One phrase that would perfectly describe Shirobako is simply ingenious. Surprisingly, the series has cleverly put together a lot of elements into one stand-out show. Aside from being an exposition of how anime series are made, it also tells us a cute and charming story all while boasting a splendid cast of characters and vibrant, dynamic designs.
The art in Shirobako is lovely. Although vibrant and dynamic, it is never flashy nor exaggerating. It is clean-cut and simple but more than enough to bring the story into fruition and to distinguish one character from the other. The sound is also kept simple, evoking the right feeling
at the right moment. Shirobako couldn’t ask for anything more fitting. The theme songs fit perfectly with the story too: inspiring yet also fun and relevant. All in all, Shirobako exercised its liberty pretty well regarding its production.
The giant cast of characters actually does not pose a problem for character development and, in general, for the series. During their respective screen times (no matter how little they had), they are well flesh out. The realism they portray is an exceptionally rare feat. They are not archetypal and overblown. All of the characters, especially the five girls, possessed and displayed certain realistic qualities that break free from the confines of typical slice of life anime. The series was careful to not be intimidated by the size of the cast and to handle it with finesse.
We follow the lives of five girls as they struggle to live their dreams in the anime industry and an unlikely animation studio fighting against all odds to produce quality anime. It is a tale of of the creative process, professionalism, teamwork, and finding one’s motivation. It is amazing to point out that Shirobako‘s core story is incredibly simple yet satisfying. The side stories are also quite enjoyable.
But what makes Shirobako stand out is how it is able to masterfully and effortlessly incorporate the core story, multiple side stories, and a brief but informative look into what goes down in the anime industry into one seamless and fluid narrative without ever losing focus. It is never overblown with the unnecessary. All these elements are treated with careful balance – something not all anime series have – that underlies the show’s ingenuity.
Shirobako is an anime that is “just right”. It breaks one’s expectations without betraying them. You just have to enjoy it as it is as you learn countless things about life, careers, and, of course, anime. The series is a force to be reckoned with and I could easily recommend it to anyone, especially to those in need of a surprise.
Shirobako is a love letter to the anime industry. It doesn't glorify it or portray animators as hyper-talented geniuses, and many of the characters in the show admit they do not even understand why they're working in the industry. But there's something that keeps them passionate about what they do, even if it may not be the most respected form of media out there.
Shirobako is also a genuinely well-written and entertaining story in its own right. It's a highly informative and interesting look at what the process of creating anime is all about, but it is more than that, too. And it is also
courageous for being an original series and for telling a story about adult characters rather than the typical high school fare that anime is seemingly incapable of escaping from.
If you are expecting tons of drama or deep, philosophical themes (in which case I'd argue you're in the wrong medium), Shirobako is not going to be for you. It is a story about the mundane, the everyday struggles of the workplace. Rushing to meet deadlines is often the most the characters have to deal with in any given episode. And there's something inherently appealing about that, I think. The closer something is to reality-- the more mundane it is, the more you can relate to and empathise with what's going on. Being able to empathise is perhaps the most important part of any story.
Shirobako does attempt to break away from otaku fantasy-land by making its world more resemble ours. There are obese characters, old characters, married characters and all sorts of other types that populate our world and yet are seemingly extinct in the vast majority of anime. There's definitely still a large 'moe' appeal for most of the female characters, but there is never a point where it becomes overbearing. Shirobako doesn't resort to panty-shots and beach episodes and other sorts of contrived nonsense in order to make the girls appealing. Their cuteness is more natural; it stems from their personality and their flaws rather than their body, even if Yano's stockings and Diesel-chan's side ponytail are perhaps the greatest things my eyes have ever witnessed.
I do have to wonder why anime are so afraid of including female characters outside the high school age range, as if they are somehow incapable of being interesting or likeable once the clock strikes 18. The girls of Shirobako are in their 20's and yet they are far more appealing (and yes, more cute) than the vast majority of teenage characters. Maybe that could be my own oldness speaking, but I'd like to see more variety and more 20-somethings like there are in Shirobako. There's far more that can be done with adult characters. Shirobako understands that life exists outside of high school, and it isn't afraid of showing that life.
But only talking about the appeal of the characters would be a disservice, as there is far more that makes Shirobako an outstanding anime. Most people who watch the show are going to have their attention on its portrayal of the anime industry and the animator's lifestyle, which are shown with extensive detail in each and every episode. Even if you have no knowledge of how the anime industry works, by the time you finish Shirobako, you'll have a pretty OK idea of how it does. It does not just focus on the animators alone, but also the lower roles (such as the delivery dude/lady), all the way up to the very top management who decide the voice actors and how the anime should end. It does lend to a deeper appreciation for anime as a whole, as you'll realise that even the complete stinkers may have sucked because of a minor managerial mistake rather than incompetence.
I cannot speak to how accurate these things are since I'm not an animator myself, but what I can tell is that the show is obviously idealised to some extent. It is, after all, meant to be a piece of entertainment rather than a documentary, so occasionally the characters will do things such as working at superhuman speeds or engage in the usual manzai routine for comedic effect. The story actually goes completely bonkers in the last couple episodes (with one of the characters actually deflecting bullets with the lard in their belly - YES REALLY), so it wouldn't be a good idea to expect Shirobako to be a perfectly accurate representation of reality. And then there's those talking stuffed animals that are never really explained. Magic, or something?
The fact that Shirobako is an anime-original series and not an adaptation of some other manga or light novel makes it an inherently positive presence in anime, I think. P.A. Works not only made a great anime, but something that is strictly 'anime' and not a property of some other medium. Personally, I am getting pretty bored of anime's role as the 'adaptation medium'. The industry would benefit from more titles like Shirobako, even if that means studios taking a bit of a financial risk.
Shirobako can be a bit misleading, though. The first episode creates the impression that the entire story is going to be about the five high school friends working together in the anime industry, but that isn't really how things pan out. It is a story about the events of Musashino Animation. Only two of the five girls work there as regular employees for the majority of the series, with my goddess Diesel joining in the latter half and the remaining two pitching in at the very last moment. Some people may find this a bit disappointing, but I thought it was the proper route for the story. Adult life rarely ever works out exactly as planned, and Shirobako is very much an anime about adult life.
It would be pretty ironic if an anime about animation had poor animation, so it's fortunate that Shirobako looks and sounds as nice as it does. There is none of the usual 'sameface' phenomenon that plagues most anime with a moe art style (which Shirobako most definitely has), and the backgrounds are often filled with detail (like an anime figure sitting on a desk to the side) which makes having a wandering eye recommended. It's a bright and visually pleasant show, while the music, even if it's not particularly notable, creates an appropriate atmosphere. There are no melodramatic 'PLEASE CRY NOW' piano pieces, and for that I am thankful.
Regardless of preferences and standards, I think Shirobako is more than capable of being one of the most enjoyable experiences anyone has with anime for a very long time-- especially so if you have any sort of passion for the anime industry. It's well-written and free of any noteworthy flaws, sure, but it's also informative and unique for a medium that has been plagued by sameness for decades. Why there haven't been anime like Shirobako until this day remains a mystery to me, but it has made me regain some hope for the anime industry-- it's still capable of creating great things, it seems.
~Multilingual review, English & Español: SHIROBAKO~
Hey... did you know?, in the Animation Industry an anime episode which is distributed to the production staff members prior to its official release is called "shirobako", litteraly "white box", that's because at time VHS tapes containing the episode were enclosed in white boxes and distributed, despite the fact that white enclosures are no longer used, the term still remains in use in the actual anime industry, thus the anime's title comes from that little particular, SHIROBAKO.
Simple but at the same time meaningful, a word which I was totally unaware of its background story, to tell the truth
actually even if I've been watching anime for years, I'm completely ignorant when it comes to it's realization and process which follow a simple draw sketch, hand made, into becoming incredible pieces of animation rich of music, effects and sounds. This is the first time I came across with an anime that handles a theme with such professionalism and realism imitating with, almost, absolute perfection the production of an animated series in the real world, exaggerating and overreacting a bit with the details, with the final purpose of avoiding to bore the audience, and such effect results in an ironic comedy sticked that enough to the realism in order to don't lose it's seriousness, SHIROBAKO totally succeeded in recreating a working field with extreme quality.
To summarize this series with just "an anime about making anime" doesn't describe it at all, actually I think it's a devaluation because in that way we're leaving behind the most important theme touched in it, and which is in my opinion, the reason it made shine this show: 'keep working to realize your dreams'. Unfortunately sometimes there are times that working hard doesn't guarantee the results we expect, and thus it feels like the sky fell upon us, like getting hit by a bullet train, extremely painful, sometimes it damages us more than any physical injuries might harm, there it is... the disappointment after failing.
"Not everyone who works hard is rewarded, however all those who succeed have worked hard!"
