Visual bookending in Land of the Lustrous (change as shown through scene composition)

The opening moments of Land of the Lustrous feature an isolated Cinnabar huddled on a rocky outcropping. After a moment, they begrudgingly say that it’s time for work. Cut to the daytime, where Cinnabar is nowhere to be seen, but a group of gems runs across a field before one of them, Morganite, stops and calls out for Phosphophyllite. Their leader, Master Kongou, is looking for Phos.

Whimsical music feeds into our natural curiosity about this world. After Phos and Morganite banter back and forth a bit, Morganite is off to fight the Lunarians with their team and Phos goes to Master Kongou. The entire sequence gives us brief, distilled splashes of each gem’s personality. Cinnabar is sequestered and lonely. Phos is capricious and immature. Morganite is confident and decisive. Jade, who Phos passes en route to Master Kongou, acts like an amused older sibling.

In Episode 12, this sequence is revisited — the same musical cues, the same sweeping camera pans, the same players take the stage. Phos’ transformation takes most of the spotlight. It’s easy to see how much has changed for Phos throughout the series. Land of the Lustrous diligently follows every step of Phos’ physical and emotional metamorphosis. Yet, the series isn’t only about Phos. Pulling the camera back a bit reveals all of the gems in Phos’ periphery, all transformed by events in the series.



Kureha Tsubaki and flower language in Yuri Kuma Arashi

The white lily (shirayuri/白百合) is the third image to appear in Yuri Kuma Arashi. First the anime opens with what we learn later is a bear alarm — resembling a tornado or earthquake siren — next, an outside shot of Arashigaoka Academy, complete with a title. Kunihiko Ikuhara loves stagecraft and with less time to work with, Yuri Kuma Arashi‘s episodes are packed with images, often accompanied by specific titles, to set the stage.

Then a white lily appears.


The Visible Storm of Yuri Kuma Arashi

At Arashigaoka Academy, blending in is not only a way of live, it’s introduced as the only way to survive. While the body count rises in Yuri Kuma Arashi, so do the cries from various young women in the series to uphold the status quo at all costs. Sumika Izumino is announced as the first casualty within the scope of the series and all her classmates can say about her rumored death is that it was her fault for going out alone. Friends are necessary for survival. The Wall of Severance is constantly being rebuilt to keep the bears, the others, out. The Invisible Storm consumes those who don’t follow the status quo and stay within the lines.

Blend in completely. Be invisible. Those who cannot read the atmosphere are evils inevitably sought after, found, and obliterated by the Invisible Storm.

For people who are supposed to make a homogeneous background pattern, thereby becoming invisible, these young women — lily and bear alike — are oddly conspicuous individuals.


The Flower Language of the Darling in the Franxx Women

Whether working directly with the language of flowers through naming schemes of the series’ mechs or framing its narrative with floral genetics and reproductionDarling in the Franxx has never hidden its floral influences. It’s also not a subtle show, so when the entirety of Episode 8 is framed by Kokoro talking specifically about floriography — the flowers used for the robot names have always been present in the Plantation 13 gardens — the series is effectively painting a gigantic arrow that says “pay attention” pointed at flowers used within the show.

This is punctuated by an ending sequence that resembles Kiznaiver‘s, assigning a flower to each of the women in Darling in the Franxx. There are a lot of similarities between Kiznaiver and Darling in the Franxx — I’m personally inclined towards Kiznaiver since I think people generally have more trouble fumbling through empathy towards each other than sex — floriography being one of them. Where Kiznaiver used flowers as another frame of reference, dropping hints at the individual pasts of its female characters, Darling in the Franxx uses them unsubtly as possible, going as far to include this small shot at the beginning of this latest ending sequence, again telling us to pay attention.


Atsuko Ishizuka’s clever use of social media in A Place Further Than the Universe


Child actress Yuzuki Shiraishi chooses this hashtag for her Instagram post that depicts a fairly candid shot of her stepping away from an older woman splashing water and onto a cat. The woman is Shirase Kobuchizawa’s grandmother. Yuzuki is on her way to request that Shirase take over her job as “high school girl reporter” along for the ride in the Challenge for the Antarctic expedition.

A well-known actress who according to Mari Tamaki’s (Kimari) internet research has 38,000 followers, Yuzuki shouldn’t have to beg for followers in a hashtag. It doesn’t matter that her idol debut was with a horrendously-titled song, “The Follow-backs Don’t Stop,” there’s no world where someone as popular as Yuzuki should be begging for followers, never mind promising to follow them back, which is often seen as social media suicide. Yet she does, in this post that only has two likes, two reblogs, and zero comments, less engagement than I received last night for random musings about Madeline L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door.

The image doubles as A Place Further Than the Universe‘s third episode introduction, an episode where Yuzuki will later learn that she has made friends without having to try — also that having friends doesn’t mean that said friends will be the sycophants she’s used to, which is actually a very good thing. #IFollowEveryoneWhoFollowsMe might be Yuzuki’s #brand, but it doubles as a reflection of her personal insecurities, distain for certain aspects of her job, and desperate desire to have real friends. Yuzuki opens the episode by trying to pass off her job to the ill-equipped Shirase in order to lead a more normal high school life with her classmates. She ends the episode with three new friends — Hinata Miyake, Kimari, and Shirase — and a promise to go to Antarctica together.