For me, it’s often hard to say what makes good world-building. I’m good at pointing out what I don’t like, but when I find a series that has good world-building in my opinion I often find myself hard-pressed to put a finger on what exactly makes it good in comparison. But let’s try anyway. Post specific examples of something that elevates one series’ world-building in your opinion.

As is customary I will start: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World does a lot of things that I would consider good world-building but it does one specific thing that I find dreadfully lacking in 99% of other series (even those I love to death). ReZero has in-world proverbs. When characters say them for the first time we, as the reader, don’t understand them but we (well, most of us) are intelligent enough to get the meaning from context. I have no idea why a magmarin is laughing when it’s full of holes or how it feels to be a bazomazo bein’ flung back an’ forth but adding those simple lines adds so much to the world by giving the illusion that there is a whole history/fable/story behind those sayings. That this world exists outside the character’s direct sphere of influence and has existed long before. And this is just the beginning. Those specific proverbs above come from a character that is part of a different culture than the people we have seen up to his point of introduction. By throwing around a bunch of new proverbs that sound so far off from what we heard so far, Nagasaki really drives home that this character has his own set of values and views on what’s normal. That’s not only incredible and intelligent world-building but also fucking great prose. It’s “show, don’t tell” in text form.

  • wjs018
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    2 months ago

    What makes good or bad worldbuilding is hard to nail down in words. To me, it is the kind of thing that is often obvious when it is bad, and completely disappears when it is good. In my opinion, that is because good world building is often logically consistent, so it isn’t obvious when it is done well.

    Note that there are mild spoilers about the world in Tsukimichi in the discussion below, but not really any important story spoilers.

    As an example, I have said in the past that I think that the worldbuilding in Tsukimichi is done well. There are many things I can point to, but for the sake of brevity, let’s just look at one aspect of the worldbuilding; the first one that the MC, Makoto, encounters. The world that Makoto is isekai’ed into is ruled over by a Goddess. This Goddess is extremely vain and provides her blessing only to things that she finds beautiful. This one fact dramatically impacts the whole rest of the story and world in many different ways.

    • She thinks Makoto is ugly, so banishes him to the wasteland at the edge of her world.
    • The native hyumans of her world place an extremely high importance on personal beauty to appeal to the Goddess.
    • Non-hyuman species are not liked by the Goddess because they don’t appeal to her aesthetic taste. This causes hyumans to have a sense of superiority and treat other races as either second class or with open hostility.
    • The other characters that the Goddess brings to her world are chosen for their looks over their ability or capability to serve her in the hero role.
    • The hyuman churches double as beauty salons and spas and the clergy treat personal beauty knowledge, techniques, and tools as sacred knowledge.
    • (Mild story spoiler) There is a clergy character in the story that has facial scarring. They always conceal their face with a veil due to this.

    All of these pieces fit together in a logically consistent way and become really easy to overlook because as you are reading/watching it, it all just makes sense and doesn’t stand out. At the end of the day, good worldbuilding falls into the “I know it when I see it” category of things that are difficult to define in a specific way.

    • NineSwordsOPM
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      2 months ago

      Yes, consistent causality is definitively a good point. This is something that I find especially jarring when it’s broken for just a chapter to force something to happen in the story. I read this week something where two super competent characters (there is a ranking system and of all the adventurers in the world they are in the middle two digits) become suddenly incredibly incapable just so that MC can swoop in and save them.