I need to say that the hard work is really shown through the show, our protagonists aren't passive girls, they've a dream and in order to achieve it they struggle and confront themselves with real life in their respective field of interest, trying to overcome doubts and obstacles, normal things for someone who is initially starting to find a place to fit in this society, after all, the approach to real life feels so genuine that we can easily relate to. Specially the ones who hasn't find a place in this world but keep working hard to find it, we'll be touched directly by the themes developed through this anime.
After the realization of an amateur animated short back in High School, Miyamori Aoi, Yasuhara Ema, Imai Midori, Todo Misa and Sakaki Shizuka, the Animation Club's members, promised all together to realize a professional animation work one day. As the years pass, in the present day, Miyamori is a 'Production Assistant' for Musashino Animation, Ema works as 'Key Animator' in the same studio, Misa decided to go for the computer graphics, Midori is still studying in the University but her goal is to write scripts and Shizuka works part-time meanwhile she tries to emerge as a voice actress. SHIROBAKO is the story about these five young women and the Musashino Animation, behind the scenes, 'what we don't see', of the Animation Industry.
Through the show's development the viewers experience almost each of the productions phases that make up the realization of a TV series, starting from the basic things such as obtaining the rights from the author, to later pass to the productive phases: Script, Storyboard, Character Design, Art Direction, Coloration, Computer Graphics, Sound Direction, Voice Acting selection, Editing and Assembly, and finally the end product delivery to the TV station. Everything obviously presented under the POW of the various characters that make part of this cycle of work, which going through the difficulties they might across, allow us to gain a vision, really close to the reality, of what means to realize a task in this working field, the meeting point, between all the different phases, is represented by Miyamori, our protagonist, which serving as 'Production Assistant' is in charge of coordinating all the works as well as being the bridge for each production's department.
The particular attention on details in this anime is really noteworthy, to allow a better comprehension of each production aspect, Musashino Animation was in charge to realize two anime series (an anime inside an anime!). The script was discussed, what message and which emotions should reach the viewers, redefine the characters in case the result isn't the wanted one, War fell upon the studios when it was confronted a 2D animation sequence to a 3D one and was asked which one was better, meanwhile in another department, voice actors selection was being held, another battleground...
However SHIROBAKO isn't only a documental-anime, since great quality was shown in the characterization of each character presented, casting away any kind of stereotype, going directly through the realism route, a result which ended giving the show a really pleasant atmosphere. The cast was really huge, even so, each one of them had an opportunity to shine in their respective working field, each character had their own identity and goal in life, which through the series, lead them to a route of personal grow and professional development, with a special regard for, obviously, our protagonists.
The complete absence of Fanservice, and the typical cliche scenarios that could expose the girls sex appeal as well as the fanservice yuri undertones, characteristic features for anime with a female-only cast, was something that allowed the anime to have a certain level of professionalism, specially considering the interactions between the characters, it was something I really appreciated.
Animation & Designs were labeled by P.A. Works, it's almost like a seal of guarantee, this studio has the fame of creating one of the best visuals available in the current market, and again, it delivered, characters' range of expressivity was superb, between the bests I've seen. The Sound wasn't completely appreciated, in part because of the anime's frenetic pace, an another because of the heavy dialogues and explanations, in few words the attention was driven off from them, something that I couldn't say it's a bad thing since the OST suited perfectly the scenes, it's just, they didn't were outstanding besides being a bit forgettable.
SHIROBAKO represents an act of Love towards the Anime Industry itself, paying a tribute to all the people who works in this difficult field, and in the same time, showing a side completely unknown to most of us, presenting an original format of entertainment whose protagonists are the people who made all this possible.
Oye... ¿lo sabías?, en la Industria de la Animación cuando un episodio de anime es distribuido al equipo de producción, antes de su efectiva emisión, se le llama "shirobako", literalmente "caja blanca". En la época de oro, las video casetas que llevaban el episodio eran distribuidas adentro de cajas blancas, aunque si ya no se suelen usar más, este término se sigue utilizando actualmente en la industria, así que el título de este anime deriva da esa pequeña particularidad, SHIROBAKO.
De simple origen, pero llena de significado, se trata de una palabra que desconocía completamente. Siendo sincero, aunque si mi experiencia con el anime está llegando a la década, soy completamente ignorante cuando se trata de la realización y procesos que permiten a un simple dibujo, hecho a mano, convertirse en piezas increíbles de animación, llenas de música, efectos y sonidos. Esta es la primera vez que me cruzo con un anime que trata de manera profesional y realista el verdadero trabajo que hay detrás de las series animadas, su producción y creación, paso a paso, exagerando un poco de las situaciones de cada día en modo de crear una comicidad irónica, aunque siempre apegada a la realidad, aquel tanto que basta para no dejar de ser tomada en serio. ¿El resultado? SHIROBAKO logra recrear un sector de trabajo de manera fresca y divertida de ver, después de todo, ¡tampoco es que cada profesión sea apta para divertir a un público!.
Definir esta serie sólo como "un anime acerca de hacer anime" no la describe en su totalidad, de hecho la devalúa, porque deja de lado el aspecto más importante, y que en mi opinión, es lo que hace verdaderamente brillar esta serie: trabajar para alcanzar tus sueños. Desafortunadamente hay veces que el trabajo duro no es suficiente y no asegura el resultado que se espera. Es ahí que se siente como si el cielo se nos cayera encima, el mismo efecto que sería ser atropellado por un tren, con la diferencia que es indoloro, pero aún así nos procura un dolor mucho mayor que cualquier daño físico, ahí esta... la decepción después de fallar.
"Trabajar duro no asegura el éxito, pero puedo asegurarte que todas las personas exitosas han trabajado duro"
El esfuerzo y la pasión por alcanzar tus sueños están a la base de este anime, nuestras protagonistas no son para nada pasivas, tienen un sueño y hacen de todo para alcanzarlo, confrontandose con la vida real en sus respectivos campos de interés, y en sus caminos se encontrarán con obstáculos y dudas, cosas normales para alguien que apenas esta comenzando a encontrar su puesto al interno de esta sociedad, después de todo, el aproche con la vida real se siente tan genuino que es muy fácil poder relacionarse. Sobre todo nosotros los más jóvenes, los que todavía no hemos encontrado nuestro lugar en el mundo pero estamos trabajando duramente para ello, nos sentiremos tocados directamente y especialmente por las temáticas afrontadas a lo largo de la serie.
Después de haber realizado un pequeño corto amatorial de animación para proyectar en la escuela, Miyamori Aoi, Yasuhara Ema, Imai Midori, Todo Misa y Sakaki Shizuka, los cinco miembros que formaban el Club de Animación al tiempo del liceo, se prometen un día hacer un verdadero trabajo de animación profesional todas juntas. Los años pasan, Miyamori se encuentra actualmente trabajando como 'Asistente de Producción' para la Musashino Animation, Ema trabaja como 'Diseñador' en el mismo estudio, Misa se fue por el ramo de la animación a computadora y trabaja para una empresa, Midori estudia en la Universidad pero su ambición es llegar a escribir guiones y Shizuka trabaja part-time mientras trata de entrar en el difícil mundo del Doblaje. SHIROBAKO es la historia de estas cinco chicas y de todos los miembros de Musashino Animation, detrás de las cortinas, lo que no se ve, en el mundo de la animación.
A lo largo de la serie la audiencia está presente en casi todas las fases de producción que componen la realización de una serie televisiva, partiendo de lo más básico como obtener los derechos del autor para después pasar a las fases productivas las cuales son: Guión, Storyboard, Diseño de los Personajes, distribución de los keyframe entre los diseñadores, Dirección Artística, paisajes y fondos, Coloración, Computer Graphics, Dirección Musical, creación de sonidos, selección de dobladores, montaje conclusivo hasta llegar finalmente a la entrega del producto final a las estaciones televisivas. Todo obviamente presentado bajo el punto de vista de los varios personajes que hacen parte del ciclo de trabajo, que pasando por las dificultades que se pueden presentar, nos permiten obtener una visión completamente apegada a la realidad de lo que es realizar un determinado trabajo al interno de este ambiente, el punto de conexión, entre todas las diferentes fases es representado da Miyamori Aoi, nuestra protagonista, la cual sirviendo de Asistente de Producción, esta encargada de coordinar todos los aspectos además de hacer de puente entre los repartos de producción.
La particular atención puesta en los detalles es este anime es para premiar, para permitir la plena compresión de todos los aspectos productivos, durante la serie se realizaron la composición de dos series animadas (¡un anime dentro del anime!). Se discutió el guión, que mensaje tenia llegar al espectador y cuales emociones deberían transmitirse, redefinir los personajes cuando no se obtiene el efecto deseado, se confrontó una misma escena hecha en animación tradicional con una en CGI, dando vida a una pelea interna sobre cual es mejor, mientras que en otro reparto se escogían los dobladores, otro campo de batalla...
