What is spindle head tilt?

AXIS Kabushiki-gaisha, known simply as Studio SHAFT, is a famous Japanese animation studio known for producing several famous titles, including the Monogatari Series (2009-2019), Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011), Y Nisekoi (2016)among several others.

Since director Akiyuki Shinbō’s enlistment in 2004, SHAFT has earned a reputation for its avant-garde cinematography and visual style, culminating in the development of one of the studio’s signature visuals: SHAFT’s nod. What exactly is the SHAFT head tilt and why is it such an important feature of SHAFT productions? Let’s find out.


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In 2004, Akiyuki Shinbō was hired by Studio SHAFT in transition. Company founder Hiroshi Wakao retired and Mitsutoshi Kubota became president. Kubota had a desire to transform SHAFT into a studio with recognizable characteristics, and he saw Shinbō as the right person to do it, having seen the director’s influence on works like the soul taker, a 2001 science fiction anime series.

His first work under the studio was the anime adaptation of Keitarō Arima. Tsukuyomi: moon phase, but it was not until the announcement of the adaptation of NisioIsiN’s Bakemonogatari in 2008 that the studio was propelled into the kind of fame it is known for today. For BakemonogatariShinbō worked alongside character designer Akio Watanabe, with whom he had worked on Spaceship Girl Yamamoto Yōko Y The portrait of Petit Cossette. Bakemonogatari it was a huge success, praised for its visuals and darker atmosphere compared to previous SHAFT titles.

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At first, Shinbō’s leadership was more restrained, intending to “do things the right way”; however, the sponsors of Tsukuyomi: moon phase to apply more of his personal touch to the series. Shinbō’s influence would become SHAFT’s blueprint, eventually making for cutting-edge visual choices and interesting camera angles as the very description of the studio’s creations. Series like Fire Force would go on to be produced by David Production, more specifically, by former Studio SHAFT employees like Reo Honjouya, Kousuke Matsunaga, and CG artist Shinya Takano, who brought with them a SHAFT-esque touch that can be felt in the series. . .

get tilted

Along with the interesting takes on the visual aspects of the works Shinbō had directed, the pose that eventually became synonymous with the director and SHAFT himself was the result of experimentation not only by Shinbō, but also by the various teams with whom he had directed. who came to work, including the members of what is known as Team Shinbō (Shinbō himself, Shin Ōnuma, and Tatsuya Oishi, both of whom Shinbō mentored).

What eventually became known as the studio’s signature style was the result of Shinbō’s creative freedom at the studio, as well as the influences of several others, such as Oishi, whom he attributes to the “faceless mob characters” that tend to Appear. in SHAFT productions. Shinbō draws inspiration from him in several areas, with Osamu Dezaki being one of the main influences on him, particularly in his use of the exaggerated and what has been called “grand compositional staging”. The AXIS head tilt is effectively a look used by Shinbō to achieve head-turning camera angles.

The incredibly dramatic nature and impossible angle of the animated characters’ craning necks in the SHAFT productions came to be known to Western fans as “SHAFT Head Tilt”, which has been referred to since at least 2011.

The pose features a character looking suggestively over his shoulder at a subject below his eye level, and appears in Akiyuki Shinbō’s work prior to his employment at SHAFT. The Japanese name for this phenomenon is “AXIS”. kakudo” (literally “AXIS angle”). Bakemonogatari Hitagi Senjōgahara is a character popularly associated with SHAFT Head Tilt after his extreme introduction to the phenomenon; however, the dark magical girl anime characters, Puella Magi Madoka Magica they also became great appliers of the iconic pose, among the multitude of characters in SHAFT productions since Akiyuki Shinbō’s arrival at the studio in 2004.

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