A picture is worth a thousand words, and all of cinema, anime included, has a lot of pictures. Small wonder we talk about it so much! 😉
For all that I harp on the essence of storytelling (characters, plot, themes, etc.) being what truly makes or breaks an anime, or any other story, it would be remiss of me to forget the technical aspects. Character design, ie what they look like, wear, and own; music, vital to setting the mood, and soon to be talked about in coming weeks; and the animation itself, meaning the style, and how pleasant (or not) it is to look at.
The setting, made vivid and clear and quickly understandable, is every bit as vital to the story as the story itself. It is the vehicle by which said story is transported, carried into our hearts by pleasing our eyes.
I must admit, I have sometimes been less enthusiastic about this. The reason is… well, we tend to forgive or ignore a great deal, both good and bad, in anime (or a movie, or a person, or anything else) because of how it looks. I mean, I have so many qualms with Avatar, but I cannot deny that it looks really good. Unfortunately, that is pretty much all it really brings to the table. And yet, it was wildly successful, and I have the DVD. On the other hand the webcomic Order of the Stick is literally stick figure drawings, and yet it’s remarkable, both for its story and because of how it uses that stick-figure appearance.
Anime is… well, “anime” partially because what it looks like. Yes, it’s also because of where it comes from, and the tropes within in, and the format of the stories it tells, but all of those require watching it to understand. We can usually tells what is an “anime” at a glance, much like how we match a person’s name with their face. The style, design, and such, it is distinct. It is its own thing. And, more often than not, it ain’t so bad to look at! 🙂
So, how something looks really is important. That is why artists and animators have jobs. We enjoy looking at things which are more pleasant to look at. Thus, backgrounds and scenery and such.
The challenge with picking five is, quite simply… there’s so much of it! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I always want my picks to be good, ya know?
A further challenge is in talking about it. I mean, some things don’t really need words, do they? Yet, words can still help us understand, especially when understanding people’s choices. So, I’m just hoping my words don’t take away from these five beautiful images I spent an inordinate amount of time selecting. 😉
Part of what took so much time is… well, I hated the idea of picking five images and having repeats, ya know? So I went with a sort of loose theme of displaying different elements through different settings.
Here goes! Five beautiful background scenery from anime!
1) An Outlaw Starry Sky
Outlaw Star begins almost every episode with a prologue of sorts, giving the background of and adding texture to the show. This is one of the first, and it is brilliant: a young Gene Starwind staring up at the limitless night sky, with stars and worlds uncounted overhead in the infinite sea of space. That is every young boy, or girl, who wonders, “What’s out there?”
2) Forest of the Mononoke
Princess Mononoke is my favorite anime movie partially because it’s so dang beautiful to look at (and listen to). It has such an enchanting story, set in an enchanting land, and none more so than the home of the Great Forest Spirit, and the great Wolf god with their brood, not to mention the tree spirits, the kodama. One can hardly enter such a place without a feeling of reverence, and this image, with the gigantic trees, the glimmering pools of clean water, the green islets, and the radiant sun shining through… well, it is magical.
3) Moribito Snowscape
I wanted a picture with snow, and while there are a ton of anime that have snow in them, somehow I wasn’t able to find the “right” one until I went and got an image myself from Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. This is practically a throw-away image, too, just something shown during the montage that covers the season of winter. It’s set to some beautiful music, and it has such resplendent imagery, and I’m glad I remembered it.
4) Wolf Girl in the Setting Sun
Another quick moment, involving the introduction of one of my favorite supporting characters in InuYasha: a female wolf demon named Ayame. And it’s so simple, just her leaping figure, in front of a setting sun. Yet… sunsets and beautiful women are both magical. Combine them, and for all the simplicity of it, it remains stunning.
5) The View from Resembool’s Cemetery
Not a bad resting place, is it? From the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise (Brotherhood, to be exact, I think), this is another quick moment, and do you notice a pattern here, where even the briefest of moments is made magical? I like the peace and quiet of this image, especially. For all that death has a bad reputation, where we lay our dead is hallowed ground for us. From the earth we come, and to the earth we return, to rest in peace, and hopefully leave peace in our wake.
And that’s my five. How about you? Any beautiful backgrounds you’d like to share?