Toradora ED – Orenji (English Variant)

A new experiment – song lyrics! Basically, trying to make lyrics that actually match the meter of the  tune. I thought about this after looking at the different language variants for Adventure Time stuff – and where the languages were good at or failed to translate over.

The following lyrics is for the full 4min version of Orenji. I decided to keep Orenji katakanized (because it’s hard to rhyme with orange) & I changed some of the song’s meaning. Rather than a sour orange turning sweet – this is about a sweet orange turning possibly more bittersweet. Since it’s song lyrics – you can probably add or displace a few words, and add a bunch of connectors or stretch out some words here and there depending on your own preference. I used em-dash to notate as to how I read it in my head.

There’s probably a bit of problem with the ‘away’ ‘say’ ‘today’ part – because that leaves the line hanging in English, but it’s supposed to end with a past tense ‘ta’ which gives it finality.

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How To Use Mayoiga

  1. ART BLENDING

Let me teach you the secret of how to jump from critic to artist. Never go into anything with the mindset of ‘is this good or bad’ but always go into the mindset of thinking ‘how can I use this’. As a work of art I can assure you that Mayoiga absolutely does not cut the grade, but as a tool for learning the trade – it’s amazing.

Mayoiga has a very special kind of atmosphere that only seems to appear in Japanese works, at least from what I’ve seen so far, and – in rare cases – some Western works. This is the sacred boundary I call the “zero-distinction between tragedy and comedy”. If you can wield this weapon like a master you will conquer the seven lands and seven seas. Mayoiga tried to wield this mystical device, but failed miserably at being cohesive. Yet, it’s precisely this failure that helps to pave the road to success.

Into Neuroaesthetics, there’s this concept known as the ‘blend’. Neuroaesthetics claims that the power of art comes from its ability to create emergent and new emotions from a human’s ability to model multiple things together. For example, Picasso will frequently draw a face that can also be seen as two faces kissing each other, and he’ll use a different color from each side. Now we perceive this face in two ways, and then we blend it in our heads as one. That’s the secret of Picasso’s genius. Because he understood the human body so well from his early realist forays, he could very easily create a blend by twisting the human body into shapes so that the form barely escapes our modeling sense. We hold a model of the face in our head, but also a model of the kiss – which is linked together in Picasso’s art. This then opens a new vista of meaning – Picasso could be commenting on the two-facedness of people’s character, or the unity of separate emotions in a single person. Yet, this is just an intellectual interpretation – the most important thing is Picasso lets us feel this intuitively through the blend.

The blend also occurs for feelings. One of the examples they list is Nostalgia – an emotion that stems from happiness, yet blends into sadness. It comes from the rumination of a happy memory that becomes painful in our current circumstances. You can foresee that if our mental ability gets larger, we may be able to achieve higher blends – and as a result we’ll see stranger and stranger and more sublime kinds of emotions. That’s one of the things I predict will happen if we get Ghost in the Shell style external memory drives.

Anyway the point is that a great work of Art will be able to blend freely whenever it wants, and yet maintain an atmosphere of cohesiveness. Woody Allen can achieve the perfect balance of drama and comedy in some of his films, which makes him the sacred bearer of the weapon. Mayoiga tried to do this, but failed, and thus the blend is inconsistent – which dives over into more comedy than the perfect blend of comedy and tragedy. Yet there are some moments within Mayoiga where you feel that the blend just barely touches cohesiveness, and it is these moments that should be analyzed in the Anime.

The only writer I’ve really seen so far who can do that free-blending and still be cohesive is probably Romeo Tanaka. This happens in one of the most amazingly poignant moment with Nanaka in Cross Channel, when Taichi is joking around with her. Suddenly the joking transforms into a grave outburst of feelings, and then something amazing happens – which creates a blend so powerful it goes into this weird mixture of nostalgia, and sentimentality, and relief, and yet, also happiness, and also sadness etc… I won’t spoil the moment for you. It’s especially interesting that Tanaka actually repeats this moment in a later scene, but then completely undermines it by turning it into a full on joke. That shows how perfectly conscious he is of the mood he’s pulling off with that scene, that he can even make an ironic joke about it later.

Without further ado, let’s look at the blends of Mayoiga.

  1. NO CONSEQUENCE

The most interesting thing is that Mayoiga is a horror series that has zero consequence. That is, nobody dies, and by the end the villains and heroes are all just a part of the same bunch. In a sense – by the end you’ve felt like you’ve just watched a slice of life Anime about a bunch of losers shacking up at some village resort. This is actually a great blend if you can use it well, because it’s completely subversive of the idea of villainy.

Interestingly, Mari Okada has used this before in Zetsuen no Tempest – when the heroes and villains get together at the end of the first arc in order to solve a greater problem. I’ve also seen this done with Peridot in Steven Universe. But to have a series where the Big Bad Final Villains and Heroes eventually get along without consequence is something that I’ve yet to see cohesively.

In fact it’s such an interesting concept if done well because it could potentially outline how all schisms in opinion are merely a twist of perspective. I came up with an idea like this once. I wondered what would happen if a person wrote a Dystopian novel where the protagonist started out as one of the oppressed and joined an anarchist group in order to defeat the government – but then lost. Rather than brainwash him 1984 style though, they decided he was smart enough to join their ranks, and so they sent him to an elite school for Inner Party members. At this point the genre will abruptly change into a Slice of Life comedy, with heavy political debates interweaved as the protagonist argues with other students about whether the dystopian government is benevolent and necessary, or not. Eventually he’ll decide that it is, and he’ll enter into the inner ranks. This, I thought, would be able to outline that fact that there’s no easy answer to things, much less the blatant moralizing of a work like Orwell’s book.

The best part of Mayoiga’s last episode comes when the main villain, Koharu, basically decides to change solely because of a whimsical argument with her father. Also the fact that the two most psychotic characters have suddenly been shell-shocked into sanity, probably by the appearance of the giant bad CGI monster. I love the fact that Mayoiga never takes their psychosis seriously – which is a breath of fresh air from works that create this air of heavy swirling pity and sympathy for characters with those issues. This black comedy aspect is a way to escape the drowning self-seriousness of one of those depressive books like The Bell Jar.

Mayoiga also ends in admittance of the fact that not everyone will change. Some losers will stay losers, and it’s up to them to live up to that. Which is really what happens to quite a number of people anyway – to get banalized to life. The fact that Mayoiga sets up all these caricatures with social issues, and then basically takes none of these issues seriously (or, rather, takes them too seriously to the point of unreality) is one of its strongest points. That’s why I view Mayoiga as secretly a Buddhist work – secretly imparting the lesson that ‘everything is a transient dream’.

I want to see more works that explore this aspect of demolishing self-seriousness, yet without falling plainly into sharp satire of something like A Clockwork Orange. I think understanding why Mayoiga fails here is important. You don’t want it to turn into a full comedy, but there is probably this sweet balance somewhere where you can use the style that Mayoiga tried to pull but still create this sense of calm. I wonder what would happen if Mayoiga was created with an atmosphere like Aria or Bartender? It would probably be a closer to fit what was intended. If there was a greater sparseness and less howling – and less weight given to flashbacks. You could create this mood like a bunch of losers exploring their past lives and failures, with the horror and mystery as background noise. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

I suddenly realized that Chekhov does this all the time. In fact he’s probably the closest analogue to getting that style perfectly right. Maybe Dostoyevsky too, especially in how The Brothers Karamazov ends – with a funeral that is somehow happy.

  1. FLASHBACKING

In my joke review of Mayoiga on MAL, I noted how the flashbacks in episode 4 or 5 were actually well crafted – if you look at it from the point of view that these are psychotic losers trying to tell the past failures to others. They’ll try to take the most sympathetic and gut-wrenching parts of their life and put it up on show. That’s why when you juxtapose cat-soldier’s flashback with JSDF soldier’s flashback (I don’t remember their names), you realize exactly how overblown cat-soldier’s one is, precisely because JSDF dude’s is equally overblown but his is plainly exaggerated.

I wrote that as a joke, but the more I think about it, I think that actually fits very well with the ending. It brings to the forefront exactly how abusive and manipulative the trope is. It’s also interesting how most of these flashbacks don’t actually contribute anything to the character’s eventual change. It’s like they’ve just forgotten them by the end – except for the main protagonists of course, since that was the most important flashback. After going through Lovepon’s long tortuous history – she simply returns back to some kind of stability.

