Archive for March, 2015

NovaJinx on Shirobako

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Nova finally posted the article, which apparently took some pains. Characters were praised, of course:

The characters don’t appear as string puppets acting out a set script through rigid archetypes and a strict division between the good and bad guys, but as concrete people with proper personalities, aspirations, and motives.

Also included was an auto-biographic segment, illustrating how Shirobako can hit home for any salariman, even a Finnish one. One curious bit that was omitted is Nova’s relationship with the character of Oukura. Initially, Nova wrote: “Shirobako finally delivered a character I can truly call my own.” But today, he said at #animeblogger: “I can relate to a whole bunch of characters in Shirobako. Can’t really call any one of them my own.” Everyone who watched the series knows what happened. And I guess that Nova felt better kinship with Oukura’s evident actions at first more than with later ones. It’s telling, really, and is a reason why I don’t blog with excessive personal focus. Doing that could add an attractive personal touch to the blog, if handled well, but you never know where this information leak is going to end. So, while I have a Shirobako character that speaks to me in particular, I’m not going to share who that is publicly.

UPDATE: A surprisingly respectable, but deeply misguided comment from a hater, prompted Nova to comment thus:

First of all, it’s pretty odd to call an anime show out as wish-fulfillment. For one, it’s saying that wish-fulfillment is fundamentally wrong, even if majority of entertainment is more or less just that at heart. It seems to me that ever since Madoka brought the Urobuchi-style double negative to the wider audience, positive overtone in storytelling has become somehow sinful, as if a story cannot be deep and engaging without being gritty and pessimistic. I’d approve the term with shows like Guilty Crown, Accel World, and Sword Art Online, which are clearly designed to appease the teenager ego, but with Shirobako it’s superficial at best.

Sure, I would have loved to have a workplace like Musani. The Corp was nothing of the sort. But to hint that Musani is a whitewashed fantasy dream of a workplace is just naive. There are a lot of companies just like it, usually in creative sectors where most people are in for the job for their personal passion. I’ve seen these small to medium sized firms dominate the work satisfaction polls where heavy industry corps don’t even qualify, and the reason why they never will is exactly the double negative attitude that dominates rigid corporate workplaces that stems mainly from bad management. I’m not saying that Shirobako is strictly realistic or depicts a “typical workplace” (I don’t even know where you got that from), but I find none of its setting to be completely outlandish.

“Every desperate situation always gets solved” is a statement that I find especially weird, as if this is supposed to be a bad thing. This is how I found the working life to be vast majority of the time. I’ve faced pretty much every equivalent situation to what are depicted on the show, and every one of them got solved one way or another no matter how dire they seemed at first. The worst people on the job were those who believed there was no way out and chose to rather sink than struggle, and try to push the blame for the failure on someone else (Shirobako touched on this with Titanic, as you should know). As for the few individual resolutions that you brought up in a belittling wording, I don’t see why they wouldn’t work for the given situations. A change of pace and scenery is extremely beneficial for creative process, as any blogger worth his salt knows. That’s also why my 3D-animator friends have ball pits, nerf guns, and general freedom to come and go at their workplace, which I could have only dreamed of.

And as I tried to say on the post which you hopefully at least read, in my professional experience jerks always have backstories, just like everybody else. I really hope you aren’t in a managerial position, because the worst bosses are those who believe that they don’t. Bad bosses subscribe to the simplistic belief that people are rigidly bound to their respective character archetypes (the jerk, the slacker, the honor student), and that’s how most entertainment, anime or otherwise, depicts people. Shirobako does not, which is already something that sets it apart from the rest. Having a backstory does not “justify” douchebag behavior, but it does explain it.

I’m not saying you should enjoy the show if you honestly didn’t, but I don’t really agree with any of the points you raised. To me it seems that you’d rather wanted Shirobako to be like those terrible dime in a dozen American reality TV occupational shows with their heavily dramatized content of people yelling at each other and the situation being irreversibly fucked up 90% of the time.

There’s no getting away from the fact that a number of people prefer the negative entertainment, but what Nova’s defence of Shirobako touches is a productive ad-hominem: the analysis how this entertainment taste is deeply rooted in the individual’s basic outlook.

Shirobako ends

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

There’s no wishy-washing it, Shirobako is an outstanding series. I had a small trouble accepting it at first, because of the meta premise. Anime about anime is inablity to see outside of one’s cocoon, is it not obvious? How many Hollywood writers set their flicks in New York and L.A. because that’s all they know? And did they have to wrap it around a large-eye japanimation moe protag? Intellectual bankrupcy, I’m telling you! And yet, so much love for the people making the final art possible went into making Shirobako, that it went far beyond a comedic pseudo-documentary. Competency in every aspect, too, of course, but primarily the characters were the attraction.

