Friday, August 3, 2007

Blurring fantasy

This has been a trend in progress for a while, and I wonder how everyone feels about it. I speak of what appears to be a movement towards an increased sort of hyper-realism. Maybe we should just call it Shinkai-ism, since he has been this towering figure as of late.

Come to think of it, Voices of a Distant Star was what got the ball rolling for me, followed by The Place Promised in our Early Days. I saw a reference to Chiaroscuro in a comment, but I can't remember where (doh!). And lest we forget already, trains and train stations have never looked so good.

Byousoku 5 cm
But the emphasis isn't purely on visuals in Byousoku 5 cm. The sound effects, when present, may well have been enhanced audio recordings of the real thing, from the Doppler effect as a train moves away from a crossing signal, to the distinct tone of a cell phone on vibrate.

Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo makes use of filtered photographs, as does at least the ending to Manabi Straight. Less extreme might be Kyoto Animation, but do we not laud the studio for its attention to detail precisely it looks so realistic? Is the concept of quality in anime, in the current vernacular, linked to how closely animated entities resemble their real world counterparts?

Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo
Anyone with more viewing experience should feel free to contradict me, but my impression is that this obsession with realism is beginning to pick up steam, whether it be filtering a photo or meticulously drawing scale models of the here and now. Dennou Coil is also insanely detailed, and even Sky Girls is getting more detail than the premise deserves.

You may feel that it cheapens the viewing experience, i.e. "If I wanted a dose of reality I'd just leave my basement house", but the plausibility and consistency that these constructs lend generate a lot of goodwill from viewers with less sophisticated tastes in art (i.e. me).