion” and no bigger hints are necessary to the big finale. When giving that much info it’s usually enough to figure out how the how is going to turn out. It can sometimes backfire when it wasn’t desirable or expected by the viewer.

At the high risk of spoiling the audience too much, using this technique works great as a real attention grabber, that I have to agree. It’s a surefire to get catch the viewers’ attention. Personally, I’m always interested in finding out what a show is about when they’re introduced to me in this way because of its efficiency and element of surprise. The scene is introduced right away the movie is played and Lo and behold. I don’t know how it happened but I’m now sure that event will definitely happen. The intentional spoiler works as intended. The show intentionally spoils the viewers by giving them a little taste, sneak peak, look into the future of the show’s finale and getting them ready for the show. Probably by this time I’m already subscribing to the show.

What’s fascinating about it? Making sense of it. How the main story gets to that point where everything tells us otherwise. There’s no way it could end like that, right? But it’s still going to happen anyway unless something drastically changes or in most cases that’s how the story goes. What is great about technique is that its best selling point is the story’s development without a doubt. What isn’t so great about it is that takes a portion of the later shocking factor and near conclusion by introducing  at the beginning as an opener. What’s more important is how these shows are constructed, how the current events led up to the final conclusion and putting all the effort on making the show’s story and characters stand out in the best ways possible so the finale’s final conclusion  stills shines for the ultimate form of foreshadowing.

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7 thoughts on “Intentional Spoiling Effect of Starting with the End

  1. Yeah, that spoiler effect is something very dangerous to use. It can be the greatest opening ever or give information in the wrong order giving a totally different impression.

    For example I think the worst case I have found about this is probably Deen’s Higurashi Watanagashi-hen first scene. It gives information we should not know at Watanagashi-hen but in Meakashi-hen, and knowing it at the start gives a completely different feeling and destroys part of the mystery.

  2. I really like that spoiler effect strategy. I love trying to figure out why they got to that point and how it went, and then, when the scene is “revisted”, all the clues that one might have lost or might have not understood correctly suddenly make sense.

    In my case, knowing the ending of Grave of the Fireflies at first didn’t make the ending less depressing in my opinion, even if I could have prepared myself mentally for a sad ending.

    • It kinda spoiled it for me seeing I knew where the story was going but the ending was a bit different than I expected it. Compared to the opening scene the real ending was handled in more sensitive way than the cruel reality of the initial spoiler scene.

  3. Hey Keikakudoori, I’m Aspie Sincerity, a new reader to your blog. I recently checkout out some of your blogs and I really love your style (and I share some of your interests, I’m a Ryukishi fanboy myself). I look forward to reading more of what you have to offer, I’ll be following with interest! You can feel free to check out my anime blog too, Kakera Complex. I’m still an amateur but I’m aiming to refine my skills as time goes on~

    Anyway, interesting post. When it’s executed well I definitely believe a finale opening scene can be extremely effective. I know it was quite a hook when I first watched the Higurashi anime, as it totally contrasted the content of the first episode itself. I don’t think it spoiled TOO much though, it just gave us a little bit of reason to believe that ‘shit was gonna hit the fan’. But I’m still a fan of those kinds of beginnings.

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