10 Cool Directing Tricks In Evangelion

Edited by The Davoo

Text version:

Evangelion never ceases to amaze me with the inventiveness of its visual flow. For instance: whereas most shows and films would typically resort to shot–reverse-shot when depicting a conversation, Evangelion often frames both characters in the same shot together. Not only does this allow us to witness both of character’s expressions and reactions at the same time; but by having the character in the background speak first, and then having the character in the foreground respond, our eyes are drawn across the frame, which is more visually stimulating than a typical static shot.

Often times a shot will start on a very quick spurt of movement, which gets our attention and holds it over the length of the shot; before another quick spurt of movement occurs at the end, leaving us anticipating what will happen next. Sometimes these movements are cut off so suddenly that they create tension when sequencing into an action scene.

A lot of those sudden movements depict characters shifting their gaze very quickly, often to clue us in that the next shot will be in the direction where the character is looking. This keeps the viewer informed of where every shot is in relationship to one-another, which can be very important in moments like when Misato looks out a helicopter window and we understand that the next shot is of the place that she’s flying over–as opposed to another, unrelated area.

In spite of having been broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio, Evangelion often moves its camera to follow the characters, suggesting the existence of a space beyond the frame. To accomplish this, the backgrounds would have to have been drawn larger than the frame–either with character animation moving through it, or the background being shifted during photography–which is an appreciated effort in the name of livening up the camera work.

Nearly every explosion in the series is preceded by a flash of light, serving as the set up to the explosion’s punchline. Likewise, when an Eva unit pulls back their fist to throw a punch, we often see their victim’s face for a second before the fist enters the frame, which creates extra buildup and makes the impact that much more intense.

Eva uses a lot of ten-second countdowns and on-screen timers to generate suspense, or even to sell the magnificence of Shinji and Asuka’s synchronized combat in episode nine. These countdown timers also serve to enhance the militaristic realism of the series, as they’re often used to convey the limitations of the show’s technology.

Among the weirder, more fascinating tricks employed by the series is the use of the bottom of the screen to represent the foreground–through which objects may disappear in one shot and then reappear in the next. It’s common knowledge in film that objects leaving through the left side of the screen should reappear from the right and vice-verse, but I don’t often see objects travelling from background to foreground, and then from foreground to background again.

A lot of Evangelion’s conversations end on a troubled facial expression, suggesting that one of the characters may have some unspoken ideas about what the other is saying. These expressions allow us to understand the thoughts which the characters might not speak out loud, and to continue the dialog in our own heads as we might do in real conversation.

Sometimes, an exposition scene is broken up across two different spatial and temporal locations using the cheeky technique of having characters finish one-another’s sentences. Not only does this allow for scene transitions without any breaks in the stream of ideas being presented to the viewer, but it lets us know that all of the characters are on the same page without having them directly interact. This can also be pretty hilarious when the two characters have different manners of speaking and are explaining the same concept in different ways.

Evangelion is infamous for its static shots which drag on for upwards of thirty seconds–but equally interesting is its use of sudden, flashing images which seem to test how fast your brain can process visual information. Whereas the longer cuts force the viewer to think back on everything leading up to that point and to try and draw more meaning out of what’s on-screen, the shorter cuts have a visceral, gut-punching effect, forcing the viewer to think back on and try to recapture the images which have just been blasting through their eyeballs.

All of these techniques play a big role in setting Evangelion apart from other TV anime–but Eva isn’t the only anime series to feature interesting directing techniques. Stick around on my channel, cause I’ll be talking about a different show this way every few months; and if you want to help me make those videos, then consider supporting me via patreon, or by sharing this video with anyone whom you think it will interest. And if you just want to hear more of my voice, then be sure and check out The Pro Crastinators Podcast which I’ve been doing with all of my friends. Thanks again for watching, and I’ll see you in the next one.

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