A Pattern of Storytelling, “Ki-Shoo-Ten-Ketsu”



  1. Two movies
  2. What is the storytelling pattern “ki-shoo-ten-ketsu”?
  3. The two movies and the “転 ten” parts
  • Japanese translation with Ruby ルビ付き和文


1. Two movies

Earlier this year, I saw the Korean movie “Parasite” during the flight back to the US from Japan. Last year, I saw another film, a Japanese one, titled “Shoplifters” on a similar flight.

Both movies were very interesting. They both centered on a low-income family of parents and a few children, but their situations and the developments of the stories were very different.

“Neta-bare” is a shortened way of saying “neta ga bareru (the materials are leaked)” and means being a spoiler, or spoiling your pleasure of experiencing a movie by telling you the whole plot.

We just wanted to tell you that they reminded us of an idiom called “ki-shoo-ten-ketsu”, a basic storytelling pattern familiar in Japan.

2. What is the storytelling pattern “ki-shoo-ten-ketsu”?

“Ki-shoo-ten-ketsu” is written “起承転結” with Chinese characters or kanji. It is one of those century-old Chinese words. Initially, this word would denote a style in the Chinese four-line poetry writing. In modern Japanese, however, the meaning has changed and it means a pattern of storytelling in such things as novels, TV dramas, movies, manga, as follows:

First, the “起 ki” kanji means “wake up”. It symbolizes the opening of a story. Commonly, a story begins with a handful of characters in a certain situation.

The second kanji, “承shoo”, means “receive”. It means the natural development of the story from the initial condition. Except that it only looks natural. Usually there is a gradually growing tension in it arising from a fib, a small discontentment, uneasiness, a hidden contradiction, etc.

Then comes “転 ten”. It means “roll” “turn to another direction” or “turn something over”. Often the climax, “転 ten” is materialized in a sudden occurrence of something unexpected. It can be an irresistible explosion of a feeling, as happened in “Parasite” and “Shoplifters”, or a natural disaster totally irrelevant to the story.

Lastly, “結 ketsu” meaning “tie” or “close”, symbolizes the end of the story with the conclusion or the results. Because of the event or action which took place in the “転 ten” part, the situation or the relationship of some of the characters has changed permanently.

3. The two “転 ten” parts

From what I believe, the Japanese generally consider that “ki-shoo-ten-ketsu” is the basic pattern of storytelling. In Wikipedia, however, it may be only Japanese who think so.

Anyway, I felt the “ki-shoo-ten-ketsu” pattern was followed in both movies “Parasite” and “Shoplifters.” Maybe I simplify the stories too much but I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about the concept of “Ki-shoo-ten-ketsu”. I hope you understand.

What’s wonderful was the stories, particularly the “転 ten” parts, were so different. And yet they are both pertaining to families living in a big city in Asia and hard up for money.

After seeing one of them, I left the theater (figuratively) with some sweet sadness and a sense of resignation. On the other hand, after the other, I left feeling desperate. There were sadness and resignation, but they were mixed with anger and made me think if there was anything I could do for their situation. 

We may already have neta-bare (spoil)’d some; we will tell you no more. Let us hear what you think when you see them.

[End of the English post]



目 次

  1. ふたつのえい
  2. 「きしょうてんけつ」とは?
  3. ふたつの「てん」のぶん


1. ふたつのえい





2. 「きしょうてんけつ」とは?






3. ふたつの「てん」のぶん







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