A Sign of Affection #6: Love At First Sign



At this stage, it’s hard for anyone to reasonably say that A Sign of Affection is not even just a good, but a great show. From start to finish, the work on the series has been incredible, and the accolades just continue to pile up as time marches forward. We’re only six episodes into the season, and we’ve had a proper confession appear and the main pair start dating (before the side couple, might I add). There’s an incredibly deep amount of love apparent in the work put into this series, and it allows sequences like Itsuomi’s confession to truly shine. Because of that, I wanted to share that sequence once more to refresh the minds of viewers so that I can explain how amazing it is.

There’s truly a world of information to glean from such a short sequence, but I’ll keep it concise. First of all, Itsuomi ditched the white board they were previously using, specifically so that Yuki would look at him when he confessed to her. Immediately, he sets the tone for the importance of what he’s going to say to Yuki. Starting into confessing with Yuki, he then explicitly states that he’ll be talking to her in Sign Language. The stage is set and he stands atop it ready to deliver, and the confession does exactly that. Itsuomi and Yuki are both shown in frame for every sign in his confession, except for one. Why? The reason is two-fold. First of all, it’s a sign that Yuki goes on to say she didn’t teach Itsuomi. And second of all, because in that moment, Itsuomi’s hands forming that sign are all that Yuki can think about. It’s an incredibly strong moment in that sense, as in the same way that you might close in on someone’s lips when they’re saying something important, they’ve translated that experience to Itsuomi’s hands here. By and large, it’s an impeccable confession because of understandings like that. But it doesn’t stop there, as Itsuomi then takes the scarf out of Yuki’s hands so that she can respond to him. In spite of how strong and assertive Itsuomi is shown to be, it’s in moments like these that you really grasp his feelings for Yuki and how he aims to treat her.

And that sort of stuff really shakes her up. For the first time in the series, we have a visual explanation of Yuki’s emotions through Sign Language. It’s a sort of “blink and you’ll miss it” moment. She’s rather resolute in her first time asking Itsuomi why he wants to date her, but the second time you can see her waver in her signs. Just the slightest bit of hesitation as she works up the courage to ask the question again to get the answer she wants, but it adds so much to her character.

And there’s really so many more instances of this in the episode, so let’s start from the top now that I’ve covered the biggest moment. In the beginning, there’s not a whole lot to comment on- aside from the “bait and switch” if you can call it that. Personally, I think Itsuomi missing Yuki’s sign was intentional in this sense, because he wasn’t quite ready to confess to her yet. I think to support that claim, all you have to do is forge on ahead a little further in the episode to see why. He pats Yuki on the head, in spite of knowing what it means which makes it obvious that he’s still somewhat flirting with her, but the more important part is that Itsuomi vocalizes his feelings while Yuki’s not looking at him. To make it even more poignant, we’re delivered the scene from Yuki’s “perspective”. Because of where the viewer “stands”, we’re able to see Itsuomi’s mouth moving, and are subsequently provided with subtitles to explain what he’s saying. It’s a surprisingly strong scene that balances out Itsuomi’s assertive nature with his more gentle side.

Also, I can’t help but feel the need to share this incredible sequence of Yuki excitedly running outside to see Rin after Itsuomi leaves. Of course, it’s incredibly well animated and that’s where most of the value comes from, but if you take a moment to think on it, it’ll expose something greater. That is, Yuki doesn’t talk until she’s out of frame. Once the sky takes over, we get to hear Yuki’s voice, but not a moment sooner. For moments like these, I feel that they add a great deal of impact to how you as a viewer experience the moment. It sort of separates Yuki’s physical excitement and her inner thoughts, because she can’t really convey both at the same time. Rather simple, but it really does add a great deal.

Taking a bit of an aside, there’s a lot of “visual” wonder in the creation of this sequence, mostly in Murano’s boards for the sequence. In a lot of cases, staff might be tempted to skip out on the smaller details, but Murano really sells the feel of the cut. Leaving a delay between moving to this layout and Yuki appearing, for one. It helps the viewer piece together the time it takes for Yuki to go downstairs and outside. Similarly, allowing the viewer to see Yuki behind the fence before she appears on the road helps a great deal with the feeling of permanence with the characters. In similar fashion, you can see Yuki’s right (though it’s on your left) arm get cut off in the frame. In a lot of cases, staff might be tempted to keep her entirely in frame, but allowing her to extend past it also helps a great deal with understanding the scope of the world, and how it exists past what the viewer is able to see.

