Annotated Anime: Shirobako episodes 11


Little Match Girl, remixed

If you told me that an anime about working in the animation industry will give you one hell of a cliffhanger, I would not have believed you. That's because nobody would ordinarily associate a matter-of-fact approach to real life with page-turning strategies employed largely by pulp manga and daytime soap. It turns out Shirobako decided to show me otherwise.

The aforementioned cliffhanger has a lot to do with an elaborate joke on the future of the industry. When we see headlines in anime news (and Japanator editors do that...you know) about things like how Japanese animators are underpaid or that there's a talent drain, we don't really have that full context. In this week's Shirobako, that context is actually front and center.


Is it appropriate that Aoi is re-imagined, allegorically, as a little match girl (or Little KA Girl, if you prefer the technical abbreviation) looking for someone to draw for a mid-tier late-night anime? Have the English-language anime reviewing world stopped using the term "budget" to describe what Exodus episode 12 might eventually look like, at this rate? I don't know if making the anime in Shirobako was all that important in this week's episode, but presumably that's why the show spent a good chunk of it making light of how big studios like Toei or Sunrise can always find someone to draw for them when the schedule slips and the production is going to hell in a hand basket.

The "industry introspection" this week also talks directly about a certain director who directed some major 3-word anime and recently worked on something that require making airplane sounds. I'll leave that reference to the more intrepid readers out there to figure out, but in a recent interview with Studio Ghibli producer Suzuki this man got a big nod. The legendary animator, creator and director, leads the way as Aoi heads to his place to buy some KA on a cold night.

I've seen this guy like 4 times

Much like last week's episode, Shirobako demonstrates to us another aspect of the animation industry: the people who it hires and the people who would apply for jobs like these. I don't know what it really wants to say--or perhaps I don't think I can say it in this setting--but getting a new hire that "has to be better than Tarou" is a fairly low bar. It seems that the young woman Musashino Animation hired at least has her own take on what it means to consume anime, and to make it, which sets her apart from the rest of the candidates. That much might be an universal element for all creative endeavors.

Shirobako will continue next season and I am looking forward to that, as Aoi drives to fictional, not-Hideaki Anno's house. What will happen when you ask one of the four gods of anime to do lowly key art for late-night TV anime from a mid-tier studio? How about Yano's condition? Fronting the second opening is anisong veteran Masami Okui, who still is one of my favorite artists ever, so that makes things even more exciting.


[Shirobako is 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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