Abrupt endings?

This is less of a blog post and more of a question I’d like to put out there in regards to the books I’ve read in Japanese thus far.

Up until the past year or so, my consumption of Japanese media has been television shows and manga mainly–situations where translations are usually available. Perhaps due to the nature of such types of media, I have felt like the pacing in them has been slow and gradual, including the endings. Series often end with a giant confrontation and a wind-down period, which is something I’m very familiar with in western storytelling.

You might remember a little story chart that your English teacher might have pushed on you at some point when you were in school, listing the main parts of a story. The exposition and world-building, introduction of a conflict, events that lead to rising action, the climax or turning point, then the falling action and denouement that leads to the end of a story. Sound familiar? Yes?

Well, in my very limited experience in reading Japanese novels, I’ve noticed that the denouement seems very… lacking.

I’m not sure if this is me messing up the translation of a story, if it’s due to the type of story I’ve read, or if this is how storytelling generally works in Japanese. But in every situation this seems to happen:

Characters: Oh no, the final confrontation is happening!
Final Confrontation: *Happens*
Characters: Well, that happened. Let’s go party, everything is fine!

There’s very little time given to reflect on the (usually) major, life-changing things that just occurred. The Bad Guy just got thrown over a balcony? Let’s go to the dance party and ignore that. Faced off with your ex for the first time in over a year? Let’s go drink coffee and pretend that didn’t happen.

It’s a little jarring, and feels like reflection is not so important as giving the characters a happy ending. Mind you, I’m thrilled the characters ARE given that, especially considering what they go through in some stories! It’s different, and it reminds me that storytelling, while sharing several similar elements throughout the world, can have varying important elements to them.

What do you think? Have you noticed this pattern as well, or have you experienced something entirely different?

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