I've got the day off, how about some Saiyuki art commentary? No theme this time, just a mis-mash of things that caught my eye.
Spoilers for volume 8 of Saiyuki, and possibly volume 9 as well; please don't spoil me for Reload. About 250 KB of images behind the cut.
As always, images are from the scanlations; the ones on the page have been scaled down and saved at 50% quality. Click on the image for original size and quality (except in one case noted below). Page citations are in volume.chapter.page (going by the Tokyopop editions).
On the use of beer cans as ashtrays
The very first page of the volume, 8.43.9, caught my eye through its strongly triangular layout:
The page kind of expands as it progresses, as the meaning of Gojyo's leaving sinks in. Also of note—besides the beer can used as an ashtray—is Hakkai's face, which is darker and more highly contrasted (if that's an actual descriptive term) than usual.
Compare 8.47.131, when they're reunited (Tokyopop: "What indeed. Didn't I warn you that using cans as ashtrays will earn you retribution?" " . . . Right. Sorry."):
A non-shadowed Hakkai face; also, the layout emphasizes that there's two people there, being divided in two (down the middle) and then two again (across the left side). Through its framing of the characters, it also shows Hakkai forgiving Gojyo without words; the right-hand panel depicts submission (Gojyo sitting with his head bowed and shoulders hunched, while Hakkai stands above him and looks away), while the left depicts equality (the two looking at each other, framed to show precisely the same portions of their bodies).
Closeups and body language
While I'm talking about framing characters and body language, I should probably mention the second-to-last page of the volume, 8.49.191 (the sound effect in panel 2 is translated by Tokyopop as "slip"; the text is "Damn. Just . . . " "Please?"):
I like the way this switches between closeups and shots from further away. Panels one and two collectively show Gojyo's exhaustion, by focusing first on his sigh and then his full-body sinking down to the floor. The closeup on Gojyo's hands across his face in panel three is heartbreaking, but the ceiling-height shot in panel four is even more so, because now Sanzo's back in the frame and they're so small and alone and at the ends of their ropes.
(Waah. I'm tempted to start volume 9 right away just so I don't have to leave them like this.)
Tight closeups get used in a slightly different fashion to open this chapter, which starts on a left-hand page (8.49.157):
At first glance, this looked to me like it was using borderless panels in the wider shots of Gojyo, but of course it isn't. I think this goes back to rhythm: you need borders to structure the frightening monotony of the page. They also constrain not only what's shown, but what the viewer imagines; if the wide shots had been a borderless panel, then the viewer would automatically fill in the rest of Gojyo "behind" the lighter-flipping shots. Instead, the viewer wonders what's not being shown, and so turns the page to . . .
. . . an establishing wide shot of injury and dejection. (And skinniness. Man, they so need to eat more.)
On a happier body language note, the art for chapter 47 sums them all up well enough that I could've skipped the entire last post:
Aren't they cute? Skinny, but cute.
The use of chains in page layout
Gojyo's shakujou, including its chain, creates a really strong clear path through 8.49.162, part of the flashback in the last chapter:
I mean, markup is superfluous. Starting with the speech balloon in top right: the weapon's handle comes directly out of the balloon, leading left, and then the chain leads down to Kami-Sama's head. The dark edges of the beads over the sutra next grab the eye, and lead straight into the chain in the next panel. The chain heads across the panel towards the next speech balloons. The balloons overlap into the last panel, where that thin bit of Gojyo's hair draws the eye back towards his shocked face.
The elements of the right-hand page are arranged in a clockwise curve, and lead perfectly into the curve of the shakujou's chain on the next page, completing the circle—pretty and all symbolic and stuff. (The whitespace in the middle of the right page helps define the curve, and also lines up with the shakujou's handle.)
I still can't draw curves in GIMP, so just pretend the red and blue lines below are curvy:
The layout also creates a visual pause on the left-hand page by having the strongest visual path, the thick foregrounded chain, stop at the top right corner, the middle of the page spread. The chains in the background and the weapon's handle eventually lead to the next panel, but not immediately, as befits the importance of the right-hand panel.
Just, you know, in case anyone had missed it up until now. (8.49.179)
(One more art post, then a booklog entry and an attachement/dependence essay, and then I can finally read Reload!)