Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,

Saiyuki commentary: art (volume 6)

Mostly fight scenes this time; see also telophase's post on combat. I have to say that though I'm confused about some of the sequences below the cut, they aren't anywhere near as eye-crossing to me as the Naruto pages telophase uses; I think Minekura's lines tend to be more linear and more well-defined, and she uses even less in the way of backgrounds during fight scenes.

Spoilers for volume 6 of Saiyuki, of course, though not as bad as the past couple of volumes. I broke down and read the scanlations of Gaiden, but let's try and keep the comments free of spoilers for it (not that I expect it in response to this post); and I haven't read Reload yet, so if you spoil me for it, I will kill you with my brain.

Once again, all images are from scanlations; the ones on the page have been saved at 50% to reduce their size. (A few of the original size ones were also saved at reduced quality because they were just ridiculously big, but since they haven't been scaled it shouldn't be too noticeable.) Page citation convention: volume.chapter.page (Tokyopop editions). Click on images for a full-sized version.

A non-fight scene

Here's an effect that I don't remember seeing in Saiyuki before: to show the shock of the building rumbling on 6.30.19, the top panel is done in inverse colors (I'd guess drawn the ordinary way and then manipulated digitally), with then just text over a tone on the bottom panel:

6.30.19 scaled

And then the next page goes completely in the other direction, to the extremes of static, conventional, and repetitive—a deliberate and humorous contrast, given its content of Hakkai's dissertation on load-bearing walls:

6.30.20 scaled

Fight Scenes

*sigh* I've been avoiding talking about fight scenes, because I'm not good at them and I didn't know what I'd have to say, but there are so many in this volume that I think it's time to try.

Let's start with a relatively typical sequence that I understood, the four pages of 6.32.68-69, 6.32.70, and 6.32.71. The double-page layout first:

6.32.68-69 scaled

The spread above has big, simple panels and an idiot-proof panel layout: the two left panels are tied together by the big overlapping speech balloon, so you won't miss anything no matter which way you read. The top long panel is a good example of a subjective depiction: Kougaiji is actually upright before Son Goku hits him (as the bottom panel shows), but he's shown sideways to indicate his shock and to reinforce the strong leftward motion of the entire page. The top panel also focuses on Kougaiji's face, which we won't see again for a page and a half. The bottom panel of the double-page layout has the actual contact, with visual continuity in Son Goku's posture and movement from the right, and in Kou's crossed arms from the top.

The next page, 70:

6.32.71 scaled

This is all reactions, tied together by Kou's exclamations of pain: Kou's wound; Kou looking or falling downward in pain; reactions from Gojyo and Dokugakuji; and finally Son Goku smiling. The panel shape and layout are very simple, but they're also very slightly off-kilter, which gives an almost subliminal wobbling effect.

And then back to the action on page 71:

6.32.71 scaled

On this next page, Son Goku—we know it's Son Goku because of the wristband and because he was the last person we saw on the prior page—grabs Kou's long hair, and it and the speedlines go up and to the right (as do the bottom border of this panel and the top of the next). And in the next panel, Kou's face and earring are going in the same direction, which indicates that he's being yanked by his hair—whether to the side, as this panel suggests, or upright, as the bottom panel suggests, isn't that relevant, it's the reaction that's important. (Notice that he has eyes again now.) The bottom panel has more strong rightward motion, with Son Goku's claws and Kou's following blood.

Things that made this sequence comprehensible to me: all the motion on a page was in one direction. There was one action or less per panel. I could see all the relevant body parts. The reaction page gave me context.

Here's a cool, less typical (?), fight bit. First, 6.32.75:

6.32.75 scaled

Doku is rushing towards Son Goku; this panel is all speedlines and sound effects and big dramatic urgent things.

And then turn the page to 6.32.76-77:

6.32.76-77 scaled

Time slows way down; no speedlines, no sound effects, just Doku frozen as Son Goku seems to float down in the first panel. And then the precise, almost gentle landing, and Son Goku's body language says it all: "Hi! Die now!"

Very cool, and very easy to follow.

And now for the sequences that I didn't get. Well, first, one that I did but that the apparent conventions of fight scenes didn't help any. Apparently fast-moving limbs are drawn darker? On 6.32.92-93, I could tell that Son Goku was punching Hakkai, because of the fist in panel 2; however, if I hadn't known to look for a punch, his dark arm might've got lost against Hakkai's dark shirt. I've marked the punching arm in red below:

6.32.92-93 markup

Also, if Hakkai is supposed to be thrown off Son Goku just by the force of the punch, the angles look a little weird to me, but it's hard to tell his relative position in the last panel.

Angles and possible rotating motion gave me trouble in an earlier sequence, 6.32.64 and 6.32.65. The first page seems to show Son Goku leaping from behind Kou:

6.32.64 scaled

At this point, the next thing I expected to see was Kou knocked forward onto his face.

The next page shows something rather different:

6.32.65 scaled

This looked to me as though Son Goku kicked Kou while they were facing each other—which, since they hadn't been facing each other on the prior page, I found confusing. On looking at it again, perhaps Son Goku landed and then spun to kick Kou, and this is the end of that sequence; however, I'm more inferring that Son Goku is turning than really seeing it. It's possible this is my ignorance of what this kind of kick would actually look like; or, it's possible that combining or skipping motions in a fight scene is tricky.

Another sequence gave me trouble because I couldn't see the relevant body parts. Here are 6.32.84 and 6.32.85 (right-to-left, of course):

6.32.85 scaled      6.32.84 scaled

I should note first that Tokyopop translates 84.2 as "swing" and the big sound effect on 85 as "stagger." The speech balloons on 84.3 and 84.4 are "huh" and "Hee," respectively.

Now, if it weren't for the speech balloons, I could buy 84 as a super-slow-motion sequence: (1) Gojyo grabs Son Goku's face; (2) Son Goku swings; (3) Gojyo starts to notice the punch on the way; (4) Son Goku looks smug; (5) Gojyo really notices and goes "oh shit"; and then on the next page, he staggers as the punch lands. Except that the text balloons suggests that it's not in that slow motion, because they have time to talk, and now I have no idea what's going on because I can't see Son Goku's hands at any point after 84.2.

Hmm, I guess I have something like a conclusion: fight scenes that I understand include visible body parts, one action per panel, and clear directions of motion. Which is deeply and incredibly newbie, but y'all knew that anyway.


[ more Saiyuki art commentary ]

Tags: manga, manga analysis, saiyuki
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