It seems that I’m doing a lot of reviews with each of my passing posts, huh? It’s not intentional, it’s just that this is what I consider to be interesting and I think that the titles I feature here are worth sharing. I’m not sure if this is where I say “deal with it” because I don’t do this frequently enough. Eh.
Anyway, today we’re talking about another anime, and this time, it’s Shirobako. This little piece of Japan came out in 2015 and tells the tale of five friends who made an animation in high school together and made a vow to enter the anime industry and work on an anime together. The main aspect of the show is Aoi Miyamori, a production assistant at Mushashino Animation (it’s not a real company, I checked), and the Mushashino team as they work on anime projects and all the obstacles that come with them. Along the way, we also see Aoi’s friends:
- Ema, an animator at Mushahino
- Shizuka, a voice actor
- Misa, a 3D computer graphics operator
- Midori, a story writer
For the most part, though, we stick with Musashino and the people that work there, which I consider the thing that provides this anime’s biggest positive and negative. The positive is that you get a pretty decent course in the process of making anime. I’m a big fan of learning how things are made, especially when it comes to entertainment so if you’re like me and like behind the scenes featurettes, you’ll get something out of this.
In addition to learning how anime is made, you also see the characters talk about why they got into anime, which to me was a testament to what it’s like to take creative work seriously and pursue a career in the field, and anime can be replaced in this line of thinking with anything creative, such as movies, TV, or comic books. I got that message, especially in the last few episodes, and in a sense, you can put this on and binge it if you feel you need something to kick yourself into gear and work on whatever project you’re on, like me with writing. I also kind of feel like Aoi in the sense that I’ve had that position where I didn’t know what I wanted to know what to do in my field in terms of what discipline I wanted to pursue. It took until my sophomore year of college. So, there’s the connection aspect hooking me.
One of the things that I didn’t like about Shirobako was that for the most part, it seemed focused on Aoi and Mushahino, and the other girls would show up rather sporadically. In addition, that high school animation that we see in the first episode (and the one that got the girls interested in making anime and entering the industry in the first place, doesn’t get mentioned much after it’s introduced, but I think that’s a story thing as it’s more about the girls and their current jobs. That being said, I can’t help but feel that not revisiting that first animation is kind of a missed opportunity. It can help that Aoi is the main character and we see everything from her point of view in that she’s the one that’s undecided about her future in the industry, but the fact that we spend most of the time with one studio where only two of the five main characters are working just screams “wasted potential” to me. I really believe that had Shirobako lasted more than the 24 episodes it did, we could see more of these girls and their careers and the final season could be them working on that high school animation and updating it to be even more awesome thanks to their skills…but since Shirobako isn’t an anime that’s an adaptation of some mega-popular shonen manga, it’s just 24 episodes. And that makes me sad. I’ll just have to deal.
As for the score for this anime, I feel pretty comfortable giving this a 7/10. It’s got a good concept and rolls with it, and it has emotional moments that I believe any person in a creative field would be touched by, but at the same, time I really can’t shake the wasted potential and the main characters that are put to the side by an admittedly decent supporting cast.
If you’re ever interested in learning how anime is made, I’d suggest Shirobako is an anime worth checking out. Alternatively, you can just watch this video. But either way, Shirobako is a pretty cool anime, and I enjoyed watching it.