Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd Season - Episode 10

Saturday, December 20, 2014

This episode of Mushishi told a story of a man whose memories and physical being merged with a supernatural tree. The visual narrative sets up the fusion between man and tree with the use of color, tone and space.

These wide shots of Kanta blend him with the color and tone of the woods as if he’s almost part of it. Kanta’s clothing share the same brown color and moderately grey tone that dominate his surroundings. The limited color and tonal separation between Kanta and the woods served as visual foreshadowing of his eventual transformation.

Another thing to note is the use of shafts of light as leading lines. Even though Kanta blends with the environment the leading lines keep the audience’s attention on him

In the scene leading up to Kanta’s fusion with the tree, regression in spatial depth were used in the wide shots to reflect his transformation. The first two wide shots use deep space composition to emulate a three dimensional world. The first accomplishes deep space by having Kanta moving in the z-axis (away from the camera) and the second shot does it differently by using a high camera angle that creates perspective lines (tree stump). As the scene approaches his transformation the sense of depth decreases as evident by the last two shots. These shots have limited spatial depth; strong depth cues that are perspective lines and z-axis movement are gone. Frontal planes (background, mid-ground and foreground) become the main but weaker depth cues. By limiting depth the spatial separation between the tree stump and Kanta decreases and helps create a visual build up of his transformation.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis - The Temptation of Jeanne d'Arc

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The temptation of Jeanne d'Arc was strongly told through visual storytelling. The use of light, shadow and other compositional elements painted a picture of a character whose core beliefs are about to be shaken.

In Episode 9 Jeanne was accused of being a witch and imprisoned. In her prison cell she prays to a carving of an angel. The scene then cuts to a canted angle of the angel carving (image above). The canted angle was not only used to produce a sense of unease befitting the scene but also to visually portray Martinet’s attempt to shake her beliefs.

The shot above is the strongest compositional representation of Jeanne’s predicament. In a show about demons and gods, a ray of light can be strongly associated with heavenly beings and a way to portray one as holy and ethereal. Jeanne praying in the dark, separated from the ray of light, conveys the lost of her saintly image and a sense of abandonment by the gods. Of course this imagery reinforces the belief Martinet want to instill into Jeanne.

After Martinet tried to convince Jeanne that she has been betrayed by her fellow humans, the scene goes back to an insert of the angel carving. This was to reinforce her dedication to the gods as a holy knight. Later on this image is used for an opposite effect.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) Episode 10

Friday, December 12, 2014

The cold intro was my favorite moment of this episode. As beautiful as the aesthetics of this show can be a times with its vivid imagery and stylistic close-ups, the constant usage can dilute their effect. Low key moments like this cold intro function as a breather from both a visual and pacing standpoint. It’s just a plain scene of two friends having a conversation while walking home from school. This simplicity allows the characters’ actions and dialogue to speak for themselves, such moments can even provide a purer sense of sincerity.

The scene starts with a tracking shot of electric lines as Watari laments his delayed journey to stardom. Then it cuts to panning cutaways of the street. Without even showing the characters the scene establishes what’s happening. We know they’re walking due to the tracking shot and we know their surroundings due to the cutaways. Also, by not showing the characters it slows the scene down for the intended subdued effect.

The characters are finally presented with a use of a tracking shot. A good portion of the dialogue was done with a tracking shot at medium close-up or close-up. I think the intention was to make the audience feel like they’re walking along with the characters, which puts more attention to the dialogue. By engaging the audience this way, the simple act of Watari asking “You still can’t hear?” and Kousei lightly squeezing the music sheet results in a genuine expression of pain.  As we continue to follow these characters, Kousei then stops and expresses his fear of not being able to hear music again. Stopping the tracking shot as the audience follows along is a simple dramatic effect that becomes more impactful when actions and dialogue are the main focus.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) Episode 8

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The camera work used for Takeshi’s and Emi’s performances differed from each other in order to present their differing play style and motives. Even though both share a similar desire to overcome Kousei, their approach was different and the camera work reflected that.

Takeshi’s performance was an exhibition of technical excellence and skill; facets where he’s trying to surpass Kousei. The performance had a confrontational and competitive feel to it. To convey Takeshi’s competitive spirit, much of the camera work were zoom in/push in shots that put more focus and attention on his intense performance.

