Twilight Out of Focus Episode 2: Pick Me



Maybe I was a little critical or distant overall, or maybe I focused a bit too much on Watanabe’s storyboard, but Twilight Out of Focus episode 2 sets the record straight: there’s a lot of potential across the board. It’s not just the trifecta of character design, color design, and photographic direction. The story shows up incredibly strong in this episode, which in turn gives our characters much more to play around with. Similarly, with the ball rolling we get to experience more of the film making process, which Twilight Out of Focus chooses to approach surprisingly thoughtfully and purposefully.

That said, I may well just turn into Watanabe’s biggest hater for their storyboarding. Simply put, they don’t know how to handle dead air in Twilight Out of Focus episode 2. At the minimum, they at least preserve their work with paneling closeups in this second episode, but… the rest is just rather tiring. It’s hardly what you’d call bad when the characters are moving and the scenes are changing, but if you get stuck somewhere for too long it begins to fall apart. There’s almost an excessive amount panning included, and even refreshers on the names of characters- all for the sake of filling the space. It’s the personification of that cliche joke about people not knowing what to do with their hands when speaking. When stuck with a static air while characters talk, Watanabe is effectively just waving their hands around in Twilight Out of Focus episode 2 to keep things interesting.

If we’re going to discuss better across the board in Twilight Out of Focus episode 2, I think the prime candidate has to be the story. Mao and Hisashi strike a strong dynamic within the episode, and the narrative really gets going. There’s really no stronger proof than this episode that the debut for this series was a prologue. We learn more of Hisashi’s story, we get the beginnings of our main couple, we get introduced to the roadblocks and challenges- it’s doing a lot (especially in comparison to episode 1).

In particular, I’m very relieved in regards to Hisashi’s backstory. It’s certainly a little cliche in its beginnings, but the latter aspects of it are very strong (and even a little comedic). He’s absolutely the type to be strung along like that, and his past had him locked into the cycle with his teacher. It’s a quintessential drama plot line, but the episode does very little to actually force it into Mao and Hisashi’s dynamic…. in the literal sense. We get the information in regards to it and how it shapes our couples outlook, but nothing more. Instead, it will very much be a background aspect that presents a struggle for Hisashi in particular.

Mao on the other hand is quite interesting. We’ve only got the present tense for them, and even though he is the primary lead, having a lot of his romantic decisions obfuscated is very interesting. He was previously an open book, even within Twilight Out of Focus episode 2. He was a boy that the viewers knew and understood quite well. When he finds his chance at Hisashi though, it’s almost like the curtain closes on his inner mind. You could argue that it drags out the romance further that it needs to be, but I think the dialogue offered between Hisashi and Mao (thanks to Hisashi’s straightforwardness) does a lot to set it on track to be quite good. It’s not “oh let’s conveniently drag things out”, rather, there’s a strong case for why Mao runs away from his feelings while Hisashi is raring to push right ahead with his.

And while I did criticize Watanabe quite a bit earlier, I also do feel like a lot of the success of the narrative can be derived from their boards. When they’re working with something dramatic, tight, and concise, they can absolutely deliver moments that feel strong and emotional. Similarly, a lot is owed to that trifecta I mentioned earlier. Without strong designs (and animation direction), Watanabe’s habit of punching in wouldn’t land near the same. Similarly, those closeups would lose a lot of flavor without the strong combination of Yui Azumi’s color design and Asahiko Koshiyama’s photographic direction.

Even though they really only play within the bounds of 3 different “airs” (indoors, nighttime, and the rare sunset), the overall atmosphere remains very strong. It’s not quite as definitive as Shoushimin’s sensibility is, but it certainly allows the series to stand out stylistically- especially when they get to play with the intermixing of lighting, like Hisashi before and after their first scene.

Twilight Out of Focus episode 2 proves a few things. The first is that Deen has surprisingly good sense for picking out BL series to adapt. The second, Watanabe is good, but doesn’t have what it takes to really bring out the most in the work. And the final, there is a lot of potential that was on display in this episode. Twilight Out of Focus is certainly a strong work, and is one that has displayed its potential through these two episodes. It’s just that, both Deen and Watanabe hold it back a bit (more so the latter than the former). Outstanding animation is not a requirement for a good series- hell, half the time you have to pray that a series can stay on model these days-, but you can say that Deen does not have a lot of resources to work with here. Similarly, while Watanabe can provide a lot of solid work, you’re stuck going back and forth between the good and the bad. A few great closeups here, some nice perspective there- but then you have to sit through god knows how many pans. It’s a very mixed bag, but ultimately Twilight Out of Focus episode 2 still pulls through and will definitely have viewers curious to see where it goes next.

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