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Knee-High Perspective

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Lady at the zoo: Are you lost? What does your mom look like?
Calvin: From the knees down, she looks just like you.

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 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 an 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 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. Compare with Dutch Angle (the camera is sometimes aimed upwards, and must be canted/tilted to create an uneasy atmosphere), Hitler Cam (the camera is aimed upwards to make one or more figures taller/physically imposing), and Low-Angle Empty World Shot (the camera is angled upwards to hide nearby scenery).


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     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 is ever seen of the humans is their feet and sometimes hands.
  • The first Toy Story film 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  
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "Something's Cookin'", the opening cartoon of the movie, uses this knee-high kind of perspective to pay homage to classic cartoons that take place in this setting. In the ensuing studio scene, it's shown that the mother character, who is only seen from the waist down, is actually played by a human actor on giant leg stilts.
  • This was a Signature Shot of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. His films tended to have many shots from a camera set about 3 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.
  • Averted in the live-action Peter Rabbit: Unlike in the original stories and their various adaptations, the adult humans are very much seen in full.

     Live-Action TV  

     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 named Woodstock. In the comic strips, adults are only shown with their legs in some panels. 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.

  • 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 lying 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. Human faces were shown in some shorts of the late 1950s and early 1960s, but Chuck Jones reverted to the knee-high perspective.
  • Two Silly Symphonies cartoons, "Three Orphan Kittens" and "More Kittens", take place in a house viewed knee or ankle high and have the housekeeper, who looks rather like Mammy TwoShoes, be viewed from just above the knees down. The face of the girl that make an appearance in the first cartoon is seen however.
  • The Figaro cartoon, "Figaro and Cleo" take place in a house viewed knee or ankle high and have the housekeeper, who looks rather like Mammy TwoShoes, be viewed from just above the knees down. You can also see her hands and lower arms at various different points in the cartoon.
  • 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 and feet for everything), though other adults are seen normally. The pilot reveals Mom and Dad are really nothing more than a pair of disembodied legs. There is an episode where Cow and Chicken are rifling through a closet and come across Mom and Dad's upper halves, however.
  • 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.
    • "Feed the Kitty", about bulldog Marc Anthony befriending a tiny kitten named Pussyfoot. Marc Anthony's owner is never shown above the knees.
  • 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 (1984) uses this perspective, with the nanny character being the The Faceless.
  • 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 in Season 1. Their faces are finally revealed in the episode "11 Louds a Leapin."
  • Averted in the various Peanuts television series, specials, and movies where the adults are usually completely unseen and even their voices aren't comprehensive, with only a "wah wah wah" sound being heard. In some of the specials, such as the Mayflower episode of This Is America, Charlie Brown and She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, the adults are in full view and/or speak intelligibly however.