Weiss Kreuz - OP / Eyecatch / ED

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OP 1: Velvet Underworld
Source: TV
Layers: 1
Sketches: 1
Cel Number: A6
Standard size
Opening Cel

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Added 12/31/2005
Updated 6/1/2008
Tex's Holy Grail

Character: Aya

From Velvet Underworld, WK OP #1

HUGE Fangirl Ranting: Every collector, whether they want to admit to it or not, has one -- The Holy Grail Cel. You know the kind I mean ... that screencap you put on your wishlist, even though you know there's not a snowball's chance in H-E-double toothpicks that you'll ever see it in your lifetime, let alone come to possess it. That "absolute perfect" shot you torture yourself with, just on the "off" chance the planets might align, cel karma will slide into place, and the cel gods will smile upon you for just that fraction of a second it takes to reach the dizziest heights of the sublime pleasure known as cel-gasm. Heck, you know you'll never see it ... you accept that going into the whole deal. But, yet, the torture is worth it, just because, somewhere, in the back of your mind, you think you might have a shot at it ... some day.

Well, folks, believe it or not, this one is mine. The funny thing is that I actually, very recently, received a surprise gift of a fanart piece depicting a sequence sibling shot for this cel, and I believe I mentioned, in the commentary for that piece, my long love affair with this particular animation sequence. This short sequence, from the Velvet Underworld Opening, is my absolute favorite animation sequence of all time. Let me just repeat that, so the impact isn't lost. My favorite animation sequence --- ever. And, that's saying a lot, considering I've seen a bunch of anime. This is the sequence I have watched (and still do watch) over and over and over ... and, each time I see it, I get those tingly, "anime luv" butterflies in my stomach. This sequence is powerful, beautiful, and haunting. It visually captures Aya's internal struggle, as he binds the spirit and essence of "Ran" --- the innocent boy he used to be before Kritiker and Weiss and a life of killing --- so that he can become "Aya" --- the hard, cold, unfeeling assassin, who is capable of bringing justice to those who, otherwise, wouldn't have it. Aya is a character full of contrasts. On the surface, he has it all together and seems hard and unfeeling ... but, beneath all of that, there is a boy whose youth was abruptly yanked away, and who suffers for the things "Aya" must do to survive. Yes, he's a "hard" character, meaning he is stubborn and disciplined and emotionally guarded --- all of which can combine to make him seem, really, like some kind of cold-hearted bastard. But, I think it's a mistake to dismiss him so easily. Underneath all of that is a man who cares, deeply, about the people around him, and someone who has a highly developed sense of right and wrong ... whose moral code forces him to subvert his own feelings and, literally, become a different person in order to seek a type of justice that, so often, is lost in our society. This, alone --- the meaning behind this image --- is enough to make this one incredibly special piece of artwork for me.

But, wait ... there's more. As if you couldn't tell from my gushing ramble in the previous paragraph, Aya Fujimiya is, hands down, my favorite anime character of all time. I love him in a way that ... well, if he was real, let's just say I'd probably be in jail for stalking the poor guy --- if he didn't take his katana to me, first, that is. Some characters are so fascinating ... so much more than what they seem at first glance ... so full of contrasts --- potential and hope all bound up with angst and destruction ... so self-sacrificing ... so multi-dimensional that, really, they just crawl right under your skin and take up residence. For me, Aya is that character. Initially, I was drawn to him simply for the surface beauty of his character design. Heck, you guys all know I'm a woman with an eye for the bishier things in life. I won't lie about that. So, yeah ... purely shallow luv reasons there, at the beginning. But, then, I decided to try my hand at writing a Weiss fanfiction. I don't know why --- it seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess, and, maybe, on some level, I felt like I identified with these guys and their plight. But, here's the thing: through writing about Aya, I, necessarily, had to consider his character ... his personality ... his psychological make-up, if you will. I think a writer really needs to do this kind of "background work" in order to make a character seem as three-dimensional as possible. And, in thinking about him ... in taking the logical steps from the small insights that appeared in the first anime and OVA to what that meant with regard to the type of person he would be ... well, I feel even more in love with him. Only, now, it's a more complete sort of absolute love than the fangirl adoration his beauty, at first, inspired. Sure, he has his faults ... many of them ... but, beneath it all, he's a solid guy, and a beautiful, wonderful, psychologically complex guy. So, this too --- my love for Aya --- is enough to vault this cel into "super special status".

Oh, but it doesn't end there, either. (I know ... a pity for all you good people who are actually trying to wade through this morass of a commentary >.<.) The first Weiss opening, Velvet Underworld, is, in my opinion, one of the greatest anime openings of all time. One big reason for this is that the animation was done by one of my favorite artists, Masami Obari. Obari has this way of taking the "normal" and supercharging it until it manages to catapult into the realm of delightfully sublime. He has this way of making even the most mundane images or character designs into something more --- a bit punchier ... a lot sexier ... and a huge, huge treat for the eyes. He's like the "candy man" of animation art --- eye candy, that is. Velvet Underworld has Obari's fingerprints all over it --- the slightly sharper angles; the distinctive "look" he gives to the eyes, nose, and hair on his characters; the expressions on their faces; the fluid, beautiful flow to the animation. And, this sequence is classic Obari. Such a beautiful, haunting image, and, yet, with that distinctive, underlying super-charged sexy feel he brings to his art. The vulnerability and sense of underlying strength you see in this image are hallmarks of what I've come to think of as Obari's style, as is the tortured, and, yet, pensive, expression on Ran's face in this shot.

And, last, but certainly not least, there is the absolute beauty of this image. I know I've tossed the word "haunting" out there several times in this commentary, but it is the word that springs to mind, foremost and most frequently, when I look at this cel. This is a powerful, powerful image. Even if you knew nothing about the show, I believe this image would stick with you for some time. There is a sense of fragility and vulnerability ... even, perhaps, of helplessness. And, yet, there is also a feeling of strength to this image. Yes, this character is suffering, but, at the same time, he is strong enough to survive it. The expression on his face is amazing. There seem to be so many emotions there --- fear, pain, sadness ... just to name a few. And, the colors in this cel are gorgeous --- soft and muted, with beautiful highlighting and shadows. And, well ... Aya is a pretty, pretty man. I can say it. I'm not ashamed (much). And, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the sheer beauty of his character design has something to do with my absolute and total love for this image, as well.

So, there you have it ... lots of reasons --- some shallow and some not-so-shallow --- that, all together make this cel the single, most-desired cel I could ever own. My holy grail cel.

For this cel, I owe a huge and special debt of thanks to Kitt. Without her, I would never have realized the dream of owning this amazing piece of artwork. About a day after she and I had had a long phone conversation about our absolute dream cels, this cel popped up for sale on Animanga. I was out Christmas shopping at the time, and probably wouldn't have seen it. But, Kitt saw it ... and she called me. And, then, because I wasn't able to get to my computer, she emailed the seller for me, to let them know how interested I was in purchasing it. And, when a small bidding war erupted over it, Kitt consoled me, listened to my whiney worries, and held my hand (via the phone and LJ ... LOL) when it looked like my dream was going to slip through my fingers. This, people, is the kind of friend you treasure and keep for forever ... the kind of friend you deny nothing, because you know they would do the same for you ... the kind of friend you feel so lucky to have, that you spend part of every day just hoping you can, one day, be worthy of the kindness, generosity, and friendship they have extended to you. I have no idea how I managed to get so lucky as to warrant such incredible, amazing friendship, but I did ... and I treasure it more than anything in the world.

*sends some extra tackle gloms to Kitt*

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Curator: tex-chan
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