If you think about it – isn’t that how things really happen in life? I want there to be a work with a full long horrible flashback – but then the protagonist meets up with the people who caused him all the pain and torment, and he realizes that they don’t care, and neither does he. Thanks to that episode of Mayoiga, I actually discovered a way to use a flashback in a powerful manner.

Flashbacks always represent stuff like the ‘chains of the past’ as seen in something like KimiUso, where the protagonist flashbacks about his abusive mom, and then later gets over it in an amazing musical moment. But that’s really really unrealistic. Proust would treat it as a moment of poetic reverie – or an unleashing of the internal life. One path would be to be like Proust and have flashbacks of the least important moments in life, but make these simple moments which provide poetic backing to larger things. Another path would be, like what I just said, make it huge and overbearing, but ultimately unimportant. In fact have the narrator narrate over the flashback, and make him quip about his own stupidity and mental smallness at the time.

A writer that does this is probably Tim Rogers. He’ll draw up various moments that don’t exactly have a clear connection, and then jump from one memory to another memory and refer back to the first memory. At least, from the essays I’ve read of his so far. He’ll lead it all up to a poetic moment that seems to integrate these memories into something grander. He usually starts with simple building blocks, then weave in stuff like romantic failure or eventful moments, before disappearing back into the haze of a reverie.

  1. UNLIKEABLE CHARACTERS

One of the notable things is unlikeable characters. The sad fact is that in the early episodes it seemed as if Mayoiga was really going to make a complete fool out of its protagonist, but then decided that they had to resolve his dramatic arc. So, for no reason, he suddenly grows enough balls to face the situation – like when Masaki is about to get lynched and all that.

Some people said that it would be better if, like Dogville, all the unlikeable people died. I think the ‘losers will be losers, and lets all disappear into the magical hippo bus’ ending is amazingly graceful. It subverts both tropes. The unlikeable people don’t change, and neither do they die. Woody Allen ends quite a number of films this way, such as the amazing Crimes and Misdemeanors – which actually fully acknowledges the fact that a hyper-realistic killer would not feel any guilt about his crime. Eventually, he’d get over it. In Hannah and Her Sisters, the adulterer doesn’t really change either. Neither does Isaac really change in Manhattan.

The difference between Mayoiga and Woody Allen is that Woody Allen places the counterpoint within the films themselves. He’ll show these characters in a part of a self-destructive pattern, and then make fun of it or jab at it through various means. That way, even when the movie ends, you know that these characters are never going to escape from their purgatory, or they’ll merely become normalized. If you’re open to the themes of the movie, you’ll realize something about human self-deception, and you’ll become a better person.

Mayoiga does this a bit, with the flashbacks and all that as I said above, but it doesn’t do it with all characters. It still has a fair share of irritatingly sincere and just plain sentimental moments. If all of their problems were resolved as whimperingly as Koharu’s, then that’d be a sight to see. Arguably many of them do, but it’s not enough – because we still had to sit through that stupid Freudian excuse thing with Speedstar.

I also like how the credits roll abruptly when the detective says “Alright Let’s Go Home” in this amazingly non-chalant way. It reminds me of some of the episode ending cuts that Evangelion pulled off to deepen the meaning of the utterances. That’s why I believe that Mayoiga has one of the most perfect endings of any Anime, even though it has a very bad middle section.

  1. THE FIRST EPISODE

After speaking of last episodes, let’s talk about the first episode. I am inclined to believe that the first episode of Mayoiga is one of the most perfectly paced episodes in all of Anime. There is simply a ridiculous thing happening at every moment without pause. Furthermore, they lay all their cards on the table, turning into a musical, black comedy (laughing at people’s suicide notes), the crazy all character introduction, the random surreal horror interlude that happens halfway etc…

I will be the first person to state that Mayoiga Episode 1 is better paced than Cowboy Bebop’s famous Episode 5. In the middle of that episode there’s a bit of excess when Spike talks to some random lady. Whereas in Mayoiga Episode 1 there is absolutely no excess at all. The director achieves a non-stop beat of insanity that sets the tone for the rest of the show.

Regarding pacing. Have you noticed how machine-gun like some of the conversations of Mayoiga are in the earlier episodes, before they start throwing out all the long and painfully drawn out melodrama? Early Mayoiga is merely one step behind Bakemonogatari and The Tatami Galaxy in terms of conversation density. There’s just so much stuff coming at you from every single character. It’s intense, and it’s insane to see Mari Okada dialogue fly at you at hyperspeed.

I don’t understand why more Anime abuse the possibility of dialogue speed though. In movies you still have to track the lips, but in a medium like Anime you have a greater suspension of disbelief. You can do a lot of things faster in Anime than in movies, and that’s also why a director like Wes Anderson does such a cartoony style, which also fits with the sharp-paced ironic dialogue of his movies.

  1. AND THEN?

Now that we’ve taken all that into consideration – you can clearly see that Mayoiga is a work that opens up so many possible avenues into future art – only if you’re able to be on the level to see the different connections and pathways that open up from it. To deem Mayoiga as a failure is correct, but it is also absurd – because it is a useless value judgment that prevents you from seeing the possible uses.

When you really grasp what the director-writer team was aiming to do with this series (something like a cringe-comedy slice of life with a horror veneer, yet also trying to make it a dramatic and emotional work) you must simply applaud them. They tried to reach the sacred boundary and harness the sacred weaponry of the artist gods. They tried to achieve the blend that comes from juxtaposing so many incongruent elements together – something that only the most delicate of artists can pull off with amazing gusto. They’ve also created some of the fairest treatments of certain characters that has rarely been done before in the medium – neither choosing to do the cheap way and kill them all, nor trying to do the unrealistic way (well, most of them) and getting them to change. Beyond the core protagonists, it’s surprising how little of the characters actually change, which is a step up from all the Shounen-blooded works out there.

Thus I hope that artists learn from Mayoiga. There’s quite a lot to learn from it, if only they bothered to open their heads.

Fine-Tuned: Shot Analysis of Kare-Kano Episode 6

I call this one of the most perfect episodes in Anime. A sign of a good work is one that ends with you feeling fulfilled, rather than emptied. A good work of Art is like a talisman that constantly replenishes, no many how many times you come back to it, rather than leaving you aching for more.

