STEINS GATE; SIGHT, SUSPENSE AND SURPRISE IN ONE SCENE

What is going on?  What type of show is this?  Anime watchers who may have heard of the series, Steins Gate, may know of its ability to surprise the viewer. 

The following scene shows the first of the many depictions of how the character, Mayuri will die in the series.  To add some backdrop, this show is about a scientist who delved too deep in time travelling research and because of his findings, a secret organization known as Sern has tracked him down in order to confiscate his invention and use it for their own purposes.  The show plays on conspiracy ideas concerning time travel and secret organizations that silence the public when they know too much. These ideas are portrayed in this following clip.  To add further to the narrative, the girl who dies is saved by Okabe, the man in the lab coat, through going back in time and preventing the events.  The downfall however is no matter how much he changes the past, her fate is the same in every scenario; she will die one way or another.  This though serves as a great surprise since for the first half of the series the show seemed more of a comedic kind of anime about a guy who is kind of paranoid with crazy theories.  There weren’t really any hard felt consequences.  There were small instances here and there, but the thought of one of the main characters dying was never even conceived of.  Through shot composition and lighting, the creator utilizes aesthetic to convey the emotion of surprise into the audience.

When we first see the characters in the scene, they are shot in a Dutch angle.  This gives the sense that something is unstable.  In this case, the current situation and narrative; everything previous to her realizing her watch breaking has been an okay, but all of a sudden , we see something wrong happening.  This scene utilizes this type of angle in many of the shots. This prepares us to see something out of the ordinary and sets the mood that right now, chaos is occurring.

The use of contrast also aids to the surprise in the audience.  Moeka, the woman wielding the gun dressed in the badass styled all black leather, makes her entrance from the shadows.  It is unclear at first who this is until she steps forward, past the henchmen.  When she does, there is a slight foreshadowing of the events to come.  Before revealing the face of the killer, they have a two shot of Kurisu and Hashida, (the girl with red hair and man with the green shirt, but more importantly, the obstruction of Moeka is blocking off Mayuri, or rather, “taking her out the picture”.  This is key as she later in the scene says that Mayuri is, “not needed”, thus why she dies.  The surprise hits though as the camera tilts up and reveals that it is none other than the shy girls that they have become friends with.  The one that barely talks and just seemed like a harmless weirdo?  Yes her!  Who would have thought!  I mean, when I describe her that way maybe some suspicions may arise, but while watching it, she seemed like a harmless addition to the playful group of characters.  To further add on the astonishment, we FINALLY HEAR HER VOICE.  Until now, all of her communication has been done through texting.  Now an extreme close up on her mouth as her lips moves reveals that she is with SERN, the secret organization and that yes, she does have vocal agency.

Lastly, in this scene they have a motif of eyes and the use of extreme close ups.  From the beginning, we see a zoom out focusing on Okabe’s eye and then it cuts to a scene of Mayuri’s eye being reflected into her watch as she exclaims that it has stopped working.  Next is an extreme close up on Okabe’s gaze towards Mayuri.  We start to feel the tension in the situation from being so close.  We feel Okabe’s uneasiness.  Another instance is when we see the close up of the gun’s trigger slowly being pulled.  Being so close to the weapon, we are put on edge, our eyes alert to the action.  Then a cut to part of Okabe’s distressed face with one eye.  Right after that we have another extreme close up of Mayuri’s eye with Moeka’s reflection inside.  Then after a few more cuts, the gun fires and three quick flashes of the surroundings has our eyes moving with the action.  We see the blood spewed, we see the watch flying, and nonetheless we see Mayuri falling to the ground as she goes from lit to unlit and crashes down.  Then to finish this horrific event, a quick montage of all the friends surprised eyes who sees their friend now dead on the ground accentuates the shock of the situation.  This expresses the surprise not only in us, the audience, but in the characters as well.  This whole sequence was truly suspenseful.  The constant use of eyes conveys a message that we should not take things at face value.  Because they trusted Moeka as a friend; because they allowed her into their personal lab and shared with them crucial information; because they were unable to see this coming, they have become victims.  It leads to a certain irony where the main character was so paranoid about conspiracies and we as the audience always took it as a comedic approach, that we failed to see one u unfold upon our very eyes.

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