One extra note is that I said many times, “truly excellent anime cannot be spoiled”. That applied to Shirobako in full, as I watched the waves of enthusiasm on Twitter and knew about everything in the week’s episode. It only worked to whet the appetite.

Liked: Absolutely
Rewatch: Yes, R2

Oto and Pon on LL 07

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

They are proclaiming the Nico turnaround already, with some choice analysis:

Oto. […] This reminds me: I kinda like Nico now. Not because of anything the show has done, but because of what you’ve been saying about her off air.

Pon. Yeah, in the posts I’m just saying what the show does with her. I’m not ready to unroll the Unified Nico Theory yet. Last time my suggestion was that not liking her in the beginning is part of the effect. It’s something I do a lot … I’ll dislike a character, and then they’ll become my favorite.

Oto. That’s weird. You’re weird.

Pon. Fuck you. One thing I like about this show is the blocking, or, I don’t know what you’d call it … the positioning of characters relative to other characters, especially when there are several on-screen. That part where Nico’s inexplicably in the closet or in a classroom or something is pretty good.

Oto. It occurs to me that the show has done one thing to make me like Nico. She’s the joke character. We’re supposed to like when “funny” things happen to her. Like how her position on stage is the closet. Well fuck you show. I tend to feel bad for those characters and thus start wanting to protect them.

Pon. They got you. No saving you now. Gonna have to leave you behind.

Oto. Oh god. It was all part of their twisted plan all along.

Pon. It’s a pretty normal plan. Par for the course.

Good times. However, they are only on 07. It’s much too early to like Nico! At that time, I (ani-)noted “My problem with Nico is that she’s ballast. Her otaku sense was not terribly useful thus far.” That was the focus. Yet already they’re talking about a turnaround. But not to spoil too much, Nico’s stature is going to grow from now on. I wasn’t as receptive, so only I changed my mind about her at the time when her love of the idols was put to the test and was found greater than Honoka’s, way in the final arc. What are these two going to do then? Declare her the Best Girl?

Tamako Love Story

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

The Tamako Love Story was firmly suggested to me by Justin Brough. One day our conversation moved to it, and I mentioned how I dropped the Tamako Market TV series. Justin claimed that they fixed it all up in the movie. And yes, they did — everything that was possible to fix.

The animation needed no fixing to begin with, but KyotoAni went bananas completely with the best talent they had or borrowed, budget no object. In my humble opinion, they topped Disappearance. In this age of 2015, when son of Miyazaki is trying to destroy the anime with computers, this sort of thing is amazing twice.

And so, Dera was basically gone (with token appearances), thematic concerns completely erased, what else to ask? Unfortunately, other than the feast for the senses, there wasn’t much in the movie for me. It is Tamako’s love story, for crying out loud. Wonderful in its way, but I wasn’t into it recently. Did not even bother to root for poor Midori properly.

The worst part was how big a role the retard moe played in the setting. The idiot-savant Kanna is one thing, but Tamako herself comes off as retarded more than naive or innocent, especially in contrast with her friends Shiori and Midori.

Liked: Kinda
Rewatch: A party movie among others

Strange psychological effects of Shirobako

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Promised myself never submit patches or animeblog in zeitnot before bed, but real quick now. One strange thing about Shirobako is its powerful hold upon my semi-subconscious. Just two phenomena:

#1 – exceedingly powerful deja vu – completely false at that. Examples:

#1.a – in 12, 13:16, Ema says “watashi mo, anna fuu ni, e ga kakeri you ni naritai”. The way she said that was somehow evocative and I knew I heard it elsewhere. It took a half an hour, but I found it: I heard it in AKB0048 17, 08:02. Tomochin says it, and it’s “konno fuu ni”. Completely false, but seemed like the exact feeling, and so strong, too!

#1.b – in 16, Kinoshita says “planes are protagonists”. I know I heard this somewhere, but I cannot figure it out. It was more than a year or two ago. Possibly GaruPan. Not Strike Witches for sure. And back then it was for real, but creators of Shirobako meant a certain ambiguity and merely used it as a setup for the next dialog.

#2 – after 16, a tweet: “I did not see a grim grind like Shirobako since Figure 17”. That undoubtedly was prompted by Iguchi’s trials. Sure, as CKS once observed, we’re guaranteed a delivery for each episode, but here’s a thing: these episodes are never ending. For those not familiar, Figure 17 primarily deals with the protagonist, who is a 10 year old girl, having to engage in combat every other day, and it’s excruciatingly real. At first it looks like a magical girl and monster of the week type of thing. But the stress is taking its toll gradually, and there’s no way out — if she wants her world to survive, that is. Shirobako is not like that in the sense that Aoi is not spiraling into alcoholism as Musani struggles to meet the challenges of production. But it feels like that — I don’t know if I have the strength left to complete the series.

