1000http://i.ur.com/AxR60xA.jpg Apparently working in the anime industry is tough shit. https://www.buzzfeed.com/danmeth/thisamericanisoneoftheonlynonjapaneseworkinginani?utmterm=.slZvE0MM0.ccWWOZNNZ Like really tough. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/20051102/animatorssalaries Of course we consumers are oftentimes oblivious to or far too willing to ignore the painstaking lengths the creators of our evening entertainment go to as to keep us entertained. Instead we grovel at whatevers on the monitor in front of us. Or we change our desktop background to fan art of whatever the flavour of the month is. Or as I am all too experienced at we talk mad shit on the internet. 480http://i.ur.com/cmPs2LR.jpg All of these things are fine. Im sure any creator would like people to watch and openly discuss their product. The point remains: we frequently only see anime at face value only to ignore the hundreds of faces behind it. The underpaid work hours the countless pencil strokes and the many individuals that form the foundation of any anime too often go unappreciated. Shirobako pays homage to recognises and is in many ways a love letterhttps://animethemes.moe/video/ShirobakoED1v2. to these individuals. Everyones a winner The story follows five former classmates as they attempt to navigate their way through the anime industry. Each girl aspires for/is working in a different field from key animation to voice acting. However the focus of the story is main girl and best girl Aoi a production assistant at a struggling studio. 480http://i.ur.com/NocfhvQ.jpg That said the cast is enormous. There are a ridiculous number of speaking roles as there are multiple characters for virtually every position in the studio. CG artists key animators background artists colourists inbetweeners sound technicians seiyuus assistants writers producers the director and the general manager all of them have their moments. Anime is a collaborative effort and Shirobako emphasises this. To top things off many of the characters are references to various real life industry counterparts.http://i.ur.com/29GkvEo.jpg Youd think that handling such a massive array of characters would be burdensome yet Shirobako does it with laudable finesse. Every character has a unique personality. In fact many members of the secondary and even tertiary cast receive some development. Whether its a twominute segment or a traceable evolution throughout the entire series nearly every character regardless of how important they are in the context of the central story feels genuine. Hell even Gothlolisamahttp://i.ur.com/OfNFiJ2.gif gets a spotlight episode. Some are more likable than others some receive more attention and others are obviously more gimmicky yet nearly all of them feel like real people. And thats the point. Regardless of their position and how insignificant it may appear each individual in the industry is an actual person. A person complete with his or her own quirks mannerisms passions goals and dreams. Its not a huge revelation but Shirobako does an excellent job at reminding us of this simple yet often forgotten fact. 480http://i.ur.com/szUynRB.jpg My little production assistant cant be this cute Which brings us to our main five. If I have one major complaint its that the screen time isnt allocated evenly enough amongst the five. This is because each and every one of the girls is so goddamn lovable. Im not one easily sold on moe characters but Shirobako ensures to go above and beyond with its central cast. 480http://i.ur.com/ItyL1IK.jpg Sure the girls are cute and thats a definite part of their appeal. And yet they each have elements to their characterisation that extend beyond this. Each of the girls shares the same dream: they want to make anime. They all go about achieving this dream in differing fashions they are all at different stages and they all have their own reasons. Granted some of their respective traits are less inspired than others and none of them are overly nuanced or complex. Ultimately however we care enough about each of them such that we actively root for their success. 7tWrE0freJI Aoi perhaps best demonstrates this. She is earnest conscientious and kind beyond impair. Yet she has her own distinct faults. At the beginning of the series she is far too passive and lacking in resilience. Most importantly she lacks direction in her life. Her goals are vague and clouded whilst she struggles to identify the reasons that motivate her to keep going. As someone whose future is not as clear as hed like it to be this sense of loss and confusion is all too relatable. 