NovaJinx on Shirobako

March 29th, 2015 by Author

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.