Photo Kano: Low Risk Creativity

Taking low angle to new depths.
Photography, whether illicit or not, can still be hard work either way.

Photo Kano on first glance doesn’t appear to have much in the way of substance. In many ways, it looks just like an adaptation of a console dating simulation would expect to look. There’s a bunch of girls at a school who all have a connection to the main character that happens to be key to solving their individual personal issues. In that sense, there isn’t much in the way of wiggle room in telling the adapted story. In the case of Photo Kano, that’s nowhere near the truth.

The basic series format of Photo Kano is this: the first 5 episodes are what could be referred to as main story. The series director Yokoyama Akitoshi also wrote the scripts for these episodes. This is where the real meat of the story was established. The characters had to be introduced and given enough time to get to know them for what would come afterward. Also, basic details had to be dropped in to establish a storyline for each character that had to be resolved. Those first five episodes could also be considered to be doing the most thankless job of all; completing the story and character development for Kazuya, Photo Kano‘s male protagonist.

Gee, I wonder who this is.
Asking before taking pictures of a cosplayer is proper etiquette.

The series’s final seven episodes, which make up the resolution to each girl’s “route”, have had a different make up entirely. Take episode 7 as an example. The directorial reigns for the episode were turned over to a debutant director, but the storyboard was done by Yuasa Masaaki, which must have been as he was finishing up directing the crowdfunded Kickheart. The result was the story of a girl named Hikari who only took scenery pictures transformed into a vivid recollection of how she came to distrust other people and the light-hearted way Kazuya entered into her heart.

Yuasa's influence on Hikari's story is evident.
The most interesting scene from a design standpoint in the series to date.

Then, in episode 8 the student council president’s story of wanting to be freed from the expectation of being the perfect student had it’s own. Aki’s story was storyboard-ed by  Shibata Katsunori, whose previous done episodes of Mawaru Penguindrum and Sengoku Collection with the episode being directed by someone whose lone directorial effort is terribad’s Iron Virgin Jun would seem odd enough. Then, throw in some of Madhouse’s animation directors with credits as wide ranging as Aku no Hana to Legend of the Galactic Heroes and you have a compelling story of Aki finding a partner that allowed her to relax and have fun.

Sunset, people hugging after confessing their love for each other, its not new territory.
You really can’t go wrong with an end like this.

What exactly is the reason for pointing this out? It’s actually about talent development. Photo Kano is the safe way to partner established talent at Madhouse with those who may want to take on new and more advanced roles in the industry. It’s a venue that allows those who want to be creative with telling a story to do so without fear of failure. This series may not go on to be the best selling series of the year, and its appeal may be limited to fans of the game on which it is based, but that would hardly be down to a failure on the part of the new talent.

6 thoughts on “Photo Kano: Low Risk Creativity”

  1. Not watching Photo Kano, but this makes a lot of sense. Young staff members need to earn their experience somehow, right?

    1. That’s the conclusion I came to. I think this sort of series allows for a lot of room to gather experience and to try different things. There’s a built-in fan base which will avert complete financial disaster and with the right sort of pitch can attract those who want to do something different from what they are used to.

    1. Considering there are any number of ways these people could be paying the bills, there has to be something driving them to do it in this manner.

  2. It’s kind of sad that the industry has to pair young staff members with mediocre anime, but I guess I can see where you’re coming from. One certainly won’t learn how to swim in the kiddy pool, but drowning in the deep end isn’t much better.

    Still, I have to question if the experience they receive while working on Photo Kano is actually beneficial in any substantial way. Cramming a meaningful romance story into a twenty minute episode is incredibly difficult, and that’s clearly one of the major downfalls of Photo Kano. The fact that each episode includes at least five minutes of blatant fanservice only serves to make matters worse. I imagine it would be better if they worked directly under anime creators who have already proven their merit in the industry.

    1. I think at this point, they aren’t necessarily looking at the consumer as the primary audience of the series. In the case of Photo Kano, it may be trying to capture something to the higher ups in a studio that someone has potential. It may also be the case that simply getting the episodes done and having them look like they were competently made regardless of the substance is really the goal.

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