Building castles in the sky is a forte of mine. From a very young age, I immersed myself in books, reading everything I could get my hands on from local library recommendations to my mother’s romance novels (which I really shouldn’t have been reading at that age and definitely didn’t understand until I was much older). In junior high school I found anime through Sailor Moon and never looked back. This coming April I will have been blogging about anime here at Atelier Emily for six years. Anime obviously means a lot to me.
It was all too easy to become lost in the media I consumed. Walking down the street with a pair of headphones, I could suddenly imagine myself figure-skating an olympic-winning routine. At night, I could re-read one of the many books stashed underneath my pillow and imagine myself as someone who wasn’t cold, awkward, and ugly. Instead, I was gregarious, beautiful, and warm.
Initially, it seems like a fairly innocuous shot of backpacks. Yet, in the world of SSSS.Gridman — which uses a variety of pillow shots to create a stifling summer atmosphere in contrast with its kaiju and robot fights — these stills are not only creating a mood but can also tell us a bit about the characters involved. In this case, these three backpacks belong to the series’ main trio: Yuuta Hibiki, Rikka Takarada, and Shou Utsumi. The colors also auspiciously match up with traditional tokusatsu (or really, Super Sentai) color coding.
Studio Trigger and Tsuburaya Productions’ SSSS.Gridman isn’t the first more recent superhero series to riff on what came before — in this specific case, tokusatsu series and Gridman the Hyper Agent. Depending on how SSSS.Gridman progresses, Gatchaman Crowds‘ use of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman as a building block for what it had to say could be an apt comparison. Even the “SSSS” in the title is a reference to Tsuburaya Productions’ own 1994 English-language adaptation of Gridman the Hyper Agent, called Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad.
Winter has always been my favorite season, followed closely by autumn. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the northeast. Perhaps it’s because my parents love to tell an anecdote about how my father had to shovel nearly a foot of snow to rush my mother to the hospital on the day I was born. Perhaps I just love the holiday season. There’s something calming, comforting about chilly weather that invites warm food, soft ambient light, and the coziness of blankets.
Winter can also be bleak and oppressive at times, as the days blend into each other with what little sunlight available casting long shadows in the afternoon, the dull thudding of ice breaking, or the eerie silence of snowfall. One of the best anime examples of this winter atmosphere is The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, which portrays it perfectly through cinematography, lighting, and highly-specified attention to detail. The warmth of breath materializing in the cold air and disappearing, the city lights a backdrop to softly falling snowflakes that melt in Yuki Nagato and Kyon’s hands — even in the cold of winter, warmth can be found.
By contrast, summer is oppressive. The light and heat bears down with palpable weight as cicadas sing a constant, droning chorus in the background. In winter, you can escape the chill with a blanket, a crackling fire, or a warm mug of hot chocolate. In summer, you cannot escape the heat. It makes you lethargic, bringing with it doldrums that limit activity.