I actually enjoyed Shirobako a lot more than I thought I would. The show’s pilot episode has also managed to surpass my expectations in terms of story and depth. Shirobako starts off in the high school setting where five girls are indeed, as the premise says, striving to break into the animation industry and ultimately create an animation production together. The story is mainly told from Aoi Miyamoto’s perspective, a hardworking go-getter (doughnut-loving) type of girl who actually does end up achieving her career dream… and so do her friends. The rest of the first episode basically gives us a general layout of the complex process and hard time-crunching work that goes into creating an anime and I mean they REALLY get into it.
Initially I thought the story would continue in the high school setting with the girls going about in their anime activities but they did a great job of time skipping us immediately into real-time where Aoi is hard at work in the industry. The adult world portrayed here through Aoi’s eyes doesn’t seem too daunting or gritty in terms of realism. Rather, the atmosphere of the Aoi’s work world has realistic tones but keeps you entertained enough to keep on the story. Each of the characters are definitely unique in their own way. While Aoi is part of the administration and production stage of things, we see the quiet Ema (one of her old school friends and another main character), hard at work as a newbie in the animation stage. I get the feeling we’ll be seeing the other characters interspersed in the entire anime production process.
I’m also really impressed with the new voice-actresses in this series. I love how well Juri Kimura brings out Aoi’s enthusiasm and Haruka Yoshimura’s soft tones really emphasize Ema’s timidness. I’m a little worried at how the characters would potentially change or grow throughout the show because in Aoi’s case, we seem to be watching her in her everyday work life but it’s only been the first episode so I might just be worrying too much.
The only problem with the giant character is that it’s generally really difficult to remember all the other supporting characters of the entire company. Well, they’re not THAT important and the story dialogue is framed in such a way that it’s still relatively easy to figure out their roles in regards to what’s happening in the story. Many of the supporting characters are surprisingly interesting to watch with their exaggerated facial expressions. Naturally they’re not as uniquely designed as the main cast but they don’t hinder the plot and that’s all I ask for.
Whoever thought of this series idea is either really brilliant, or really wants to vent about the difficulties of their career life LOL. The story is a great way to connected anime fans because they’re literally showing us what goes on behind the scenes of the anime production stages. Though I had a general idea of what happened, I didn’t know the extent of the animation and it’s pretty cool to see it all happen in different departments with different groups of talented individuals. Not only is the show relatable to fans in this respect, it will also really help fans relate to the people in the companies actually creating these productions. Perhaps fans will be a bit more lenient on “bad” anime when they realize how much time and energy goes into making a series or movie. I can absolutely see this series becoming a favourite for many anime-fans this season, especially those who actually want a career in the anime or manga Japanese industry.
I’m totally giving Shirobako a thumbs up for weekly reviews this season… I hope it doesn’t let me down but I still somewhat have hope in P.A. Works to deliver something entertaining, (perhaps a bit emotional) and ultimately memorable.
What are you pondering today?