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Big eyed, pointy-chinned character design seems rather fitting in Casshern Sins, where robots have replaced humans. Sure, a number of the robots are more primitive designs, but a lot of the main cast are functionally undistinguishable from shiny anime humanity.
Which at least makes the moeblobs amusing.
The sleek character designs serve as a representation of an artificial humanity with artificially existential obsessions, at the pinnacle of which is the superhero character - the crown prince of gleaming skin and the self-managing quiff. He’s surrounded by robots gone rusty and they clash in a world crumbling apart.
Which means, visually, that Casshern Sins is playing a consistent game with its textures. Three layers: the pristine humanlikes, the rusting battlebots (proletarian!), the massively decayed landscape. A hierarchy of texture, from clean-cut hero to detailed backdrop.
Which set me to thinking about the presence or absence of textural contrast elsewhere in anime. It’s an effect which is at its most obvious when the line is drawn between characters and backgrounds - like the occasions in Bakemonogatari where a CG backdrop is taken up for a scene or two, or the simplicity of the human beings set against the lush backdrops of Mushishi.
As for why this issue sprung out at me while watching Casshern Sins, it probably has something to do with my own qualms in relation to that style of design. What this show seems to do is take that visual tendency and match it to (artificial) personalities whose aristocratic extremes of behaviour fit with their streamlined appearance. It then places those characters in an overwhelmingly miserable world. Hyper-stylised character design as a match for a tendency to deal in comical extremes of personality then. With the reality of decay as the persistent counterpoint.
Slowpoking away, I had a look at the latest talked-of anime show. Right from the offset the team at Shaft have let us know that something is deeply wrong in Madoka-land.
There is no window seat in this classroom.
In fact the transparent classroom setup is an absolute solution to dawdling in corridors, not paying attention, and distributing illicit material on school premises. With appropriate orientation of teachers, an organic 360-degree surveillance network might threaten the very laziness of the pupilhood.
The preternatural cleanliness of the premises start to feel like an imposition on the natural spirit of youth, deconstructing everything we thought we knew about classroom scenes. At least the dialogue and characterisation is all reliably leaden.
It is perfectly standard for the visionary studio behind the Ef and Bakemonogatari adaptations to forget to populate what would normally be busy locations with human beings etc. In this show we actually do see the odd passer-by in the shopping mall scenes, but I don’t think we ever see any staff. In this establishing shot, not only are there empty seats, there’s no-one standing at the counter. Where does Madoka’s food come from? It’s so terribly uncanny.
Not that Madoka's creepy all the way. After the eerie mall scenes we're let off the hook slightly by a visit to a more relaxingly sombre location. The comforting sight of inappropriately positioned traffic cones lulls us into a sense of security maintained during the subsequent daydream and encounter with Fate.
This, of course, was no preparation for the shock which was yet to come. I went on to the next episode…
What kind of a chair is that? How did I not notice this earlier? Can a chair like that really be for children?
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