After being inspired by the fictional anime, "Luis Monde III", Mikiko "Kuromi" Oguro goes to animation school and and finally lands the job of her dreams at Studio Petit. Upon arriving, she meets the head of production. Unfortunately for her, he dies soon after meeting her and passes his position unto her. Now that she's head of production of "Time Journeys", it's up to her to rally up the lazy animator's and finish the second episode in a week.
Before falling into relative obscurity, 2001’s OVA Animation Runner Kuromi was the definition of “anime about making anime”. In a not completely unexplored field, with other renditions made by even the tenth episode of Paranoia Agent (Satoshi Kon, 2004) the indisputable champion in this area is nowadays Shirobako (PA Works, 2014), with also the advantage of covering this topic for two whole cours.
Nonetheless, as opposed to the almost methodical approach Shirobako follows throughout its run, Animation Runner Kuromi’s is much more comedy-centered. And not only because it doesn’t have much time to waste (much like the animators doing their job there) but because the
whirlwind of a pace it follows constitutes the very core of its style.
And to understand the comedy we need to have a glance at the Staff that created it. This OVA was directed by Akitarou Daichi, a pretty prolific worker of the industry that had his name in numerous series from the 90s and 00s, from whom we can highlight the likes of Kodomo no Omocha, Fruits Basket, Now and Then, Here and There, Nurse Angel Ririka or Bokura ga Ita. Also important to note the work of Hajime Watanabe, character designer for some of the aforementioned as well as other well-known shows such as Kaleido Star and School Rumble.
Out of all those, Kuromi has a look and feel that resembles Kodomo no Omocha to a breathtaking extent. Definitely the hectic rhythm and unique slapstick work wonders with the new subject matter we are presented with.
Ultimately, there’s an important moral to be learned here. Coordinating projects is not an easy task, no matter the type of activity in which you’re working. Both Shirobako and Kuromi depict problems in production, yet the former prioritizes a positive message built around the profession, almost like a love letter towards animation. The latter's message is even more fundamental, aiming for human understanding, hard-work and empathy.
Every anime watcher needs to experience either of these to get to the bottom of production and unravel the actual human work that any project constitutes, how rarely anime is made solely by the efforts of one studio but by an extensive net of connections that goes well beyond what we first imagine.
In this regard there are also documentaries and articles covering the different challenges of artistic creation within the industry. An example could be the one showing the crafting of Only Yesterday, with a highlight being how an animator spent an entire year drawing anything but safflowers. The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, so one might be better off getting their first exposure to the whole picture by this hilarious, yet definitely introspective treat.
Animation Runner Kuromi is cute, fun, and pretty hilarious too! The story begins when Kuromi starts her first day at work. Unfortunately for her, after her production manager faints from being overworked, she's forced to take his job and become the next production manager. This might not have been that bad if the animators weren't so lazy that they couldn't even be bothered to work at the studio most of the time. With a fast approaching deadline and barely any of the show animated, can Kuromi get it done in time?!?
The story itself is pretty basic. What really makes it shine
are the jokes and references (look out for Lupin III *cough cough* I mean Luis Monde III) along with it's unique setting. Be careful, because you might actually learn a thing or two about the animation industry!
The art is very cute and chibi-esque. This often adds to the shows comedy via exaggerated movement. It's not particularly unique in any way besides being chibi, but all of the characters have interesting designs and don't all look the same.
The characters all have different personalities, and part of the story is about Kuromi trying to understand each one of them so that she can get the animators to do their jobs. The only characters who undergo any development are Kuromi and Hamako, but considering this is a 40 minute ova there doesn't really need to be much.
I watched the dub, which seemed to be pretty well done. The music never stands out, but it does it's job. Sound effects are pretty good too.
So basically, you really don't have a reason not to watch this. It's only 40 minutes long and extremely easy to find (wink wink, nudge nudge youtube.) Check it out if you get the chance!
Ever have a life long job in mind? now, imagine getting it but you didn't realize the struggles that came with it. Moving on into the job the show demonstrates a compassionate female who works her butt off to not only get her job done but others. Her valiant efforts are recognized by her coworkers and little by little with their helpful aid they finish the job on time.
Artwork is outstanding! sure i could say it underrated but having seen this show makes me realize what the anime could have been if there 'was no direction'.
Characters are matched perfectly with their emotions.
Whether it is anger or confusion.
I came into this curious about the animation process, and seeing the overall production depicted in a visual format helps with the impression even if parts can be dramatized. Yes, I have seen this OVA after watching my beloved Shirobako, and after finishing I can say that Animation Runner Kuromi does enough to stand on its own, even leaving me with a smile on my face.
The first thing I noticed was how over-the-top the show is, first in its rather dark humor depicting the harshness of the anime industry from the perspective of the production manager Kuromi. We see her coming in as
a newbie, being dismayed by the comically impossible deadlines due to key animators not doing their jobs. Through learning the ins and outs of the process itself, her interactions with other strange, exaggerated personalities to get them to work is rather charming. The exaggeration serves in good effect both to convey that production managers have to cater to the artists as they are individuals, and also to just simply entertain as it is a comedy. The jokes hit where they needed to, and although I didn't laugh out loud or anything, I still enjoyed it. I'm glad the OVA didn't simply boil down to a sort of a wiki description that only happens to follow a story.
Moving on to art and animation, I do have some comments. Animation is very wild and energetic, which helped give off that impression I got of the OVA. Characters motions are overtly exaggerated to help characterize them and get us to care, as there are only 40 minutes in the episode to work with. If I had to compare it to a certain show, I'd say I got around the same vibe as FLCL in not the fight scenes. Now on the art, it's pretty standard for a 2001 show, although it is digitally colored. The styling is also a little dated, but characters are funky looking enough for them to stand out from the hundreds of other really generic spiky hair characters out there.
Sound, I haven't got much to say. In terms of OST, it felt like there were only three tracks played throughout the thing and on repeat. However, I didn't get sick of them, so that's fine. Voice acting, as far as the dub is concerned, is well done. The VAs effectively conveyed each character's wackiness, so no complaints there.
Overall, I didn't feel like I wasted my time on this and I even got some laughs all throughout. If you're at all curious about the animation process, I recommend that you take some time off your day and watch this thing. Even if you've already watched Shirobako.
What better way to show how the anime industry works than through anime? Shows about the anime and video game industries are gaining popularity, and feature everything from voice acting to hentai game creation. Hold onto your hats, things are about to get meta over here.