Archive for the 'shirobako' Category

Evirus on Shirobako

Friday, November 21st, 2014


Through five episodes, I can’t quite dispassionately decide if the show itself is simply good, or if I’m biased toward viewing it in a more favorable light because I personally find fascinating the subject matter and behind-the-scenes details revealed by the show.

Bloggers on Shirobako

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Ani-nouto was remiss in its core mission recently: observing what everyone else is blogging, especially about the anime Author himself is not watching. Perhaps we’re burning out. Still, it’s hard not to notice that Shirobako is gunning for the anime of the season, if critical acclaim is the yardstick. If nothing else, this anime should be noted (pardon the pun).

(Illustrated by the first image on Bing (h/t Quizoxy))

We already quoted Evirus, who basically wrote the definitive post on the topic, where he called Shirobako “fascinating”. Omo tagged it as dramedy, apparently independently from Mike with:

Shirobako [at 07] continues its march toward becoming the definitive workplace anime dramedy, by resolving Ema’s creative dilemma with believable and true advice that anyone should follow, and also highlighting the differences in the way family members act. It’s come a long way since its shaky start as an overstuffed quasi-documentary.

CKS coincidentially tweeted “Shirobako episode 7: Painfully real and without any easy answers. This show has very much grown on me as it has settled down.”

All in all, seems like a better show than was expected from the meta premise. Director Tsumoru Mizushima previously helmed Joshiraku and GaruPan, the former very well liked at Ani-nouto and the latter winning a mountain of praise (and helping JSDF to gain public support in a material way).

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).

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.

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.

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

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.

Asami Takano

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

UPDATE: More informed people identified this as a case of name collision in the ANN database. The other case I was trying to remember could be the same as well.

So, I was perusing seiyuu profiles, when… Wait, I’m not Hashi-hime and this is not my schtick. However, someone observed on Twitter that Cinderella Girls are sweeping through the cast of Shirobako with the announcement of Yumi (Juri Kimura as Aoi!) in addition to Mika (Haruka Yoshimura as Ema) and IIRC others. So, I went to check if ANN was up to date and noticed that Asami Takano (髙野 麻美) is one of animators turned seiyuu.

It is definitely not the first such case, but for the life of me I cannot remember who was there before. Although, among those I enountered, Mrs. Takano is the first interframer who made this jump. Previously it was genga artists. But I cannot recall any other details.

The animation lapse in Exodus

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

There’s only one animated moment in Shirobako really gets my critical juices going, and I suspect they might have done it on purpose, in a meta way that’s the hallmark of the series.

Generally, the creators of Shirobako try to get every little bit of detail, within the budget. A great example is Mrs. Okutsu’s drift, where she does the thing that Kyoichi Sudou mentioned about his underling, Shinji: the mastery of the 4WD drift is the mastery of steering while keeping the right foot planted on the gas. So, first you have to understand the steering with the gas (of which poor Shinbo was a big fan). Once you grok that, you cease doing it. And when the keeper goddess of Musani demonstrates it, you can actually see her steering inputs — in the outside shots! — and they make complete sense.

However, when we see the footages from the finale of Exodus, this happens:

The maneuver onee-sama is performing here is called a “side slip” and it is very natural under the circumstances. A pilot cannot see anything under the nose of the airplane and she must bank in order to look down. However, once you bank, the airplane starts to turn, and you must “give it some boot” in order to keep it going straight. You also have to give it a little pull and often bump the power accordingly, as slipping creates a lot of drag. The problem is that none of that transpires and as a result, the motion is terribly unnatural, fake looking.

Why did something so jarring was animated? Because they did not have a Sugie of airplanes who could do it right at Musani.

UPDATE: They fixed it in the BD release. But instead of animating a complex motion of the forward slip, they made onee-sama to side-slip left and quickly arrest the slip with a decisive right stick. Now I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of the maneuver was, but it looks believable.

The Goodness of Shirobako

Monday, September 14th, 2015

A number of my Japanese colleagues either watch anime regularly, or know that I do, so whenever we meet the conversation turns to what was good recently. Of course, last time it happened, I had to trot out Shirobako and then compress its essense into a conversation bite. I went for ep.12 as an example, and on reflection, there’s no better.

You see, I never had a high regard for Anno. While everyone falls over backward in reverence, I thought that Eva was perhaps half-baked and a bit on the psycho side. It became milked like Star Wars, too. Given that, Shirobako 12 succeeded in portraying Anno in a positive light admirably. At least I think I know now what about him is worthy of respect. It was a revelation, frankly.

To know the details of the revelation, one perhaps should watch the whole thing. But one example part that stuck with me in particular is how the meeting of Aoi and (K)Anno opened. In the course of the series, we visited a few homes, such as those of Aoi’s girl friends. All of them live in small, cheap apartments (except Rii), yet each place has a special personal touch. Some cook more than others and thus their kitchenette areas are more elaborate. Aoi, obviously, has her 2 toys placed prominently, and so on. This way to support a character study is nothing new, although it’s clear that someone among Shirobako’s creators spent an effort on it. One way or the other, the rooms look lived-in.

So, when Aoi enters (K)Anno’s meeting room, it comes as a shock that it’s completely empty. It has basic furniture, certainly, but otherwise it’s devoid of any small private artefacts… Except that positioned prominently is a giant model of a submarine in 1:48 scale, under a glass box upon a pedestal. The direction of that scene is astonishing. And of course, there’s more where that came from.

P.S. Another fantastic moment is that (K)Anno does not miss an opportunity to preach, such as mentioning that contemporary animators ought to pay attention the basics more. It sounds so amazingly him. But while his interviews serve to magnify this annoying trait, Shirobako manages to admit it, yet demonstrate convincingly that it’s not only natural and excusable, it’s small compared to his big vision for the anime, big thinking scope, big wisdom.

UPDATE: Chris e-mailed with additional details how the interior design of the room pays homage to EVA. While a great example of how good references are made, it’s not the thing upon which I want to focus. Otherwise, I’d ramble at length about possible link between the Surcouf and EVA and anime in general.