“Orange” – Visual & Dialog Interplay

orange

Now that the Summer 2016 anime season is fully underway, I have recently been watching Orange, the newest series from TMS Entertainment and Hiroshi Hamasaki, the director of Steins;Gate. The show is about a high school girl, Naho, who receives a letter from her future self, stating that she has many regrets. The letter contains instructions on how Naho can make the “right” decisions in the past to eliminate these regrets in the future. I was struck by this one particular scene in episode two and just had to write something about it.

Often in anime, dialog sequences are handled with a complete disregard for how framing and depth of field interplay with the dialog to enhance the dramatic narrative and characterization. In cases such as these, you inevitably end up with light novel-like info dumps, flat, uninspired cinematography, or excessive use of visual techniques that value style over substance. Orange is exceptional because of how much depth in manages to cram into a single setting by actually highlighting this interplay.

Let’s take a look at the scene from episode two that impressed me so much.

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An Analysis of Satoshi Kon’s Opening Scenes

Paprika

After having worked my way through Satoshi Kon’s entire filmography, I am left completely in awe of his filmmaking prowess. It is such a shame that Kon, one of very few directors in animation who made realistic, adult-oriented dramas, passed away at the young age of 46 from pancreatic cancer. Even though it has only been five years since his passing, you can already feel the lasting influence of his work.

Countless essays, reviews, and videos have been made about Kon’s masterful cinematography and pacing with some even going so far as to throw out comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick. For this article, I will specifically focus on the opening scenes of Kon’s four films, which are unique because all of them open with a one to two minute sequence that establishes the overall concept of the film with just visuals and music alone. A lot of animated films used to do this historically, but it has fallen out of use in recent years. Satoshi Kon brought it back, and his opening sequences are among the best in animation.

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“When Marnie Was There” – Quietness and Intimacy in Animation

Marnie 6

The gentle blowing of a breeze near the sea. The sound of the water coming onto the beach, and then receding back into the vast ocean. The sounds of wind chimes and seagulls and cicadas during the warm summer months. All of this capped off with a sweet, nearly invisible musical score of piano, strings, oboe, and harp. This is the ever present soundscape of When Marnie Was There, the most recent and possibly last feature film from Studio Ghibli.

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The History of Music in “Fate/Stay Night”

Fate:Stay Night Logo

The Fate/Stay Night franchise is massive, spanning a multitude of visual novels, anime series, films, OVAs, spin-offs, manga, and video games. However, it all started with a visual novel from 2004 made by Type-Moon. Over the course of the franchise’s many iterations, the voice actors and actresses have miraculously managed to reprise their roles each and every time. The character designs have changed slightly, but overall have remained consistent with the designs from the original 2004 visual novel.

The biggest changes made to the franchise over time have been in the writing and directing, variations in adaptation styles, and the music, which is what I will be focusing on here. So many hands have touched this storied franchise, and it is all of these variations that make the Fate universe so rich. I am very much intrigued by how much the music has presented these characters and stories in such different ways.

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The Whistle Scene – Why “Digimon” Means So Much to Me

Digimon Logo

One of the most important scenes from any show or movie, a scene that defined my childhood and instilled within me a vast array of emotions and ideals, is the now famous “whistle scene” from the original Digimon Adventure film, directed by Mamoru Hosoda. To adults who did not grow up in this generation, it can be hard to see why this scene, and the Digimon franchise as a whole, is so meaningful to me and the thousands of children who also witnessed this incredible work of animation.

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“FLCL” – Perspective

FLCL 10

I first watched FLCL during my senior year of high school way back in 2011. Back then, I had seen very little anime outside of Studio Ghibli, Makoto Shinkai’s films, and a handful of mainstream anime series, such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Bakemonogatari, and Fate/Stay Night. I had just started reading the popular animation blog Cartoon Brew, and was only just beginning to understand the many intricacies of the art of animation.

I have been on kind of a Gainax kick recently, so I decided to re-watch FLCL. Originally, due to the fact that my knowledge of animation was so juvenile, I thought that FLCL was simply an over stylized drug trip. Now, many years later, with my new acquired knowledge of the animation medium, I have realized that FLCL is…. An over stylized drug trip. That being said, there are so many things about it that I was unable to notice before. The design of this anime is absolutely astounding. The narrative, although short and filled to the brim with comedy, is still incredibly dense. The biggest change, however, was my reaction to FLCL. This time, I truly felt it. I felt the emotions imbued within the animation.

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