13 Reasons Why season 2: we need to talk about episode 7’s unique opening scene

The first scene in episode seven is unlike anything in the Netflix series so far – find out more from creators Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski

Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) in 13 Reasons Why season two (Netflix)

Episode seven of 13 Reasons Why season two is unlike anything that’s gone before in the Netflix drama.

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It’s not that the story is any different – the trial over Hannah Baker’s suicide continues as before – but the way the episode opens will be a real surprise to viewers watching.

Why? Well, because for one scene only, the shows shifts into animation…

Dylan Minnette’s Clay Jensen and Katherine Langford’s Hannah Baker appear as drawn figures in a kaleidoscopic opening sequence that foreshadows what happens later in the episode.

Animated scene in 13 Reasons Why season 2 (Netflix)
Animated scene in 13 Reasons Why season 2 (Netflix)

The scene is created by Jane Samborski and Dash Shaw, the creative duo behind animated film My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea.

RadioTimes.com caught up with filmmaker Dash Shaw to find out about his unique contribution to 13 Reasons Why season two.

How did you and Jane become involved in 13 Reasons Why season two? 

Showrunner Brian Yorkey saw the movie I did, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. Jane was the lead animator on that. We make our animations together.

I was sent a script and then I made storyboards based on the script. Jane and I then executed the storyboards. Jane made the carpet first, and she really blew that away, by painting all of the carpet parts separately. Jane also came up with how the people spiral off of each other. Jane’s a brilliant animator. Mostly I was just doing the drawings of the people and the airbrush backgrounds.

It was exciting to participate in a show that means so much to a lot of people.

Hannah and Clay in an animated scene from 13 Reasons Why season 2 (Netflix)
Hannah and Clay in an animated scene from 13 Reasons Why season 2 (Netflix)

Had you seen 13 Reasons Why before you were asked to be a part of it?

I watched it after they wrote me. I hadn’t heard of it before. I live under a rock.

The animated opening is completely different to anything in the series up to that point. Were you worried about how it would fit together?

Well, it’s based on photo reference that they provided of the actors. Since I was drawing their faces, I hoped it would fit in. I was excited the whole way through, I thought it would look great. I didn’t want it to be a goofy animated dream sequence: I thought it’d be more interesting if it was done in a semi-realistic style, off from reality.

Animated Clay in 13 Reasons Why season 2 (Netflix)
Animated Clay in 13 Reasons Why season 2 (Netflix)

How did you create the sequence?

It’s traditional animation that’s composited digitally. It’s all actual pieces: watercolour or acrylic paintings, drawings in pencil on paper. It’s just composited in After Effects the way Disney would use a multiplane camera. It’s similar to how I did My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea but with a different more realistic and subtle aesthetic. My goal was just to try to knock it out of the park, basically. Deliver something that would be exciting and moving and strange.

Animated Hannah in 13 Reasons Why season 2 (Netflix)
Animated Hannah in 13 Reasons Why season 2 (Netflix)

It’s fun to see these characters we’ve come to know so well in animated form. Do you know whether the actors have seen it yet, and if so what they think?

Thanks. I don’t know what they think. I hope they like it!

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13 Reasons Why season two is available to watch on Netflix now