Alternatively, this reaction can be entitled, “Holy hell, this episode was fantastic.”
Aoi’s Learning–Like The Rest of Us!
This episode was all about Aoi, and I loved every moment of it.
Okay, but really, this episode was good, not just because it featured Aoi, but in its ability to progress the story on every front. Aoi’s character grew a massive amount, the plot continued to move forward in a very tangible way, and it all tied together in a fantastic way.
So, what’s happening at this point in the story?
Aoi, in charge of episode 12 of Exodus, has several cuts that she needs taken care of, but unfortunately, Musashino Animation just doesn’t have the manpower to take care of them in a timely manner. As such, Aoi, being the responsible adult she is, makes a concerted effort to find anyone, from some company, somewhere, to lend a helping hand! But, you know, such a task is hard.
She makes progress, slowly but surely,
She makes progress, slowly but surely, but along the way, is reminded of her own past, struggling to get into the industry. We learn that Aoi suffered from her indecision even back then, and, compared to other candidates, almost seemed woefully unprepared for the real world. Hit with rejections, unable to ascertain where she was going, Aoi just…wasn’t the most solid pick.
These flashback scenes, telling us all about Aoi in the time prior to Musashino Animation, do wonders for her character.
We already knew that Aoi had problems deciding what she wanted to do, but scenes like this, that emphasize her real-life need to find progress, even as she’s discovering herself…they hit a bit close to home. It’s a struggle that I’m sure many of us have dealt with at some point, and seeing Aoi in these moments, vulnerable, feeling down and defeated, was among the most subtly emotional moments of the series thus far.
She’s still portrayed as very much the same person–a person who, despite it all, works hard, and little by little, begins to grow! We actually get to see this too, as she ends up helping with interviews from the other side of the table, and makes progress with finding animators!
Aoi’s still very much the same Aoi. But man, you can really tell how much she’s grown as a character, and that’s something I really enjoyed seeing.
Now, that said, in her quest to find someone to help her with the cuts, a certain scene stuck out to me, as encompassing much of the subtle, surreal magic that Shirobako has shown thus far. It was fantastic in every sense of the word, and although I have to admit my personal bias plays a huge part in it, I feel as if there’s something here that’s truly special.
And hey, they’re my thoughts, so. Yeah.
It’s Anime Christmas?
Also known as the Shirobako scene that caused my skin to tingle, made me let loose a joyful laugh, and say out loud, “damn, what a great show.”
I have to, HAVE to take notice of this scene in particular, for its sheer creativity, technical skill, and in doing so many small things right.
The very concept of this scene, taking the classic “Little Match Girl,” and superimposing it with Aoi’s quest to find people to take care of cuts for her, is exceedingly creative in its own right–and very fitting, considering the Christmas atmosphere, and the matching ideas. It’s appropriate, and the quiet tune, Silent Night in the background (my favorite Christmas song by the way) works wonders for this scene, conjuring feelings of wistful nostalgia.
It is this nostalgia that builds into some of the most clever situations I’ve seen in an anime–combining the idea of Santa’s Workshop, with anime studios and characters.
It’s freaking great. Not to mention, it fits perfectly with the theme of the anime as well. During a time where Aoi is reminiscing about her start in the world of anime, making references to what many viewers will recognize as some of the original greats of the medium, just makes sense. Looking from the outside, seeing only legends, studios that have earned their place as figures, that a fledgling anime director looks up to, Aoi’s position in the anime is more clear than ever.
I had a smile perpetually on my face, for the entirety of this scene. It had that surreal, subtle magic that I personally look for in an anime, and I LOVED it.
All this being said, I loved the ability of this episode to keep a consistent theme going, of real-world progress, and how tough that can really be.
The scenes where Aoi helps the president conduct job interviews hit this home, especially when compared to Aoi’s first interview with the company. It makes clear the trouble on both sides–for those who are interviewing and get rejected, as well as the struggle to hire the best candidate.
It’s like real life–and real life can be pretty tough sometimes.
That said, this can be seen with a scene with the character, Yano, who is revealed this episode to have a father in the hospital. It’s not revealed what exactly happened, but whatever it is, it makes the normally reserved, relatively stoic Yano…shut down.
Apart from being a surprise that came out of nowhere, this event also plays to Shirobako’s focus on characterizing…everyone.
We’ve gotten desires, dreams, and past grievances of many of Aoi’s coworkers, so it only makes sense that at some point, tragedy must happen as well. It happens naturally, it can happen to anyone in our own lives, so it’s cool to see that Shirobako is taking that seriously, in its portrayal of its characters.
That being said, life is still moving onwards–and the ending card of the episode makes that clear. The deadline to finish Exodus is still there, and everyone’s still trying their best, even as life gets in the way.
You know, this anime is just really doing a good job at showing that progress happens, even in times of hardship. And I respect that.
Forgive me for my constant positivity towards the show, but damn, if it doesn’t deserve it.