Music, animation, lighting, and clever uses of symbolism all come together to a weave a tale of broken friendship and a race for freedom within the span of three minutes and forty six seconds.
I’ve been a long time fan of the illustrator Sidu’s works, and seeing how well he’s improved since his early days working on Kagerou Project is always awe-inspiring for me as a budding artist. Everything, from the characters to the text that seem to fly by move in tempo with the music, matching the high paced beats of the guitar and drums. The running scene in particular definitely stands out. As Kuina (the black haired officer) tries to catch up to Kawasemi, his former childhood friend, images of their past stray behind as a sort of after-image, coming to life at the sound of guitar riffs. It’s as if Kuina isn’t just chasing after Kawasemi. It’s as if he’s also chasing after his old childhood dream. I also want to talk about the way the animation looks in this scene, because holy cow does that running scene look smooth. You can tell that Sidu didn’t take any shortcuts when animating this, drawing each running cycle frame by frame.
The lighting in this video consists mostly of oranges and blacks, representing the two boys themselves. With Kawasemi, who never gave up on his childhood dream, acting as the light that contrasts against Kuina, the dark, who gave up on his childhood dream at some point and became part of the police force that he used to detest as a child. There’s also a lot of dramatic and mood lighting used, like in the imgage below, where a spotlight is used to highlight Kuina and brighten him against the dark background. Then, finally, a third color is included: blue. The sky, which both Kawasemi and Kuina witness for the very first time after Kawasemi’s plane crashes against the glass dome that encircles their city.
Character Design and Symbolism
Kawasemi and Kuina’s character designs are also worth mentioning. As children, Kuina is shown wearing a pair of goggles over his head at all times and is shown wearing a confident smirk in every scene he appears in. In comparison, the younger Kawasemi is shown to be less confident, as he’s more prone to wearing worried expressions. As adults, Kuina is dressed in black from head to toe, wearing a blindfold, symbolizing how he’s decided to ignore the current state of the world and given up on trying to break free from the “cage” the city confines him in. His expressions are also more intense and he is never shown smiling, even in the sillier sketches that Sidu posts on his blog. Kawasemi, on the other hand, smiles a lot more and appears to carry himself more confidently. He even mirrors the younger Kuina’s confident smirk when he manages to get rid of Kuina’s blindfold. When the pair finally meet eyes, Kawasemi gestures to his own eyes, brings down his goggles (implied to be the same ones Kuina wore as a child), and eggs Kuina on for a chase; eventually leading him to his finished plane.
Combining all of these elements is what makes this music video feel complete; and in under four minutes, the audience is able to sympathize with the two main characters in ways that some shows with a longer time frame have failed to do. Hats off to you, Neru.