480http://i.ur.com/KLikVP9.jpg And thats the thing: Shirobako doesnt sugar coat the industry or the adult professional life for that matter. As weve established making anime is no easy task especially given how paltry the monetary rewards are.http://i.ur.com/ORAFhaN.png Just like in any workplace environment people get frustrated people become dissatisfied with their lives and people experience failure. Shirobako reflects this its characters can and will fail. In a similar vein it captures some of the internal political struggles within the industry. This includes workplace sexism intervening corporate interests and bloodboiling miscommunications between source material and anime creators.http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/20120531/polarbearcafecreatorcommentsfurtheronanime Indeed the plot which primarily follows the studio as they attempt to dish out each episode on time contains enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. The conflict and drama never really feels too contrived. It seems as if the complications the characters face were all experienced firsthand by the folks at PA Works. 480http://i.ur.com/BVlAQ4d.jpg However the show isnt really about this doom and gloom. It still leaves us with a hopeful message. As horribly clich as it sounds its all about clinging to your dreams in the face of this adversity to learn from it and grow. Its all so simple yet incredibly poignant at the same time. Its genuinely heartwarming to see Aoi endure her struggles find her bearings and become stronger and in the end happier as a person. Likewise with all the girls. 480http://i.ur.com/5ZCNVMY.jpg On this episode of How Its Made On top of all this sentimental stuff Shirobako is an anime about making anime. The series strives to give credit to and show its appreciation for everybody involved in the creative process and so it presents and explores each part of this process in delightful detail. Theres something humbling about seeing the key animators in action or learning about the difficulties in accurately capturing animal movements or understanding just how much effort goes into producing realistic sound effects. Even watching the production assistants running frantically from desk to desk and from office to office is eyeopening in comprehending just how much dedication is required for ostensibly the most menial of roles. Its quite the educational experience. 290http://i.ur.com/KUq6xVT.jpg 290http://i.ur.com/hTuUw08.jpg There is also an omnipresent meta level that only reinforces this sense of appreciation. Keep in mind that people had to make this anime about people making anime. As such when a character in the show learns about the complexities of feline movement by observing a cat some poor sod at PA Works probably spent an afternoon scribbling down notes regarding the movements of his/her pet cat. Or when an animator in the show is drawing some key frames an animator in the real world had to draw both the animator and the frames. Cue the Inception gong. Of course PA Works knows what theyre doing and this meta selfawareness can get hilariously tongueincheek. 480http://i.ur.com/eB6F5lQ.jpg This ties into another thing Shirobako nails: the comedy. Ive already talked about the character references to real life industry professionals some of which are gleefully over the top. There are of course references to countless other anime including some really obscure titles. 290http://i.ur.com/dil71im.jpg 290http://i.ur.com/JY4wTdr.jpg Like the inshow director comments you cant make anime if youre not a child at heart. Thankfully it is this very childishness that delivers fantastic gags like the Initial D production assistant drag racing the fight to the boss room and rooftop aerobics. qLMB1vtvuuE Visually Shirobako is not one of PA Works most impressive shows but the art quality is consistently good. Character designs are great even for minor characters. A small detail that goes a long way in adding a sense of realism to the show is the constantly shifting clothing designs. Not to mention theyre cute as fuck. 850http://i.ur.com/Z5bFvTE.jpg Aois wardrobe Similarly the soundtrack is not that memorable but its not particularly poor either. Voice acting is on point. Furthermore its fitting to note that for the seiyuu who played Zukachan the aspiring voice actress this was her first major role. Theres something endearing about the characters watching a completed episode for the first time. For many of these people both inshow and in the real world the show would have me believe anime is not merely a source of income. Rather it is proof of their collaborative efforts the outcome of years of dedication and love and the realisation of their dreams. Shirobako is for these people. 480http://i.ur.com/d95GaVQ.jpg But beyond this Shirobako is dual natured. It also presents a story that even those most unfamiliar with the industry can empathise with. A story about the tribulations of working life about deciding on and pursuing ones goals and about constantly moving forward. 480http://i.ur.com/Q9ncdop.jpg I havent felt this strongly about or rated an anime this highly in a long time. I tried to find flaws its kinda my forte but nothing really stood out. I adored virtually every second of the series. If youre even a casual fan of the medium Shirobako provides significant insight into the workings of an anime. If not then theres a simple but relatable and poignant story to enjoy.
90 /100
72 out of 75 users liked this review