Mushishi Zoku Shou: Path of Thorns
Darkness and isolation were the major themes of “Path of Thorns.” Simple usage of different shades of black background, single subject composition (the hut), and slow tilt movement communicated these themes powerfully.
While shots of darkness dominated this double episode, the more interesting part is the use of small light, specifically candle light. If the shots were constantly dark, it could start feeling monotonic and lose that haunting effect. The shots of candle light provide contrast that help exaggerate the darkness. Losing that small amount of light is more haunting than constant darkness.
The above shots are so simple yet very effective. In the first image, Kumado is staring at the door and waiting for it to slide open. This conveys his feeling of isolation and how he seeks just a brief relief from it. This sets up the second shot, where the audience most likely assumes that he’s again waiting, which makes the cut to his soulless body more unsettling.
Again, the above images are just simple but strong composition. By having the characters off center (Rule of Thirds) we get a better sense of space. These shots illustrate the emptiness, seclusion and gloom Kumado is going through.