Koi wa Ameagari no You ni and the Power of Visual Storytelling
Anime would be nothing, a void on the screen if not for arguably its most inherent, important element: visuals.
Art and animation grant the characters, the audio, and everything else the chance to shine. They’re that next step beyond the pages of a book or a passing conversation with a friend. If nothing else, “anime” literally stems from the word “animation”, indicating quite plainly how vital these visuals are to this medium.
It follows, then, that visual storytelling is the crux of anime. When an anime gets it wrong, a clouded journey ensues. When an anime gets it right, stardom awaits. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni is one such brilliant star in the sky. But why is its visual storytelling so powerful?
This essay will attempt to explain the power behind visual storytelling. First, an understanding of what it is, how it works, and where it comes from will take place. Afterwards, relevant analysis of examples from Koi wa Ameagari no You ni will reinforce the claims made. Hopefully, by the end of this piece, you’ll not only have a better grasp of this idea but also a better appreciation of this wonderful show as well.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Visual Storytelling: A Primer
The concept of storytelling is described as follows: “Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.” 
That’s fine and dandy for the purely spoken form. As can be readily seen, though, anime (and film and television) go an extra step in materializing their own stories through visual storytelling. That is, rather than just having a narrator relay the tale, the visuals “speak for themselves” instead.
They “talk” using several varieties of “dialects” to get their points across.
A core technique includes the notion of composition. Composition is “…how the elements of the mise-en-scène appear….”  These elements not only include the objects in the background and foreground but also the very characters who pop up. Moreover, it isn’t enough for them to just be there. They must also find a proper place within the shot.
Right in the middle is often a very strong choice, for it ensures a gravitas and a focus on the subject. But there’s another key part to composition called the “Rule of Thirds.” “If you divide the frame into three segments, horizontally and vertically, by placing objects of interest in the intersecting points, we create an image that is pleasing to the eye.” 
It’s a simple trick, but it offers a vast amount of appeal thanks to its ability to get across important information to the audience while also looking really slick and classy. Emotion, plot, themes, nuance. Leveraging the Rule of Thirds provides many dividends for visual storytelling, indeed.
Geometric trails known as leading lines and taking advantage of open space within a shot further improve the composition of a piece. The former leads the eye towards points of interest, and the latter allows those objects a chance to breathe amidst the enclosing shot.
However, all these “rules” are (as they say) meant to be broken. While it’s correct that they have the most history and the most efficacy backing them, it’s also worthwhile for the composition to not always follow the tried-and-true tactics. For, sometimes, moving off the beaten path for an off-kilter feel or to try out an intriguing setup can be equally as effective.
The use of framing highlights the next core technique. Framing is “…the manner in which subjects and objects are surrounded (‘framed’) by the boundaries or perimeter of the film image…”.  Many outlets mistakenly conflate composition and framing (which even the previous definition erroneously tries to do), but these two terms are not the same. Composition refers to the arrangement of the subjects within a frame; framing refers to how the shot is captured in the first place.
Most notably, framing involves lots of camera usage and diversity. High versus low. Aerial versus Dutch. Profile versus back. Depending on the location and the angle of the camera, a shot changes its meaning, its purpose to match. For instance, framing the scene with a wide shot may illustrate the landscape through establishing the setting, yet framing a character with a closeup shot may emphasize the tone through their current facial reaction.
Framing also includes frames within frames as well as a sense of depth. Certain shots may use nature or random structures to re-frame the composition for another layer of interest. As for depth, the inward length of a shot can either enlarge or shrink areas of the frame, morphing their perspective for a newer approach.
Composition and framing are, in a way, the meta traits for a given narrative. They don’t necessarily impact the progression of it but instead sweeten the meal with a delectable flavor. In-between this meta, the finer details act as honey to hold the combo together for sharper and more evocative visual storytelling.
The project dictates these details by the context, flow, and direction of events. Such granular aspects are therefore the most difficult to master since they equate to a collective feel on behalf of the narrative as opposed to merely placing or segmenting parts of it.
These details emerge as several shapes and sizes. Imagery demands greater critical thinking. Contrast pits opposing forces against each other. Setting orients the drama at hand. To achieve stout visual storytelling, a project must understand these details (and others not listed) so that it may instill a grander sense of meaning within both the visuals and the narrative.
Composition, framing, and details are often rolled up into the singular umbrella term that defines this field: cinematography. Cinematography is the cornerstone of all great visual storytelling. So, anime which incorporate the possibilities it offers find themselves elevated to a higher status not only by creating more interesting visuals but also by simply leveraging the medium in which they call home.
Cinematography In Action: Three Relevant Examples
Having now investigated visual storytelling to some extent above, the following three sets of examples taken from three separate episodes of Koi wa Ameagari no You ni should hopefully demonstrate these different ideas in action.
They’re written as episode breakdowns, but the accompanying interpretations and snapshots will likewise prove that the anime has a fidelity for visual storytelling, reaching beyond impressive and standing as a resolute example for how these techniques truly do work.
Especially so, pay heed to the composition, the framing, and the details that each snapshot of the anime captures. Some parts may be more prominent here and there, but they’re each expertly executed no matter the case.
