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Almost Otaku: When has the Palette Colored Your Anime?

It isn't all about black and white and rainbows...

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Constantryan: When watching an anime do you feel the colour palette helps create atmosphere. For example as you've been watching Cowboy Bebop, I think that it's desaturated (is that the right word?) look helps convey it's Old West feel, even though it's set in space.

I definitely do think the palette’s important to creating atmosphere and it’s something that’s often overlooked. Interestingly, Cracked had an article addressing something similar to this (although I disagree about the negative assessment they give.) GURREN LAGANN has a very lively, saturated palette that stands in marked contrast to the more muted, subdued palette DEATH NOTE used - - and that really isn’t rocket science. The former’s an encouraging 10,000 watt dose of fun and sun while the other’s a thicker-than-soup serving of gloom and doom.

 ...and contrast.
 ...and contrast.

However, I wonder sometimes if the mood of a show’s specific palette is sometimes just a reflection of the time it was made. In the case of COWBOY BEBOP, for instance, the blown-out, washed-out palette reminds me of life in urban Asia. If I close my eyes when I think about it, I can almost feel the buzz of the kind of halogen lights. I have similar synesthetic associations when watching CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO and GALAXY EXPRESS 999, though. Both shows' flat color choices evoke a specific mood from me. However, I’m not sure if that’s just a by-product of the coloring technology they had at the time. Maybe they were just trying to go for 1:1 “normal” color scheme, without any agenda, and I’m just having these associations on account of where I was when I first watched them.

Maybe these same technology advances I mention have also allow animators to make more deliberate decisions when it comes to their color choices. Maybe that's it. Hell, JIN-ROH had a nigh-omnipresent bleached-out overcast look that covered every single with a sense of dread. I’d be curious if the previous entries in that anime’s universe had the same kind of flexibility.

I’m sure you Anime Vice lunatics have got a greater context than I do. Can you think of cases where the color scheme enhanced or diminished your viewing experience with a specific anime? Or is that all ephemeral?   

 Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of    HYBRID BASTARDS!  &  UNIMAGINABLE .  Order them on Amazon   here    &       here .

metalsnakezeroon Sept. 30, 2010 at 7:36 p.m.
Most animes that are pretty light hearted shows are full of bright colors to give off a friend feeling ( K-on!, Aria) and some have abstracted colors to really set the mood in ( Bakemonogatari). There been series where the color palette didn't fit with the scene or the mood but I can't remember any as of now.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Sept. 30, 2010 at 7:59 p.m.
I never rally make judgments to what color pallet an artist decides to use for a particular series. It's just another step in the creative process and is just part of an art style. All the visuals you see are part of setting the atmosphere. Even music direction helps to set mood.
 
Try watching a horror movie with the music on mute. It's a whole new experience and things just aren't the same. Another good example is the movie Jaws. Even when you didn't see the shark, the music set a mood to build drama.
tonison Oct. 1, 2010 at 12:37 a.m.
colors hit us pretty much at a subliminal level and affect our sense and perception in all sorts of ways. It used to be easy with just black and white because mentally you focused more on the visuals of what you we're watching. As color gets included it adds a whole new layer of psychological influence to how you feel about a scene. 
It's definitely prominent in animation, and most of all in anime. Those few kids out there having seizures every now and then aren't just from the flashing lights alone.
Count_Zeroon Oct. 1, 2010 at 12:43 a.m.
As a heads-up, most of the prior installments in the Jin-Roh universe, at least in terms of on video (as opposed to novels or manga) were live-action. I don't think they were released in the US though.
Lurkeroon Oct. 1, 2010 at 6:44 a.m.
Colors definitely help create an atmosphere. There is little similarity between Death Note and say...Pokemon. Saturated colors are usually reserved for lighthearted anime and dark colors for shows more serious in tone.
 
One of the things I found interesting about Gurren Lagann is that the before the commercial screens (is there a name for that?) seemed darker in tone than the actual show. Later in the show however, the colors started to change to reflect the more dire situation the world was in vs the antispirals. It was rather impressive.
Gaffon Oct. 1, 2010 at 8:51 a.m.
@lurkero: The Eyecatch?  

  An  eyecatch   ( アイキャッチ aikyatchi )  is a scene or illustration used to begin and end a commercial break in a  Japanese   TV program , especially in  anime  and  tokusatsu  shows, similar to how " bumpers " into/out of commercial breaks are used in the  United States . The term is used, in Japan, to refer to all kinds of bumpers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyecatch
sotyfan16on Oct. 1, 2010 at 8:51 p.m.

I look at story first, then I look to animation. Animation is big deal for me though some viewers would probably say there are a number of anime with horrible stories and great animation that I did/didn't find interest in and vice versa. 

