Created By: EdnaWalker on May 9, 2014 Last Edited By: EdnaWalker on April 21, 2017

Knee High Perspective

Adults are seen up to their ankles, knees, or waists.

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Page Type:
Trope
A work with Knee High Perspective is an animated, graphical, or live action work that takes place in a realistic setting within the human world in which the most of the scenes and action take place ankle, knee, or waist high. The characters are often children, cats, or dogs, but any similar sized or smaller character (often animal, elf, or toy) can work.

This is not the same as Mouse World, which is about a parallel society largely hidden from the human world. Knee High Perspective describes a setting where the characters are living well within the human world, albeit with a camera view no higher than adult humans' waists. The characters are smaller than a adult human, so there's a slight scale difference, but not enough to classify as a Mouse World. Also in Knee High Perspective the characters are accepted in the human world, whereas in a Mouse World, they are not.

If the characters are animals they can be anywhere on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism from Nearly Normal Animal to Funny Animal. Works with babies and very small children as the main characters are often shot from this perspective. This generally results in all the human characters except for babies and toddlers becoming The Faceless.

This type of shot is also known as "Japanese angle" or "Japanese shot," because it mimics the waist high perspective of someone kneeling in traditional Japanese style. In Latin America it is often referred to by those terms.

Sister trope to Mouse World.

Examples

Film - Animation
  • Lady and the Tramp has a setting like this, where most human characters with the exception of the baby are viewed knee down most of the time. The two main exceptions among the adult human characters are the restaurant owner Tony and his sidekick Joe.
  • An American Tail: All that are ever seen of the humans are their feet and sometimes hands.
  • Toy Story plays with this with Andy's mom. She's either seen as a pair of legs, or from a distance where she can't be easily made out. This is averted in the following films, in which adults are clearly seen along with the kids and toys.

Film - Live Action
  • "Something's Cookin'", the opening cartoon of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, uses this knee-high kind of perspective to pay homage to classic cartoons that take place in this setting.
  • This was a Signature Shot of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. His films tended to have many shots from a camera set about three feet off the ground, to mimic the perspective of someone kneeling in traditional Japanese style. This shot is found in his films Good Morning and Tokyo Story.

Live-Action TV
  • The Christmas Toy utilizes this, but only regarding the parents - we see the younger children (Jessie and Jamie, respectively) in full appearance throughout the special, but both of the parents are rarely seen above their necks; particularly from the toys' point-of-view, where they're usually only seen from the waist down.

Newspaper Comics
  • Peanuts, which follows a boy named Charlie Brown and his friends around the same age, also starring his dog Snoopy and a bird name Woodstock. Notably, you rarely see adults above the waist (or adults at all) and you rarely hear them talk in words, either, just "blah blah blah" sounds, especially in the TV Specials.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin once got lost during a trip to the zoo with his parents because he followed another lady who looked like his mom from the knees down.

Web Comics
  • Two Lumps: "Mom" is drawn as a pair of legs if standing (sometimes with an arm reaching down to feed one of the cats), shoulder-down if seated, and whole-body if laying on the couch.

