Annotated Anime: Shirobako episodes 14-15


A Funny Story

Times like this I wish I have all the time in the world to drill into the last two episodes of Shirobako, because they are rich. I guess you might already guessed that to me, most every episode of Shirobako is rich in some ways, often more than one. In these two episodes, we cover the pre- and early production work that goes into an anime adaptation of a popular manga, and something much more precious.

Just to recap the past two weeks, the team and Musashino Animation start the new year with not only new hires, but the production of a new project, Third Aerial Squad, which is the anime adaptation of a hit manga involving girls in third-generation combat jets. Two of the more sane new hires we saw last, the doujinshi-making girl and the ex-retailer with a long commute, join the production desk team and learn the ropes by observation under Miyamori and Takanashi. A new key animator also join the team as Yasuhara shows her the rope in a production meeting.

This girl is like me

Not new, but new to us, includes an experienced production desk member Hiraoka, and we meet the audio team for Third Aerial Squad: the composer and sound director. The way the director is ultimately in charge of the sounds seem to both make all the sense and no sense at all, in that the sound director expertly interpreted the director's statement, perhaps stating what was unstated but well-understood between the two. The composer meanwhile does his magic.


It's similar to how episode 14 started similarly to a brisk moment from Girls und Panzer musically, with the whistles, and the sound changes similarly as we hit the production-stopping bomb in episode 15.

Without going into full recap mode, let's just say that ultimately a mangaka of a new hit will be busy working and rounding out the finale. In a properly operating situation the mangaka has a lot of say not only in terms of how the anime would be done, but also how he or she will work along with the animation studio. In this case we have a very one-sided view of things, but sometimes that's what it means when you work with authors.

Not that kind of baseball

The beautiful thing about episode 15, and Shirobako in general, is how the story approach these matter-of-fact, professional struggles by adding a lot of personal context to them. Iguchi is having a hard time doing her first character design. And it's a great look at the anime character designer, whose job is actually very different than what most people think of when you mention the job of character design. In this sense, what Iguchi's job is to lift and own the original design and interpret it in a way that looks acceptable to everyone once it is animated. It is both a job where she has to creatively reconstruct something pre-existing, but also work within the confines of not just the original mangaka's expectations, but everyone else in the production team.

The way she battled her creative struggle is only more amusing in the way the great Gothloli-sama interrupted the vicious cycle. She both gave Iguchi a mental reprieve but addressed some other problems she saw, such as not getting enough support from the producers and director. It's a dry and rather fitting for a boring office drama, so I can see why we are treated to aerobic exercise dance routines and Gothloli Koushien.

Very random

In reality, the mangaka email game isn't something that any good production or publisher wants to be playing at any point. Mangaka often sit in on some of these multitudes of meetings that we've seen in the past few episodes of Shirobako. For instance, a recent interview with Genshiken creator Shimizu details his involvement in creating both the Genshiken anime and Genshiken Second Generation, and he sits in several types of meetings.

What I loved especially about Iguchi's struggle has both to do with the various tendencies someone may fall into, blindly following instructions and not taking it a step up to protect themselves, and how Ogasawara seems to deal with it in her own way. The gothloli baseball concept is plenty amusing, sure, but the serious aspect of the idea here is also kind of amusing in its own, too-close-to-home kind of way. I suppose that is a common theme in Shirobako now.

remember guys, ACI has IM@S collab this week! Let's dance with angels!

[Catch 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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