Onepunch-man anime site is up

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

The anime was announced a few days ago, but now they have the site up (h/t Chris Beveridge).

I followed the (re-imagening) manga on scanlations and it’s very good. The power inflation is pretty horrible, but we’ve not seen our Majin-buu arc yet. I’m really curious about the anime take, since a big part of the attraction is the art of the fights. Not sure how that could be translated.

Mike interviews Yoko Ishida

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Now here’s a name I haven’t heard since 2008, but I noticed that Yoko Ishida scored an OP performance in the first cour of Shirobako. And, as it turns out, she performed at Lantis Festival Las Vegas. Omo name-dropped her, but I didn’t notice. Meanwhile, Mike’s site had its feed broken for all of 2015, which I noticed only now. So, I went to check and there it was.

Can you tell me which anime moved you emotionally?

My debut song was in Sailor Moon, but recently I was moved by Strike Witches. Those girls work so hard. They fight hard and build their friendship, and that kind of story moves me.

I love your opening for Shirobako, “Colorful Box.” Based on what you know, how realistic is that show in showing the anime production process?

The people I know in the industry say “oh yeah, that’s true, that happens!” when watching that show. So I think it’s close to reality.

She looks pretty good in the concert pictures at AnimeDiet, too.

Nozaki-kun specials

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

For those still hungry for more, Nozaki-kun is being continued in very short specials, 2-minute format. Together, the little pieces form a beach episode. Pictured: Waka has been molested by beautiful girls and pleas with Seo for help. He’s so far forgot himself that he’s grabbing her (by the shoulders). Hi-la-ri-o-uz. And I’m not sure if I’m saying that ironically.

By the way, did anyone notice how full of role reversals the Nozaki-kun is in general? Mamiko and Kashima are but the two examples.

Hotarubi no Mori e

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Ostensibly it’s a movie, but the story is exceedingly thin. It could be told in 20 minutes easily. CKS wrote “quiet, unassuming little gem”, which seems to me fitting the intent more than the implementation.

Shirobako begins

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Shirobako is basically a duty anime: no matter what you think of it, if you love anime, you must watch it. I knew it before I started, and haven’t changed my opinion after 3 episodes. That said, it’s pretty decent. The first episode was somewhat weak, in my opinion, but then the first episode of Manabi was weak too. Even the best of them need to find the groove. I noted “Shirobako is starting to pull me in” in 02, where Kinoshita, the director, had his turn to shine. He was shown to be an otaku, but with mature, professional fantasies, backed by the experience, and — critically — with a power to enact his fantasies (subject to the very real constraints of the real world, of course).

Another thing I picked upon in that sequence, is a contrast between the way Kinoshita sees anime and the way anime is seen at Anglophonic blogs generally, at least in my feedreader. We received a very good look because, as a director, Kinoshita had to translate his vision for his subordinates. On the blogs, anime tends to be reduced to sex. At the best, we get divisions between yuritards and normalfags. It’s who fucks whom and the rest is icing.[1] But Kinoshita’s and Aoi’s imaginations are far more sophisticated (they, by the plot, are on the same wavelength — but more about that later).

Overall, so far, the best parts are those demystifying the production process, because I don’t feel much for the main character or her friends. She’s a nice enough kid, but feels a bit too magical right away, and a bit too Miyazaki heroine. But the scenes from the trenches are priceless. The most stuck with me was the one in 03, where “Gothloli-sama” “checks” genga, while Ema observes. But there was much more, wall to wall almost. Somehow, the detail, the angle of the portrayal is satisfying where, for instance, Nozaki-kun and Denki-gai‘s wasn’t (both of those deal with manga production). About the only time we saw anything in Nozaki was when Sakura and Hori were trying to apply shiage with comedic effects. Not so here. Shirobako is more like GA in this, except that it does its utmost to blend all the education into the action. It’s exquisite. Too bad it has to be carried by a little cinderella princess, but hey… It’s the anime we love. I’m looking forward to more of the same and have no regrets picking the not yet complete series thus far.

UPDATE: Omo adds the “later” thus:

It should not be surprising to see Kinoshita talk about Arupin’s core. What should be surprising is seeing the passion behind it.

[1] Among the most respectable blogs, Evirus is a standard-bearer of this trend. He’s trying to do it ironically, as in “these two seem to be unable to keep their genitals off each other”, but the result is what it is. Omo seems to trail, just to give you the idea of the spectrum. He was like that even before the 3DPD binge. As for the great unwashed, it’s basically they want to be Evirus, but can’t, and the best we get is the Metafap feature (which is great and all, but obviously focused).