EM: First Thoughts on Your Name

First Thoughts on Your Name

I recently saw Your Name for the third time, and plan on a fourth if I can scrounge up the money for another ticket. I’ve only ever seen two movies multiple times before this: La La Land and The Dark Knight, and for good reason. Movie theaters have become the Russian roulette of the entertainment industry. After emptying my wallet for a ticket, I have to smuggle in life-sustaining water like a convict bringing drugs into the pound. If I manage to avoid being scolded by an usher for not buying the meal-priced water they sell, then I’m still only looking at a 50-50 chance for a pleasant viewing experience. It’s up to fate whether or not you sit next to a fatally rude movie-goer.

I kind of sound like a grumpy old man, but it’s just to make my point: a movie has to be exceptional for me to make a second or third trip back. And Your Name was exceptional. I don’t usually write these early reaction, emotional response kinds of posts, but I’ll try give a sense of my pure reactions to the movie before I start talking about specific aspects that impressed me.

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The setting, namely Itomori, is probably the most emotionally moving part of the film for me. Beyond the beautiful background work and lighting that fills every frame, Itomori’s culture and history (and the way they’re presented and developed) absolutely floored me. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a rural town where you knew everyone you saw, and kids got singled out for being part of this or that family, and each season was filled with traditions that (while usually not religious in nature) no one could remember how each started in the first place. There were more bars than gas stations and you had to drive at least half an hour to get to any place of interest. There was even a large lake at the edge of town! Like Mitsuha, all my classmates wanted to escape to the city as soon as they graduated. It was a desire I shared for a while, too.Read More »

EM: Character Acting in Hibike! Euphonium

Character Acting in Hibike! Euphonium

Somehow I went nine weeks into the season without talking about Hibike! Euphonium. Obviously that has to change, and luckily Episode 9 gave me a great example to wrap up an idea I had been working on. The second season of Hibike! Euphonium relies primarily on character acting—as opposed to actions of consequence or dialogue—to portray character growth. Since I like to keep Extra Minutes short, this essay will only focus on Reina, but you can see this technique (though to a lesser degree) used to signal Kumiko’s and Asuka’s growth, too.

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This isn’t groundbreaking, nor is it even all that different from the norm. However, this is a small change from the first season, where we primarily trace character growth via the revelations characters experience or the words they use to describe each other. If you check out my character analyses of Kumiko and Reina, you will see that the best evidence of growth comes from larger, thematically relevant actions or decisions, and less so the way those moments are acted and animated.Read More »

EM: Malleable Designs in Yuri!!! on Ice

Malleable Designs in Yuri!!! on Ice

Yuri!!! On Ice utilizes malleable character designs to communicate varying character identities, relationships, and motivations. This malleability can be seen as early as Episode 1, but Episode 5 provides the best and most interesting example so far. Yuri’s face modelling and costume both change between his performances to reflect significant changes within and around his character.

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Yuri’s first performance is clearly motivated by a desire to execute what he has practiced and impress Victor. Or, rather, to “seduce” Victor. We’ve already seen the androgynous, half-skirted costume in earlier episodes, and it has come to represent both Yuri’s idolization of Victor and his efforts to become a “pork cutlet bowl fatale that enthralls men.” These are two important aspects of Yuri’s identity. In his relationship with Victor, he has (at least up until this point) been submissive. He looks up to Victor, he is Victor’s student, and he performs for Victor’s attention. He manifests this in his efforts to become something beautiful and seductive, something he transforms into on the ice. He spends early episodes learning what his “eros” is, and thus what this identity is. As he explains at the end of Episode 5, he was unfamiliar with love and had to discover it under Victor’s tutelage.Read More »

EM: Subtlety in Battery

Subtlety in Battery

I was glad to discover that Summer 2016 brought with it a promising sports anime—even if Battery is more of a drama than a pure sports anime from what I can tell. Baseball in Battery seems to be a vehicle for story and drama rather than a focus, but I’m fine with that. The show doesn’t attempt to hype up the actual sports-play (think Haikyuu!! showing off Hinata’s jump in Episode 1), but instead spends its first episode establishing character and mood. Appropriately, the directing functioned in service of character and mood instead of the excitement of the sport. Exciting is one of the last words I’d use to describe this episode, but ‘subtle’ is one of the first. Let’s take a look at one scene in particular.

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As Takumi and Go play catch, we begin to see tensions rise. Go pesters Takumi about his pitches being weak, capitalizing on a trigger established earlier by saying “anybody could throw a pitch like that.” From his conversation with his grandfather, we know Takumi doesn’t want anyone to throw pitches he himself can’t throw, so we also know he values his own pitches as being unmatchable. Takumi then angrily orders his brother (whom Takumi has been nothing but gentle and kind to thus far) to get his cleats and starts throwing more serious pitches. Takumi’s shift in attitude and tone clue us in that he’s starting to take this game of catch seriously.Read More »