Pero SHIROBAKO no es sólo un anime-documental, en cuanto grande calidad se demostró en la caracterización de cada personaje presentado, dejando de lado cualquier estereotipo típico, puntando directamente al realísimo, un resultado que sinceramente se aprecia mucho más. El Cast se compone de un gran número de personajes, aún así, cada uno de ellos tuvo la oportunidad de brillar en su respectivo campo de trabajo, cada personaje tiene su propia identidad y objetivo en la vida, que a lo largo de la serie lo conducirá en una vía de maduración y desarrollo profesional, con un enfoque especial, obviamente, hacia nuestras 5 chicas.
La completa ausencia de cualquier forma de fanservice y de las típicas situaciones cliché que enfocan el sex appeal de los personajes, al igual que los típicos tonos fanservice 'yuriescos' que caracterizan la mayor parte de las series que presentan un cast prevalentemente femenino, fue algo que permitió a la serie ser tomada más en serio, presentando un cierto grado de profesionalidad en las interacciones entre los personajes, algo que aprecie bastante.
La Animación & Diseños fueron firmadas por P.A. Works, y de verdad se notó, este estudio tiene la reputación de hacer una de la mejores visuales que hay actualmente en el mercado, y otra vez, cumplió perfectamente, la expresividad que llegan a tener los personajes es de verdad notable, de las mejores que he visto. El Sonido no se pudo apreciar completamente, en parte debido al ritmo frenético que se llegaba a tener en algunos momentos, y en otras debido al diálogo pesado, en práctica la atención fue completamente desviada, algo que no es necesariamente malo, las OST acompañan perfectamente las escenas, sólo que, no se hicieron notar mucho además de ser, un poco, olvidables.
SHIROBAKO representa un acto de Amor hacia la industria del anime en sí misma, homenajeando a las personas que hacen parte de ella, y al mismo tiempo mostrando un lado que era completamente desconocido a la mayoría, presentando un formato original y dando protagonismo finalmente ad aquellas personas que hacen que todo esto sea posible.
Out of curiosity, I've been thinking a lot about how anime are made, but it is fairly hard to get insights into the practices of this particular industry. And then, Shirobako came around.
An anime about the creation process of an anime - or some kind of meta-animation or animeception - that is not only a daring approach to new age infotainment, but also an excellent opportunity for the creators to put in their passion associated with this kind of work, and to tell a realistic tale on the hardships that newbies in this industry are likely to encounter.
Shirobako managed to rank very high in my
list due to the fact that it is done with an astonishing amount of perfection, especially in terms of storytelling. This show is not about documentation, it actually has a decent, even exciting story in which the factual elements of anime-making are embedded. The first anime I was reminded of was Bakuman, doing practically the same with manga but on a more entertaining and less informative level. Shirobako, on the other hand, provides for an almost perfect balance between entertainment and information. A bunch of girls decide to follow their dreams to become a part of the anime industry, which is an excellent premise for the fact that the transition between school/university and work life is described in particular. It is especially this transition with its associated culture shock that is hard to outline on an emotional level. In actuality, it is not unusual to get rejected by companies although you were educated well, and just like that, dreams get shattered. The pressure that is inherent to these situations is portrayed by Shirobako in a marvelous manner.
Shirobako minds details. This becomes apparent even in the way the anime-making process is illustrated with all its facets, from storyboard creation over key/3D animation to post-processing and voice acting. In addition, as the heroine serves as production assistant, various aspects of management and leadership are also subject of interest. This all leads to a very realistic picture of what (harsh) business and work life is about in general. As someone who doesn't know anything or very little about the creation of anime, you will feel enriched by the level of detail that comes with the explanations, although this might lead to a noticeable issue as well. I found myself overloaded with information during the first episodes, which led to the assumption of mine that Shirobako will turn out a mediocre show. This relativised mostly after I had gotten used to the setting and the pace. Shirobako would have done well choosing a more progressive approach than a linear one regarding the amount of information conveyed. This, however, is criticism on a very high level.
In terms of characters, Shirobako is one of the few anime that does very well with the side cast, which convinces especially through personality variety. The female main characters are very similar to each other: the typical inexperienced and naive yet dreamful and highly motivated graduates entering the job market. Although this made it easy for Shirobako to refrain from elements to enhance character depth, I don't consider this a problem for it being a necessary mean to equally approach the various parts of the anime industry from the same viewpoint at the same time. This also helps the viewer to relate to the characters in general and to reduce the already high degree of complexity. The side characters, on the other hand, apart from those that serve the comedic aspect, are well conceptualized to act realistically and provide a credible personality. This shows that the producers of Shirobako approached the entire thing holistically and honestly, which implies a great deal of passion that must have been put into it.
The soundtrack fits the show well and the OP/ED songs underline the basically happy and energetic atmosphere of the anime. Same can be said for the seiyuu. Where Shirobako really stands out is the level of detail that is presented in the images, for example in the backgrounds of the production companies' office that represents the main setting. I am honestly very impressed by how the arts support the realistic feeling that was intended to come about with Shirobako. This is what I, at least, expect from a masterpiece. Another big plus comes with the various versions of the second ending animation, similar to what Angel Beats! did, which adds to the perceived amount of effort that was exerted towards Shirobako becoming a remarkable anime.
I raise my hat to Shirobako. If you want to learn something about how anime are made, or if you like shoujo/josei series and mostly realistic work-related anime, I implore you to give this show a chance. I assume that Shirobako appeals to a broad audience, however, be aware of the fact that you might get bombarded with information early on, which might dampen your enjoyment in early stages of the anime. I can suggest, keep it up, it's worth it.
(A quantified evaluation can be found on my page.)
I think it's common knowledge that two of the most important things in the world are doughnuts and anime. But when you combine those two things with well-written comedy, a plethora of memorable characters, and a realistic and interesting story, you receive something so great that it literally revives an entire genre of animation that has been becoming less and less creative as years go by. This mixture can be referred to as Shirobako, which can also go by the name of Watch This Show Because It Is Probably The Best Thing Ever. I'm not kidding. There's so much packed within the confines of this
slice-of-work/comedy/drama that literally anyone can take something out of it. Whether it be laughs, anime industry know-how, or even tears later on, we can all benefit from Shirobako in some way or another.
Following the lives of five girls and their respective ventures into the anime industry (But focusing mainly on one girl -- Aoi Miyamori), Shirobako gives us a glance into the many different aspects that go into creating anime. Miyamori, being unsure of exactly WHAT she wants to do as far as making anime goes, falls into the position of a production-assistant tasked with essentially making sure things get done on time. But apart from being a peek into the life of a production-assistant, Shirobako is a tale of realizing your dreams and figuring out your place in not only the workplace, but the world as a whole. Of course there are obstacles along the way, there always are, but Shirobako shows how different people in different positions cope with those obstacles. This culminates in a story that is not only a blast to watch, but actually provides various life lessons and a bunch of general knowledge along the way.
This show originally caught my eye because I've always wanted to bust my way into the anime industry. And just like Miyamori, I've always been unsure of exactly WHERE in that industry I want to be. It wasn't until just a few years ago when I finally realized where that was. But, achieving that goal isn't even remotely easy. And Miyamori, as well as the other girls in Shirobako, show you just that. Working in anime isn't all fun and games; it is a job. And like any job out there, it requires hard work, determination, and a clear view of what you should do next and when you should do it. But that's enough rambling on the hardships of anime-craft. It's time to dive into the depths of Shirobako and figure out why it is just so damn great.
The OST for Shirobako is underrated. The music easily fits the tone of the show at all times. It's happy when it needs to be happy, it's sorrowful when things aren't going right, and it's well-produced and well-written. Even though it features over an hour of original music, the soundtrack to Shirobako is often overlooked due to the fast-paced dialogue and never ending onslaught of jokes the show shoots out at you. But one aspect of the soundtrack you simply can't overlook would be the opening and ending themes. I'm not usually one to be overjoyed by catchy songs spilling out happiness all over the floor, but Shirobako's opening just forces me to smile every time I hear it. PLUS, the actual voice cast of the show are the ones that are singing these songs. AND THEN Miyamori shows up smiling and holding a doughnut as the opening plays and you literally have to look away from the screen to avoid exploding due to cutesy-happiness overload. Bravo girls, bravo.
Shirobako has perhaps the most extensive cast of characters I have seen since Mahou Sensei Negima! But they need those characters considering they have an entire damn animation studio and you can't run that with just the five main girls. But the cast here is not only extremely varied, it is extremely realistic and extremely lovable. This show absolutely nails every type of person you will ever work with. There's the spontaneous and overly-confident dude, the quiet and knowledgeable girl always willing to lend you a hand, and then the fat guy. Who can forget about the fat guy? It's not just the characters themselves that are great either. The way they interact with and even intertwine with one another is what makes those relationships so believable and so important. After all, this is a studio we are talking about. There will obviously be problems within the workplace, but these characters are smart enough to know that they need to work together in order to accomplish a set goal. Oh, and not to mention that each one of these characters has their own unique dream constantly pushing them forward. I'm going to stop here so that this section of the review doesn't take up half of your web-browser, but I just want you to know that you will never find another cast of characters this realistic anywhere else.
