MINOR SPOILERS ABOUT CHARACTERS Shirobako is one of the most unique anime Ive seen with a realistic take on the challenges people have to go through especially as new high school/college grads. This isnt an anime about cute girls doing cute things at their jobs like New Game is. Instead its about cute girls trying to achieve their dreams of making anime professionally and the sacrifices and hard work they put forward to try and make their dreams come true. Sometimes they succeed sometimes they fail and sometimes the progress theyve made towards their goal isnt what they wanted and they start to doubt themselves and their dreams. The way the main characters of this anime deal with failure and react to success feels so realistic and relatable that Shirobako couldve been based on a true story. Each character has their own personal struggles and goals that they have to handle along with maintaining their relationships with others at the same time. An example is one of the main characters Sakaki Shizuka an amateur voice actress who is struggling to find work and consequently has to work as a barmaid. While she acts like everything is going well with her friends in reality shes frustrated and ashamed of her relative lack of success when compared to them as they have steady fulltime work in anime/graphic design. Despite her best attempts she isnt finding work and her shame forces her to lie about her situation even to her closest friends. This story really hits home because thats the harsh reality for a lot of people in real life who have to give up on their dreams and Shirobako is full of these relatable realistic stories. This style of superb writing for the main cast of characters is reason enough to watch Shirobako but thats not all it has to offer. Having seen so much anime I found the aspects of anime production shown to be simply fascinating. The audience is exposed to all the stages of creating an anime through the eyes of the main character Miyamori Aoi a recent grad who is now an anime producer. We see almost everything from the preproduction and storyboarding process with the director to meetings with the artists that create the animation and music in anime and how the work from innumerable people all comes together to form the final product that goes on air. Through Yasuhara Ema an animator at the same company as Aoi were exposed to the struggles of a fledgling animator trying to learn the different techniques of animation while attempting to meet the expectations of her peers and animation director. The list goes on and we get to learn about how much effort goes into things like background art CGI voice acting and even explosions to name a few. Its captivating and shows the monumental amount of work that goes into making anime. Although I believe Shirobakos greatest strengths lie with its great main characters and its refreshing and unique setting it does a great job in other aspects as well. The humor is great and tongueincheek poking fun at anime the people working in anime and the production process despite Shirobakos staff going through literally the same things. The art and animation while nothing too outstanding is done well with very effective character designs that work with their personalities. The music is used at the perfect times to provoke emotion and the soundtrack itself is full of beautiful tracks. The only shame is that the lack of leitmotifs in the music makes it less distinct and memorable. Shirobakos weakness in my opinion is mostly in the director the character in the show not Mizushima Tsutomu. The directors character is a tropey otaku whose actions and behavior clash with the complex realistic main characters. The wackiness he brings to the show is funny and entertaining in its own right but it feels incompatible with the deeper writing at play. It forms a huge dichotomy in the tone where its outrageous when hes present whereas its normally silly at most. This causes the show to feel inconsistent as hes technically the most important person in the studio and that negatively impacted my investment in the story. However I realize its understandably difficult to write a story following the anime industry that is realistic yet still entertaining as its often brutal work with long hours and low pay so the directors antics help prevent Shirobako from becoming too mundane. Another issue is the disproportionate time given to the different main characters. The five girls are presented as main characters but its hard to consider everyone equally important when Aoi and Ema get 80 of the screen time and the rest while still excellently written are only given a few minutes in a few episodes to have meaningful development. Its a nitpick but definitely something that couldve been improved on as these great characters are one of the best parts of the show. Overall Shirobako is a wonderful breath of fresh air. Its one of the most unique takes on a comingofage story in anime and has some of the most human and relatable characters Ive seen. Its surprisingly educational about anime production and the industry and helped me gain a newfound appreciation for the people behind the works I love. Although not without its flaws I wholeheartedly recommend Shirobako for any anime fan interested in wellwritten realistic characters or the anime production process.
95 /100
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