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Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame

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"Oh no! The animation budget ran out!"
Tristan Taylor, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series

Rather than animating a critical moment in a battle, and perhaps giving away a plot point too soon, some animators cut to or dissolve into a still image designed to look like an action shot, often blurry with motion, that shows the important hit, or dodge, or other action, without revealing anything crucial. The most attractive of these are made to look like they were done in pastel chalks, although simple black line drawings are also used. The Ken Burns Effect is frequently employed. These are also frequently used to emphasize especially dramatic moments, especially during cliffhangers.

This technique was invented by the late, great, and highly influential anime director Osamu Dezaki.

The term of art for this type of frame is "Harmony Cel." Other common terms include "Postcard Memory" or just "a Dezaki". The color is usually painted with gouache like a background would be. (Although any media could potentially be used, chalk pastels or charcoal are messy and tend to cling to paper very loosely, increasing the likelihood of smearing during handling or photography. No matter what it looks like, they were almost certainly not used.) The lines might be done as they would on a normal cel, or they might be painted in as well.

See also Picture-Perfect Presentation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • As mentioned above, classic anime director Osamu Dezaki is responsible for the popularity of this trope, which he termed "Postcard Memories" and invented as a way to both save on budget and highlight dramatic moments.
    • An example of this would be Space Adventure Cobra, where he had every commercial break and final frame fade into a beautiful pastel drawing.
    • Likewise, he animated the 90-minute retelling of Aim for the Ace! with chalk frames on the dramatic moments. The animation was much better than the series' own.
    • Dezaki's Black Jack adaptations (an OVA series and one film) make frequent use of this.
    • The Rose of Versailles uses the "dramatic moments" variety of this trope. Constantly. Once again, directed by Dezaki.
    • Dear Brother, as well.
    • The movie version of CLANNAD does this constantly. Even two in a row at times. It wasn't directed by the same person who directed the TV series, but by Osamu Dezaki himself. The very last anime he directed before his death, in fact.
    • The Kasei Yakyoku OAV have several as well. Three guesses as to who directed this, and the first two don't count!
  • CLANNAD: Aside from the aforementioned movie, this is parodied in one episode of the series. Kotomi is putting on a violin recital, and though she practised hard and greatly improved, she became nervous and her already next-to-nonexistent violin skills are dropped back down to "deadly". All who are listening fall dead, one by one. As they fall, Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frames are done for each of the fallen victims.
  • The 2012 anime adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood features this for Jonathan's death.
  • Steel Angel Kurumi is rife with these.
  • So is Simoun.
  • Pastel freeze-frames can also be found for romantic moments, usually at the end of episodes. There are a number of these in the later seasons of Ranma .
  • YuYu Hakusho likes to end on these. Parodied during the Dark Tournament arc, when Koenma asks Jorge how to counter a weapon and we get an extended PCFF, only for Jorge to reply that he hasn't a clue. And again in the last season, where an overly dramatic character gets this when it looks like one of his allies has died, and he remains frozen, while the other characters, drawn normally, go about their business.
  • Of course, if you're as low on cash as the creators of Neon Genesis Evangelion were, you can make at least two entire minutes of plot out of nothing but Pastel-Chalked (or Copic Marker) Freeze Frames.
  • Nodame Cantabile does these a lot during the concert scenes, of either Chiaki or one of the musicians during a dramatic piece of music. Probably just to vary a bit between these and pans over ordinary stills, when the time or budget for proper animation of the musicians runs out.
  • Dragon Ball and Z absolutely loves to end episodes with this, although its frequency dropped in the later episodes. Would also be used for certain important impacts, such as King Piccolo blowing a rock to break Goku's arm.
  • Berserk (1997) is fond of doing this for dramatic moments, usually when Guts is doing something particularly badass.
  • The Pokemon The Series Diamond And Pearl episode "Arriving in Style!" uses this quite a bit. They seem to be using it for cool poses at the end of episodes or for dramatic effect during fights now. At any rate, its use is on the rise.
  • Violinist of Hameln is the king of this trope. Due to an impossibly constrained animation budget — rumour has it the budget was mainly spent on obtaining rights to the classical music — the series sometimes seems to consist mainly of whole montages of one Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame after another. Within the fandom, the show has since gained the affectionate nickname "Slideshow of Hameln".
  • One of the many things Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo plays with.
  • Similarly to Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Mind Game parodies it in Nishi's fantasy in which he's a famous author.
  • Many episodes in Slayers end with these.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann uses this. In addition, the Big Bad of the first arc, Lordgenome, is so badass that he exists in a constant state of Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame. Except it averts the "Freeze Frame" part.
  • When Holy Roman Empire runs away from Italy during one rather suspenseful part of the Hetalia: Axis Powers anime, there are several of these shown from different angles. The story was not continued until several episodes later.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple does this whenever something awesome or dramatic happens. It's also played for comedy on at least one occasion when the moment is so dramatic it causes Kenichi to faint.
  • Sailor Moon employs these quite often. Haruka and Michiru's scenes are done this way more often than not, when not in any form of battle, in order to emphasize how elegant they are.
  • There is at least one in Sister Princess, at a climactic moment in the penultimate episode of the anime, although the moment is anything but an action shot.
  • Otogi Zoshi uses these frequently.
  • Parodied in Ninja Nonsense (like everything else), when Onsokumaru fights himself.
  • Sgt. Frog also used this often...