Here's another question for you Tom..Harems: just fanservice or worthwhile?

No_name_here staff on Oct. 1, 2010 at 9:59 p.m.
@metalsnakezero: The pure period's got some glow on her, too.
No_name_here staff on Oct. 1, 2010 at 10:01 p.m.
@sotyfan16: What do you mean by harems? Like a lead having a lot of "suitors" like in Eva?
No_name_here staff on Oct. 1, 2010 at 10:02 p.m.
@Count_Zero: Huh... no shit. I figured it'd be the opposite.
No_name_here staff on Oct. 1, 2010 at 10:03 p.m.
@lurkero: Yeah, I noticed that the lines in those bumpers were a lot more raw than those in the show.
sotyfan16on Oct. 1, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.
@Tom_Pinchuk:
Oh hell no! That's not even close. You can look at anime related to harems here.
Addfwynon Oct. 2, 2010 at 12:28 a.m.
For anime, it really does help with atmosphere, but it takes second seat to story.  Maybe that's my personal bias as a manga-reader, where artwork is superior but black/white, so I pay less attention to the colours and more attention to story and artwork. 
 
The problem later is that if I do end up seeing the anime, the colours aren't ANYTHING like what I originally imagined.
Xeiphyeron Oct. 2, 2010 at 12:45 a.m.
Considering colour plays a large roll in setting tone/mood in movies, I think it is definitely the case in Anime since the difference between them is realistically pretty small.
MiniPatoon Oct. 2, 2010 at 12:48 p.m.
@Tom_Pinchuk said:

" @Count_Zero: Huh... no shit. I figured it'd be the opposite. "

Yeah the first live action movie Red Spectacles starts in color, then it goes sepia tone after that and then ends in color. I suppose it's to give that same oppressive sense of dread as in Jin Roh. Second movie Stray Dog doesn't really have that stylistic approach. The movies themselves are...well not so good. Oshii movies tend to have a lot of lingering scenes that are way too long (See: Ghost in the Shell, Sky Crawlers). Especially his early movies like Red Spectacles and Stray Dog since he had more free reign and could be as self indulgent as he wants. Hell in Stray Dog there's a whole 10 minute sequence where nothing happens and you're just going down streets and alleys following a girl. Stray Dog is just boring and self indulgent.
 
But I'd say Red Spectacles is worth a watch just for its damn weirdness. It's more of an avant garde film. If you watched Jin Roh and really liked it, than Red Spectacles is something completely different. You wouldn't believe the two movies are even related (aside from the fact that Jin Roh was set in an alternate post WWII era via directorial choice.)
 
All these movies are part of the Kerberos Panzer Cop saga. I haven't read the manga or novels, but would like to.
Count_Zeroon Oct. 2, 2010 at 12:51 p.m.
@minipato said:
"All these movies are part of the Kerberos Panzer Cop saga. I haven't read the manga or novels, but would like to. "
I remember seeing a copy of one of the volumes of the Panzer Cop manga at my library bookstore for sale in Japanese. I didn't pick it up, as I don't know how to read Japanese, but I'm starting to wonder if maybe I should have picked it up after all.
agila61on Oct. 2, 2010 at 4:12 p.m.
Letter Bee is a show that used light to tell you literally whether you are in the boonies, the burbs, or the big city: the light source is perched above the capital city and out in the sticks there is very little light.
Om1kronon Oct. 3, 2010 at 5:06 a.m.
holy shit Jin-Roh the MANGA version of little red riding hood, what a crazy ass anime that was to watch... Old as dirt too! I think I still own that DVD somewhere.  
 
(side note, when I say "the manga version" I am refering to the publishing studio who released the anime. I'm not calling an anime a manga. I know some folks are anal about that.) 
LPon Oct. 3, 2010 at 10:35 p.m.
I always notice things like that and I tend to lean on the side of less bright but not muted.
 
Think Evangelion for example.
hawkinson76on Oct. 3, 2010 at 11:29 p.m.
My 8 year old daughter is a BIG fan of CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO and  Nasuca, both of which show desaturation due to their age, However she is very aware of the look of these (and other) films, and she associates them with being old (not better or worse, sort of like how I thought of black and white movies when I was young).  
  
Based on this, and my own love of Casablanca, I think the the medium (including tech) are secondary to compelling story telling. 

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A shounen franchise of enormous popularity, Death Note started with Tsugumi Ohba's manga, illustrated by the popular artist Takeshi Obata. The series is essentially an extended police chase thriller, but with added twists, including the existence of Shinigami (death gods) who can control the death of humans.

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