Heyo. Halfway through the series!
The Final Stretch
Because of the ambitious decision to include horses, which no one at Musashino knows how to animate, she’s at a loss! Choosing to beg famous director Mitsuaki Kanno (a clever reference to director of Neon Genesis Evangelion, I see you), Aoi simply needs to figure out something, to get Episode 12 done!Kanno tells her of a Musashino veteran who has drawn horses, who can help her in her quest: the veteran animator, Sugie. The friendly elderly animator, who, apparently, has the talent and experience to do what Musashino needs. With this knowledge, the employees of Musashino are able to work together, pushing hard to finish Exodus up successfully!
And man, it feels good.
This episode was not one that provided depth to characters that needed it, nor was it one full of fanfare and flourishes. However, it was a solid cap to the first half of Shirobako, a cathartic end to the creation of the anime, Exodus.
I’ve mentioned multiple times before, that if there was such a thing as a workplace anime, Shirobako would be it. The entire episode, is wrought with a sense of casual tension, as the members of Musashino continue to push, and push HARD to finish their jobs. In fact, the latter half of the episode is just FILLED with such moments, as emotional scenes are immediately cut off by serious, work-centric moments, and at almost every second, you see that someone, somewhere, is working on something stressful.
It’s a strange sequence, but one that works very well.
On top of this: Shirobako actually presents the final moments of Exodus, and I love that it does so. Having seen all the work that goes into just those few moments, viewing it for yourself is simply a great capstone, a great finish to an arc that had finishing Exodus as a goal.
So the employees celebrate, go out for drinks, and bask in the glory of their created work. It’s simple, it’s cathartic, and it works.
But wait–I can’t talk about this episode, without mentioning the themes, the characters that really made it good. This episode had a star–and I think, a very appropriate one, considering the type of series that Shirobako is.
Those Who Came Before
The star of this episode, without a doubt, was good ol’ Sugie-san.
The ever-present, friendly elderly character of the series, he’s been a constant presence in the series up to this point, but he wasn’t a character I thought we’d ever get to explore in detail. To be honest, I didn’t even remember his name up until this episode, but man, I am glad to see that Shirobako didn’t neglect him.
Sugie, and to an extent, Kanno, were the cornerstones of this episode, the blocks upon which Musashino was able to rely upon. These veterans of the industry allowed for Exodus to be finished, but beyond that, they allowed for the telling of a simple Aesop, one that plays perfectly into the themes of the series.
Simply put: their experiences spoke to the social dynamic of life. People live, people die. People learn, and people teach. And as time goes on, people gain experiences–experience that can eventually become wisdom.
It’s a very basic, dare I say fundamental lesson about life. A very Japanese, ethical, cultural way of understanding the way we live life, but what impresses me is how Shirobako showed it through action.
Subtle details–Sugie’s part in the creation of Aoi’s favorite anime, his ability to teach the rest of Musashino to animate more effectively, his learned experiences coming in handy, even in the new age of technology–it all ties together nicely, to show exactly what Shirobako to this point, has tried to show.
It has conveyed the feeling of life, the meaning behind trying to just live for your dream, in the day to day. From Aoi, who doesn’t know what she wants, to people like Honda who quit their jobs to follow their dreams, and Sugie, who is content with his family and skills, to continue living his own, Shirobako continues to feel, in some strange way, real.
I mean, with Aoi happily singing her favorite anime’s theme song in the car, how can I just not love it?
This specific episode of Shirobako wasn’t the most exciting, to be honest. But from a thematic standpoint, I’ve gotta hand it to the series–it ended off the first arc wonderfully.
Phew. Halfway through! And man, Shirobako’s still looking good. Any thoughts on the first half of the series? Leave a comment down below!