Moving forward once more however, I think the next important stop is Oushi, ironically. Totally divorced from the content of the episode, it’s more about providing a story in relation to Yuki’s past, which I found rather interesting. Yuki’s mother thinks very highly of Oushi, and surprisingly enough his interactions with her reflect why she believes that. Though, their interactions about Yuki are far more skewed towards themselves in that sense- a well placed addition. Both Yuki’s mother and Oushi view what they do as “good” things, and don’t spare much a thought for Yuki in that sense. Her mother is in a better place than Oushi, but both only consider Yuki through their own experiences, rather than Yuki’s, which I found very interesting. It’s a very solid extension of that idea of “good intentions that come from selfish places ultimately taint the effort”.

We quickly pivot back to Itsuomi though, where he bares his heart in front of behind Kyouya. This sequence is very engaging and important for Itsuomi as a character for two core reasons. First of all, it shows that even though Kyouya is the person that knows him best in this world, there’s still plenty of things that Itsuomi isn’t entirely comfortable sharing with him. Making his emotions and feelings explicit remains challenging due to his aloof and distant nature, but in spite of that, he cares about Yuki so much that he’s willing to step forward and proclaim them.

Secondly, it’s an incredible example of how Itsuomi views Yuki. It doesn’t feel awkward or forced when Itsuomi expresses what captivated him with Yuki, and the fact he explicitly mentioned her hands when talking about what had captured him is just beautiful. The way that this series is able to perfectly translate metaphors, idioms, and feelings that might be expressed with reference to the mouth of lips is endlessly impressive to me.

The episode as a whole works incredibly hard to establish Itsuomi as more delicate and careful than what we’ve seen him as previously. Because of that, you start to understand how delicate Itsuomi is with the things that he loves. Previously, he was attempting to mask that feeling by remaining headstrong and unbothered. Sure, things would slip through every so often, but for the most part that front was kept until he was able to express to Yuki how he truly felt. Kyouya expertly nails the explanation for that, as he says that Itsuomi’s behavior reminds him of a kid. That specifically creates a very interesting picture of contrast between Itsuomi and Oushi, both having been likened to children. Of course, there’s a world of difference in how the two behaved. When attempting to hide their feelings, Itsuomi is much more considerate about it- almost entirely due to his personality, and that ultimately is what afforded him not only the ability to be with Yuki, but to confess to her. Similarly, because of Oushi’s history with Yuki, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. His behavior and interactions have been more or less “locked in”, in comparison to Itsuomi’s. It’s all more or less a vague comparison, but one that I find very interesting because of how it makes you think of the two “rivals” (even though Oushi’s already lost).

Enough of that massive tangent however. I’ll skip past the cute touchy feel-y nature of Itsuomi and breeze into another Oushi comparison- handling accessibility. It’s kind of funny in that sense as it’s both explicit and implicit. When Rin gets all excited and flustered about Yuki and Itsuomi becoming a couple, she hides her mouth, and Itsuomi calmly points it out. Really, even just how Itsuomi is shown in frame as a little pop-in expresses how casual it is as a correction. It’s a stark contrast to Oushi’s use of correction where it’s well after the fact and delivered in a derogatory tone to make the person feel bad about their mistake.

Similarly, though also in contrast, is Itsuomi’s tattoo of all things. Yes, it’s very odd, but they way that Murano frames the sequence of Itsuomi stopping Yuki from opening Rin’s door it becomes clear as day. Itsuomi’s tattoo is an easy way to know who it is that’s behind her in situations like these. It feels like Itsuomi scoffing in Oushi’s face at the comment he made when they crossed paths at the train station. Really, I’m just surprised I didn’t realize it sooner.

Overall, both are really great additions to sort of ‘improve’ the idea of accessibility in the viewer’s eyes. Yuki is already used to it, but Itsuomi is used really well here to express ideas that we might not have picked up on.

Truthfully, that might be the best way to describe this episode- accessibility through Itsuomi’s eyes. It’s really the last “stage” to Itsuomi’s life integrating with Yukis, and allowing them to be a couple. To be honest, it wasn’t until writing this post that I really understood a lot of the greater context in these scenes. As their individual pieces you can immediately grasp their purpose, but overall as a greater narrative it eluded me up until this point. Regardless, it remains incredible work that heightens the viewer’s awareness of Yuki through Itsuomi which I think is really, really great. To that end, I really could talk about every single sequence in this episode, but that defeats the purpose of readers wanting to view and experience the episode on their own.

So, the point of this episode is how accessibility is viewed through the eyes of people around Yuki, and how that can drive a deeper and stronger connection between a pair of people. Conversely, it shows that if you’re viewing accessibility through a lens that is entirely yours, you will ultimately fail (looking at you, Oushi). It’s incredible work, and it has me endlessly excited to see how they handle the physical rift between Itsuomi and Yuki for the coming month and a bit.

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