Gal & Dino isn’t perfect. A similarly esoteric follow-up to Pop Team Epic from Jun Aoki and his team at Space Neko Company and Kamikaze Douga, Gal & Dino is comparatively slow, replacing frenzy with a relaxed slice-of-life feel. Pop Team Epic fans may be (and have been) disappointed with this first episode.
But someone on staff knows their fashion magazine photography and I am here for it.
That someone is Tomoe Nakano, the Kamikaze Douga artist who directed and storyboarded Gal & Dino‘s opening sequence. It begins with a short piece of animation that follows the unnamed (thus far) Gal into her home where the Dino is seated at her table. Cue a live-action cut after the title drop to a person in a Dino costume dancing around the Gal’s apartment.
This is followed by the most impressive and energetic part of the opening sequence, despite the fact that it’s effectively a series of still shots quickly shown one after the other. The quality of these could show up on any Instagram influencer’s stories or photo feed, and reflect how a modern “gal” would be using social media platforms. Influencer feeds and fashion photography bleed together frequently, and the Gal & Dino opening uses this to create something creative, weird, and pretty to look at (which is the end all, be all of fashion photography as it is).
Both the Gal and Dino are never shown in the same medium together. For example, the snapshot above — which looks like it’s lifted from an influencer’s stories after taking photos at a trendy café opening — Dino is printed on the takeaway cup and we only see Gal’s real-life hand (nails on point).
Other sequences pair the live-action Gal with a drawn Dino, followed by a fully-drawn Gal and Dino — although Dino is still integrated into the scene somehow, like the silly party straw that Gal is drinking from.
At other times, Nakano employs Gal’s surroundings and integrates Dino into them while Gal is posing for photos like the graffiti or wall tiles in her background. Some of these photos appear to be very specifically chosen and posed (like an Instagram feed) while others attempt to be candid shots — although they’re still the type of “candid” that magazines and social media influencers choose.
Gal’s face is never shown, regardless of whether she’s drawn or it’s her real-life stand-in, while Dino’s goofy open-mouth grin is always visible.
Another way of pairing the two is by showcasing Dino within Gal’s belongings. He appears several times in makeup and food shots that you would also find in an influencer’s social media feed or as photographic beats in a magazine shoot. The effect is like an I Spy photograph where the viewer plays “spot Dino” before the opening moves on to the next shot.
One of the most common criticisms of Gal & Dino will be that the premise — Gal randomly invites Dino back to her apartment after a night of drinking and he just hangs out there — is thin. Yet, as shown by Nakano’s opening sequence (and other parts of Gal & Dino‘s premiere) that leaves a lot of room for creativity and exploration.