Episode 6: Fine Rain
Light, shadow, and duality play a big part in this episode of Koi wa Ameagari no You ni and in its use of visual storytelling. Specifically, it plays a role in describing and showcasing Akira and Haruka’s current relationship. Not in a good-versus-evil nature of the concepts but in how separated yet intimately linked they happen to be.
It starts almost immediately. Akira walks away, highlighting them and darkening the others as Haruka watches on from afar.
Akira later hides behind a pillar while either side lights up the windows.
She then looks out, the bottom half a slab of concrete with a figurative fork-in-the-road and the top half a bright view of the town.
And now, Haruka and Akira exist in two different worlds.
Unfortunately, due to life circumstances, they’re separated despite having always been such close friends. It plays into all of the hiding going on because they cannot confront this divide head on.
Plus, the feeling of not being able to catch up because they are sadly going their own ways further makes their light and shadow more definitive. But, as Haruka kindheartedly points out, their friendship is more than just a hobby shared, so the separation is by no means the end of what they have had and what they have presently.
Of course, the anime has so many other small moments sprinkled throughout the episode. From a really cool shot of the library as a peaceful aquarium…
…to the sound of the wind that always filled Akira with joy…
this episode delivers when it comes to visual storytelling.
Episode 7: Heavy Rain
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni follows up the previous episode with what is perhaps the major climax of the series. And, once again, it champions the same great visual storytelling seen so far.
In the first half of the episode, the relationship between Akira and Mr. Kondou reaches a wall of sorts. He eventually doesn’t turn around when they start speaking about him, she still has that naive infatuation going…
…and his honest, truthful words strike at the disconnect between them.
The small scenes afterwards highlight that somewhat childish view of hers.
The almost claustrophobic feelings.
And a sense of drowning the more she thinks about what happened.
Everything culminates as this apartment scene between the two. The raging typhoon symbolizes the tumultuous state they now find themselves in (while coinciding with the rain motif laced throughout the series), and so they must talk it out.
Similar to Mr. Kondou, Akira doesn’t lift her head, shaking it and letting out a few words as best she can to express her thoughts.
And so this scene turns into something special.
Mr. Kondou expresses how she reminds him of his own treasured past, something that clearly means a lot to him.
Most importantly, his inner monologue — with the purposeful repetition, the musings on youthfulness, and the absolute sincere delivery — capture this defining moment between the two perfectly.
(With an extra umbrella metaphor for good measure.)
An incredible sequence altogether on the show’s part, representing yet another strong showing of visual storytelling.
Episode 9: Rain of Sorrow
In this last example, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni structures the given episode with a lot of care. A usual occurrence really. Better yet, and continuing the trend still, the visual storytelling remains as top-notch as ever.
Episode eight has just concluded. At the festival, Haruka reminisces about the past while appreciating the fact that she gets to hang out with friend once again. It seems like they’ll finally rekindle the relationship they unfortunately lost amidst their recent, changing circumstances.
But Akira can spot Mr. Kondou from anywhere, and Haruka immediately understands how Akira feels about this man. Akira herself is clearly embarrassed by Haruka’s forwardness, but she doesn’t deny it.
It seems like, then, that Haruka will be the first person Akira can confide in — until their verbal fight. Akira says some pretty mean words (and note the use of light and shadow that their relationship has been built around).
And so Haruka leaves, crying with emotional pain and putting Akira all by her lonesome.
This opening third sets the stage for Mr. Kondou’s side story. We finally get to meet the man behind the book that had him anxious before: Chihiro.
Similar to Haruka and Akira, the two chat about the good ol’ days.
Their time in club together, the magazine they wrote. Calling it “Nostalgia” (let alone its weathered state) and seeing the bustling youth around them puts their time and their relationship into perspective. It also simultaneously reinforces that youthful motif that threads through Mr. Kondou’s entire character which improves the execution of this entire segment that much more.
Chihiro does inquire about one thing, though. He asks Mr. Kondou about his writing and if he has kept up with it at all. Interestingly, he has, but he has also kept it a secret.
Unlike Akira and her secret, he isn’t afraid to openly talk about it with Chihiro, leaning on that friendship they first created all those years ago now.
But Chihiro is adamant to remind him — even during his drunken stupor — a sincere thought: “We aren’t adults; we’re classmates.”
That’s something Akira should take to heart in her own friendship with Haruka. Thus, after this second third (or so), the anime brings Akira and Mr. Kondou together near the tail end of the episode to do just that. He notices that she has been feeling down today, giving some nice imagery with opened and closed doors that relate back to their own respective situations in the process.
Like a kindhearted person, he has a small chat with her, reassuring her through his own personal experience that what they have now doesn’t devalue what once was. For, while life has a way of moving on, those fun times will never be forgotten.
So, Akira (with Mr. Kondou alongside her) looks up at that bright supermoon. Hoping, wishing for an equally as bright future down the running track.
But no matter what, one truth remains certain: Koi wa Ameagari no You ni holds immense power in its beautiful use of visual storytelling.
What have we learned?
Visual storytelling is how an anime uses its medium to convey purpose through artistry and animation. Techniques behind composition, framing, and details coalesce as general cinematography to make such a feat possible, and their effective use give lasting power and elucidation for the many facets which make up an entire tale.
So, the next time you become aware of the visuals in your favorite anime, make note of where objects exist and think about the design behind each shot.
For you may just find a shining star ahead!
List of Resources