1. Black and White ‘manga’ shot of Arima with voiceover. Pan matches piano music.
2. Blue sky & clouds. Cicada chirping. Voiceover.
3. Comedic quick recap of following dates. (Miyazawa)
a. Uses a lot of ‘manga’ shots and drawings. Doubles as a way of adding the extra jokes in on text.
b. The beginning of the psychoanalysis of both sides viewing the same situation.
c. When it breaks out of the manga style it’s to show a sideways close-up of Miyazawa looking at Arima and wondering about his looks.
d. The manga scrolls always fit the tempo of the music in their slowness and syncs with the psychological analysis as well.
e. End of songs fits perfectly the end of the scene
4. Comedic quick recap of following dates. (Arima)
a. Like Coupling, also uses dual-ling for comedic effect. (Arima finds Miyazawa weird)
b. Unlike the first recap, this one is darker, never making it ‘just’ a doubling. When Arima ponders on whether he’ll be able to read Miyazawa’s thoughts, the dark background and white manga art is used as stark contrast.
c. Though tempo is a perfect pitch replication, narration is darker.
d. Cuts into a very dark shot of a tunnel, with sounds of train at the end of the music. Very distinct alienated atmosphere. Elliptical shots follow as narration continues until classroom.
5. Comedic interlude with Asaba (Miyazawa)
a. Manga, 4koma-esque format. Downscreen slide transitions with sound effects.
b. Ends with elliptical shots.
6. Comedic interlude with Asaba (Arima)
a. Doubling effect for comedic, but also dramatic purpose. Arima ponders on his own boringness as music ends off.
b. Ends with elliptical shots of classroom this time.
7. Begins monologue Arima on elliptical shot of classroom window.
a. Drawing shot then transitions into various cuts of Arima looking out window before falling into dark flashback. Displaces face on last cut before fading to black, exactly when Arima talks about being human and emotional. Very melancholy feeling and piano.
b. Sudden dark door. Psychological landscape built with text on screen and stills. Text fade out on same note as dialogue to have lingering feeling.
c. One second or so of blackness before cutting to next section. Stark silhouettes in daylight. Lingers on Arima after Miyazawa leaves. Side view to emphasize alienation. Ends with a ‘silent interlude’ same as Evangelion.
8. Comedic interlude with Miyazawa’s family. Shot from back of family. Heads allow space for manga bubbles on screen.
9. Arima’s dinner. Doubling two dinners. Begins with dark mansion shot. Then ‘squeezed’ shot of distanced dining table. Silent with sounds of eating high contrast with last scene.
10. Cloud scrolling with piano again. Camera elliptical shots, probably to indicate voyeurism or ‘journalistic tone’. Cut into deformed Miyazawa with Asaba comedic interlude.
11. Shot of sports event with Arima. When he notices Miyazawa talking to Asaba in the distance cuts to bottom up shot with heavy darkness over face and hair half covering eye. Emphasizes jealousy and distance of feeling. Cut to very distinct silhouette of tree with white over-exposure behind.
12. School shots transition to Far off shot of Arima in classroom. Arima at corner leaving huge space of empty tables. Begin monologue. Repeat far off shot with text over screen.
13. Kiss in the Rain scene
a. Setting, dark corridors and rain. Like Shaft, uses a high amount of scenery shots in between conversation. (classroom shot when Miyazawa talks about going home together, rain shot on talking about rain)
b. You can feel the perspective is more centered on Arima since we’ve just come out of the monologue with him. His eyes opening onto Miyazawa and the shots are focused around his view of her and with the rain shots you get the feeling of him waking up and taking stock of his surroundings.
c. After a series of elliptical shots come to a shot of Miyazawa in classroom form decentered to the side with 2/3 of the shot more focused on the window and the rain.
d. Actually why we feel that this scene is centered on Arima’s perspective is because the animation seems to curve around his viewpoint, especially on the POV matches. The first shot of Miyazawa is synced with POV when his eyes open and it’s a closeup of her face when she smiles. The 2/3 above shot is also his point of view. When Miyazawa comments on Arima it focuses on his reactions to her talking about his sleeping figure. When Miyazawa comments on her sister’s cuteness (with a wide pretty grin) it’s an Arima POV of her. The camera always seems to focus on things that Arima has more psychological stake in.
e. The psychology seems to orient around Arima until the distanced silhouette shot which puts both of them at an equal level. He also starts to speak more.
f. Music starts with elliptical shots of classroom. Brilliant shots of Miyazawa humming and running but centered on her shadows rushing across the scene. Then Arima sitting on the staircase half covered in darkness. It returns to his perspective with a lot of stills of Miyazawa brimming full of life. His monologue also starts with a red black sudden cut of a silhouette of an oil refinery (one of the motifs).
g. A very beautiful series of stills of Miyazawa ‘dancing’ around the corridor which matches with the music. Focus on her lips when she talks about depending on Arima. Then cuts back to his surprised look.
h. The buildup of ‘I want to be with you’ to the hug is the release point of the entire episode.
i. This time the camera is more on Miyazawa’s perspective, showing her blush until the lightning strike. Then breaking into the comedic moment (transition from his darker point of view to her brighter point of view).
j. Cuts back to his point of view as he washes his face in the bathroom but this time her comedy has injected itself into the moment. The song becomes more muted as the atmosphere returns. When the thunder comes back the air of alienation returns, as if now the two are dealing with the awkwardness of the moment. Then it’s broken up by the slapstick moment again. But this time it’s both comedic and heartwarming because the awkwardness is dispelled allowing them to finally kiss.
k. The buildup to the kiss is an objective shot, having a lot of shots of Miyazawa and Arima in the same frame on equal levels. The ‘manga’ shot may be slightly oriented towards him but otherwise it’s a full dispelling of perspective.
l. The manga scroll that ties the two together also begins at the end of the kiss, playing until the piano music ends on the picture of the two.
14. The add-on to the narration at the end of them being okay while it pans up to the clouds seems a bit extraneous. It may have been better if Anno did a ‘silent ending’ on Arima’s ok sign and muted the comedy and used real backgrounds in the last shot.

Fine-Tuned: Exegesis of Evangelion – Episode 1

This is a psychological analysis. So it does not aim for a holistic symbolic-interpretative or aesthetic-formal analysis, but it merely tries to  see whether Eva is really as ‘true’ as people say. Mainly I’m focusing on the dialogue and probably what could have been done for tighter psychology. Some people may say “why bother to give alternative possibilities to a work already so ingrained in the mass consciousness of Anime watchers?” and have the notion that I’m trying to be ‘better’ than Anno. Yes, I am in fact trying to aim to be a better artist than a lot of other people, but I have nothing but respect to Anno for creating the narrative in the first place. He had to come up with the whole thing in the blank creative space of his head, and so my ideas are more for myself, or to outline a methodology of critique, than to try to ‘supplant’ him. But I think that this is the real reason people write Fan-Fiction or think about alternative interpretations of established works, because when you use a template it helps refine parts of the creative process that you can’t train when you’re writing from scratch, that is, the ability to critique your own work. By critiquing other works  and try to ‘refine’ those, you learn to calibrate your own critiques. But you have to be fair and just as to exactly why you think the alternative will work, as I have tried to be in here. So, people who have the ‘don’t talk when you haven’t done anything yourself’ or ‘you underestimate the hard-work put into Anime companies’ kind of mentality… I really have nothing to say to you guys except that you should look at the Criticism as an Object, and engage with the Criticism, rather than projecting stuff onto the Critic.

Anyway by now its quite obvious that Evangelion is a deeply flawed work. It relies too much on its genre trappings, and could have intensified its impact in certain other places, especially in how it treats exposition, while still being able to milk all the Otaku merchandise it can get. I’m perfectly okay with the fact that the narrative sort of implodes and little of the concrete questions gets answered by the end of the series (since that isn’t the point anyway), but I can think of a lot of ways to deepen the sense of ‘mystery’ and to toughen up the themes, without merely adding more (bad) confusion to the work.

(Q-1) Announcer: “As of 01:12:30 PM today, a special state of emergency has been declared for the Kanto and Chubu regions surrounding the Tokai district. All residents must evacuate to their designated shelters immediately. Repeating: As of 01:12:30 PM today, the Kanto and Chubu regions surrounding the Tokai district have been declared to be under a state of emergency.”

(A-1) Announcing voices are purely for expository purposes. Most of the groundwork is done in the cinematography at this moment. And actually, it does a better job than silence because the voice is impersonal and the sounds of cicadas accentuate the mood, as compared to other archetypal ’empty cities’ in apocalyptic scenarios have been done everywhere to the point of archetype, including walking around in I Am Legend & 28 Days Later. Cicadas are a wholly anime-istic touch because they have been basically used everywhere, and they really do set the mood though.

(Q-2) Misato: “Why did I have to lose him now? Christ, why at a time like this?”

(A-2) Misato suffers from the expository “talks-to-self” syndrome of many anime characters before voice-over really started getting down. Although in real life I have met quite a few people who talk to themselves, and sometimes I talk to myself, except for people making v-logs I have never seen anyone talk to themselves in the full loud and assured way the Anime characters talk to themselves. Bakemonogatari and The Tatami Galaxy were probably the first Anime to really innovate on high density voice-over exposition (actually Kare Kano did that quite well Eons before, and also did the text on screen thing Eons before, and its by Anno too. So why didn’t he carry that over into Eva?)

The twist is that the shooting is elliptic, so Misato is not shown at all here. It’s this kind of subversion that puts Eva technically above other Anime.

(Q-3) Telephone Operator: “Due to the current emergency all lines are currently unavailable.”

(A-3) Technically well-done, because of the matching cut to Shinji’s face. So the exposition is very elegant. It links Misato’s car to Shinji. But the famous appearance of our blank-faced protagonist quite easily establishes him as our everyman character. Directly opposing examples can be seen in stuff like Toradora (which begins with the “there’s something that cannot be seen” fateful encounter opening mixed with Ryuuji having a half-comic moment in front of a mirror), Oregairu (which begins with the famous cynical exposition), Gosick (which begins with the Protagonist being called the Black Reaper and thus being so obviously established as anything but the most everymen of everymen).

Thats what’s so great about this appearance, because it literally has the impact of watching someone go through dial-up connection, but in an apocalypse. It’s one of the best ways to establish him as really like anyone else.

(Q-4) Shinji: “It’s no use. I shouldn’t have come here after all. Well I guess we won’t be meeting here. I’ll have to go to a shelter”

(A-4) Shinji also suffers from the expository “talks-to-self” syndrome. Besides that though, the most obvious psychological analysis is that he gives up easily, but then again a person wouldn’t stick around for long in an apocalyptic scenario.