Shirobako looks about as pretty as an anime of this genre can get. The art-style is consistent every episode and each character is drawn with intense care and precision. The color-scheme is bright and joyous, but not overdone to the point where it doesn't seem real anymore. Character-design is fantastic and each character isn't solely equipped with just one outfit (A problem a lot of anime faces nowadays). The art is subtly reminding you that these characters are basically real people. Real people change clothes sometimes. That's just how things work. Another aspect of this show that kind of just blends in with how great everything is and winds up being overlooked would be the facial expressions of these characters. While watching this, keep a close eye on the faces. Shirobako doesn't go through the typical cycle of excited face, sad face, and embarrassed face. Every emotion the characters must portray is intricately woven to a point where that face can only fit one situation. It is these different levels of human emotion that are put together so perfectly that really make the art in Shirobako as great as it is, and only overdone when needed to elevate a joke to the next level.
As I said before, Shirobako is a glimpse into the inner-workings of the anime industry that can be inspected by those who either appreciate or want to delve into it. It works the same way movies about movies work. Obviously the viewer will be interested in how movies work if they are watching a movie -- the same goes with anime. How often is a show founded entirely upon reminding you that it is a show? Answer: Not often. But it isn't just this that makes the story of Shirobako one to remember. What makes the story memorable is how the dreams inside of it play out. In the real world, things aren't always going to work out the way you want them to. Some times, the outcome or a scenario will be laden with sadness instead of a resolution. When that gets taken into account, the show isn't necessarily all that happy anymore. Shirobako becomes less about comedy and more about a girl struggling to realize her dreams. It is that double-meaning that creates an atmosphere where you get to have a great time while still caring about each and every thing that happens.
Maybe Shirobako isn't the most perfectly-woven anime ever created. But this is a review. And I just want to remind you that when reviewing something, there is a category that a lot of critics either miss or just forget about. That category is "Enjoyment". It's hard for me to say if I have ever enjoyed a show as much as I enjoyed Shirobako. In looking back on it, I can't ever recall a moment where I didn't care -- a moment where I got bored. The fact is that I was so constantly looking forward to seeing what happens next that Shirobako created an experience for me where the characters felt more like people I cared about rather than an animated cast just moving along my flat-screen television. I would find it hard to believe that anyone else who followed the show to completion didn't feel the same way.
Yeah, I know Shirobako is going to go on for another cour. I saw the advertisement that promised to introduce more characters and more problems. Still, there's a reason this show isn't popular on Nano and it doesn't help that nobody wants to read the words of a man who hates their surprise-darling show of the year each week. As such, this will be the last I'm going to write about it, because after watching twelve episodes, I have to accept the fact that Shirobako (and PA Works stuff in general) is never going to appeal to me and move on to hating Ikuhara's new
thing or something. But before we part ways, I want to finalize some thoughts regarding why I'm not into this thing.
Obviously, I didn't expect this show to explode in popularity (relatively-speaking) the way it did. But I sort of get why Shirobako appeals to the blogosphere. It has adult characters, which is considered rare in anime. It has snappy direction by the guy who made Girls Und Panzer, another critical darling that I don't really care about. It's about anime, and considering we're anime fans, that appeals to a lot of us. And considering that a lot of us have jobs or are struggling to get jobs, it's nice to see an anime that reflect that part of our lives.
But here's the thing, I'm not like most anime fans. Because you see, I "do" try to interpret things for basic enjoyment. I "do" want my fiction to not spoon-feed me what's going on. Even though I am capable of liking summer blockbusters and laugh-out-loud comedies, what separates the good ones from the bad ones tends to be elements that tickle the mind. And when my mind isn't tickled, it tends to shut off completely.
Obviously, there are limits to that sort of thinking. I like Mamoru Oshii fine as a director, but he can be obtuse to the point of being impenetrable (Angel's Egg, Sky Crawlers). Still, I don't like Roland Emmerich's blockbuster trash and there's a reason why Ingmar Bergman is one of my favorite foreign directors. Now I'm not saying Shirobako has to be at the quality of a Bergman film. That's too much to ask. But for all you fans of the show, answer me this: what exactly is in this anime for thinkers like me? Because being educated on anime production doesn't really leave much to the imagination.
"What about how anime production affects the employers who make it? After all, that's what you enjoyed about that one Paranoia Agent episode, isn't it, Mr. Flawfinder?" It sure is, but here's the thing: the employee died at the end of that episode as a consequence of his production fuck-ups. Shirobako's biggest problem is that it never goes beyond threatening the characters' work positions. That's not an inherently bad thing, but that's only intriguing depending on how the employees deal with said threat, and I'm not seeing anyone rob a bank in desperation. I'm not seeing anyone contemplate suicide. I'm not even seeing anyone make any kind of sacrifice to keep their job. I see people spouting textbook lines and...that's pretty much it. This isn't mind-racing. This isn't even a plot. This is just fanservice without purpose, and I don't do fanservice without purpose.
"But wait, Mr. Flawfinder! Considering who's directing the show, surely you must be laughing at some of the jokes..." Okay, I'm going to have to stop you guys right there. Aside from You're Being Summoned Azazel-san, Mizushima hasn't directed anything I've really enjoyed, and the reason the former appealed to me so much - or at least the first season did - is because it was mean. It subverted my expectations in clever ways. It was borderline offensive. None of his other works do that, and Shirobako in particular isn't even close to being mean. In fact, most of the humor comes from in-joking, and I hate that sort of stuff when it's the crux of your humor. Hell, I found it (along with the lack of intriguing plot and character) painful in those Expendables films, and those movies are supposed to appeal to action fans like myself. And if I can't like an action movie that's pure purposeless fanservice, how do you expect me to like a slice-of-life anime that does the same thing?
The characters aren't appealing to me because without good comedy and a good representation of anything I can sink my teeth into, there's nothing else they've got going for them other than their character designs and the fact that some of them are parodies of real-life anime staff (and we all know I don't care about those). There's no actual plot that goes beyond the characters living their lives. It's not even doing anything all that bad. It's just "there", and what am I supposed to say about something that's just "there"? Psycho-Pass 2? Whether you hated it or not, at least it was upping the ante regard its crazy failures each week. Amagi Brilliant Park? That's a highly-exaggerated comedic take on what Shirobako does, and yet I've written about every single episode despite only finding it decent at best because at least each episode succeeded or failed in a way that was fresh. Your Lie In April? It's one of the worst dramas I've seen in a while, but at least it's coming up with new ways to be tastelessly boring as it goes along - albeit not every week - and it's overall failures are fun to discuss.
So if nothing is appealing to me in a good way, nothing is appealing to me in a bad way, there are no hints to indicate that this will change with the show's second half, and it's not even giving me good views, what else is there? Appealing to me in an average way? Yeah, that's not my style, guys. Wake me up when PA Works makes an anime out of Jun Maeda's new thing. At least that has a good chance of boring me in a way that's fun to talk about.
Every so often an anime comes around that, while certainly not perfect, fully deserves a 10/10 rating. There are anime which get their 10/10 rating by being masterful works which envelope your senses and bring you on an exciting journey - but then there are also anime which change your perception, and change the way you think about certain things, which make them equally deserving. Shirobako is the latter. When initially hearing about and watching the first few episodes of Shirobako I certainly expected to find it interesting and insightful, I never would have thought that it would change my perception on anime, and ultimately
help me appreciate the entire medium in a whole new way.
So, all that being said, I'll do my review the usual way, but when I get to the "enjoyment" section I'll explain my above section~ Let me break it down:
Shirobako, in short, is an anime all about making anime. Starting with a short scene with five girls in their high school animation club declaring to pursue their dreams to make anime together, we then follow Aoi Miyamori, Musashi Animation studio and the other four girls in the club as they work in the anime industry. The show is split into two distinct halves: 1-12 is about the creation of an original anime series, and 13-24 is about adapting a popular manga into an anime series. We then see the various struggles associated with creating anime, going across all of the various people and stages involved in anime - and seeing how the studio overcomes them. I thought it was a really great idea splitting the series this way, since both an original series and adaptation have their own difficulties during creation.
Aside from the creation of these two series, across both arcs we see how the five girls from the animation club develop and determine how they wish to spend their futures in the anime industry, or whether they want to be in the anime industry at all. This shows a good perspective of how to initially become involved with the anime industry. Shizuka Sakaki's journey as she tries to become a voice actress was one of my overall favourites.
Overall, what the story does is greatly humanise the anime-creation process. Which is wonderful, and what I'll certainly get into more detail later.
I'm going to have to break down the art into two sections: Firstly, just the normal scene-to-scene animation; and secondly, the big set-piece moments and the animation of the anime they're animating (It'll make sense in a bit).
