The Darkness and the Light (10th Day of Anime)

I have a problem with some of 2017’s anime.

Between Katsugeki Touken Ranbu, Ancient Magus’ Bride and Girls’ Last Tour, the visuals of 2017 have been pretty dang good.

However, the problem with that particular trio of anime is their overall colour scheme.

They’re all visually dark at points, to the point of almost not being able to see what’s going on in their surroundings, or at the very least having to squint to see things. Seeing what’s going on is the entire point to the visual aspect of any medium, anime included, so why do people want to hamper it so much?

In Katsugeki Touken Ranbu, there were no electric lights in the times travelled to, plus the source game’s notoriety for quality angst among the fandom probably fed into the choice of such a dark palette. Unlike its brighter (in outlook and colours) companion (brother, maybe?) Hanamaru, the swords are more often thinking about their duty and what impact their actions will have in the time periods they fight in, so the colour palette needs to reflect that. Conversely, when fires happen and swords clash, there’s bright colours – striking blues and oranges – which the darkness serves to accentuate.  

Likewise in Girls’ Last Tour, there’s barely any electricity left due to the apocalypse that has been implied to have happened long before the show began. Often the contrast is a snowy sky, dull and grey, which adds to the almost sluggish atmosphere and makes Yuuri’s optimism a metaphorical beacon, not just for Chito, but for all the viewers too. Then again, the temple is the best example of what the show could do if it had more colour in it, but white represents purity and holiness – a perfect colour for a temple. (Apparently the lotuses – the flowers you see in the temple – represent rebirth, but that’s just an interesting digression.) I specifically remember that temple segment made my eyes have to readjust for a bit, because I was so unused to Girls’ Last Tour giving me constant white instead of drab browns – then again, could this effect have been intentional?

Ancient Magus’ Bride, conversely, uses its darkness only when it needs to, and this is mostly to accentuate Elias’s more sinister dealings in the faerie world, like when he is temporarily stuck in his more monstrous form after Cartaphilus tries to take Ruth. Alternatively, it is used for those who want to obtain Chise for her ability to generate magic, like the one monster that appears in the same episode just before Isabel’s spider form appears. Personally, I find this use of darkness less of a problem and more of an atmospheric “temporary state of things”, so I have less of an issue with it, but it’s still darned hard to see when these moments do come around.

Even with all these reasons of why I can think of anime being so dark in a visual sense, I’m just asking for a bit more visibility in my anime, whether it be the colours or the contrast.

Hopefully “visually dark anime” isn’t a trend, because I sure don’t want it to be.

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8 thoughts on “The Darkness and the Light (10th Day of Anime)

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  1. Hmm, all of this is pretty fair. I do like how all of these shows user their color though. I mean, Girl’s Last Tour is centered around a doomed Earth, so if course it’s not going to be Colorful.

    The biggest example I can think of against color comes from My Hero Academia. I love all the color, but Stain doesn’t really fit with the tone of the show. Neither does Shigaraki, now that I think about it. Maybe that’s intentional?


    1. I get that, sure, but at least make it more /visible/. That’s all I ask for.

      I’ve seen commentary that Stain is based on antiheroes of the (I think it was the) 90s from the comics. I don’t think I’ve seen anything in particular on Shigaraki, but maybe the lack of colour for him is just to make him more menacing and creepy? It certainly works, if that is the case.


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