3 key elements you should pay attention to when watching anime.

As a student illustrator, my tutor is always reminding me to “pay attention to detail every time in your work for clients”. However, when watching anime, this “attention” for me is about focusing on different elements within the animation that keep me interested in watching the anime. Here are a few elements that I normally focus on when it comes to watching anime and how I feel they allow me to understand and relate the story and characters much better.

  1. The Eyes

The anime eye has a long history first originating from Osamu Tezuka being influenced by Walk Disney’s animated films. The reason why eyes play an important part in anime character design in because they allow for the use of emotional story development. The varied changes in eyes can also give you an idea of the true personality for the character as well as the current emotions they are feeling. A good example of this can be seen in the main character Dazai from this years’ release of Bungou Stray Dogs Season 2. The first few episodes focused on Dazai’s past of working for a group called the “Port Mafia”. Dazai’s eye would change depending on his personality or the way he would speak towards others. This eye change is important as in the first season, Dazai’s character was much kinder, open and extraordinary and his eyes were not diluted like they were in the second season.

As you can see in the above image, the difference in eyes are needed to show the audience the changes that Dazai personally went through as a character. This allows the audience to also relate to Dazai which in the end, makes Dazai’s characterisation one of the best I have seen of this season.

2. Composition

Composition is important in animation as it involves other techniques to think about such as camera angle, setting, colour, etc. But the main 2 areas I want to focus on here is the arrangement of a scene and value contrast. If we take this screenshot from the anime “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”, the composition can be split up into 2 ways which are:

(Continued from composition number 2) The Dark Value and Light Value In the above image, the shadow highlights on the character named Mumei which show the “dark value” on her skin contrast with the light shinning on the bambo sticks in the background. From this contrast, the character stands out because there is more dark value along with her glowing eyes which also act as a “focus point”.

The more value contrast that is placed on a character, the more emphasis the characters appearance has on the scene, in this case, Mumei stands out perfectly as the main character who is about to cause a lot of damage!

If you are looking for contrast, focus on where the character is placed on the screen, are they in the middle, side etc. What colours are being used to put emphasis on the contrast, how are they fitting in the with the background setting. These the main are question you could be asking yourself.

3. Soundtrack

Soundtrack may come as a surprise to you, but as someone who always pays close attention to any soundtrack in anime, it is important to think about how certain sounds are used to accompany characters in a scene. Linked to this is how sound is also used to exaggerate certain character emotions for example if something dangerous is about to happen, the sound might suddenly turn up to show emphasis on the action that is about the take place.

An example of an anime that uses sound this way is in this years recommended series Mobile Suit Gundam – Iron Blooded Orphans Season 2. Throughout the anime, sound is used to exaggerate certain actions that are about the happen. In the latest episode, the main character Mikazuki is about to detect enemies approaching from the sky above him, in the background the sound changes to suit that scene making it intense as the enemies approach land.

-Written by

Iyeesha Akim

Illustration and Graphic Design
Website and Social Media:



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