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.

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