Let’s say we remade this part without Misato or Shinji talking. I think its possible to still establish exposition because of the match-cut, so the talking just seems extraneous. And, instead, if Shinji puts down the phone in silence, gets his bag, and is about to leave when he sees the Rei cut, that would make the atmosphere and psychology tighter.

(Q-5) Misato Picture

(A-5) Sadly this establishes Shinji as Harem protagonist. It is most definitely an Anime moment and nothing else, with Misato as the slackish big-sister type character.

(Q-6) Rei appearance quick edit

(A-6) Mysterious and just one of the many quick edits that makes Evangelion so great. The doves may be slightly too much, but it essentially functions as a magical-trick distraction to Shinji. Plays into the Rei mysterious-girl archetype too.

(Q-7) Shinji shock at Angel appearance

(A-7) Psychologically iffy in that he doesn’t just straight run away. But passable.

(Q-8) “The unidentified object is coming towards us. We’ve got it on visual, I’m putting it on the main screen.

(A-8) Purely Sci-Fi Military Jargon-Speak. Pretty much there for the aesthetic. From now on I won’t be including any other of these unless its psychologically relevant.

(Q-9) Futsuyuki: “It’s been fifteen years hasn’t it.”

Gendo: “Yes, well now we’re sure. It’s the Angels”

(A-9) Also purely exposition (and the beginning of people saying things that aren’t gonna be explained), but it’s better than other exposition because of the cool transition to the title card after Gendo says “Angels”. But also you’d think that people would be a lot more panicky after a supposed mass extra-terrestial threat that hasn’t been seen for 15 years re-appears. In this small regard, Attack on Titan is way better at showing shock and fear due to a re-appearance from a massive threat. But then again, military officers and NERV are stuck in their ivory tower secret base, so it may make sense.

Also establishes Gendo as the calm bastard he is.

One particular way to separate Eva from its blatant Sci-Fi Chuunibyouish-Jargon cliches would be to cut out the Angel swimming at the start. Remove the NERV scenes. Have the title-card cut in after Shinji spots the Angel (which clears the exposition that that’s what those things are called), elliptically show the inside of NERV with silence and no explanation, spend most of the episode tracking Shinji and only show Gendo fully when Shinji meets him. Not only will this make things more mysterious, as you’re discovering things as Shinji is too, but it would be possible for a rewrite to focus on the psychology between Misato and Shinji. If you still want to show the military futility, cut in the bombs and explosions and generals snapping their pencils quickly (and without any military jargon-speak) while Misato and Shinji are interacting. If you want to reveal the name of the N-Mine, cut to a shot of its side with the name, and then show the whole atomic explosion scene. That would probably be more than enough to establish that kind of exposition.

But from a marketing perspective, maybe adding such stuff inside the work helps to ‘comfort’ the audience that this falls in the vein of a certain type of military SF. I don’t have enough statistics to show how much the ratings increase when a SF work includes such jargon vs when it doesn’t, but in Eva its dry and not done in the frenetic way that, for example, the crazy pseudo-science is dealt in Doctor Who, with a lot of hamming and abuse of the Doctor-Actors quirks while he delivers nigh-incomprehensible concepts at mach speed. So I still think it would be tons better to get rid of it.

(Q-10) Misato: “I’m sorry! Were you waiting long?”

(A-10) While the cool entrance of the car after the explosion only serves to accentuate Misato’s cool-big-sister-ness (even with the sunglasses). It would probably be less genre-tastic and more tense if Misato had to park outside a certain area and shout to Shinji to run to the car, or if she was shouting at him while he was getting on (which would probably be the more realistic option).

(Q-11) Futsuyuki: “Is it protected by an AT Field?”

Gendo: “Yes. Conventional weapons are no match for the Angels.”

(A-11) While Gendo and Futsuyuki are getting on the exposition train with the military’s massively failed attempts, things are being said with absolutely no context whatsoever. The AT-field remains a symbolically opaque idea until we get more knowledge of its true name (which is hidden in the opening song) and that humans have it, which is when it starts being an obvious metaphor for loneliness and alienation and stuff like that but weaponized, or a concrete form of the ‘hedge-hog syndrome’. This is the problem with exposition released too early without any knowledge backing. It only serves to confuse the viewer, and in a bad way too. The method I outlined above about explaining nothing until Shinji got to NERV, is a good kind of confusion, in that it sets the audience in his subjective state of confusion while providing the least amount of information necessary to understand. Until the main psychological themes start to get underway, all they would have to do is to show the field surrounding the Angel to convey that information to the audience. Because the name and occurrence of “AT-field” and other of the military stuff is void of meaning in this episode (besides showing woah Angel powerful), it really just adds unnecessary flab to the story.

(Q-12) Misato: “Hey, wait a second. They’re going to use an N2-mine? Get down!”

(A-12) While one questions the logic of Misato stopping the car to spend some time staring at the Angel, this is the part where exposition could have been useful. Sadly Shinji, in this moment, is nothing but a ragdoll pressed against Misato’s body. One method would have been to have him ask “hey what’s an N2 mine?” like any 14-year old wondering what the heck is going on in this humongous extra-terrestial encounter. That would have at least added to the realism of him being a teen that literally knows nothing about the scenario he’s in. But the only information relayed here is that there is an N2-mine, and it is probably a massive and normally not-used weapon, which is really extraneous since you can see how huge the blast is. Once again, cutting dialogue and showing Misato just getting down would have conveyed enough information.

(Q-13) Shinji and Misato staring at the blast from the turned over car.

(A-13) Their positions and expressions makes it sort of comedic, but only that.

(Q-14) Misato: “Are you all right?”

Shinji: “Yeah, but my mouth is full of dirt.”

Misato: “That’s okay. Now then, let’s go! Push! There.”

Misato: ” Thanks for the hand, I really appreciate it.”

(A-14) Slighty comic and slighty human, I guess, in that the secret agency representative has to ask Shinji to help her push over a car. Still continues to establish Misato in the ‘no-fucks given’ vein of a character. Still, the fact that the car still works (and later is shown to only be fixed with duct tape) may be slightly problematic.

A case can be made for having both of them have to walk there due to the car being screwed over. It could make use of scenery + psychology a whole lot more, but then again they want to get to NERV as fast as possible because the Angel is about. Another possibility is to have Misato page in a helicopter or other mode of transport or something and have them wait there idly, which can be used to show a scene of awkwardness/alienation better than anything else. Having the protagonist be forced to do nothing but twiddle his thumbs in an alien attack on the first episode waiting for a pick-up would be quite an amazing thing to see.

(Q-15) Shinji: “Thank you too, Miss Katsuragi”

Misato: “Just Misato is fine. I’m glad we’ve met at last, Shinji Ikari.”

Shinji: “Yea”

(A-15) Really only serves to drive their names in and nothing else. Alternative method for greater impact would be to have no one saying Shinji’s name until meeting Gendo.

(Q-16) More Military Fluff

(A-16) I’ve already detailed my fix to these elements. This is really one of the problems that dates Evangelion, and a whole lot of old Anime. Look, no matter how much people idealize the past, the fact is that the shift from SF to moe and comedy, at the very least, enforces a focus more onto characters than all these generic tropes. Even an emotionally abusive melodrama like Clannad has, on the whole, more interesting characters than so many things in the past. Akira, great visuals aside, has paper characters, not to mention Gunbuster (despite GB also having the interesting SF premise using Relativity as well). Evangelion really signified the shift in focus, but it still contains too much reliances on the most stale tropes of the mecha genre. Later Gainax Anime like TTGL and Diebuster both get over this hurdle, simultaneously tightening visuals and having greater interaction. Without the Moe-Romcom foundation, and if people were still more enamored with cool cyberpunk settings than beautiful-people-doing-beautiful-things, you’d have none of the great character-focused shows we see nowadays, from White Album 2 to Bakemonogatari to Oregairu. (Then again, Utena is also dated by Shoujo cliches at times, so maybe its just an upwards trend to understanding pacing better. Either way, it’s far from being killed by moe)

(Q-17) Showing of car fixed with duct-tape

Misato: “Yes, don’t worry about it. His safety is my top priority, so could you get a car train ready for us? The express one. Right. Well I volunteered to pick him up, so it’s my duty to make sure he gets there. See ya!”

(A-17): Comedic, but kind of a cop-out, especially with the possible direction I detailed above. There’s quite a nice touch with the shot viewed from bottom up, showing Shinji just staring out the window though.