First off, overall the show looks pretty average. The character designs are quite standard (which is understandable, these are supposed to be relatively 'normal' people), and the backgrounds aren't particularly imaginative (90% of the show is set in the various locations that anime is made, so mainly at desks, in offices). The colours don't particularly stand out as anything special. Honestly, it doesn't do much above what would be considered standard for anime today.
HOWEVER, this is an anime about making anime - so they also animate the anime that they're making. And I don't just mean complete scenes, I'm talking about the line drawings, the storyboards, without the backgrounds, etc. I love it. It may be easier to animate, but seeing behind the curtain at how anime looks at each stage of production was fantastic, and it looked genuine (which it probably was). Then there are the big set pieces, every now and again there are these moments where the show really shines - where this big sweeping scenes take place. I won't spoil them, but I would be lying if I didn't say I wasn't occasionally moved to tears when watching them.
But speaking of tears, just one final thing to add - while sometimes expressions were exaggerated, I have to say that it all felt so human. There are a couple of crying scenes that, while slightly exaggerated, just felt so real (and once or twice I cried along with them)! For an anime that humanises the anime-creation process, the art had a big part to play in making that humanisation succeed.
The sound is mixed. Half the time it's just pretty standard slice-of-life soundtrack, nothing worth focusing. BUT THE OTHER HALF, oh yes, this is what's important. Shirobako helps illustrate the importance of sound in various scenes (when they're making anime), like when the sound is supposed to come in, what type of music is appropriate for which scene, etc. So, to not be hypocrites, in various important scenes Shirobako nails it. The final two episodes especially are fantastic demonstrations of how music can add to the weight of a scene, and really the majority of those final two episodes showcase the best the soundtrack has to offer (not to say that the rest of the anime's music is shoddy in comparison, but the final two episodes stick out in my memory). Aside from that, Shirobako also knows how to use silence to their advantage, able to add tension to a scene when appropriate.
(Man this is definitely my longest review!) To keep it short, while the five girls from the animation club are the main five of the series - each and every supporting character in Shirobako plays an important role, fleshing out and humanising the anime. You can tell that the staff behind Shirobako clearly were drawing from the people they have worked with in order to make these characters. Whether it be from the inexperienced but passionate go-getters, the slightly jaded and experienced cynics, those who talk big but ultimately fail to deliver (Tarou anybody?), and those who wish to simply better themselves at their craft. Shirobako's very extensive character list covers it. And you know what else? While, due to simply the enormous cast that the anime offers, I think the anime succeeds in fleshing out the majority of them to an extent which helps you connect to the characters. Not to the level of something like Cowboy Bebop, but it's definitely up there.
The characters offer up different perspectives on anime as well, which is why I truly love them. Some of my favourites were Shigeru-san, the old animator who is struggling to find purpose in the modern anime industry as it shifts towards newer, more moe art styles than the era in which he was in his prime. Endou, who feels as though his skills as an animator are less appreciated as more and more CG is included in the anime-making process - and his complimentary character Shimoyanagi, the 3D director, who simply loves anime and being a part of the processes, but lacks the art skills to do key-frame animation.
The key point in all of this is: They are all human. The people that make anime, from the director to the key-frame artists, from the production desk to the character designers; they all have lives, likes and dislikes, preferences and, most importantly flaws. The director is the best example. He loves anime, he loves making it, he loves creating a world and a story and seeing it come to life - but he's also childish, he doesn't like responsibility, he struggles. But ultimately the passion he has for what he does wins out. This is a story about making anime, but beyond that, the people that make it happen - and how they're so passionate about it.
If you, for some reason, skipped everything before this - here is the short of it. I love Shirobako. As the episodes went on and I got more and more attached to the characters (and I mean ALL the characters), I cried with them, became stressed with them, but above all became passionate with them. I felt as if I was a part of their failures and their victories, even as an onlooker.
Before watching Shirobako I knew that anime had a lot of people behind it, but I never really knew what that meant. Or, better than that, I never appreciated what that meant. Watching Shirobako has been as if I've looked behind the curtain and seen even just a little bit of what is involved in making this medium that I love. The way I've watched anime is now changed, I'm now more sympathetic to what goes on, even if I don't see it. The anime that I already love, I appreciate even more the obvious love and effort that went into them. And even those that I look down on, or don't enjoy, I can appreciate that human being dedicated their time into creating it - and that is astounding.
This is not a documentary, there is certainly exaggeration for dramatic purposes, and there are certainly some things that are added to make the show a little more interesting (Everyone involved in anime are somehow very skilled in drifting and street racing?). But if even 10% of Shirobako displays some resemblance to the truth of how anime is made, then I applaud it. Some anime have made me think about things, made me look within myself, but Shirobako is the first to change my perception of anime, all anime, an entire medium after I have been loving it for as long as I can remember.
But, even aside from all that, the anime is still fun. It's definitely the most authentic slice-of-life anime I've seen in a long time that is actually happy, and an overall positive experience.
So in short: Enjoyment - 10/10. I will certainly watch this anime multiple times over my life for as long as I watch anime. I'm hoping that Australia gets a DVD release so I can actually buy it.
If you have any sort of feeling for the anime medium, if you enjoy anime as a whole, even if you're just tangentially interested in anime: Watch Shirobako. Not, "you should watch" or "if you're into slice of life, you should watch"; No, straight up watch Shirobako.
Even if you're only into action series, moe series, meccha series, whatever - you need to watch Shirobako. If it changes your perception only slightly of the anime industry, then that's enough.
Shirobako is not perfect - I said that before - but it is what it needs to be, and it does what it needs to do. It humanises anime, gives the viewer an insight into the world of Japanese animation. The only thing I would've added to it would be the end-credit scenes actually showing the real-life process of making Shirobako itself, having the actual animators, artists, etc talking directly to the audience about what they do. But hey, that would simply be a bonus for what is already a great anime.
So do it. Watch Shirobako. I hope it does to you what it did to me~
The majority of the adult life concerns itself with the professional career. Enjoy your job, you spend much of your serious thinking time there, it’s how you make your money and ultimately do really anything. It’s important. I’m sure we all want to be NEETs, ideally, but of course in today’s world that’s hard to do successfully. So we sacrifice time in the present for a sustainable calling. And when we do get that job, after some time we may think to ourselves: Why am I here? Why do I do this? How do this relate to my passions and dreams?
Such thoughts occupy Miyamori Aoi,
our ever-passionate and lovable protagonist of Shirobako. In high school she dreamed of making an anime; now a young adult, she experiences the daily quirks, joys, and obstacles of working as a production assistant in an anime studio. She is indeed making anime come to life, although not in the way she had imagined; so for most of the show she ponders this question.
Miyamori is the main character, but as a whole, Shirobako details the life of an anime studio. Each of the many characters, each of whom contributes towards the making of the shows in some manner, has his or her own distinct personality and design. Like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Shirobako has an outstanding cast that doesn’t lose the realistic feel that is often lost when having so many characters. And the fact that they all work together as one big happy team, grown adults whose job description literally entails making anime, just makes me smile. Several times throughout the show you see many of the employees at Musashino Animation together in the same room, and to see these people talk about making an anime for youth so seriously is just… so gratifying. For someone who loves anime dearly, an anime about making anime is ambrosia and nectar.
What’s even more appealing about Shirobako’s characters is how they interact with each other. Being a two-dimensional visual medium, anime inherently carries what I will call the Character Problem -- the difficulty with presenting characters in a way resembling three-dimensional human life. Given such constraints as limited screen time, limited movement, stylistic and peculiar designs, and so on, characters that are drawn on the screen just cannot appear as real as in live-action, and even less so than in real life. Often, to preserve memorability, an anime may make its characters very flat and distinctive, to the degree such that they react to situations the same way every time. Some examples of lackluster characterization are Brook’s recurring request to see a girl’s panties and Sumire Kakei’s histrionic panicking for even slightly worrying circumstances. Yes, this method leaves you with memorable characters, but they certainly don’t feel human. After all, in real life humans are not so different from one another.
Which is why in hindsight looking back at the many fun personalities of Musashino it feels like I’m looking at the real thing. It’s amazing how P.A. Works managed to come up with that many unique characters that aren’t sharply defined as, say, the genin in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. There’s something almost ineffably empathetic about the daily shenanigans of Miyamori and her coworkers; there’s definitely something resembling real human emotions and feelings. Kind of how Dostoevsky through his writing succeeds in manifesting human thought -- notably Crime and Punishment, whose protagonist Raskolnikov resounded to me far beyond the written word -- but on the screen. It’s hard to explain. But by the end of it all, I had grown to adore the characters of Shirobako, almost as if they were real. I miss them still.
I could go on about basically everyone at Musashino, but for this review I’ll focus on its heart, Miyamori Aoi. Although not being at the head of things, with her role as production assistant, she has to make sure operations are moving smoothly -- that animators are meeting deadlines, that Kinoshita is drawing the storyboards, etc. -- which is often stressful. But Miyamori, whose infectious ebullience and devotion to the job can only lighten the mood, is a welcome presence, both to fellow adults spending hours drawing or creating or editing and to myself. And, I think, to anyone starting to think about his or her future professional career.
