The opening sequence of Horimiya, a combined effort from series director Masashi Ishihama and Haruka Iizuka, is stylish and purposeful. It has a similar stylishness that the opening of the Ishihama-helmed Persona 5 anime adaptation had without a similar burden of the original source material. Characters are placed into boxes that don’t quite match up, or placed next to boxes and panels of things we don’t yet understand as an audience, but likely mean a lot to the person they’re placed beside.
Even when characters are in the same room, like the shot above of the two main characters (Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura) with two side characters (Toru Ishikawa and Yuki Yoshikawa), none of the backgrounds, lighting, colors, or physical presence add up. They’re all in the same classroom, and same class, but don’t exist in the same space.
For a series that is all about the gap between one’s private and public life, this opening sequence is the perfect visual introduction.
When Flip Flappers first introduces Cocona, she is trapped in a sterile classroom taking a test. The shifting of sand is heard rather than the ticking of a clock — an hourglass resembling a Rubin vase takes the place of a traditional clock face mounted on the wall above a white board.
Rubin’s vase — named after its creator, danish psychologist Edgar Rubin — shows two shapes only one of which can be recognized at any given time. You can see the hourglass, or you can see two faces with negative space between them. While your mind can recognize that there are two things to see available to you, your eye can only focus on one at a time.
This plays tricks with the way the human brain generally perceives objects — by establishing depth and separating figures or objects from the ground. Ambiguity, like the less distinct image of Rubin’s vase, allows our minds to take the lead in perceiving the object in front of us. Do you see an hourglass or two faces first?
The sung benediction of “Miracle ro-ma-n-ce,” in Sailor Moon‘s opening, “Moonlight Densetsu” never resonated with me in spite of its inherent catchiness. For me, Sailor Moon was never about romance. Instead, it was about kicking butt – figuratively, in the case of Ami Mizuno, or quite literally, in the case of Makoto Kino – and looking amazing while doing so. Additionally, was the message that even I could find friends who would like me for who I was, as trite as that sounds. I may not have resonated with Usagi Tsukino, but I desperately wished for a friend like her.