Beautiful Bones -Sakurako's Investigation- Episode 7

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

During the conversation about Sakurako’s autopsy of her pet cat, there was a sequence of close-up shots that only partially framed the face or didn’t show it at all. This practice is quite common in anime, especially during dramatic moments. I think these are done for an effect. Watching a dramatic exchange without seeing the character’s face is visually odd and uneasy, which is an effect that can add tension to the scene. Another effect of these types of shots is they put more emphasis on the voice acting and body language, which at times might be a more effective emotional stimulant than facial expressions.

The aforementioned reasons for these odd and uneasy shots hold true for this sequence in this episode but they also match the mood of the conversation. The visually uncomfortable framing accentuated the naturally unsettling idea of dissecting a pet, an idea that really bothered Shoutarou. There was also a tension between two differing personalities that this odd framing helped bring forth. Shoutarou is more emotionally sensitive while Sakurako can easily detach herself emotionally and think with pure logic.

Another effect of not seeing their faces is when they’re finally shown it can be done for emphasis. Towards the end of this sequence the centered medium close-ups of both characters really punctuated their vastly contrasting feelings on the subject. Sakurako has this cold and unflappable expression, while Shoutarou has a pained and sad look.

There were also a couple of wide shots that were nice visual story images. The first one is a frame within a frame of Sakurako that visually separates the two and reinforces their difference. The second one distorted the size difference. Making Shoutarou appear bigger accentuated his anger and irritation.

Beautiful Bones -Sakurako's Investigation- Episode 6

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The major conflict in this episode was the differing beliefs between Yuri and Isozaki about the issue of suicide. After failing to find the woman they assumed to be suicidal, their disagreement came to a head at the river bank. I thought the visual storytelling in this scene was effective at displaying the conflict, understanding and compromise between the two characters.

Low Angle
High Angle
The first set of visual devices was the commonly used high and low angles. What made the high/low angle usage in this scene a bit different than the usual was it switched on the characters. These switches were narratively driven but also done in practical manner which made the switches feel natural.

If you rewatch the sequence above it starts with Isozaki at the top of the steps and Yuri at the bottom. From a practical sense in order to account for differing elevations of the characters, a low angle was used on Isozaki and a high one on Yuri. Even after Isozaki came down the steps, a low angle was kept on him due to difference in their height. The practical usage also reflected the narrative. Low angle is often used on a dominant figure which is true for Isozaki, a teacher who’s in a position of authority. At this point he was also lecturing Yuri about his beliefs. Yuri is a student expected to defer to a teacher and a high angle reinforced her subordinate status.

When Yuri became more emotionally animated about her beliefs, their positions switched with her at the top of the steps and Isozaki at the bottom. The camera on Yuri switched to a low angle, which matched the change in elevation and the narrative. Yuri’s emotional assertiveness turned her into the dominant voice, which was appropriately emphasized by the low angle. While Isozaki was still stern in his disagreement, there was a tone of acquiescence which was made more prominent by the high angle shot.

The other visual devices used were flat space and deep space. So if you keep watching the sequence, you’ll notice the camera switching to a straight-on wide shot as shown in the above-left picture. Despite the shallow depth of field this shot feels very much like a flat space, it lacks perspective lines or depth in movement. Flat space lacks visual intensity, which was quite fitting to the sense of calmness when the two characters reached a form of understanding and compromise. When Isozaki was reasserting his advisor role, the sequence switched to the more visually intense deep space shots. These have prominent perspective lines as shown in the above-right picture. This visual intensity gave his words more weight. The sequence continued to switch between flat and deep space to match the subtle changes in the mood.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

In this episode the side view wide shot of Araragi and Oikura was used repeatedly in order to function as a constant for the lighting changes. This made the changes in lighting more perceptible, which helped it visually convey the changes in the mood of Oikura.

The first shot was in the beginning of the episode. This shot was at its brightest, which matches the relatively less serious start. As Oikura reveals more about her dysfunctional family, the lighting became dimmer and the shadows heavier which accentuated her state of misery. The third shot was especially apt, since at this point she was describing Araragi’s happy family as so bright to the point of being unsettling.  The contrast between her description of his family and the dimmed room visualized how comparatively miserable her family life was.

In this second sequence of shots it again started off bright although not as bright as the first couple of shots. At this point she was still using Araragi as a scapegoat but eventually admitted he was blameless. This admission caused her to sink further into self-hatred and self-pity, which was reflected by the shot turning dark, with even heavier shadows and the characters almost being silhouettes. Also, there were now rays of light coming in, a visual intensity matching the strong emotions and quivering voice of Oikura.

One thing that was a bit more subtle was in the last shot, where the rays of light on Oikura were shining brighter. In this portion of the sequence, Araragi was encouraging her to find happiness. The brighter light on Oikura seems to signify a tiny glimmer of hope that she found in Araragi’s words.