We are creatures of pleasure, and thus the prospect of working a 9-to-5 job five days a week with sparse vacation time throughout the year isn’t exactly promising. I believe that it is against basic human nature to enjoy doing work. However, doing anything with others makes it enormously more tolerable, perhaps even fun; such was the feeling I got when watching the day-to-day routine of Musashino. I have worked a 9-to-5 internship so I know what it’s like, and after watching Shirobako I’ve realized that that lifestyle isn’t so bad -- you befriend your fellow slaves, you gripe together about your plight, you make it through -- and I think that this is important to recognize. If at least for that, Shirobako is mightily worth watching.
For when it concerns potentially lifelong commitments, we humans seek out an all-unifying reason, a single important motivating factor that justifies the contract we make with ourselves. Miyamori asks herself this question, even though she does like making anime and doing it with great people. I guess the more pertinent question is this: Does there even have to be a reason? If you’re already on that path voluntarily, then you took the steps to reach that path, which means you decided to take that path, implying that there was a reason. Miyamori becomes a production assistant in the hope to come closer to her dream, of making an anime with her friends from high school. Don Don Donuts!
Which is where reality hits. From episode 1 we are immediately struck by how the lifestyle of someone working in the anime industry isn’t all peaches and cookies. Sakata Gintoki described the anime studio as the “modern day sweatshop”; and Shirobako very likely sugarcoats it, which means that it really isn’t don don donuts at all. This is why we need to support the anime industry. This is why so much trash continues to be produced, and this is why the stigma surrounding the medium exists.
As the story progresses, we see how Miyamori and her friends do become involved with the making of anime, but their dreams are yet far away. Take voice actors (seiyuu) for example. Watch any anime and you will be impressed by the sheer caliber of the industry’s voices. They sound so incredibly real. But each selected seiyuu is but one of many more who audition and fail. In general, breaking out in the fine arts is like winning the lottery, except that you have some control over your chances. In other words, you gotta have both luck and talent in addition to hard work. I mention this because Shizuka Sakaki, the aspiring voice actor, has it tough. Don’t expect her to get the part on her first try. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just how the modern day world works. Each spot has too many competitors. Just look at college applications.
That being said, Shirobako is one of the more realistic anime out there. The women aren’t all ridiculously endowed. Facial designs are fairly accurate depictions of real human faces (by anime standards -- see Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Code Geass, or Re:Zero for example). And, of course, anything and everything related to the characters, whom I already mentioned. Their portrayals of real-life types of people are superb, and besides the hair they couldn’t be more human.
And now, some other points:
Gigguk mentioned in his video “Music in Anime” how certain melodies, when played at certain moments, bring on the feels because they are associated with certain emotions. Shirobako’s main theme, a lighthearted, frolicking tune played on strings and what I believe is clarinet (and other instruments), changes throughout the show as certain cruxes are met. We see this technique often: Daenerys’s theme gets stronger throughout Game of Thrones, the Fellowship Theme/leitmotif changes and grows more complex to parallel events in The Lord of the Rings. But other than that, Shirobako’s soundtrack throughout can be described as… well, fitting. Yes, it sounds obvious; but there was something very apt about the quite sophisticated variety of instruments used and how the makeup adapted per the situation. I really liked it, and when I hear the main theme a smile comes upon my face.
In Gigguk’s video “If Anime Studios Were People”, P.A. Works is represented by a cute chick admiring herself in a hand mirror who says that her work looks good. Personally I wasn’t too enraptured by the marble eyes and spade faces of Angel Beats!, or the rather lean personages of Another; but P.A. Works did manage to have a bevy of attractive women in Shirobako. I’ll name Miyamori, Yano, and Diesel-san, just to name a few. Strangely enough, Miyamori was and is very appealing to me, despite her relatively flat chest -- which actually made her more realistically human, which coupled with her demeanor made her stand out. I remember her more keenly than, say, Rias Gremory.
The art was pretty solid. Characters weren’t too clearly cut and yet retained a good clarity to complement the backgrounds. That is, it didn’t look like they were distinctly drawn on top of something else, they were a part of it. The backgrounds themselves are what you would expect of today’s anime, warmly colored with a gentle palette. No complaints there.
I learned a great deal about how anime is made. I knew that it was hard work, but now I know firmly that each episode carries a significant amount of time and effort put in by many people behind it. Just like any other white-collar company, employees have to meet deadlines, work long hours, and go through office politics. In Shirobako the featured studio produces two different shows, one for each cour. The studio itself is comprised of various roles, such as the production assistants, animators, directors, CGI, music editors, etc. You know when the credits roll after a live-action film and the list is really long? Exactly. It’s amazing how these grown adults spend their lives making anime, and I’m extremely grateful towards Japan for giving us so many great titles.
Being an anime about anime, Shirobako also pays homage to real-life anime. I won’t go into detail and I’ll let you see for yourself -- but you may recognize parodies of well-known directors, certain studios, and more. Shirobako for being Shirobako is for that reason one of my favorites. I cannot give more kudos to those underpaid, overworked people over there for creating the worlds and stories and characters that I’ve grown to love, perhaps more than my own -- thank you Japan for Hellsalem’s Lot, thank you for One Piece, thank you for the likes of Yagami Light and Roronoa Zoro and Saitama.
So given the enormous skill and diligence required to make anime, let us all refrain from criticizing any show too much. A series can suffer from terrible writing, unoriginal premises, low-quality art, plastic characters, and so on -- but even so, every show that’s trash is still trash that’s not easy to make. And when you see certain gems like…
Kotonoha no Niwa, the best 2D art I’ve ever seen;
Gintama, the meta-anime that laughs at itself;
Shingeki no Kyojin, the most addicting schlock ever;
Clannad: After Story, love and tears and everything else;
and literally a bajillion others, you’ll realize just how incomprehensibly stunning anime is as a medium. I have never laughed more, wept more, smiled more, anticipated more, learned more, [verb] more than I have for anime.
SHOULD YOU WATCH?
Shirobako is a much-needed, refreshing story whose depiction of the working world doesn’t exaggerate too much or show too little. It just is. The real world isn’t too great, but if you look at life like Miyamori does and be cheerful, you won’t regret your actions and you’ll find your way. So yes, I give Shirobako the highest recommendation. It is one of my favorites and I’m sure to come back to it again.
There are many ideas the average viewer thinks about when they are asked what makes an anime work for them. Is it the driving narrative that help to construct the pieces of the story? Is it the lovable cast of characters that help drive the story to its own path? Is it the breathless, but invigorating and vibrant animation that help to bring it to life? Is it the overall palatable visual design that help to give the show its identity? Is it the mesmerizing voice acting and sound direction that help to make it memorable?
But what if it's a little more personal than that,
taking in account with the people who help make it and how the overall production goes? With so little information, it's hard to know what exactly goes on behind the scenes. Shirobako helps to alleviate this problem by providing the audience with a personal tale that focuses on the industry and the people behind it.
Shirobako follows the story of five girls and the struggles they experience following their dream in the anime industry. Their dream stems from their own little experiences of managing an animation club in high school, their hopes and aspirations held up high in regards to their future of wanting to work in the anime industry, not knowing the hardships and struggles that they will face in the near future. Although each have their own set of motivations and paths they set on, the show mostly focuses on Aoi, an amateur production assistant working at Musashino Animation and her experiences working in the industry she sought after.
Through her we see the basic setup to Shirobako, in that it's an anime about making anime with all the nooks and crannies that come along with it. From the writing processes, to general animating, to sound production, to editing, and so forth. It shows what goes on in the production with in depth and precise detail, never trying to dumb down its explanations nor barraging the audience with information. Instead, it flows with the backdrop of the story and helps to build and give flavor to the world it's set in.
Along with its details on the industry itself, it also gives attention to the people who work to produce it. The cast is immensely large and it shows, as each staff member have their own unique personalities, role, motivations, and backstory that help tie the story together in its attempt to show off the inner workings of the industry. Granted, it does comes off as overwhelming, but each character never particularly feels wasteful or comes across as flat, as they each bring an intoxicating and down to earth atmosphere and overall entertaining dynamic with their interactions. The cast always aim to provide differing viewpoints and details of the anime industry that helps build upon the subject matter and themes that it lays its foundation on.
But there's also a more personal story to take away from Shirobako. It isn't just some animated documentary on the anime industry, but rather a compelling character drama that focuses on the hardships of adult life and the struggle of a career in the fine arts. Some characters struggle to make ends meet, some have their aspirations crushed, some never get the break they deserve, some get stuck in the frenetic and tiring productions and lose purpose, some have their own vision compromised, and some just give it all up. While it's not afraid to show the reality of the world, it still maintains a nice, lighthearted tone through its humor and exaggeration. This helps give the series a positive, optimistic and genuine feel to it as it never leaves a certain comfort zone of its subjects to make sure it doesn't get too dark. However, it still manages to give the viewer a general idea of the hectic work they deal with while also driving their own development. It's all there to reinforce the central themes of the series, and feels absolutely genuine and believable in its manner.