(Q-18) Misato (Internal Monologue): “But this sucks! I just had this car restored, and now it’s a wreck. 33 loan payments to go… and the repair costs… Even worse, my only good clothes have been ruined…

Shinji: “Excuse me, Misato… Um, Misato”

(A-18) Plainly dated comedy. Characterizing Misato as an ‘adult person suffering from adult problems’ in the middle of an apocalypse scenario. At least Anno has the savvyness to make use of quick cuts here.

(Q-19) Shinji: “Are you sure you can just take those?”

Misato: “Nevermind. It’s an emergency, and we need a working car now, right? And I am a government officer, after all, so everything’s going to be perfectly fine, okay?

Shinji: “I don’t think anyone’s going to buy that.”

Misato: “Don’t get so snotty. You’re not as cute as I thought you were.”

Shinji: “Is that so?”

Misato: “Oh, did I upset you? Sorry, sorry, you’re just a kid after all.”

Shinji: “So are you. You’re not as mature as I thought you were.”

Car swerving.

(A-19) This is the kind of back-and-forth banter that is probably more needed, and it also establishes Misato’s immature character traits, which comes back into play when she becomes unable to bear responsibility anymore. One fix I can think of is to get rid of the comedy at the end, extend the exchanges (which would be possible if the military stuff was shortened) and you could even do the sudden halfway mark stop when Shinji says “you’re not as mature as I thought you were”, to give it a psychological heft.

(Q-20) Shinji: The special agency NERV.

Misato: Yes, it’s a secret organization under the control of the UN.”

Shinji: “It’s the one my father belongs to right?”

Misato: “Well, yeah… do you know what he does?”

(Pause) Shinji: “My teachers told me it was important to the safety of the human race.”

Cut to Gendo’s full face

(A-20) The pause says a lot more than what’s going on.

(Q-21) After Gendo has a talk with the Generals, he says “Don’t worry, a new (pilot) will be here soon”. Cuts to Shinji’s Face in the same pose.

(A-21) The match up is also great. Cut down on the military part and you’d have it a lot tighter.

(Q-22) Shinji: “Are you taking me to my father?”

Misato: “Yes. Yes, I think so.”

Shinji’s face darkens. Quick cut to bag and past cry Shinji.

Shinji: “Father…”

Elliptical cut to moving train

Misato (while still on Shinji’s face): “Oh yes, did you get an ID card from your Dad?”

Shinji (after realization): “Uh… Yes. Here it is.”

Misato: “Thanks… then, read this.”

Shinji: “NERV… (to self) my father’s agency (well the subs say that but he’s more like saying “Dad’s work…”)”

Book thrust in his face

Shinji: “Am I going to work for him?”

Cut to Misato looking up saying nothing

Shinji: “Of course. He wouldn’t have sent me a letter unless he needed me for something.”

Misato: “It looks like you don’t get along with your Dad… It’s the same with me.”

(A-22) The visuals here are the best part, adding the psychological accentuation to everything. This kind of rhythm is what most people would kill for to be able to pull off. But this is the start of the Freudian psychology though. It could probably be shortened with a lot less dialogue and a lot more focus on the visual placement.

(Q-23) Reveal of the Geo-front

Shinji: “Awesome! It’s a real Geo-front!”

Misato: “That’s right. This is our secret base; NERV HQ. This is the key to rebuilding our World. A Fortress for all Mankind”

Cut to halfway mark.

(A-23) So far this sequence of entering NERV is quite okay. I have nothing wrong with it being here, except for maybe the halfway placement (since I believe it could be used a lot better everywhere else). I guess Shinji acting like a Wowwed kid is quite okay characterization.

(Q-24) Misato: “What on Earth? Isn’t this the right way?”

Wind blows

Misato: “This is why I don’t like wearing skirts here… and where the heck is Ritsuko anyway? I’m sorry. I’m not used to this place yet.”

Shinji: “We passed this spot just a little while ago.”

Misato (making a uuuhhh face): “Don’t worry about it, and anyway, they make these systems to be used you know.”

(A-24) Another comedic exchange. Whether its really necessary… I can probably think of a few ways to use silence instead for better effect. But then it would probably turn it more into Lain’s atmosphere or something.

(Q-25) Establishing Ritsuko swimming in shots.

Ritsuko: “I can’t believe it, has she got lost again?”

(A-25) Probably fanservice. But I like how Anno rarely introduces characters the first time with a direct shot of their face (besides Shinji).

(Q-26) Lift door opens replacing Misato’s reflection with Ritsuko

Misato: “Ah… Ritsuko”

Ritsuko: “Why are you wasting my time, Captain Katsuragi? Aren’t you aware that we’re both short of time and manpower?”

Misato: “Sorry!”

Ritsuko: “Is this the boy?”

Misato: “Right. According to the Marduk report, he’s the Third Child.

Ritsuko: “I’m glad to meet you.”

Shinji (a bit awkward): “Uh… hi”

Misato: “He’s just like his Dad. The unfriendly part, that is.”

(A-26) The constant Misato shown to be immature with a joking smile, can be quite old. I wonder if its possible to redo all the sequences with less reliance on the joking faces.

(Q-27) Cut to Gendo

Gendo: “Handle the rest of this.”

Futsuyuki: “Their first meeting in over three years.”

Soldier: “Vice Commander, the target has started moving again.”

(A-27) Probably better if they just showed Gendo silently traveling down the elevator or something.

(Q-28) Purple Background. Elevator going upwards.

Voice: “Battle Stations Level One etc…”

Misato: “Here we go.”

Ritsuko: “It sounds pretty serious.”

Side profile silhouette of Shinji’s face

Misato: “So, how is Unit 01 doing?”

Ritsuko: “It’s currently undergoing refridgeration using the B-type equipment.”

Misato: “Does it really work? It’s never worked before has it?”

Ritsuko: “The possibility of activation is 0.000000001%. We call it, pathetically enough, the O-9 system.”

Misato: “Does that mean it doesn’t work?”

Ritsuko: “Oh, don’t be insulting It’s “O”, not “zero”.

Misato: “Well, it’s just a number. Anyway, it’s a bit too late to be saying, “Sorry, it didn’t work”.

(A-28) This is probably the best use of the jargon, because of Shinji’s reaction to everything. He completely does not care about what they are saying.

(Q-29) Small beam of light illumating them. Closes shut.

Shinji: “Ah. It’s so dark…”

Flash to Eva 01’s face in front of Shinji.

Shinji: “A face? A giant robot?”

Ritsuko: “You won’t find this in the manual… this is man’s ultimate humanoid fighting machine, the first model of the synthetic life-form Evangelion Unit 01. Built here in secret, it is mankind’s last hope.”

Shinji: “Is this a part of what my father’s been doing?”

(A-29) Shinji is shown to be quite slow here.

(Q-30) Gendo: Correct

Pan upwards to face

Gendo: “It’s been a while.”

Slow zoom in to Shinji’s

Shinji: “Father…”

Shinji’s face on multi-monitors

Gendo: “We’re moving out.”

(A-30) The multi-monitors is one of the best shots in the episode.

(Q-31) Misato: “Moving out?! Unit 00’s still in cryo-stasis, isn’t it? Wait a moment. You’re going to use the 01?”

Ritsuko: “There’s no other way”

Misato: “Now wait, Rei can’t do it yet, can she? We’ve got no pilot.”

Ritsuko: “One’s just been delivered.”

Misato: “Are you serious?”

Ritsuko: “Shinji Ikari.”

Shinji: “Yes?”

Ritsuko: “You will pilot it.”

Shinji: “Huh???”

Pan outwards with Shinji in between.

Misato: “But even Rei Ayanami took seven months to synchronize with her Eva. It’s impossible for him to do it. He just got here!”

Ritsuko: “He just has to seat in the seat, we don’t expect more than that.”

Misato: “But…”

Ritsuko: “Repelling that Angel is our highest priority. If putting someone who has a chance of synchronizing into an Eva unit gives us even the slightest chance then we have to do it. You understand that, don’t you, Captain Katsuragi?”

Misato: “I suppose.”

(A-31) Shinji is, once again, shown to be quite slow. If Shinji joined the shouting match here, it would be quite something. At the very least I don’t think people’s impression of him would be as whiny. The documentary Seven Up + Seven, which details a series of characters taken from Seven, then Fourteen, does show that at around the age, such reserve is completely normal though, so I’m not complaining.

