Annotated Anime: Shirobako episode 3


Arupin is finally here!

Shirobako episode 3 brings us to Aoi's primary tasks to the finish. We first see the innocuous name sake--the white jewel case that hosts the final cut of the TV episode, thus "shirobako." The joy ride continues all the way to the end.

It feels that the first three episodes of Shirobako sets up the frustrating thrill of making an episode of TV anime. It is both project management yoga at the urgency of downhill rally racing, and the materialization of ideas into tangible things all creative projects seek to do, with both the joys and challenges involved. We see a large cast of characters--and for those in the know many of these characters are just representatives of their perspective departments. Seeing Aoi wait for the post office to courier her the outsourced inbetweens may take a couple cuts of Shirobako, tops, but inside of those fat envelopes are works of dozens of animators.



There was one scene in this week's episode where Aoi mentally walks through the rest of the tasks she has to do to get episode nine into completion, and the whole scene is only a nary 10 seconds long. I guess that's Shirobako's way to lay off the heavy duty office work on the viewers and just shows us a glimpse of how complicated it can be. Perhaps unintentionally, it also goes to show that the quality of an episode of anime can be highly influenced by just how well an animation assistant can manage his or her project. That's something no amount of "budget" can really describe. Using money to describe production quality, too, seems far too shallow of a way to approach critiquing TV animation.

At the same time, it seems that doing the retake is such a nerve wrecking process, and its inevitability means ultimately there is always going to be trouble for even the most mundane episode of TV anime. Shirobako really hammers home that making anime is all about team, because nobody can do it on their own (and how much more amazing when that happens). It's a good example of a process-driven production. Imagine if during editing the director had to make a change! The five or six people in that room Aoi dismissed would not have had a nice night.




The one thing that sort of throws me off, and clues me in, to the rest of the series, is how the various characters around Aoi started to drop notes about their relationships and backgrounds. Shirobako's Aoi is a newbie at her role, managing her very first episode of TV anime. We got a glimpse of it back in episode one when she was rallying up the tropes to produce the anime club's festival animation, but now it's prime time.

Hopefully Shirobako will put on the breaks here and give us a look at the other facets of the animation production, such as from the computer graphics production house or the voice acting scene in Japan. There are a lot of places Shirobako can go and I can hardly wait!

[Watch Shirobako at Crunchyroll!]

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Jeff Chuang
Jeff ChuangAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Yet to be the oldest kid on the block, this East Coast implant writes cryptic things about JP folklore, the industry or dirty moe. Attend cons and lives the "I can buy Aniplex releases" life. ... more + disclosures



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