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Meta/fourth wall tricks to carry TRPG play, courtesy of A Japanese Drama…


On Japanese Netflix, there’s this show starring Yamada Takayuki (Yoshihiko, from the “Yuusha Yoshihiko” series) that caught my attention, called “Replay & Destroy“. It’s basically a cute “honobono” series of stories in this Everyville Japanese city suburb. However, the directing/camerawork style is very reminiscent of Guy Richie style wild cuts, hammy but fun overacting, and just general “style way way waaaaay over substance”. It’s got a lock on me, luckily it’s only 8 episodes.

Anyway, there’s this fourth wall trick that they use in at least half the episodes, which really caught my attention as cute, effective, and fun (but totally in the milieu/feel of this drama). You know how in many RPGs the party splits up and does various things, then when they meet up, they have to share the story of what happened while the others were away?

Classically, most of us just chew the time by, in character, going through the five or so minutes of in-character-to-character session brief. Or it can be cut through with a “…Okay, I have (my character) bring (your character) up to speed on what happened…”, and that’s it. This is specifically for events where there’s not an Unreliable Narrator (ex: You go specifically to beat up a bunch of dudes and take their money, then come back and tell the others “nothing happened” or “some folks attacked me, I had to defend myself”, etc), and you’re just doing the in-character telling to another character what your character saw/experienced/etc.

In this drama, though, they do this cool thing: I’ve got two clips below (no telling how long they’ll last) that shows it in action. But basically, the person talking holds out their hands, then proceeds to “jump” their hands from Left to Middle to Right, while saying “Don; Don; Don” (“Don” is the onomatopoeia word for “thud” “bam” “crash-bang-boom”, etc). I guess the English equivalent would be “Ding-Dang-Dong” or “Bing-Bang-Boom”, but I like the one repeated syllable of the original Japanese “don”.

1) Anyway, here is the main character explaining to a friend why he’s stalking out a grocery story (in short, it’s a long tale involving wanting to see why this particular strange person was so obviously shoplifting, and the reason why they aimed to get caught).

“BTW, what are you doing here, anyway”
“Ah, I see. So that’s why you’re standing here and eating that.”

2) In another episode, the main character helps an area neighborhood high school kid get his first pair of boxer shorts to give him some confidence. In the process, his friends (including other high school groups) overhear them and get the totally wrong idea “Three’s Company” style, thinking that there was something going on between them. Sayu and her friends are acting really weird around him, planning some kind of intervention, like “Hey, that’s okay, but he’s a little too young…”

“Seriously, Sayu, what the hell is going on??”
“Don-Don-Don” (more exaggerated than the example above)
“WHAT??? There’s no way that kind of thing is going on here!”


Anyway, it’s a cute little trick, and while it can be imported directly into my Japanese sessions for effect, I’m wondering how to do this in English (“1-2-3”? “Da-Da-Dummm”?). Since a lot of the games I rn or play in have a lot of dialogue, a lot of characters doing their own things then coming back to communicate with each other about what happened, this sort of fourth wall trick would be useful and more fun than just “I tell her what happened”.

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