What do you get when you merge a penniless god, a girl ghost with a cat tail, and a lot of excellent visuals? BONES answers with its latest series, Noragami. Continue onward for some delicious aesthetics and hella cool shots!
Recent years have not been kind to BONES. Lately, it seems like they’ve struggled to keep a rhythm between upbeat and memorable, creating results that land somewhere on one end or the other. Examples range from the messy AO and rather mediocre No. 6 and Gosick to the rather fantastic UN GO and Zetzuen no Tempest. This season, BONES has decided to spread out a little and go for a show like Noragami and Space Dandy. What gives?
The answer may be Tempest. While the show’s story wasn’t the most well-told or powerful, it was the execution that was stylish as heck and made the show stand out. Remember those four episodes of constant arguing and logic-twisting? The genre shift? The theatrics? Noragami in many ways seems to be of kin. The characters aren’t original and neither is the story, but the art of the show is what sells the most, and it sells well. Noragami understands spatial composition, color palette, and the choice of angles, which emphasizes its storytelling and distinguishes it from the rest.
Cinematography involves three major things: the placement of people and objects in a frame, the movement of said people and objects in the frame, and the movement of the frame itself. Every shot should have composition, which is specific focus that can be attained through manipulation of color, light, shapes, and patterns. Noragami accomplishes this using all of the above, and it it can be clearly seen in many of the frames of the first episode.
Color Palette. Color is extremely important in establishing the atmosphere of scenes in a series, and Noragami handles color palettes extremely well with its mastery of mixing and matching hues and saturations. From monochrome moods to combining unusual colors to create distorted environments, Noragami allows us to fall into one mood of a certain scene to another.
Lighting and Contrast. Light and shadow are critical for contrast and thus, emphasizing certain aspects of a scene or body part over others. Lighting also helps with creating an atmosphere in scenes. Shadows and highlights also can distinguish the foreground from the background. In action scenes, lighting is especially important to not lose the viewer and point to the focus of the shot.
Shapes and Pattern. Rearranging shapes and patterns create balance. Just as light and shadow can emphasize certain subject matter, so can the use of pattern and shapes, contrasting simple images with repetitive ones, or vice versa. Shapes and lines can also lead the viewer to the focus of the shot by either being in the foreground or background, while framing the subject so he or she stands out. By having a functional structure, one can create both a practical and aesthetically pleasing image.
Angles and Zooming. There are different types of shots: an establishment shot which gives us the usual location or setting, the long shot, which shows how characters interact with their environment, the full body shot of the character, a medium shot, the close up shot, and the extreme close up shot. Noragami utilizes all of these with various effects, poses and angles to create a dynamic series of camera work.
Of course, this is only the first episode, so who knows – BONES may just be piling all of its budget into the premiere. If it did, it wouldn’t be the first time; this is quite common in anime series, so to see less of a visual feast would almost be expected. However, Noragami has made a clear and stylish statement with 20 minutes of fantastic animation direction so far, and thus I can’t wait to see how things will be adapted next!