Western Animation
  • Most Tom and Jerry cartoons take place in a house viewed knee, waist, or ankle high. Jerry's mousehole, which has furniture inside it, is Mouse World, but the cartoons take place in the human world with a low camera view otherwise.
  • The Silly Symphonies cartoons, "Three Orphan Kittens" and "More Kittens," take place in a house viewed knee or ankle high and have the housekeeper be viewed from just above the knees down.
  • Cow and Chicken parodied this. The perspective of Mom and Dad was only up to their hips (even their arms are never shown, they use their legs for everything), though other adults are seen normally. The pilot reveals Mom and Dad are really nothing more than a pair of disembodied legs.
  • Looney Tunes
    • In cartoons starring Sylvester and Tweety, the setting is knee or waist high, but Granny's face still be seen fairly often.
    • In "Terrier Stricken," starring Claude Cat and Frisky Puppy, the setting is knee or ankle high in a house. Chuck Jones called cartoons shot with a knee or ankle high perspective "baseboard cartoons."
    • In "Puss n' Booty," starring Rudolf the cat and Petey the canary, the setting is knee or waist high. The woman is seen up to her shoulders at most.
  • Rugrats uses this perspective when focusing on the main baby and small children characters' points of view, so babies, small children, and animals (Spike the dog and Fluffy the cat) are seen in full view. The adult character's faces are still frequently seen however.
  • Muppet Babies uses this perspective, with the nanny character being the The Unseen.
  • Animaniacs: The Buttons and Mindy segments use this for Mindy's parents, though it's more of a neck-high perspective in this case. Other adults are seen in full.
  • Peter Rabbit: The antagonistic Token Human, Mr. McGregor is usually viewed waist or knee high and is viewed either shoulder-high or full back view at most. Never is his face shown.
  • In the original pilot of The Fairly Oddparents, Timmy Turner's Mom and Dad were seen only by their knees.
  • The Loud House: Lincoln's parents are never seen above the waist.
Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • May 9, 2014
    Snicka
    • Lady And The Tramp has a setting like this.
    • "Something Cookin'", the opening cartoon of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, uses this kind of perspective to pay homage to classic cartoons that take place in this setting.
  • May 9, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Results in all the human characters becoming The Faceless.
  • May 9, 2014
    DAN004
    "Baseboard"?
  • May 10, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Blue Linked Examples section media titles(s).
  • May 10, 2014
    TonyG
    Is the title an established term among fans? Because otherwise it needs a better name.
  • May 10, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ & ^^^ The title is actually completely logical if you just know the meaning of the word.
  • May 22, 2014
    MetaFour
    See also Mouse World.
  • May 23, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ Midget High Cartoon is more obvious if we go by your logic...
  • May 23, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Well, I don't think Baseboard Cartoon could be misunderstood for a cartoon set in Midget High School :D
  • May 23, 2014
    DAN004
    No worries, I guess I just have to learn what baseboard mean.
  • June 25, 2014
    NateTheGreat
    Technically baseboard is in my vocabulary, but it's definitely in secondary storage. "Knee-high" should be in the name somewhere.
  • June 26, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ I was actually considering Knee High Cartoon for an alternative, but I'm not sure if it's obvious enough what the word "knee-high" is referring to...
  • June 26, 2014
    Larkmarn
    I like Knee High Cartoon a lot.

    EDIT: Wait, I think this is absolutely covered by Mouse World.
  • June 26, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    ^ Agreed, this concept is entirely embraced by the Western Animation subset of Mouse World. I know that one reviewer (Roger Ebert, maybe?) coined the term for characters that run around with the camera set at baseboard height: mice, cats, rabbits, birdies, squirrels, et cetera.
  • June 26, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ I don't know... to me it seems that Mouse World operates more on an "ankle-high" level.

    I mean it's explicitly stated that characters in these kind of cartoons tend to avoid being seen by humans, whereas in films like Lady And The Tramp, the scenes are simply focused on a level that turns all human characters into The Faceless.

    Also notice how none of the current examples (even though they all come from very well-known films) are listed on Mouse World.

    So long story short, to me Mouse World looks more like a Sister Trope.
  • June 27, 2014
    Larkmarn
    I'm unconvinced. You seem to be attaching artificial constraints on Mouse World that aren't really indicated on the page.

    Plus, Tom And Jerry is on Mouse World.
  • August 15, 2014
    bejjinks
    If it is a sister trope to Mouse World, perhaps you should title it similarly such as calling it Dog World
  • October 15, 2014
    Snicka
    How about the Looney Tunes cartoons starring Sylvester and Tweety? As far as I recall, their setting is a lot similar to this, but Granny's face still be seen fairly often.
  • October 15, 2014
    PistolsAtDawn
    Personally, I love the name. Its not often we get a good, clever name that isnt a pun. Its perfect
  • October 15, 2014
    Larkmarn
    So make it a redirect to Mouse World. Redirects Are Free, after all.
  • October 16, 2014
    Psi001
    • Cow And Chicken parodied this. The perspective of Mom and Dad was only up to their hips (even their arms are never shown, they use their legs for everything), though other adults are seen normally. The pilot reveals Mom and Dad are really nothing more than a pair of disembodied legs.
  • October 16, 2014
    TonyG
    This is not the same as Mouse World, which is about a parallel society largely hidden from the human world. Jerry's mousehole, which has furniture inside it, is an example of this. Tom, however, lives within the human world; but he's smaller than a human, so there's a slight scale difference, but not enough to classify as a Mouse World. Baseboard cartoon, then, describes a setting where the animal characters are living well withing the human world, whereas Mouse World describes a setting that is separate to the human world.
  • October 16, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ more like in this ykttw, the animals are accepted within normal human society, while in Mouse World, they aren't.
  • February 8, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    The name still isn't helpful, since this isn't limited to houses. This is about height.

    Plus is this strictly limited to animation?
  • February 8, 2015
    EdnaWalker
    ^ What would be a good name for this trope?