(Q-32) Shinji: “Father, why did you send for me?”

Gendo: “You know exactly why.”

Shinji: “So, you’re asking me to take this thing and go out there and fight?”

Gendo: “Precisely”

Shinji: “No way! How can you do something like this to me? I knew you didn’t want me!”

Gendo: “I called you because I have a need for you.”

Shinji: “Why me?”

Gendo: “Because no one else can.”

Shinji: “No, I can’t… I’ve never even seen anything like this before! I can’t do this!”

Gendo: “You will be instructed.”

Shinji: “But there’s no way! I can’t pilot it!”

Gendo: “If you’re going to pilot it, do it now and quickly. If not, leave!”

(A-32) The voice-acting here completely drew me in the first time I watched this. It’s just so perfectly shrill and whiny.

(Q-33) Cut to various faces looking in. Angel explosion causes shake.

Gendo: “It must have located our position.”

Ritsuko: “Shinji, we don’t have time.”

Misato: “Get in.”

Shinji: “No! I didn’t come for this! This is all wrong!”

Misato: “Shinji, just why did you come here? You can’t…You must confront your father and confront yourself.”

Shinji: “I know it! But I just can’t!”

Gendo: “Fuyutsuki, wake up Rei.”

Fuyutsuki: “Can we use her?”

Gendo: “She isn’t dead.”

Fuyutsuki: “I understand.”

(A-33) Misato also begins to become a mentor figure here, which is a strange switch. Of course you can link it to her own views towards her father. I guess I would prefer it if she was more ambivalent towards saying stuff here. The “confronting your father and yourself” part sounds slightly cheesy. Actually that’s one of the primary conflicts in Misato’s character. I think it would have been a lot cooler if they were willing to risk playing her more lackadaisically and aloof, having more moments where she cares less about Shinji and just wants to do her own thing. But, of course, Shinji has to have people care about him.

(Q-34) Fuyutsuki: “Rei.”

Rei: “Yes?”

Fuyutsuki: “Our spare is unusable. You will do it again.”

Rei: “Yes, Sir.”

Dark Shinji Silhouette, while Ritsuko gives commands

Ritsuko: “Reconfigure Unit 01’s system to Rei, then activate!”

Shinji: “I knew it. I’m not needed after all.”

(A-34) Did I mention how on point the cinematography is throughout the whole part, because it just is.

(Q-35) Rei comes in on hospital bed. Breathing heavily. Shows Angel attack again. Force causes Rei to topple over. When the light crashes down the Eva hand protects Shinji. Everyone over-reacts, with exposition of course. Shinji runs to Rei. His hand is covered in blood.

Shinji: “I mustn’t run away. I mustn’t run away. I mustn’t run away…. Let me do it. I’ll pilot it.”

(A-35) The moment of resolve. I wonder how it would play if it was completely silent instead of him doing the ‘tell himself he can do it’ thing.

(Q-36) Eva preparation sequence. LCL fills the Shinji plug.

Shinji: “I feel sick.”

Misato: “Stop whining. You’re a boy aren’t you!”

Continuation of preparation sequence…. Shinji launches and faces Angel.

Misato: “Shinji, don’t get killed out there.”

(A-36) Mandatory sequence in a mecha. What Misato says about Shinji being a boy can be seen as maybe deconstructing the masculine mecha-pilots, but I don’t want to stretch that too far. It also ends on a Hollywood cliffhanger, but this is only the first episode. Later endings will be a whole lot more interesting in their placement.

Fine-Tuned: Silence used in Evangelion ‘To be Continued’ Cuts

One of the most subtle devices in Evangelion is its use of abrupt endings rather than having the ED music carry over into the ending scene or having BGM. This is a catalogue of the ending shots in Evangelion.

1. Ends on dramatic music cue, Shinji faces Angel.
2. Ends on silence, Misato tells a ‘sleeping’ Shinji to hang in there
3. Ends on silence, far away view through window of Touji hanging up phone, empty phone is left hanging for a few seconds before cut to credits, sound of rain.
4. Ends on silence, Misato greets Shinji at the train station
5. Ends on dramatic music cue, Misato screams Shinji’s name as his Eva is shot by the Angel’s beam
6. Ends on melancholic music cue, pans up to moon after Rei’s smile
7. Ends on upbeat music cue, Shinji’s face lightens up after Aida tells him Misato recognizes him as family.
8. Ends on upbeat music cue, Asuka joins Shinji’s class
9. Ends on upbeat music cue, Asuka and Shinji argue after destroying Angel
10. Ends in silence, crickets chirping, Asuka asks about Misato’s scar in hot spring.
11. Ends in calm music cue, pans up to night sky while Eva pilots are lying on grass
12. Ends in silence, background music from ramen store, Asuka tells Shinji he’s an idiot after hearing his reason for piloting Eva.
13. Ends with crashing sound from electronic brain returning to its original location, Ritsuko talks about her mother.
14. Ends with heavy footsteps from Rei’s Eva, Rei takes Lance of Longinus.
15. Ends on silence, Lilith’s body is revealed to Misato
16. Ends on silence, Shinji lies on hospital bed after being saved from the shadow saying he still smells like blood.
17. Ends on silence, Touji shoots a basketball at sunset into a hoop.
18. Ends on scream, Shinji sees the pilot of the third Eva unit.
19. Ends on dramatic music cue, the awakened Eva 01 howls.
20. Ends on silence, Kaji gives Misato his ‘last present’ to her during intercourse
21. Ends on melancholic piano music (actually more or less ends on silence since the piano is sparse and the end is abrupt), Shinji buries his head into pillow to block out Misato’s crying.
22. Ends in silence, Asuka screams she hates everyone
23. Ends in melancholic music, Misato talks about the tragedy of the Eva unit’s creation while Ritsuko cries
24. Ends in silence, Shinji calls Misato cruel after she tries to comfort him about Kaworu
25. Ends on music, black box letters saying “the human instrumentality project continues”
26. Ends on congratulations
End of Eva: Ends in silence on the beach.

The abruptness has the effect of making the last word or scene before the ending ‘linger’. It also generally emphasizes the existential unease of the characters. Silence isn’t exclusive to the endings though. Evangelion’s atmosphere throughout the whole series is mainly derived from its powerful placement of silent sparse shots (quiet moments in a lift, long slow elevators, empty roads in the summer except for cricket chirpings) in between moments of great emotional tension. Imagine if Toradora’s episodes ended in strange abrupt places rather than with the comic or emotional finalities it likes to end on (e.g. suppose episode 2 ends immediately in that silence after she got rejected without Takasu’s intervention, episode 3 ends immediately after Takasu made the comment that Minorin’s hand was shaking, episode 4 ends on the roof of the school without Taiga recounting Kitamura’s confessions [with all the standard emotional violin strings]). The abruptness also serves as a Brechtian distancing device to make one recognize the illusions of the medium. Think of how many possible generic romance dramas or romance comedies could be revolutionized if the episodes ended on the most uneasy notes instead of in their standard way.

Fine-Tuned: Shot Analysis of Shinji’s Runaway in Evangelion

‘Runaway’ scene from Evangelion shot-breakdown

03:54 – Shot of front of train with train noises. Raining. Colours dark and gloomy.

03:57 – Close-up of bag on top of train. Voices announce arrival at station.

04:00 – Shot of Shinji from angle. Hair covers his eyes, expressionless. Emphasizes detachment.

04:03 – Extreme close-up of music player. Clicking noise. Very soft music indicates change in track.

04:07 – Shot of interior train from top view. Shinji close-to-centered amidst crowd. Music from his music player can be heard. Shinji turned insignificant by the angle of the shot.

04:12 – Dissolve into shot of less people.

04:17 – Dissolve into shot of less people. Ambient music from player has still been playing.

04:21 – Dissolve into shot of less people. A man fallen asleep next to Shinji with book on his face.

04:26 – Dissolve into Shinji Alone. The bag on top of him makes you realize the close-up at the start was Shinji’s bag.

04:30 – Extreme close-up of music player. Clicking noise. Indicates another track change or repeated track.

04:33 – Front shot of Shinji, head downwards. Rain can be seen through windows. Buildings huge black monoliths.

04:45 – Dissolve into shot with two extra schoolgirls at Shinji’s sides. Girl talks but no words come out.

04:49 – Dissolve into Shinji’s form squeezed between the two schoolgirl skirts.

