Depicting an ancestral journey was essential for lead title designers Angus Wall and Nadia Tzuo when developing the title sequence for the Apple TV Plus series,”Pachinko“, a show that traces the destiny of a Korean family and spans several countries, decades and generations.
At the heart of the journey is Solomon Baek, played by Jin Ha, a young employee of an international company. He returns to his roots, reconnecting with his pachinko parlor owner father Mozasu (Soji Arai) and grandmother Sunja (Youn Yuh-jung), with a focus on young Sunja (Minha Kim and Jeon Yuna), who leaves everything behind for a new life in Japan, a country that does not want to be part of her.
Based on the rich novel by Min Jin Lee, the series, which premieres March 25 on Apple TV Plus, was adapted by series creator Soo Hugh, who scripted the title sequence in her drafts. The sequence is in two parts: a nostalgic look at the family archives and portraits that transform into a modern pachinko parlor with the figures dancing through it.
Tzuo and Wall’s creative brief was to lean into the exuberance that connects the two parts. They were careful not to make the first half of the footage look like a war documentary; instead, they focused on connecting emotions, whether it’s a smile on the face of an old man or a little girl.
“We collected archival footage to show how people lived and the bond between family members,” Tzuo says. “These are real family photos to show how they went on with their lives.”
Walls says of the pachinko dance parlor sequence, “Our first thought was how to visually connect the generations.” Dance was a visual way to display joy, freedom, perseverance and emotion. It also gave the audience a taste of the different characters.
Hugh says she channeled her inner DJ to make the songs represent each character: “For Yuna, I played ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from ‘Moana’. For Isaac [Steve Sang-Hyun Noh] and Younger Sunja’s dance, I played “California Love” by Tupac.
The logo revealed at the end of the title sequence translates the word “pachinko” from Korean into Japanese and then into English. “The logo represented the evolution of the immigrant family as it started in Korea,” Tzuo explains, “and then moved on to the second generation in Japan and the youngest in New York.”
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