Annotated Anime: Shirobako episode 5


3DCG versus Traditional Animation

The story this week on Shirobako is complicated otaku-level hand wringing. Again. It's not particularly engaging unless you have a stake in the overall evolution of animation styles and methods in Japan. As someone who has lived through the chemical paint to digital paint transition, I'm more inclined to find the whole 3DCG discussion tiresome and I would rather talk about something else: Rinko Kobayakawa on the 3DS.

What is true is that anime, as the rest of the world knows it, is uniquely an inexpensive style of producing hand-drawn animation that expresses its own artistic sense that many fans have a hard time nailing it down with words. The way how the Hollywood animation industry evolved in the past 25 years meant that the future of Japanese animation lived under the shadow of 3D computer graphics. Computer-generated graphics is the present and the future, but how will anime evolve with it? 

It's particularly a sensitive thing if you were also into video games too, which embraced full-on computer-rendered visuals fast and furiously. So Rinko, right? She's this (total aside from Shirobako) character that I have a thing for from the Nintendo DS game series Love Plus. It's only worth mentioning here because I imported a Love Plus Limited Edition Rinko 3DS, and I lost it earlier this year. It really, really bites because I had a save game on there going back to 2009, and there's basically no way for me to recover that. That was back in February so the pain has largely subsided today; what I miss nowadays is losing that 3DS which I had tagged Ichiro Itano's Mii the year before.

he looks way older than this lol

And that's really the thing I want to get at. When it comes to animating stuff, there are all kinds of different opinions as to what's the right way, or better way, to express effects animation. At the same time there are some things that transcends mere genre norms or even technical limitations of a medium. Shirobako drops the bomb that one of the most famous effects sakuga animator is now a pro 3DCG animator, and teaches artists overseas about Itano's own craft of making really cool visuals. Well, okay, it's technically Saburo Kitano, but they're not fooling anybody. For those who are not in the know, check out these links, especially the videos, and the panel we did. For a fandom where the medium often is the message, 3D or 2D, Shirobako is convicting.

The long digression about the pros and cons of 3DCG was at the heart of this week's episode, but Shirobako actually focuses on another, more oft-seen blunder we find in a workplace: a really poor communicator that goes in between, and doesn't really know how to fix the problem he started. Taro is appropriately annoying and yet sufficiently realistic that he comes across just right. Do the office you work in have its own version of Taro? More importantly, how will the technical gap between doing the cliffhanger scene from episode 8 in 3D and the opening scene in 2D hand-drawn impact Aoi's episode 9?



My favorite part of Shirobako episode 5, with all that said, was how the director lamented about his career after directing the award-winning "Naked Hypnotist." The joke is lost if you don't hear it in Japanese, but let's just say our director is modeled after a Seiji Mizushima, and the romanized name of the award-winning show is called "Hadaka no Saiminjitsushi." It totally doesn't sound like a "Hagaren no Renkinjitsushi" or anything, right? Along those lines, I have no idea what jiggly anime Shirobako refers to; presumably the viewers can fill in the blanks, as Shirobako is not in a position to actually pan a real project in the industry. The individuals, well, can make fun of themselves well enough. (And here's a tweet of Seiji Mizushima doing just that.)

To close with a cute side note: The voice actress for Emi, Haruka Yoshimura, tried to make a face on omelette rice, and the results speak for itself. For those of you who've seen her cook in other settings, have some bonus points.


[Watch Shirobako on 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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