    • Used in episode 8, which is also lampshaded in the dub, when it prompts the narrator to ask who told the animators to switch to sepia-tone.
    • Also used in episode 35, where in the dub, the narrator lampshades it again by asking if someone squirted grape juice in his eyes because the screen is now purple.
  • Lucky Star does this during the Initial D spoof, going from CG to Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame as Yui executes the gutter-wheel turn.
  • Subverted in one scene of Naruto, where it looks like one of these happened at the end of an episode but when it zooms out, you can see it just switched to a close view of a painting of that scene Sai made.
  • The Macross franchise has at least two.
    • Macross Zero has one of Shin during the Final Battle in a dramatic moment just before he decides to jettison his weapons and charge in without violence in mind, hoping that the sight will snap Sara out of her Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • Macross Frontier ends episode 24 with one of Sheryl Nome crying out in despair after she sees Alto's fighter explode.
  • Special A has pastel sections every single darn episode, usually when a character has just done something sweet and so "earned his watercolors".
  • Fushigi Yuugi does this at times.
  • A lot of the kendo matches in Bamboo Blade end with these; the last shot of the ED is also a Freeze Frame (of Tama-chan, natch.)
  • Happens at the end of several episodes in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, most likely for dramatic effect.
  • The current page shot is Nicholas D. Wolfwood of Trigun, pictured in his second appearance (that'd be episode 10) when he turns around and starts shooting the hell out of everything after a quickdraw competition he and Vash tricked each other into joining turns into a Vash-hunt with child hostages. This is pretty much the only use of the technique in the entire series, and it handily highlights the fact that Wolfwood is slightly nuts. Which you suspected all along, but by now you like him. Wolfwood mentions afterwards that he didn't kill anyone during said rampage, just put a lot of non-terminal holes in them. It is fortunate none of the abruptly-recruited bounty hunters had Gung Ho Gun levels of determination. The full line is: "I WON'T LET ANY MORE CHILDREN SUFFER! NEVER AGAIN!"
  • Almost every episode of the 2011 Hunter Hunter anime ends with one of these.
  • The very last shot of Cowboy Bebop's final episode, "The Real Folk Blues (Part 2)", is a pastel chalked freeze frame, featuring the lifeless (or unconscious) but serene body of Spike Spiegel as "Blue" by the Seatbelts plays, before the camera pans up into the sky, and then into space.
  • Similarly to the above example, the final shot of the Tomorrow's Joe anime is done in this style, showing a zoom-out of Joe's dead yet smiling body as the somber track "Joe Forever" plays. The scene is so iconic that it's become a Stock Shout-Out.
  • Several of these are used in the first episode of the Umineko: When They Cry anime during everyone's introductions.
  • The original Mobile Suit Gundam uses these from time to time. Alternate universes do it too. Dramatic shots of Exia charging with its sword drawn or Freedom in pose are particular favorites.
  • Tekkaman Blade throws these around quite a bit, especially when dark secrets start coming out.
  • A series of shorts featuring various Go Nagai super robots like Mazinger Z and Getter Robo ended its three shorts this way.
  • HeartCatch Pretty Cure! ended one of its final episodes with this, showing the girls at the beginning of their Storming the Castle attack.
  • Symphogear uses these instead of Calling Your Attacks, mostly because the protagonists' weapons only work while they are singing. The visual style and typeface vary by attacker.
    • Starting with the second season G, pretty much every end of episode Cliffhanger is punctuated by one of those.
  • Space☆Dandy himself appears this way in one episode while having an existential crisis. He gets over it a second later and pops back to normal.
  • Voltes V:
    • Firstly, when Kenichi learns that his father, Kentaro, was a Boazanian - a.k.a., a member of the race of aliens who are currently invading the Earth. And not just any Boazanian - he was their Prince, Gohl. However, he abandoned Boazania due to their cruelty towards the Hornless and led many slave rebellions, making him a Defector from Decadence.
    • Secondly, and most tragically used when Katherine takes a noble's bullet for Prince Heinel, sending him over the Despair Event Horizon. Heinel begs her not to die, but she passes away in his arms, and it is only after this that Heinel realizes that he's been in love with her all along.
    • Lastly, when Heinel and Kenichi spar, and Heinel takes out his dagger, Kentaro/Gohl's face is coloured this way. He sees the twin doves on the hilt and realizes that it is the same dagger he gave to his first wife, Lozaria. Which means the boy that Lozaria gave her life to have was the very same Prince who's been serving the cruel empire that he fled from, and terrorizing the Earth - a.k.a the same planet that brought him refuge from Boazan oppression. Once Heinel realizes that Gohl is his father, he has a My God What Have I Done Moment and begs his the Emperor to put an end to the war.
  • Done in the first opening of Your Lie in April featuring Kousei and Kaori performing together with their respective instrument. Which is used again in the finale, but it's revealed that their final duet performance is never happened, since real Kaori was doing her surgery during that time and its supposed the Kaori that playing alongside Kousei was either her spirit before leaving to afterlife or just pure Kousei's imagination.
  • Used at the end of the first episode of Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) after Edward takes off his coat to reveal his automail arm and Father Cornello pulls a The Namesake.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Rocky movies end on an Acrylic-Painted Freeze Frame.
  • The obscure '80s teen movie Private School does this in the opening, showing various scenes from later in the film drawn in this style. It's also how the movie ends.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Rocky example above is spoofed in Scrubs — J.D. and Turk keep fighting to prove their manliness. They realize that they won't be able to settle it. They have a flash of inspiration and wind up taking a photo of them both in boxing gear, and each telling the story of how they won.
    J.D. & Turk: [together] Rocky 3 freeze-frame ending!
  • Amy and Rory's final episode of Doctor Who ends with future-Amy narrating all the adventures she had over a shot of kid-Amy from her first appearance. It turns pastel-colored in the last few seconds.
  • By the 3rd season of Blossom; they began using this; usually for the beginning of the episode or coming back from a commercial break.