While Emi’s is also trying to surpass Kousei, her performance was less about competing but more about reaching out to Kousei. She wants the old Kousei back, the one who played with emotions and inspired her to become a performer. Emi is a performer that wears her heart on her sleeves and through this she uses music to send an emotional message to Kousei. This is reflected by the tracking shots used in her performance. The lateral and forward movements of the camera felt like an emulation of Emi’s message travelling through her music. Just like her message to Kousei, her emotions travel and flow and this is expressed by the travelling movement of tracking shots.

Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd Season - Episode 5

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mushishi just does simple and subtle composition so well. Upon first viewing it’s unnoticeable but nonetheless effective in telling the story and quite fitting for the understated drama the show is going for.

The shots above are from the dialogue between Ginko and Gen’s father prior to the flashback about the mother. The first shot is a simple off center shot of the two. The camera is angled on them from the right side. This angle conceals the right side of the room and tells the audience to ignore that area. The dialogue progresses to the second shot, where Ginko looks off screen to his right, suggesting that there’s actually something of interest there. It then cuts to a shot of Gen, showing that Ginko knew all along that he was listening from behind that side of room and he means to reveal the truth to him unbeknownst to his father. This sequence is a good example of misdirection (concealing the right side) and redirection (shifting Ginko’s eyeline to the right) to build drama in a subdued manner.

These shots are after the flashback. As you’ll notice in the first shot, the camera is now angled on them from the left side, effectively showing the right side of room (sliding door). By doing so, it now includes Gen into the conversation from behind the sliding door. This also sets up the emotional part of the scene when Gen finally opens that door and pleads his desire to see his mother.

The intro to this episode was beautifully done. Not only does it build interest in a key story element but also uses it for an elegant wipe transition.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) Episode 6

Thursday, November 13, 2014

This show continues to use lateral tracking in interesting ways. There was the Kousei tracking shot in Episode 2. Then, there’s the tracking shot of Tsubaki in Episode 5 that made use of the lateral movement as a wipe transition to a brief flashback.

In these tracking shots both characters lack nose/lead room and the framing is obviously unbalanced. The lack of balance is uncomfortable to look at. For this scene it was meant to be that way in order to convey Tsubaki’s uncomfortable realization that Kaori’s usage of “we” did not include her with Kousei.

Also, notice how the two are framed at opposite sides to each other and in the overlay (third image) of the two shots they’re facing away from each other. The mismatched visuals of the two reflect their incompatibility and Tsubaki’s lack of feelings for him.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) Episode 5

Friday, November 7, 2014

This episode had many captivating moments that pull you into investing yourself into these characters. These moments were primarily constituted of effective use of unbalanced framing, tight/extreme close ups and timely insert shots.

The Hospital Scene

The mini-flashback starts with an insert shot of Kousei pressing the piano key. This drives the point that he did try playing but still unable to hear his own music. The extreme close up of his eyes is to show him envisioning his performance with Kaori that he wants to recreate. Another insert shot of his finger hitting the key shows how out of reach that moment is. Seeing him repeatedly hitting the key only to just hear a thud adds so much melancholy to this sequence. The extreme close up of his ear is a visual of the sound of the piano not reaching him. All of these insert shots and close ups serve as emotional build up to when it finally cuts to an evocatively sad full-shot of him covering his ears. This last shot is also an unbalanced one (small lead room), which creates a visual of his seclusion from his music.

Also, the camera was shaky and was shifting in and out of focus. The combination of these effects, created an unnerving feeling that emphasized Kousei’s struggle and pain.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis Episode 5

Monday, November 3, 2014

The obvious attention grabber of this episode was the large scale battle scene. It’s hard not to be amazed by a battle that included dragons, trebuchets, sorcerers and a flying castle but what caught my eye was the fight scene between Favaro and Kaisar.

The sequence starts with a worm’s eye view of Kaisar attacking Favaro. The camera actually pulls back in this shot, which makes the shot more dynamic. This is evident by the perspective changes in the background. It almost functions as a follow shot that involves the audience more into the action.

After a couple of cuts, the scene proceeds to a brief shaky cam wide shot. The wide shot establishes the characters positioning which sets up the continuity of the closer shots that follow it. The shaky cam adds a bit of dynamism but also makes the transition from the wide shot to the steadicam-like shots less jarring.

Sora no Method Episode 5

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The last flashback sequence made good use of matching character and camera movements in order to connect the present and the past.

