The cold opening of Given‘s first episode was my favorite six minutes of any anime this year. Despite not knowing anything about the story going into the series, these first six minutes floored me with their beauty and focus through framing, cinematography, and willingness to be quiet when necessary. (Too few pieces of media in general, not just anime, know how to be quiet when necessary).
Revisiting it having watched the entirety of the series showcases just how much care they put into this opening sequence.
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.
The fourth episode of After the Rain ends with two movie pamphlets. They’re both from the same movie. They’re also from two different circumstances to Akira Tachibana. The first time, her attendance was coerced. The second time, it was freely given.
Even something as familiar to Riko as Reg’s face is inverted the first time she opens her eyes at the beginning of their journey. The fact that the above framing is thanks to Reg’s protectiveness does little to assuage the sense of foreboding that permeates the entirety of Episode 4.