Eyecatch or internal eyecatch is a brief illustration that flashes at the start or end of a commercial break. They are prominent in Japanese anime, television series, dramas, variety shows, and tokusatsu shows. Commercial-free TV stations and subscription-type channels can add them on their shows. The main point is to draw the attention of the viewers.
In broadcasting, the general term is “bumper.” Bumpers are brief announcements between the television program and commercial breaks. It is utilized for advertising where viewers are encouraged to stay during the commercial break. It also indicates that the show would continue on airing after the commercial. A typical bumper outside Japan lasts for 2 to 15 seconds. It can have voiceovers, dramatic music, short clips, or a still image.
Meanwhile, a Japanese eyecatch lasts for 2 to 6 seconds. They are important components of the show itself rather than a simple slide transition. The show can use a standard eyecatch, or the eyecatch changes according to the plot’s progress. They coexist along with the show’s plot. Sometimes a scene from the show is used as such. This allows watchers to speculate and expect the show’s plot as the commercial break runs.
A Japanese show is divided into Part A and Part B. Eyecatch produced by broadcasting stations is inserted twice after Part A. Before Part B, eyecatch produced by commercial-free broadcasting stations is placed once between Part A and Part B. Producers can add a mini-quiz, viewers guess the answer, and the correct answer is prompted after the commercial break. If the show is broadcasted overseas, it is up to the foreign broadcasting station to either replace the eyecatch with their bumpers or leave it as it is. Movies and Original Video Animations may have eyecatch in the middle of their filming.
The show’s production company produces most eyecatches. The show’s original animation company, authors, writers, manga artists, and guest illustrators usually design them. The production company may also include fan service to excite the viewers.
Eyecatch (アイキャッチ) is a wasei-eigo or an English word appropriated in the Japanese context. Eyecatch literally means to catch the viewer’s attention.
A Brief History
One of the earliest anime that utilized eyecatch was Mirai Shounen Conan (未来少年コナン) or Future Boy Conan. The show’s eyecatch was the intermission Pata-Pata (パタパタ) or Flop-Flop. It had three rotating boards, and it either showed the characters correctly or mixed up the characters. Miyazaki Hayao, the show’s director, instructed to add the Pata-Pata eyecatch. Future Boy Conan was broadcasted on NHK General TV channel in 1978, and it was commercial-free. However, Miyazaki has been working on shows with commercials, so he insisted on adding an eyecatch, which allowed Miyazaki “to pace” himself with the show.
Eyecatch is one of the most common imagery in anime. It may have been taken for granted because it is short and solely used for commercials. Some anime had to resort to using fanservice to retain the viewer’s attention. Despite its commonality, it is still integral to what makes Japanese anime unique. It sets up the show’s mood, most especially in the plot’s climax. A still image can still deliver deep messages.
Eyecatch, Wikipedia, https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/アイキャッチ, Retrieved 11 April 2021
Eyecatch Collection, TOEI Animation, http://www.toei-anim.co.jp/tv/kanon/catch.html, Retrieved 11 April 2021
Eyecatch, TRANS.biz, https://biz.trans-suite.jp/12715, 28 February 2020, Retrieved 11 April 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Nausicaa.net, http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/conan/faq.html, Retrieved 11 April 2021
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