04:53 – Same shot, train enters tunnel turning the whole train compartment pure black with brief silhouette.

04:56 – Fade to black. Clicking noise of music player. Music was playing from 04:33 till 04:53 when sound was drowned out by roar of tunnel.

04:59 – Sudden cut back to front shot of Shinji. His full form can be seen. Head is still tilted down. Train has stopped. City in the background blur as if soft-focus. Announcement that train is terminated.

05:21 – Shinji looks up and says that he has to go back. Anno let the announcement and silence carry on for 22 seconds before Shinji looks up just to accentuate the detachment.

05:24 – Extreme close-up. Music player clicks.

05:25 – Shot close-up of puddle of water in a street reflecting a couple of neon-lighted stores. Noise of people selling their ‘goods’. Reveals to be red-light district.

05:28 – Sideway close-up of Shinji carrying bag. Close-up on the bag. The lights behind blurred like soft focus as Shinji walks not listening to the talking of sleazy pimps and prostitutes trying to sell their wares.

05:31 – Close up sideways profile of Shinji’s face. Still listening to music through earpieces.

05:33 – Sudden cut to flashing light with screaming. A movie camera light from front view.

05:35 – The whole cinema is shown in establishing shot. Cinema mostly empty. Shinji is at the very corner. Sounds from movie plays. Flashing light of movie camera continues.

05:39 – Shot of one of the seats. Ragged feet with socks sticking up obviously from a beggar sleeping.

05:41 – Top down view of a beggar sleeping on the floor of cinema stretching his body the length of 3 seats. Movie is about First Impact.

05:43 – Shot of front of cinema. Man stretched out with sunglasses reading a book and ignoring film.

05:44 – Shot of couple from back.

05:47 – Far away shot of Shinji watching movie with hand on his cheek, too small to draw facial features.

05:50 – Top down shot of Shinji. Hair covers eyes. He turns his head.

05:53 – Reveal of what he turns to. Over the shoulder shot of Shinji looking down at couple in seating ahead of him.

05:55 – Close up shot of Shinji’s face with black empty emotionless eyes.

05:57 – Shot from back of couple making out.

05:59 – Close up shot of Shinji’s face, light returns to his eyes.

06:02 – Shot from back of couple continuing to make out. Girl puts arms around guy.

06:04 – Close up of Shinji’s face again.

06:07 – Shot from back of couple. Guy seems to nuzzle face in girl’s chest.

06:08 – Close up of Shinji’s face, he blinks. Eyebrows turn downwards to indicate slight irritation.

06:10 – Slow pan across small area in cinema outside of the film. One vending machine and the sign leading to toilet. Shows Shinji sleeping on the sofa at the cinema.

06:17 – Atmospheric shot of city at sunrise. Composition of dark pinkish sky behind a monolith of a building. Criss-crossing of telephone pole wires. A few unlit neon signs.

06:26 – Shot of pink cloudy sky.

06:29 – Dissolve effect to a brighter red cloudy sky. Indicate that sun is rising. (Start of the ‘red panic’)

06:30 – Bird’s Eye View scroll downwards through street. Eventually scrolls to a small figure of Shinji walking down the street with long shadow.

06:39 – Shows Shinji as a small figure walking past a giant black monolith of a building. Brilliant symmetrical composition. All the buildings and trees seem to cast off a faint red glow or aura.

06:49 – Top down close up of Shinji’s face. Ambient noise of cicadas begins to crescendo into pure noise. Shinji has terrified look. Camera skewed sideways.

06:53 – Shot from back of Shinji. Camera skewed diagonal. Noise crescendos. He seems to face the pink sky. Turns to his right.

06:57 – Extreme close up of Shinji’s frightened face turning.

06:58 – Vast far away shot of Shinji’s back showing him in relation to three different layers of the trees, then the buildings, then the sky. The layers seem to shift as the camera slowly draws back. Noise Crescendos.

07:05 – Close up side profile. Shinji covers his ears and shuts his eyes tightly. Runs forward.

07:07 – Following shot of Shinji’s shadow on the ground. A ‘noir’ shot. Noise crescendo stops for running sound.

07:12 – Vast far away shot of Shinji’s small form disappearing down the street. Taken from ‘over-the-shoulder’ of a street light. The vast dark shadows of buildings drape the street in dark red. Street light turns off.

07:14 – Birds eye view of Misato from the ceiling of her room. Soft focus blurred light in her room can be seen which covers half her futon. Various books and magazines and stuff all around her.

07:18 – Misato opens the door to Shinji’s empty room. She’s put to the side to emphasize the emptiness. Window glows with light.

07:21 – Side close up of her face looking in. Says ‘Idiot’.

07:24 – Far away front view of bus driving down street. Japanese landscape of mountains and blue sky is seen in the back.

07:28 – Front view of Shinji. His form is sitting on a rock next to a small shrine. Face turned downwards so eyes can’t be seen. Form made insignificant by the shrine and the bus stop sign. Bird twittering.

07:31 – Wide scenery shot of some kind of Japanese country-like place. Single hut seen in middle.

07:35 – Shot of clouds drifting past.

07:36 – Shot of Birds Eye View of road Shinji is walking on. Looming shadow of clouds drift past. The road is flanked by fields of green. Shinji’s form is extremely small.

07:39 – Shot sideways of Shinji’s form walking past through silhouette of trees. Past him a lake can be seen. His head is tilted downwards, as if looking at the ground.

07:42 – Closer shot sideways of Shinji walking. Blueness of lake can be seen here as it takes up most of the shot.

07:43 – Further away shot sideways of Shinji walking. Field of sunflowers seem to drown his form in yellow.

07:47 – Scenery shot from far away view of vast large foggy Steppes.

07:53 – Pan across mountains to reveal Shinji’s form from back staring off into the foggy vastness. Wind blowing.

08:01 – Front direct shot of Shinji looking at camera. Hair blowing in the wind with fog all around him. He looks off.

08:05 – Vast massive panorama pan across green landscape to the city. Seen from Shinji’s back. Connected to last shot.

08:13 – Side shot of Shinji sitting down with bag next to him. Fog is all around him.

08:16 – Far away side shot reveal he’s sitting at the edge of a cliff after climbing over a fence. (Caspar David Friedrich shot)

This entire portion is a great example of using the art to mirror the character’s state of mind. Unlike the bus scene in Madoka which is a magical transcendent beautiful moment, the art here entirely hinges on Shinji’s subjectivity. 03:54 – 05:24 takes place entirely on the train. There is no visual flourish or anything, just pure detachment and showing Shinji’s sterile alienation towards his environment. The arrival of the schoolgirls seems to have some connotation of sexual repression and frustration but analyzing it as that would be too Freudian and speculative. The sudden cut from black to Shinji sitting at 04:59 is a violent contrast, from sudden black to white. Furthermore it lingers on him for a full 20 seconds as the announcement of the train termination continues. This is really a pure example of Anno’s pregnant emptiness.

The entry into the red light district is a journey into the seedy ‘Heart of Darkness’. Unlike that moment when Johan sends a kid to the red light district to traumatize him from Monster though, which is played more like a trial by fire for the kid, this is a wholly psychological moment meant to represent the dark side of his psyche. It’s also the moment where we get a slight glimpse into Shinji’s juvenile irritations and (this time true and non-symbolic) sexual frustration at the cinema when he voyeuristically looks over a couple and then gets annoyed. This is also a brilliant moment of telling a story purely through images.

This whole scene also has a commentary on Modernity and its alienating effects laden in. The ‘red panic’ takes place with an onrush of noise and also a ‘destabilizing’ of Shinji by always seeking to subvert his form in one way or another (skewed shots, terrified close-ups, placing the camera on his shadow running). This moment takes place in the city where everything is dyed blood and the buildings seem to blow up into huge dark looming shapes above Shinji’s small human form. As opposed to this, when he reaches the countryside he approaches with a state of tranquility and calm detachment. It also signifies him calming down (though given this is Eva it’s not long before he’s thrown to a whole new array of madness) and being able to stand on his own feet again even though he’s still flanked by the fog and confusion of adolescence.

Throughout the whole scene Shinji is always made smaller through the shots or disoriented. His form is mostly huddled or insecure, either his face can’t be seen or he’s slouching and facing downwards. The only shot where he looks directly forward takes place on the cliff facing the fog, when he has regained his composure and looks down upon the city he just fled from. He’s always being swallowed up by something. He’s swallowed up by the crowd around him on the train, by the strangling red city in the ‘red panic’, and finally by Nature itself in the countryside, though in the last case he’s less swallowed than achieves a kind of zen realization about the insignificance of all things.