    This trope is not strictly limited to animation. Live action works and graphical works likes comics, webcomics, and manga can be examples as well.
  • May 15, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Then even the adjusted name is off.

    Knee High Perspective?
  • Live Action TV
    • The Christmas Toy utilizes this, but only regarding the parents - we see the younger children (Jessie and Jamie, respectively) in full appearance throughout the special, but both of the parents are rarely seen above their necks; particularly from the toys' point-of-view, where they're usually only seen from the waist down.
  • July 14, 2015
    Antigone3
    Two Lumps: "Mom" is drawn as a pair of legs if standing (sometimes with an arm reaching down to feed one of the cats), shoulder-down if seated, and whole-body if laying on the couch.
  • August 16, 2015
    shimaspawn
    I like Knee High Perspective. You might want to note that works about very small children are often shot from this perspective. Off the top of my head both Muppet Babies and Rugrats are shot from this same pov.
  • August 21, 2015
    gallium
    Film

    • This was a Signature Shot of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. His films tended to have many shots from a camera set about three feet off the ground, to mimic the perspective of someone kneeling in traditional Japanese style. This shot is found in his films Good Morning and Tokyo Story.
  • August 22, 2015
    GiorgioDaneri
    ^ Said shot is also known as "Japanese angle" or "Japanese shot"

    Note: At least in Lat Am is always referred as such.
  • August 22, 2015
    gallium
    Add in the examples and I'll add a hat.
  • September 29, 2015
    crazysamaritan
    The industry term here (broader than just this trope) is "blocking".

    I'll pop by again with a rewrite suggestion for example phrasing and definition. Do we want to split the page between works that utilize this perspective exclusively and individual scenes that use it for effect?
  • September 30, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^Could you give a citation on that?
  • October 1, 2015
    crazysamaritan
  • October 1, 2015
    randomsurfer
    OK, fair enough. Blocking would be a supertrope to this.
  • October 16, 2015
    crazysamaritan
    I'm still waiting to hear if we want to split the page between single shot/scenes and entire works, or not.
  • October 17, 2015
    EdnaWalker
    ^Yes, I'd like a split between single shots/scenes, entire episodes/shorts within works, and entire works/series.
  • October 28, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    Come on guys, you missed the most obvious one! :D

    • Peanuts, which follows a boy named Charlie Brown and his friends around the same age, also starring his dog Snoopy and a bird name Woodstock. Notably, you rarely see adults above the waist (or adults at all) and you rarely hear them talk in words, either, just "blah blah blah" sounds, especially in the TV Specials.
  • January 7, 2016
    randomsurfer
    Star Wars Uncut: Two upper class people are seen driving their car, only to scream in horror. It turns out that they're in the tiny MSE-6 Repair droid that Chewbacca scares.
  • January 7, 2016
    shimaspawn
    ^ That doesn't mention anything about this trope.
  • January 11, 2016
    randomsurfer
    The MSE-6 is a tiny little droid tooling along the hallways of the Death Star. We see the world from its perspective. Then they look up in horror and see Chewbacca in a Feet First Introduction. Until that moment, you don't realize that it's that scene; it's a Reveal that they're the droid. I'm not sure how better to describe it.

    Here is the original scene, which isn't from a knee high perspective, and here is the Star Wars Uncut version.
  • January 11, 2016
    shimaspawn
    ^ Now write that as a coherent example that showcases the trope and how it's used.
  • February 17, 2016
    Tallens
    • An American Tail: All that are ever seen of the humans are their feet and sometimes hands.

    • Toy Story plays with this with Andy's mom. She's either seen as a pair of legs, or from a distance where she can't be easily made out. This is averted in the following films, in which adults are clearly seen along with the kids and toys.

    • Animaniacs: The Buttons and Mindy segments use this for Mindy's parents, though it's more of a neck-high perspective in this case. Other adults are seen in full.
  • March 26, 2016
    Berrenta
    <Mod Hat>

    Seems it was launched by someone else when the OP has edited recently. Unless if the OP gave the go-ahead, that's bad launching etiquette.

    Unlaunched for now.
  • June 20, 2016
    mariovsonic999
    In the original pilot of The Fairly Oddparents, Timmy Turner's Mom and Dad were seen only by their knees.
  • June 22, 2016
    Dravencour
    In Calvin And Hobbes, Calvin once got lost during a trip to the zoo with his parents because he followed another lady who looked like his mom from the knees down.
  • September 11, 2016
    BreadBull
    The Loud House uses this trope - Lincoln's parents are never seen above the waist.
  • April 21, 2017
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=59dbmmsvauii4qldqiepuwhp