Annotated Anime: Shirobako episodes 16-19


Catching up...

Shirobako remains my favorite anime since a long while, and since I last recapped, it continues to roll forward like an unstoppable boulder of heartful comedy. I can only apologize about the late update since you, and Shirobako, deserved better. Let's see how Shirobako's momentum knocks down the pins our ace project manager Aoi Miyamori manage to overcome to produce the Third Aerial Squad.

Shirobako 16 actually wraps up the character designer arc. From a realism point, that sets back the production by a month, and in some ways that puts Miyamori in triage mode already. The new runner, Ochiai, seems veteran enough compared to the two new hires at the production desk, but he always seems to be doing something questionable. It's actually a bit amusing contrasting him with NabeP.

Sourface is hard to draw, as witnessed

The crunch as a result of the delay leads to the crisis in the following episodes. The episode that was outsourced entirely somehow fell behind schedule, and Yano returns triumphantly to stem the tide at Studio Titanic. She also manage to find a replacement animation director to slot in to the one that quit. Meanwhile the team had to contort the schedule and pull some late-nighters to push out a promotional video for the publisher's exhibition.

Likewise, Miyamori was able to find a special art director, Ookura, who the currently assigned art director, Atsumi, looks up to. Ookura used to work at Musashino Pictures. In episode 19 the president Marukawa takes Miyamori back in a flashback, showing us how many of today's veterans came from the same animation studios, and just kept at it as the industry evolve. In this example, it would be the various veterans that used to work at Musashino Pictures, and those who came to work at Musashi Animation later on. It was a pretty charming sequence complete with a full Chucky ED. 


And this is the charm that adds another layer of context that Shirobako is so good at, although previously it was largely available within the confines of the hardcore sakuga scene. Many of today's animators learned from the greats of yesterday, who worked on the classics of yesterday with their mentors' mentors, etc. In a way, it humanizes these works not only as labor of passion, but even in the way animation styles and techniques passes down. It reminds me of the way Itano's famous Itano Circus gets passed down to other animators who are interested in special effects animation, as people who may share a similar outlook as the famed animator, and how these people work on their subsequent projects.

At the same time, because I am not in on the human histories behind today's classics, a lot of what went on in the recent Shirobako episodes felt more like setup than a welling of gut-punching feels. Thankfully I still get what it is doing, and Shirobako remains thoroughly entertaining. The suspense for Musani's new project is building, and I can't wait to find out how it will turn out.


[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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