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.
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 »
Directing the Heart – An Isshuukan Friends Analysis
While Isshuukan Friends did have its issues—primarily a wimp protagonist and lack of romantic resolution—it makes up for those issues with fantastic atmosphere and moments of stellar directing/editing. Shougo also saves the day on an almost episodic basis, showing that the writers were at least aware of what they were doing to us. It’s a little like they wanted to punch us in the face, but were at least kind enough to bring us an icepack afterwards. For the sake of time, let’s blame it on the manga artist and move on.
In this essay, let’s figure out how smart directing can turn a small conflict into a powerful drama. If you’re interested in atmosphere—don’t worry, I have an essay on that coming as well. Now, prepare yourself for a lot of pictures. At the beginning of Episode 4, Hase is insecure as usual, and is struggling to express himself to Kaori (as usual). A rift is about to slash through their friendship, just as the cloud streak and bar of the fence slice between them visually. These characters are very clearly about to have an issue with each other.
This is more symbolism than anything, but this episode throws way too many dandelions in our face to not mention it now: dandelions symbolize friendship in this show, specifically the kind of fleeting friendship Kaori experiences because of her memory loss. The dandelion seeds drift away as easily as her friendships might if she doesn’t work hard to maintain them. Obviously, the two dandelions in this shot represent Kaori and Hase. Actually, this will be super important in a second, so remember it and keep an eye out for dandelions!Read More »