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There's something that Samurai Deeper Kyo mangaka Akimine Kamijyo does that I haven't noticed in the few other series I've read, and I'm wondering whether this is something fairly common in manga or not. Basically, there will be an illustration that consists of a long pull-back shot of the scene with an inserted close-up of the face(s) of the character(s). A few of them have borders between the elements, but even then, there's usually some element bridging the two sections.

I didn't see any striking examples early in the series, but by vol. 6, they're occurring fairly regularly. Sometimes they're used when a character is introduced, and sometimes they're just used when a character appears dramatically (the kind of thing that would get a "ZAA!!" in Saiyuki). Anyway, below the cut are several examples (some pretty large), and I'll talk about the characters and scenes a bit as well ....

Samurai Deeper Kyo: Double Character Portraits

First off, here is Yukimura from vol. 6. We've already met him, but here we're seeing him on his home ground, in exile on Mt. Kudo. And we get to find out his current ambition:

Yukimura: Only one person will kill Kyo-san ... and that person is me!

Of course, he's going to need to wait in line: that's the ambition of an awful lot of people in this series. In this example, there's still a border between the elements, but his second speech balloon bridges it.

A few pages later, we meet Anayama Kosuke, Yukimura's kagemusha (body double), who has been disguised with a big hat for the last few pages (she's holding it in the picture, along with a musical instrument):

Kosuke: When Yukimura is away, do I not always manage? After all, I, Anayama Kosuke, am your kagemusha.

This is a good example, but it's the inverse of a lot of the others: the close-up is in the background. The usual joke about Kosuke is that she has great big ... tracts of land, and everyone cracks wise about how they can't see how anyone could mistake her for Yukimura. However, there's an extended scene late in the series where Kamijyo needs the reader to confuse her with Yukimura too, and all of the sudden, she's very petite in the chest ... I like Kosuke (I even wrote a little fic about her recently).

Here's Shiina Yuya, the heroine of the series, from vol. 9. The gob-smacked face at the top belongs to Kyo: he had just been told she was dead (and as you can see, the misinformation went both ways) -

Yuya: Kyo ...!! You're alive!

The pitiful little moppet is Antera: she's actually decades older than she looks and is tremendously strong ... and she's actually one of the villains. However, she and Yuya have just shared a scary experience, and it's had the typical bonding effect.

This cheery dude is Benitora (in vol. 9), who gets a lot less love than most of the SDK guys because he's too normal and doesn't have a lot of angst. He's got a hopeless crush on Yuya, as you can guess from his dialog:

Benitora: I gotta prove myselkf for Yuya-han's sake, if nothin' else.

He's a source of a lot of comic relief in the series, which goes along with his Kansai-ben accent (hence "-han" instead of "-san").

This is one of my favorite pictures in the series so far, from vol. 11. This is Kyo's mentor Muramasa, who can read minds and is also a master swordsmith (he made that huge no-dachi, Tenro, that Kyo uses):

Kyo's voice: Muramasa

He's actually much, much older than he looks, and much less healthy than he looks: he's very ill with the mysterious "Mibu Disease" that's a critical part of the series plot.

Here's the entrance scene of a series favorite, Hotaru (vol. 13). I was going to crop the picture to just the top panel, but his distinctive one-tooth geta extend into the lower panels:

Bontenmaru's voice: Or should I say ... Hotaru of the Four Emperors?

As Yuya notes, he used to be a friend of Kyo's. He's not in a very friendly mood at the moment, however ...

Finally, very sad and dramatic ... this is the last scene of vol. 13. That's Muramasa in Kyo's arms - he'd used a spell technique to restore his failing body, and it made his hair grow too:

Yuya: Kyo!!!

He and Kyo have just spent a couple of weeks in a cave, where Muramasa has been completing Kyo's magical education.

I hope you've enjoyed the picture show! And if anyone can give me a little manga art context for what Kamijyo is doing with these illustrations, I'd love to have it!


