Let’s try this out.
I’m not really qualified for this one – and by that I mean I haven’t read Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass for like fifteen years. Maybe that’s better – I kinda want this story to stand on its own anyway, and not just be a winking set of references. So far, that does seem to be the case – or at least this season’s first new episode was pretty much perfect in that regard. A beautiful little fable, already full of evocative characters and neat little ideas. Great visual aesthetic. A lovely romance illustrated through the fewest possible strokes. And Myoe at the center – a character whose desire to escape his padded wonderland lends a grounded humanity and relatable theme to a very distinctive fantasy. As far as single episodes go, that first one really couldn’t have been better.
Feeling a little sleepy at the moment, which has actually led to some of my better writeups, but is probably not a trick I should expect to rely on. Unlike Kill la Kill, this show isn’t just manic – it seems to be both manic and smart. My bad knee is acting up too, which means this could very well be the best show of the season. Guess I’ll do the best I can.
0:50 – It helps that this is also my favorite OP of the season. The visuals are nice, and the lyrics reflect the mood and context of the story well, but I mainly find the song absolutely lovely
1:51 – Pretty and appropriate aesthetic. Cut-paper storybook pages. Look at the white outline on that shrine – it’s like a pop up book
1:56 – And again. The background aesthetic also nicely matches the sharp angles and bright color splashes of the character designs
2:21 – Here, in her original world, those angles and outlines are not present. The Mirror Capital is made unreal in all ways it can be. You can also note the other planets in the sky – this place is not a prison, it is a hub
On a side note, I also really like the implications of the universe they’ve created here. It’s basically a multiverse origin story, right? All these beautiful worlds fabricated from the whims of the monk-god, so numerous that they actually have their own organization system and bureaucracy
2:43 – Everything raises questions. Standing at the world-hub train station? I guess they’ll tell us about her master in good time
3:42 – Man, such an evocative world. All these trans-world couriers/guardians/whatever with their sad little apprentices wishing them well. And that quick set of jump cuts basically telling us everything we need to know about this setup in the fewest possible strokes.
That’s one of the big rules, incidentally. Not one unnecessary image, not one unneeded word. Editing is cutting and cutting and cutting and then when you’re finished you take a deep breath, walk away for a while, come back, and cut some more. Overexplaining is for suckers – put in the right pieces and the people you were meant to connect to will be right there with you
6:42 – Are these all echoes of the father? Also, things impossible to point out in writeups: A. This song is great, and B. This direction is absolutely fantastic. The pacing of the jump cuts is just so lively, the quick sets of pillow shots establish space extremely well… there’s just a lot of personality in the framing of this show, even though it’s not ostentatious in the way something like Monogatari or Kill la Kill tend to be. It’s the kind of directing that won’t win Best Direction because it’s too good at not drawing attention to itself
7:35 – The shots outside of Mirror Capital don’t have those deliberately otherworldly outlines, but they still have a pleasing jagged sketchiness to them. Like the cooking tools to the left here, and the character outlines pretty much all the time
7:45 – And here’s a nice example of the lively posture. Capturing humanity in a sketch can be less about adherence to human form than about exaggerated, expressive posture
10:46 – More of these great designs. Nothing’s designed to be practical, it’s designed to amuse the person who drew it. How their entire world works
10:57 – More of these great, efficient jump cuts. Also Koto’s expressions
11:20 – Quite a pretty show
12:55 – Great shot choices in general
13:12 – More prettiness. They’re keeping the divide here pretty understated in the dialogue (obviously less so in this very deliberate shot). With good reason – they don’t need to ground in the fact that she’s an outsider, it’s a common trope and the story itself is providing all the context we need
13:53 – All these distance shots really grind in her loneliness, huh? Though I guess her welcoming herself home doesn’t hurt either
14:25 – Mirroring every shot from her daytime walk with the Fox in turn. So what are they turning back to?
17:55 – Well this whole sequence is just well-directed and understated and personal and fanciful and gorgeous. Dang, Kyousogiga.
19:15 – More nice things.
So. The red eyes. “We have a secret.” The rabbit has the eyes – so does the original Myoe. And these two – the one who appears as a younger Myoe, and the girl also named Koto, who considers Fox-Myoe her father.
Yeah, mainly just saying things that are. Don’t look at me!
19:54 – More pieces. Normally shows you have to put together don’t also double as such compelling immediate narratives (like Lain, which leaned heavily towards pieces to the extent where the narrative trailed off at times). It’s a good trick
20:59 – And one more shot for the road
Another great episode. They’ve successfully established (well, more or less, with a few secrets in reserve) an entire universe while also filling out Koto’s backstory and motivation. That beautiful night sequence was a particular highlight, but this whole episode displayed the same great direction, style, and writing of the first. This is looking an awful lot like the best show of the season