    Video Games 
  • In Bayonetta, each time a new enemy type appears (including bosses), a mini cutscene plays with one of these, transitioning to a book (the Hierarchy of Laguna for angels, Lemegeton's Guidebook for demons in Bayonetta 2) as the name and rank/title of the enemy is given.
  • The "Chapter Complete" bits in Eternal Darkness end like this.
  • The opening for Tales of Vesperia uses this before it fades to black and goes to the start screen.
  • Valkyria Chronicles inverts this by starting off with a sketch that begins to move. The entire art style of the game emulates a pastel chalk drawing.
  • Done with each To Be Continued screen in Asura's Wrath, just to make the parallels to be an interactive anime even more obvious.
  • Killer7 has a few of these during the level where all the cutscenes are done in anime style.
  • No More Heroes III ends each Ranking episode with one of these, as one of its many Retraux throwbacks.

    Web Animation 
  • Spoofed, appropriately enough, in the Strong Bad e-mail "Japanese cartoon." Many subsequent toons featuring the 20X6 characers also end with these.


    Western Animation 
  • The ending of the Family Guy episode "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire" ends in a Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame with the Rocky theme Eye of the Tiger playing. The scene leading up to the freeze frame is verbatim of the final scene of Rocky III (see above).
  • Some of the action shots in Ben 10 are replaced with slowly-sliding comic book-like images. Its sequel has yet to use this effect, presumably trying to move away from the more light-hearted nature of the original.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, a bunch of these in a row were used to great effect in Book 1, Chapter 10. This is also how a fight between Azula and Suki ended, with Suki's fate not discovered until next season.
  • The Episode "Deep Six" of Teen Titans ends this way.
  • In Wakfu, it is used during the two three-episode Gobbowl arcs, specifically as a Shout-Out to Space Adventure Cobra.
  • Several episodes of Thunder Cats, including the multi-part Anointment Trials.
  • The ending to the American Dad! episode "Escape from Pearl Bailey", where Steve and his friends jump to face a mob of angry students. We can hear them getting their asses kicked, however, complete with them shouting about how they are not even taking anybody with them.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Done backwards in the 1997 cut of "Help Wanted"; the mid-episode title sequence ends with a paint-and-pastel drawing of SpongeBob standing before the Krusty Krab before fading into animated footage of him doing exactly that. The 1999 cut, which removes the sequence, simply jumps straight to the animated version of the shot.
  • Every episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) ends this way, as a nod to the franchise's comic book origins.