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.



The lines drawn between us — cinematography in After the Rain

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.

Yet she cannot tell the pamphlets apart.

She laments that they’re “Definitely not the same” but with her personal context removed, they’re identical.


In defense of Kou Yoshinari’s creatures in Made in Abyss

“I like everything but the monster animation. It’s too weird and jarring with the rest of the show” has been a common criticism of Made in Abyss since its much-lauded debut.

In a world where praying skeletons hint at a cataclysmic end for a past society and the current generation has built their entire infrastructure around exploring a gaping maw in the ground the rough lines and blurred movement of the Abyss’ more fantastic inhabitants is jarring to say the least.



The Belly of the Whale: Cinematography shifts in Made in Abyss

Riko opens her eyes to an upside down view of Reg’s face.

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.

Although the two are surrounded by a safety net of sorts, the visual message is loud and clear: Riko and Reg are well past the first threshold and into the belly of the whale.

Using specific visual framing, Made in Abyss doesn’t let us forget that Riko and Reg are past the point of no return.



Adapting Nichijou (on visual and consumption differences between anime and manga)

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Robot high-school student Nano Shinonome is late for school. She calls back into her house — a small, older unit close to the train overpass — not to a parent but to her young professor before dashing out the door. Running, she checks the small digital watch set in her forearm. It’s 7:50 a.m.. “Maybe if I run, I’ll just barely make it,” she says.

As she nears the first intersection, a blond boy with headphones appears. He hums along to his music while walking. Nano begins flailing her arms like pinwheels in an attempt to stop suddenly. “Watch out!” she yells. It’s too late. The collision causes an explosion felt all over town. A few moments later, debris hits fellow high-school student Yuuko Aioi.