Weirdness for Weirdness’ Sake?

Happy 10/31

Yea it’s a post on ef. I can’t help it–this is the kind of anime that gets my mind going.

But what is there to say? Lacking the tools of someone who studied film seriously I can only say that much like Soul Taker, for once the direction speaks to the message of the story.

Imagine a pop-up 3d book with moving parts; or better yet, a simple illustrated book. The words of a book still carries the story in its entirity, but the visuals and the interactive parts of the book help tell it. The ef anime is basically a pop-up 3d version of a normal anime.

Allow me to run with this illustration for some significant lengths.

Last time I looked at a pop-up book, I was shopping for presents to give to kids at a community service function. Freeing my engineer instincts I would examine the book carefully to see how each piece worked–how it folds into the book closed, how each pull or push tab connects with a corresponding piece as a part of the panorama. On the other hand when it’s presented to the lucky (or not so lucky) child, they tend to look at it as-is–“wow this cool” or “bleh I don’t want that kiddy book.”

It’s something that you either get or you don’t get, I guess. Looking at an elaborate illustration can give someone the same effect (Escher anyone?), but having seen the same kind of illustrated stuff for many years, a 3d, pup-up version of the same illustrated stuff might just tug and push your sensibilities into curious mode, like how ef did for me. Of course, that’s where the illustration ends. The ef anime is like any other anime, but by heavy-handedly highlighting all the techniques it eliminates a lot of the directional magic that we are accustomed to because they’re no longer subtle, yet the heavy style creates another kind of subtlety. It’s the kind of subtlety that makes Soul Taker so good. That said, it’s a little early to say if ef has successfully done it.

Lately shows like Touka Gettan, Pani Poni Dash, and even Suzumiya Haruhi (and the list goes on) has gone above and beyond the call to differentiate themselves from the crowd through these kind of tricks. Clever or not I don’t know; and they get different mileages out of the different tricks they employ. And to be honest, I don’t know what we can draw as conclusions besides that more and more shows are getting more sophisticated. And that is likely a good thing….for people who appreciate sophistication in anime.

2 Responses to “Weirdness for Weirdness’ Sake?”

  • jpmeyer

    Toooootally depends on the show. The first ep of Haruhi was really smart because they used mistakes that wouldn’t exist in animation (since you don’t have to worry about camera setups when you can just draw everything the way you want it), which they could really only use if they knew ahead of time what sort of things NOT to do with a movie. ef, OTOH just seems like they are playing with Photoshop filters without any sort of idea as to how it affects the meaning.

  • omo

    You really think so? I think that’s exactly what I am talking about–the playing-with-photoshop is very much the same idea as how episode 0 of Haruhi is suppose to be.

    I guess the difference is that one shows you it’s a fan film and not a pro film, the other is purposely there to show you it’s a film club’s serious attempt at a film. It has meaning.

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