Sunday, April 8, 2007

Translucent Silver Hair (Page 4)

For those unfamiliar with the Japanese comic format, let me give you a quick lesson. Unlike American comics, you read from right to left, top to bottom. I'll number each panel to indicate the order in my translation.

//Panel 1//
I’m fourteen.
Every day I study at home
//Panel 2//
with a fussy tutor for a companion.
//Panel 3//
In the afternoons, we hear the sound of a dreadful sonata and he becomes restless.
//Panel 4//
It’s my older sister, Anna, who’s playing.
Ah, ahem…
Charles, finish reading this, shall we?
//Panel 5//
My sister is seventeen, beautiful.
//Panel 6//
What’s really beautiful is…Springtime!
//Panel 7//
And the afternoons are free…
I blow on a blade of grass, run around, yell at the top of my lungs…
And I sing a silly song.
//Panel 8//
…a song?
A song…!
//Panel 9//
…was a girl with translucent silver hair…

Take a look at Panels 7 to 9: This is a shojo manga's signature style of fluid panels, which give us dynamic, warped space and create a sense of time. Hagio uses this technique very effectively to paint a certain atmosphere. Panel 7 also has a roundness to it that evokes the sun, and a feeling of warmth and joy, which is emphasized by actual rays of sun radiating from the upper part of the panel...These rays (or perhaps it is a breeze?) create a pleasing flow through Panels 8 and 9, and those panels themselves are vertical, slanted, shaped like rays of sunlight to mirror the sunbeams of the previous panel. Then in Panel 10 this fluid, joyful movement suddenly stops--we still see vertical lines, but they're prison-like bars, with Charles trapped behind them.

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