The animation, art, and sound in general are good, if not great. PA Works once again has the usual efficiency in producing stunning backgrounds, and aims to provide a realistic look to reinforce the backdrop of the show. Animation isn't particularly groundbreaking, but always feels consistent and fluid, never exceeding more than it wants to convey. The overall character design have a rather charming and vibrant feel to them, trying to balance out a memorable and colorful design while adhering to a realistic tone. Soundtrack is simple, catchy, and never feels out of place as it skillfully matches a certain tone it sets in. And finally, the outstanding VA cast comprised of newcomers and professionals help bring their performances to life with a believable and exhilarating spirit to the characters.
Shirobako feels like a love letter to the anime industry and it truly shines. From the bustling and frenetic take on what goes on production, the feelings and dreams of the people who work in it, and the love and care for such a niche industry despite the madness that comes with it. Thus, Shirobako's beauty resides in the nature of the industry, not only because of its heartfelt subject matter, but also because of how genuine and relatable it is.
I don't know how accurate Shirobako is about the nuances of the anime industry, but what I do know is that it absolutely nails the heart of why creative pursuits are so challenging yet so rewarding.
There's a short but definitive list of the things that make Shirobako the absolute best.
1. This is an anime for and about adults. I don't mean this like it's super edgy extreme hardcore, I mean that despite its occasional goofiness, the show takes place in the working world and focuses on the struggles of its chosen line of work. The characters all have goals and challenges that relate to how
they fit their careers into their vision of what they want to be as a creative. Not that I don't enjoy high school supernatural adventure like the rest of us, but Shirobako dives right for an under-served niche in this medium and knocks it out of the park.
2. Production value (cue Super 8 joke). This anime is all gorgeous, all the time. It's not just a manner of consistently top-notch art and animation quality. Nor is it just the massive cast with an array of fantastic designs. It's all that, plus unflinching attention to detail and no cut corners on the aesthetics. The backgrounds are always detailed and contain little personality-adding tidbits, and all the major characters have a variety of outfits that keep the visuals fresh. This is obviously an all-out production from P.A. works in story and art, and it absolutely shows.
3. Everyone is a good person. The story of Shirobako is fraught with constant drama, and it always feels like the world is falling apart. Despite that, with one exception, there's no true villain in this show. There's conflict, but its all borne of people with limits in a line of work constantly pushing them to the brink. You can't help but root for everyone, even that dumbass Tarou or that prick Hiraoka.
Shirobako is an overwhelmingly positive show about connecting with your passion, and I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
Ever wanted to know how anime is made? The magic behind the scenes is always something I’m sure almost any anime fan would want to know. Shirobako opens up that curtain of magic as it brings together a show that discusses about making anime. It’s almost a dream like come true for anyone who has a fascination in the art of crafting anime. Thanks to P.A Works, that fascination can now become a reality.
As an original show, it’s noticeable for the fact that it’s also a 2 cour that ran consecutively for 24 episodes. As the series is related to anime making themes, one might
wonder how it can cover so much. The answer is simple: work. Like it or not but making anime is not an easy task. It requires dignity, effort, teamwork, management, and unparalleled responsibility to get the job done. The sheer amount of effort is accurately depicted in this show from start to finish. In fact, the first few episodes of this series creates the atmosphere of reality. Indeed, realism is adapted as part of this show when it comes to anime making. Everything is incorporated with high degree of detail from prototype drawings, character designs, and voice acting. Those are just a few examples but Shirobako gives you the idea of what it’s like to be in the shoes of these dedicated workers.
For starters, the story mainly retains its premise with every episode covering some sort of theme related to anime making. The title of each episode gives a good clue to what it may be about while also solidifying the details of what it’s trying to do. In essence, Shirobako is known for experimenting. At Musashino Animation, you can see exactly what’s going on involving the characters and their roles. With a mission set to craft a show about anime making, one should also clearly address its intentions. Luckily, it does just that by introducing our main protagonists. The main trio (Aoi, Ema, and Shizuka) shows us the harsh reality of the anime industry. Taking a few steps back though, the show also has a crystal clear narrative. It establishes the fact that these three girls has a strong dedication in their passion to making anime such as forming an Animation Club and even made a short show at school. For what is worth, this series is more than just a slice of life.
Another noticeable fact is the show’s large cast of characters. Besides our main trio, there are numerous characters that all have some sort of role in the show. As such, don’t expect much focus on the characterization or their development but rather on their roles. It gives them a performance and discusses their responsibilities. Each episode focuses on something related to the anime industry whether it’s the director, animator, sound producer, storyboard, or production. The list goes on and on but the praise here given is how focused the show is directed at these roles. From conversations to mechanics, each episode specifically shows and tells what the true reality of their roles are like. At the same time, the series also makes its way to show the creativity of some of the characters. It reveals their skills not just in a realistic way but also in a profound method to grip the audience in their ideas. Sure, some of these ideas might not extravagant or earth shattering but the point is to show how these ideas came to be. In retrospect, Shirobako makes the audience feel like you’re there; almost in a way like you are backstage with the cast.
While on an individual basis, the characters may not stand out as much. However, the series rebounds this back by crafting appealing character relationships. From a professional viewpoint, we can see how the working relationship between the characters are like at the workplace. While many episode discusses the mechanics of the anime industry, some also does this on an interpersonal level. It provides adequate reasons of why people are there in the first place. After all, everyone has a reason of wanting to get the job and being part of the anime industry workforce is no exception. It also clearly depicts emotions and personalities of the characters by doing this with its thought provoking themes. At the same time, it’s able to also squeeze in comedic moments (donuts, Initial D level driving skills, etc) to give the audience a gentler feel. As the series is about work, it’s able to show that there are rewards for being part of the anime industry. It also be relatable too because anyone with a job will know what rewards feels like and how your efforts aren’t wasted. For our main trio, they realize that as well as the series goes on.
With everything coming together, Shirobako can take a bulk of patience to get through or even get started. One should realize what the purpose of the show with every episode. And while it’s not an educational show, Shirobako conveys anime industry with an immaculately crafting style. However, there are times when the show feels one dimensional. After all, there’s not too much development in the overlay of the main story. Each episode ties in with one another with the principles of anime industry but some of them will feel dull or repetitive. The occasional dramedy of the series can also feel a bit forced. Resolutions can also come as abrupt while some conflicts really loses its momentum. Despite this, I give credit for Shirobako when it shows the characters’ talents for resolving those conflicts. Every character in this show clearly has some of it.
Artwork about a show involving anime industry? That’s almost ironic. While the series clearly neglects any fan service, it’s the artistic values of the show that will label Shirobako as a visual porn. P.A. Works’ efforts is easily recognized by the strong artwork of the series whether it’s character designs or setting. It establishes the foundation of the anime industry by creating that sense of realism. This includes the art of the studio and even the way the animation is done within this show itself. However, I do have some criticism with a few of the character designs that makes the cast looks a bit younger than they seem. While it creates a sense of growth with their roles as employees in the real world, they also look generic especially with our main female characters. However, it also does rebound this with some of the other characters who plays out their role as more credible mature adults.
Soundtrack is more or less on the weaker scale. Both the OP and ED songs are adequate but doesn’t necessarily create a sensational feel. Additionally, some of the character voices of the adults feels monotonous. However, I do give credit for the dramedy of the series. During some of the more emotional angles (usually sub-plots) and character relationships, voice mannerisms are well delivered to present feelings. This is also true on a professional level when we see how some of the cast are desperate to get the experience by expressing their tone in voice. The mechanics with that is something I think most people will find thought provoking.
So what is this show really about? Shirobako literally means White Box but there’s hardly anything plain about the series. Rather, it crafts a colorful imagery of what the anime industry is like from all angles. There will be some periods of time during the show where you may be itching to get through an episode because it may be something that is less appealing to others. At the same time, not everyone will be able to appreciate the idea of anime industry. That’s fine though with the given concept but I still urge anyone to give this a try whether or not you have a passion in the art of anime making. With a creative cast of characters, dynamic realism, relatable mechanics, and great chemistry between characters, this show is definitely one of the coming ages. Oh and donuts.
If you love anime and the process behind it this will come back to tell you again and again that you should watch it.
One of the many reasons is the story. Girls who want to make an anime together sounds something that can be cliche but the creators of this anime has made it original and fun. Its not one of those everything clicks at once and everyone is happy since everything goes well. No this anime fully brings out the process behind making an anime and not only that but the different sides of animation. Everything from drawing to voice actors. You cant
help but to love it every time one watch it. Although there are times you want to push one spesific character over a ledge his stupidity is almost errased from memory as the better and more fun characters enters the stage and really lights it up so much that you cant see that big insensitive idiot on the side. This anime has done what a lot of other anime cant and that is to stay true to themselves and go with their own pace. That is the feeling i had when i watched it and finished it. It felt like wow these guys didn't have to cram stupid stuff into it to make it fun to watch. It was a story about anime , its production and the people around it in its purest form.
