Kamen Rider Agito – Primary Color Theory

Agito is a show that revolves around several mysteries, and runs on a slow burn to reveal them all. At the midseason, episode 27, here’s what we know so far:

  • Shouichi Tsugami is an amnesiac who turns into an armored bugman to kick monsters in the face until they explode
  • Said monsters are targeting people who either have special abilities that can be awakened or were on a ferry called the Akatsuki during a weird disaster at sea.

All the people who belong to the second group ALSO belong to the first.

We also learned that the guy who we know as Shouichi Tsugami is not actually named Shouichi Tsugami, that is the name of another guy who is going around trying to help the people with special powers by awakening them. He’s also been having conversations with a weird Dude in Black who might be a god, about the worth of these human beings.

All interesting points, but at this point we haven’t had a lot to definitively tie them together. The mid season of Agito changes that by suddenly giving back Shouichi’s memories (partially!) after getting his butt kicked by another Rider, Ryou Ashihara (Gills). Although he doesn’t remember exactly what happened on the ferry Akatsuki, Shouichi regains his memories of his past and what drove him to get on the ferry in the first place. As it turns out, he has – or had – an older sister, and it’s the mystery around her apparent suicide that drove him to seek out the real  Shouichi Tsugami for answers.

It was nice to finally get some forward momentum to the show, and give the characters and the audience a clear avenue towards resolving a lot of the points that have been introduced, but not satisfactorily developed thus far in the show. I was pretty impatient for Agito to reveal its secrets and make progress in that plot when I watched through it for the first time. However the main advantage to re-watching this series is that now that I know the secrets the characters keep, and how they all connect back together. I can focus more on the details of the show rather than impatiently waiting on those reveals. One such detail that confused me quite a bit when I first watched was a shift in cinematography that accompanied this new direction in the plot

When I first watched this series, this part of the show really threw me for a loop. On one hand it was great to see some backstory finally revealed after 25 episodes of dragging out this mystery, but accompanying these episodes was a weird shift in cinematography. Suddenly a bunch of colored filters get put over the shots (seriously, almost every scene uses them), and the direction of the camerawork itself shifts with those filters to an almost distracting degree. Now that I’m looking on it in retrospect, knowing how all these characters relate to each other in a larger sense, and where their characters end up later on, I can see that the color theory of these two episodes actually has a purpose in telling the story!

The three main color filters that we see in this episode, and the next ,are red, green and blue.

The blue filter we’ve seen multiple times before. In a series that is dripping with water symbolism, there are many scenes where the lighting is manipulated to make the surroundings look like they take place underwater, or from a reflection off of water.

Most notably we see this used in relation to the Akatsuki survivors. Frequently using water imagery in the scenes that accompany them as they hide, trying to stay alive while under threat from the Unknown who attack them, it reflects the origin of the nightmare that’s turned their lives upside-down – out on the ocean.

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Similarly, the scenes that take place from their perspective at this point use a blue filter, but the camera direction itself also contributes to informing the audience of their mindset and context. The camera in these scenes swings around erratically and is rarely ever focused with the characters in the center of the shot. This effectively portrays the paranoia and panic that accompanies many of their mental states.

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On the other hand, not all the Akatsuki survivors are as paralyzed by fear or paranoia during this point of the show. Many shots of Shouichi as he strikes out to finish what he started by seeking out the real Shouichi Tsugami make use of a bright red filter. In these shots the camera is stable and centered, looking out over his shoulder into the future. This represents determination and direction, a focus on a specific, attainable goal.

Finally, something that initially threw me for a loop, there’s also a green filter used in many shots. When I was re-watching this, I mis-remembered and thought that there were only the red and blue filters used. (The version of this article I was planning on writing was much different then.) But as it turns out, I also forgot that there’s a third faction involved with this episode as well.

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This filter is matched with a third-person perspective, which is neither focused on the characters, nor erratically moving around in a panic. In fact, in many shots it deliberately resembles a security camera. Inquisitive, observant, but detached. In another word, almost pensive. It’s no coincidence then, that this green filter shows up when we deal with the real Shouichi himself. As an academic researcher, he had been studying myths that relate to these powers. This academic nature is reflected in the distant perspective of the scenes involving his side of the story.

In fact, it’s in these scenes that we discover his connection to this whole ordeal – he was dating our Shouichi’s older sister, Yukina! Even more of a reveal, it turns out that Yukina was the first person who started displaying these supernatural powers the other characters show – to the point where she is called the “first Agito” more than once. However, her powers prove too much for her to handle and she tries to kill herself, begging her lover to let her go as she tries to throw herself off a rooftop.

 

He acquiesces.

Now, borrowing power from the mysterious Man in Black, he’s been busy awakening the powers of the other people with the potential to become Agito. He claims it’s to save them, but in reality this is another reflection of that detached, academic nature. He’s experimenting, trying to discover if he made the right decision to let Yukina die, trying to find another human being who can handle this sort of supernatural power without caving to their own issues and flaws. It’s not compassion that drives him as much as grief. This becomes much more explicit a half dozen episodes later.

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But even though he’s going about it in a misguided way, the audience already knows of an individual who can handle being Agito, because he’s been doing so since the start of the show. The man who has adopted Shouichi’s name.

 

A cool visual element to connect all three sides of this story so far, but is there any significance these three colors, Red, Green and Blue?

Well, there is, but first I have to give you a science lesson.

(Look I am a science teacher, this is what I do for a living)

What is represented as “color” to our eyes is actually represented by specific wavelengths of light that our brain interprets in different ways. But while natural light sources are comprised of many combinations of wavelengths, our eyes are keyed into three specific groups – red, green and blue. In our eyes are three different “cone” cells, or cells in the back of our eyes that respond to these colors.

Red cones pick up wavelengths of light that are produced  at the lower end of the visible spectrum, green cones pick up ones in the middle, and blue cones pick up wavelengths at the higher end. So if a wavelength of light that corresponds to “yellow” (about 570 nanometers) shines into our eyes, it falls halfway between the red and green sections of the spectrum, so it stimulates both red and green cones. We can “trick” our brain into seeing a yellow color – even without light at 570 nm – by shining both red and green light in equal amounts into our eyes.

So what happens when we mix all three colors, red, green and blue light, together? Well, we see it as white light.

Guess what scenes in episode 26 are the only ones shot in natural light.

(The ones with Yukina.)

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