This is it. The greatest world.
There is likely to be a lot of Masaaki Yuasa’s work in decade top tens, especially if they include films (which mine does not). Beginning with The Tatami Galaxy in 2010, Yuasa had a remarkable decade that included Kick Heart (2013), The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (2017), and Devilman Crybaby (2019) along with other successful projects and animation guest spots in Space Dandy and Adventure Time.
Ping Pong the Animation surpasses any other Yuasa work for me personally.
“A mysterious night that seemed to span an entire year. If she would be kind enough to tell me about her exploits, I would respond with the memories of mine.”
-“Senpai,” Night Is Short Walk On Girl
Many, many years ago, before I worried as much about anything and everything, I had nights like the one in Masaaki Yuasa’s anime film adaptation of Tomihiko Morimi’s novel Night Is Short Walk On Girl. Nights where the entire world seemed to stretch before me endlessly. Nights where I would seemingly be lost in the Vermont woods until the light of day revealed a small trail behind my campus. Nights that could contain everything from romance to heartbreak, or both.
The time I told my friend smoking languidly in a dirty spotlight outside his townhouse that he was beautiful.
The time a group of friends and I decided to snowboard at 2 a.m..
The time another friend and played beer pong until sunrise using the half-empty bottles abandoned after a house party.
The time, the time, the time.
There’s a lot to unpack in Devilman Crybaby. So much that it would barely fit in a single 12 Days of Anime post.
Just over four and a half minutes into the short film, paneling appears in Doukyuusei.
First, the hands of guitarist Hikaru Kusakabe appear in an isolated panel, centered over black. Next, his band is shown with the lead singer thrashing wildly, the drummer’s hands and hair nearly a smear in the background. Finally, Hikaru is shown again, isolated and still, save his strumming hands.
In this moment, he’s thinking of his classmate — and soon-to-be significant other — Rihito Sajou. The band moves around him, but he’s lost in his own world, as shown by isolating his moving fingers in a panel and later, his still body in a full frame. Paneling is used a few times in Doukyuusei, always to display heightened emotion or to draw attention to the feelings of a specific character. It reminded me of the currently-airing series Scum’s Wish, which uses paneling as its primary visual technique.