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 4th, 2007 06:27 am (UTC)
Okay, I'll start with a comment on the two double pages...
I think that Kamijyo knows that if the close up pictures was missing it would not have the same OMG! effect.
In Yukimuras case, if the close-up was missing and both bubbles were in the large image you wouldn't go "Oh, he can't be that kind of guy! I don't believe it!"(my first reaction, anyway) the same way as you do when you se his face in the details as he speaks. not that his expression changes, but his eyes are talking to you in the close up, they're just eyes in the large picture. and eyes ar so very important to the face.

In Kyo and Muramasas case, you need to notice that Muramasa actually changes his position a little. As if the closeup is "okay he looks tired/smashed, but he will go on just fine eventually, but on the full body picture his face is hidden.
So (in my best description) the two double pages are opposites, the first you have the full-body one and think "okay, everything sorta good" and then you go "oh no!" in the closeup.
in the second, the close-up is the "okay everything is sorta good, not anything serious to fear" and the full body picture is the "Oh no! not good" picture.
But none of the pictures would work without the other.But that's just my thoughts on the subject

as far as the other pictures go, I'll be thinking about it at work today, because I am very sure that I've seen this somewhere else, I just can't recall where and when right now
May. 4th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC)

Yeah, I noticed that there's often a slight change between the views. It's as though you yourself were really focussing first near and then far (or vice versa), in real time, so that the person (or people) has had a chance to move a little. I really like it, and I'm wondering whether it's something special Kamijyo does or whether it's more common than that.

May. 4th, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC)
Actually I haven't noticed these near/far pictures anywhere else before, but maybe I just didn't look close enough, but I've forund out where I've seen the other type of pictures before. the ones that introduces the characters.
I was reading Basara vol. 2 and at page 101 there was an introduction of a guy named Hayato, and the picture had the exact same composition, with the face and the body in the same frame...
May. 4th, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
i had actually never really noticed it a lot-i mean, a few times, yeah, but not as much as you did-though I have seen it elsewhere too, but don't ask me where of the top of my head. The overlapping elements part is pretty common in manga art(and is becoming moreso in us comics art) but i'm not sure what the basis is.
May. 4th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC)

It's the combined multiple-views-in-one-pic that I'm finding unusual and intriguing, rather than the overlapping.

There's even a triple view one, when Hotaru comes up to the Fourth Gate to find that the others have already left: you get a wa-a-ay pullback that shows how huge the whole thing is, with this little tiny Hotaru practically lost; then a mid-view where you can see the damaged pavement more clearly; and then a full-length Hotaru at about the detail of the pullback view above, so you can see his posture and facial expression. (This is just before [spoiler] he finds Taihaku's body and then sets the whole gatehouse on fire as Taihaku's funeral pyre.)

May. 4th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
yeah, i think we've talked about that scene before. That was in 20 or 21, so it's been out here for a bit.
May. 4th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)

Yeah, but we're trying to attract more SDK readers, right?   ;-)   (I noticed that you and I seemed to be on the same page about that.)

So I don't want to spoil it for them. I know that you know what happened and why!

May. 4th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)
aye, though i've at least partly moved on to basara and BotI in the pushing.
May. 4th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
Since I don't read much manga besides SDK I couldn't say if this way of highlighting a person/scene is common or something rather unique on Kamijyo's part... but either way, I think it's defenitely very effective! Just looking at your examples, they're all simply beautiful... even for her wonderful art, they're top notch. Some of my favorite scenes too :)

But yeah, I can't come up with any similar perspectives used in Bleach (the only other manga I'm reading at the moment)... but who knows, maybe it's something you learn in manga art school (if there is such a thing ^_^), and Kamijyo is just very skilled at/simply enjoys using it more than other artists?
May. 6th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)

I love her artwork too. I was oddly afraid, when I started reading Vagabond (which has simply gorgeous artwork that's more like conventional illustration than like manga), that I would like Kamijyo's less. But that hasn't happened. It makes sense - with book illustrators, I can appreciate many styles at the same time: Quentin Blake's cartoon-like style, Shirley Hughes' realistic line-and-watercolor drawings, Leo and Diane Dillon's artsy graphics, so why woudn't I feel the same with different styles of manga drawing? But SDK often makes me feel irrational - I regard it with real affection!

There's a sort of "meta" feel to these illustrations: they exploit the medium of the page, and take you out of the story for a moment. But they also make me feel like I'm learning a little bit more about the characters.

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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