The sequence begins in the present with a static shot of Yuzuki running to meet her friends for the supposed fireworks. It then cuts to the past, where we see different tracking shots of Yuzuki running to meet Nonoka to see the fireworks but ended up getting lost. Even though it begins with a static shot, the forward character movement matches well with the tracking movement in the flashback. This almost acts as a match on action cut from the present to the past.

The similarity in movements between character and camera creates a nice parallel between the present and the past. The flashback shows her running aimlessly and unable to fulfill her promise, which caused her to be lost as a person. The present shows her running with conviction. She has found herself and seeking to reconnect with her friends and finally fulfill their promise.

Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd Season - Episode 3

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Visual repetition is an effect often used by the Mushishi series to convey the importance of certain story elements. Often times, the repeated visual is related to the Mushi’s affect on humans. When implemented properly, repetition can lead to visually meaningful scenes. In this episode the repeated story element are shadows, specifically during sunset.

The last shot (bottom right) is the dramatic culmination of the repeated images of shadows. The insert shot of the husband’s shadow sets up the moment when he offers to switch places with Akane's shadow as a form of repentance.

You can go back as far as Season 1 – Episode 2 (The Light of the Eyelid) to see examples of visual repetition. In this episode you’ll see repeated shots with bloomy sunlight and sunrays.

This shot is a well balanced composition that demonstrates the equivalent visual of weight of the two characters. The husband is in the background but draws attention with the use of frame within a frame and by being centered. Mikage provides counterbalance by appearing bigger in the foreground. This balance not only enhances the impact of the revelation but also reflects the burden they’re now equally carrying.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) Episode 4

Thursday, October 30, 2014

As good as the performance scene was, what struck me the most was the scene between Kaori and Kousei prior to the performance. The constant eye contact between the two, demonstrated through close-ups and extreme close ups, really showed their strong connection. The visuals also exceptionally complement the dialogue.

The scene starts strong with a close-up of the two in order to immediately capture the viewers’ attention. The viewers are drawn to Kaori as much as Kousei. In effect, this made the dialogue sink in more as she tells Kousei to look at her and look up with more confidence.

It then cuts to medium-long shot, which breaks the intimacy but in a good way since it slows the scene down for dramatic build up. This shot also gives the viewers an overall sense of their contrasting body language. Kousei is sitting stiffly with arms and hands still mimicking practicing the piano, while Kaori has a more relax posture.

The medium-long shot was the build up for the extreme close-ups. Kousei’s wide eyed expression is full of amazement as Kaori encourages him with a look of confidence in her eyes. While the use of low and high angle shots were mainly for continuity purposes they still reinforce the state of the characters. The high angle on Kousei portrays him as the emotionally weaker character while the low angle on Kaori makes her look more admirable.

Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd Season - Episode 2

Saturday, October 25, 2014

This was a riveting time loop episode where we witnessed a man relive both his regrets and his happiest moments in life. Each loop of Kaoru’s life were shot slightly differently in order to avoid being overly repetitive. That in itself wasn’t very interesting but there were some subtle changes that complemented the tension building done by the superb pacing.

These shots are the first and second time that Kaoru was shown entering the tunnel. In the second shot, Kaoru is farther into the tunnel which visually communicates how he’s being absorbed deeper and deeper into the time loop.

Time loop stories are built on sequential patterns. The insert shots (first two) of Kaoru taking a step into the tunnel were part of that pattern. After being made aware of his situation by Ginko, we started to anticipate if he will break the pattern. The first two insert shots helped build this anticipation that made the third insert shot of him stepping away from the tunnel even more gratifying.

After Kaoru entered the tunnel to save his wife, the loop was restarted from her perspective. The top row is Kaoru’s time loop and the bottom one is the wife’s. As you will notice, the wife’s time loop was consisted of POV, over the shoulder, and side view shots done from her vantage point.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) Episode 3

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The cinematography in this episode was a bit of a mixed bag. Although a bit too obvious, the use of desaturation to visually equate musical deafness to lacking color was a nice touch. There were also hints of this in the first episode. On the other hand, some of the compositions in this episode were shoddy.

The first three images are examples of desaturated shots of Kousei that acted as visual metaphor to his loss of musical hearing. In contrast, Kaori was visualized brightly and colorfully, which reflects her bubbly personality and enthusiasm for music.

Another nice touch was the change of the scenery from warm to cold colors after he revealed to Kaori his affliction.