If more directors knew how to atmosphere and editing this well there would be a hell of a lot more great works in the medium.

Fine-Tuned: Shot Breakdown of the Madoka Magica 3 Bus Scene

This moment really deserves a full in-depth look besides the stuff mentioned in my review. This aims to look at the color and composition of every shot and what went through my mind during each shot, or when looking back on it.

The scene occurs after the talk in Kyouko’s Glass Dome.The shots can be broken down as such

(Music 1-38: Ambient transcendental)
(Music 39-67 :Carnival)
(Music 68-79 : Violin)

1. Yellow Bridge. Bus comes in view
2. Focus on Bus, dimmed by glare
3. Focus on heads on bus
4. Bridge Stacking while bus moves down bridge
5. Kyouko sitting with bridge stacking effect
6. Homura sitting with bridge stacking effect
7. Criss-cross bridge stacking
8. Underneath bridge pan (camera non-static)
9. Criss-cross bridge stacking
10. Bridge stacking effect, kyouko sitting, far away viewpoint
11. Bridge stacking effect, homura sitting, far away viewpoint
12. Bus front viewpoint, 3 bridge stacking, drives towards camera
13. When hits camera switches to back viewpoint, seamless transition
14. Red birds
15. Expressionist red bird landscape with turbines, bus drives into view
16. Augmented technology: Bus location reader – Veni Vidi Mitakihara
17. Another shot of Expressionist red landscape, front view of bus
18. Blur face passenger leaves, red landscape
19. Top of bus shot /w two main characters, red expressionist
20. Full view front of bus, smoke leaving
21. Top of bus shot /w two main characters, dialogue, bus begins to move
22. Full view expressionist red background, bus pulling away
23. One of the main characters presses stop button on bus, augmented technology
24. Full expressionist red background /w turbines, mechanized pipes structure comes in view. Shot from back of bus.
25. Shot of Kyouko. Realizes something wrong.
26. Top of bus, Kyouko & Homura gets up in shock
27. Swift pan from Kyouko’s face to back view of bus, glass floor, red expressionist sky, closer to mechanical structure.
28. Swift pan from Kyouko’s face away, camera follows side view of bus, goes through mechanical structure
29. Bus pulls away from mechanical structure, red expressionist background
30. Augmented technology, indication of location – Mitakihara, background back to normal reddish white sky, smoke
31. Bus sign, Mitakihara loop line, normal reddish white sky
32. Empty bus stop, augmented design, bus leaves Kyouko and Homura
33. Shot of Kyouko and Sakura front at bus-stop, Homura runs
34. Shot of Kyouko and Sakura side silhouette running. Red ‘normal’ sky, strange industrial construction and wires in the background
35. Bus stop, long line of people, top view through white bars
36. Augmented technology, view Kyouko and Homura from behind grilles
37. Focus on Homura’s hands holding bag
38. Back view of characters, bus stop, strange green white wall in front
39. High smoke, bus lights in view
40. Homura & Kyouko notice, background purplish pink wall structure
41. Full view of long winding road and bridge, dark purple colors, characters small under bus stop, dark trees, light bursts and bus comes into view
42. Dark purple fog road with turbines and bus coming into view.
43. Bus Sign
44. Homura’s face unease
45. Back view of characters, bus stop, bus pulls in
46. Bus entrance, front view of characters, smoke
47. Far view of bus in bus stop. Still dark purplish atmosphere
48. Smoke from bus engine
49. Bus pulls away from stop, front view
50. Headlights on ground, swift moving blur, road blur
51. Top view of bus, main characters on top, background unknown blur of dark and fog
52. Front view of Kyouko sitting
53. Presses stop button
54. Shot of empty bus
55. Characters realize something wrong, background changes to pure dark purple expressionist, both get up. Mechanical structure comes in view.
56. Back view of bus driving past structure
57. Side view of bus driving past structure, pans across Kyouko’s face, back shot of bus driving away
58. Front shot of bus with looming huge mechanical structure behind it, turbines and glowing street lamps and augmented gate in view, heavy smoke aura surrounding structure
59. Top view of bus, Kyouko jumps in front of conductor
60. Conductor view, Kyouko threatens conductor
61. Conductor front view, faceless, Kyouko seen in mirror
62. Kyouko front with road blur, Homura jumps in front
63. Conductor front view, both in mirror
64. Deep purple night sky with turbines and soft orange lights (opposite of red sky), bus pulls in, drops characters off and leaves, smoke
65. Focus on characters top from bus stop
66. Back of bus, Bus sign seen as it pulls away
67. Far away back of bus, bus slowing pulling away, characters viewing from bus stop
68. Strange mix of colors, bright yellow, purple orb, and white, indicating them going down road on foot
69. Dark lonely augmented road. No normal lights. Magical yellow orbs and Purple orbs for ground.
70. White distorted walls and yellow orbs indicating road, camera from bottom to sky
71. Pure black background, mirror of huge moon on ground, turbines, reflected line feels ethereal
72. Walking past dark bus stop, silhouette of characters
73. Character’s foot walking on road
74. Pure black with glimpses of purple aura, huge moon in sky, small glowing lamps with long winding white road.
75. Walking on pure black, characters white, lamps seem hanging in mid air.
76. Quick pan past floating lamps and yellow small orbs
77. Normal night sky, back on Mitakihara bridge, close up of surprised Kyouko
78. Huge view of city, Mitakihara bridge, behind huge moon
79. Two characters with huge moon looming behind.

The structure of the backgrounds is this
A. Yellow bridges (1-13)
B. Red expressionist sky (14-29)
C. Normal sunset orange white pink bluish sky (30-38)
D. Dark reddish purple night (39-54)
E. Purple expressionist sky (55 – 67)
F. Dark expressionist sky (68 – 76) (More dark instead of purplish)
G. Normal starry night sky (77 – 79)

Analysis

A – The bridge crossing effect reminds me of the opening to the Utena Movie when it pans straight through the whole school to the duel on top. It also reminds me of the Utena stairways. Bridges of all kind seem to appear here. Yellow begins the transition from day to night.
B – I want to know how he achieves the constantly moving background of birds. The turbines here are still turning. The red is brilliant deep with splotches of white, a high contrast. When you look closer at the mechanical structure its either composed of pipes or of many empty picture frames stacked onto one another. The ground is a mirror to the sky. Somehow many beautiful shots in other works also have beautiful mirrored shots like this. For example the rose dance scene in Utena and the shot of the reflected silhouetted burning field in True Detective.
C – That strange industrial thing in the background appears to be an amalgamation of many cranes, wires and electric poles. The return to normal sky here with its proper mixes of colors is a breath of fresh air from the purity of the red background.
D – Dark strangling miasma permeates. This atmosphere is like poison. A comparable scene is the nauseating dark red in Evangelion episode 4 when Shinji runs away. The difference is that this atmosphere is supernatural rather than existential. Premonition of later parts. The carnival tune begins and gives it that slight darkly playful tint.
E – This is just an augmented expressionist version of the previous darkness, the red is now pure purple, more darkness seeps through. The lamps are now turned on and hang like wisps in the air. There’s also more smoke and fog.
F – This is about when the violin begins and it begins with a distorted road. Rather than have a straightforward path the road that the two characters walk on has devolved into something that’s barely even a road. When it opens into the full night with the moon it is very beautiful. The full force of the reflected ground comes now when the characters seem to be walking on a thin glowing ethereal line, like a ghost bridge, rather than normal ground. The lamps are fully ghost-like now.
G. Return to normal night, the moon is oppressively large.

This is the scene where color becomes a character of its own. The evolution of color itself across the whole 79 shots marks the transition to the darker side of the plot. The color also diminishes the size of the main characters and seems to envelop them, especially in those later backgrounds. The bus itself is a strange mix of ornamentation and ‘frills’ with holographic technology. Urbanity is warped beyond recognition. If the whole idea of construction in the Modern world is streamlined functional structures then the fact that these structures are being used for ornamentation in Madoka is probably symbolic of the eternal magic of human imagination to twist everything into interesting and beautiful but functionally useless shapes. The moon itself has a magical value rather than its natural state. This is the moon that is tied to Gothic conceptions of Werewolves and night Sabbaths, not the normal moon that illuminates the night. The perfect example of a dreamy Urban Gothic scene.