Anime is a fantastic thing, ain’t it? So, naturally, wouldn’t watching an anime ABOUT anime be doubly swell?
Shirobako is one of those anime that I’ve heard a LOT about, but have never gotten to experience myself. It’s been on my anime bucketlist ever since 2014, when it came out, but for some reason, I just haven’t been able to get around to it.
Well. Three years is enough time, I think. What makes the anime about creating anime so notable?
A Simple, Feel-Good Story
Aoi Miyamori and her four high school friends have a simple dream. To take their experience from their lowly animation club, and go out into the real world, to create their own anime, together. With the hopes of working together for a company, bringing their talents as voice actors, artists, and designers together, they make their impact in the world of animation, a few upstarts making a stir in the world of anime creation!
Or at least, that’s how one might imagine it going.
In reality, two years down the line, only two of them–Aoi and Ema Yusahara, are able to attain jobs at the company, Musashino Animation. Dealing with deadlines, communication errors, creative conflicts, and everything else that comes with being part of an animation team, the two slowly start to learn what they can about the industry, learning exactly what it takes to bring a story to life. Through it all, the two of them forge closer friendships, friendly rivalries, and of course, their own individual disciplines, all for the sake of creating a series they can be proud of.
And of course–they can’t forget about the promises they’ve made–to make an animation, together with their friends, who they’ve remained close with ever since high school. As tough as life is, the dream still lives on!
Shirobako, so far, exudes a unique sense of realistic optimism. It clearly takes place in a realistic world, where overworking, stress eating, and casual workplace disputes are commonplace. The conflicts presented are relatively realistic, helping make the characters–at least to me–feel very relatable.
What stays alive throughout it all, however, is a sense of casual adventure. The actions of Aoi and her friends all have positive pay-offs, despite the obvious strain of it all, creating a sense of struggle that does something many anime aren’t that good at doing–it’s rewarding.
Hard work pays off, teamwork works, and community can be found in odd places. These sorts of consistent messages have been created in only three episodes, and honestly, that’s rather impressive so far.
An Intriguing Look at Anime
I think it can be said, if you’re reading this right now, you have a vague interest in anime, at the least. And, knowing that, Shirobako is already–in my eyes, at least–making itself something that any anime fan has got to watch.
Before getting into the series, I didn’t think that the topic of the creation of anime would really affect my enjoyment of the story they presented. I thought that at the most, it would be an intriguing backdrop for a story that would be pretty good. But man, I was wrong.
Shirobako seamlessly integrates an explanation of the workings of animation, into the narrative it presents. In fact, a basic understanding of the process of making an anime–from keyframes, to story development, to voice acting–is all but necessary to understand the plot, and thankfully, the series explains it all as it goes. By doing this, it ends up being, not just an entertaining story, but a surprisingly informative one as well.
Not to say that watching the series will make me an expert in how anime is made. But man, having watched these first three episodes, it certainly feels like I know it a lot better already.
If you are, in any way, a fan of anime as a whole, then this is an anime you should watch. Definitely. Even in the first three episodes, it’s fun, playful, and above all, fascinating in regards to how it paints the process of anime creation, and really helps to give some perspective regarding the medium we love.
A World That Feels Alive
Now, learning about anime, and acknowledging the optimistic attitude of the series has its place, but what stands out most to me upon first sight, is the thought that the world of Shirobako is very, very alive.
It’s not like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, where every moment feels magical. It’s not a stereotypical Slice of Life, where the drama of everyday moments changes someone’s life forever (at least not yet). Rather, the magic is in the attention to details, the amount of personality that each part of the team has, and the feeling that every character, no matter how minor, is their own person.
Every character has some sort of personality, and feels alive in a way that I can’t quite describe. They all exist in their own way, have their own preferences, and all have their own jobs to handle, as part of a team. The fact that every character has some introductory text when we see them for the first time in any episode (so far) just adds to this.But really, this characterization is accomplished through attention to the little details. And I mean, a LOT of little details, ones you don’t often see in other anime. We’re talking who smokes, who hangs out with who, what foods they like, what sort of accessories they have on their desk. Do they like to work hard, or goof off? Would they rather be a team player, or focus on their own ambitions?
You wouldn’t think that three episodes of anime would have anywhere near that amount of detail for a few characters, but man, I know I was surprised.To compound upon this, that attention to detail expands far beyond simple character interactions. Even in scenes where more plot-relevant conversations are happening, there is a LOT going on. You see people working on voice acting, animating, hard at work, a sense of business that really puts into context, the social interactions that these characters have. I mean. I’m not sure if there’s such a genre as “workplace anime,” but if there was, then surely Shirobako’s gotta be one of the better ones out there.Basically, unlike most 12-25 episode anime, which exist to talk about a story and characters, Shirobako is able to also put effort towards creating a world that its audience might sympathize with. It’s the daily grind, the workplace interactions, the ways in which characters struggle through each day, that make this world, even in the first three episodes, feel like something special–something real.
It’s pretty great. Personally, I’m looking forward to finishing Shirobako–with the hope that by the end, Aoi and her friends will get to fulfill their dreams of creating an animation together!
Suffice to say, so far, Shirobako’s pretty darn good. I’ll be back in about two weeks with a full review of the series for you guys!