I think the sound is were i would think ah didn't really remember much here or didn't think about much here. Which isn't that good but the sound isn't bad either its just normal with hints of good soundtrack in between. And the opening and ending is a matter of taste i personally found them uninteresting but again this is just the sound and music so it wont bash my faith in this anime at all.
Ok if i had to talk about every "main" character in this anime i would make whoever read this bored fast since there are like 5 and there isn't a big meaning for me to 1 make someone bored and 2 talk about every since then this review would be longer than it already is. Tehe.
So i will talk about Miyamori, Aoi who is what i prefer to call the main main character of the anime since you see her mostly while the other "mains" are a little here and there depending on the parts of the anime. I honestly like Miyamoris character from the get go. She is hard working yet has a weird like personality. like talking toys and pretend they either talk to her or talk to each-other about different worries she has. She is a typical character you want to do well with what she does and you always want to see more of what she can do. She is purely interesting and there isnt really an annoying side about her.
As a general way of summarizing her friends or other mains would be to say. There is an aspiring voice actor who struggles with confidence but she is interesting in the way she handles it. There is a aspiring 3d graphic girl who struggles with what path she should take onwards in her job. Then there is a drawer whos confidence or lack there off is sweet yet you also want her to find out. The last is an aspiring writer who is at college but is interesting in the way that she is an all round support to the other 4 girls.
As you see if i wrote one summary of sorts and how much i liked them all i would be writing wayy much and it wouldnt be that fun.
As i started watching this anime it just proved to me how much this is a must watch for anyone who loves anime and the production behind it. I liked everything from most of the characters to the story buildt around it and it never got too melodramatic or boring. I enjoyed this to a 10 and more.
Overall this deserve to be honored for the pure and clean work this anime is which is why i think eventhough i dont give it 10 in everything i still rate it as a 10. I think in its own it will be viewed as a classical anime for what it does. This anime didnt have to put romance and alot of drama to make it work. it just had to be itself from the start and continue onward.
As i have said previously. Watch this if you have an interest in anime in general and the production behind it but also because it overall is a great anime that i almost guarantee that you will feel after a time that you want to rewatch and just see this unique great anime yet again. There is a risk that it might sound slow for some which is something i should just say since i know it is that although i dont mind it personally.
Before this review continues I want to thank all the staff who have successfully created masterpieces as good as shirobako. this anime teaches me the meaning of hard work and how to pursue a dream that must be started from zero. because surely I will try to get experience it too. thank you.
Story : 10
I must say that the story in this anime explains that making an anime is very difficult regardless it becomes a good anime or not. storyboards to be thought through and then professionally have to adapt and have to cooperate well with many related people who have a variety of good
characters is fun and not, and ultimately get a priceless satisfaction, it is amazing.
stems from five young girls who want to realize the dream since high school as anime creator. and in fact realizing that dream is not as easy as eating a sweet donut, every episode of this anime gives a great impression and I can reach a stunning peak and learn that every process done in earnest will not fool the result. oowwww I am touched for the climax given to the story in this anime.
Art and Sound : 9
Made with enough care and balance, sorry I am a little unfocused with the art and sound because it was swept away with the plot of the story. hahaha but overall this is very nice.
Character : 8
very many characters in this anime that sometimes make me a little confused but it does not reduce my pleasure to the character because they all have their own role that makes it more colorful. I am slightly less amenable to the five main characters who turn out like drunk hahaha maybe because they are girls. especially Sugie san and Goth Loli Sama you both are amazing.
Enjoyment : 10
really enjoy every episode of shirobako, maybe because this anime takes reference from real activities so the audience especially me can easily understand what to convey
Forgot about what life is all about?
Needs inspirations and aspirations?
This is for you!
It talks about 5 girls talking about their dreams as they compete with the hardships
they go through and overcoming it along the way. Also, other people helping them
along the way.
I give this a masterpiece score because the anime is so detailed, no broken animations,
no background music/landscape average, the flow of the story is consistent, the way the
story express its goals was way too fantastic that I have watched this in 2-3 days constantly.
This is an amazing story which is one of the possibilities in life that
is your turning point.
After the last episode, you will feel amazed of this full of life content, the pro and cons of life,
Shows mosts of our reality in life (Slice of life, but exceeded). This may be a work of fiction
for others, but the way the anime portrays itself was magnificent.
Story? 10/10 (Already maximized to the fullest extent, wait, it exceeded my expectations!)
Characters? 10/10 (I thought Shizuka might be a reflection of "Even if I have not been picked, I will still strive for my dreams" character but there was still hope)
Musics? 10/10 (Even OPs and Eds of this anime was great)
P.S. I cannot believe its 2018 and almost 2019 but I still haven't watch this anime.
This is a must watch anime, of course you need to watch it constantly to truly understand the
Concept it potrays.
Have any of these questions ever passed through your mind while watching anime? “Why did that last anime you watch have a dodgy scene of animation in the last episode?” “Why did the animation style start to seem to slacken off as the show progressed?” “Why on earth did the show choose to not stay closer to the source material?” If so then Shirobako – the anime about making anime - can provide reasons for you delivered in an entertaining and memorable package. This labour of love from P.A. Works is one of my favourite shows I’ve been lucky enough to watch of late. It’s
jam packed with a large, lively cast who provide everything from side-splitting humour to some very hard-hitting emotional moments. For a show about something as menial sounding as making anime, it manages to keep your attention throughout. It achieves this with flying colours thanks to a great selection of themes which include self-worth, talent, imagination and motivation – all clearly and realistically explored from start to finish. When all is said and done it’s bound to give you a better appreciation for the process behind a show’s creation.
Our story follows Aoi Miyamori, a new production assistant at the fictional Musashino Animation. Along for the ride are her four former animation club classmates – Ema, Shizuka, Misa and Midori – all either successfully in or attempting to break into the anime industry. Each of the five carry their own hopes and dreams though reality tends to stand in the way of them.
The show doesn’t take its time dishing out the drama revolving around the five characters, keeping the issues rolling in on a frequent basis. People are sick. People slack off. Above all, people make mistakes. As a viewer, I was constantly on edge. It didn’t take me long at all to build affection for this motley crew of anime workers. I badly wanted them to succeed and was riding on every little piece of drama.
Every problem in the show, no matter how big or small, feels like it has a huge bearing on proceedings. Whatever happens never affects one person, it starts a domino effect across the office, and sometimes it can even reshape the entire final product. On top of this there’s plenty of complexity to something as seemingly simple as a show set predominantly in an office. While our story follows Aoi in her role, there’s plenty of things always happening around her outside of her control. Musashino Animation actually feels alive.
It’s impossible to talk about Shirobako without mentioning its sizeable cast of characters and its impressive feat of making none of them feel like a waste of space. There’s the gluttonous yet nerve-wracked director Seiichi, the confident and obnoxious Taro, the no-nonsense Yutaka and the calm-headed, goth-clothing-clad Ogasawara to name a few. And I mean just a few. What P.A. Works have done is created a slew of side-stories utilising these characters yet somehow managed to not let that drag down the core story. All characters steer well clear of any negative and overused tropes. These are some of the most well written characters I’ve seen in almost any form of animation.
The show loves bringing up common public anime-related debates and casting them into the spotlight. The most notable of these is the issue of hand-drawn animation vs computer-generated imagery. Sometimes the pace is dialled back a touch when Shirobako chooses to take a look at these ideas to explore them in good detail. Characters bicker about, yet gain an appreciation for, each other’s methods. It tell us plenty of interesting little tales: Choosing the right voice actor means trying to meet a lot of different demands, a key animation retake can be more crippling than you’d think and a communication breakdown can have devastating effects. There’s a truckload of commentary on the medium and also a handful of lovely throwbacks to some of anime’s most influential shows and people.
Art-wise the show filled to the brim with a lovely selection of backgrounds and attention to detail – nothing we should be surprised about at all when it comes to P.A. Works. It’s even the small details that sometimes go unnoticed, like characters actually wearing a variety of clothing, that breathe life into a show and those within it. They go a long way to showcasing each of their separate personalities.
I feel it’s important to approach Shirobako with the right mindset and knowing what sort of depiction of the industry you can expect. You shouldn’t go into the show expecting a hyper-realistic look at topics like financial and/or social life problems that can easily affect workers in the real world. The show instead chooses to focus on the production hurdles, not the lifestyle ones, and I have no qualms about that. I’ve seen some rather hilarious criticism over some scenes which have intentionally been crafted by P.A. Works as over-the-top moments. Had the show still included these scenes yet gone for the aforementioned broader (and perhaps darker) depiction of the industry then they certainly would have felt more out of place. Shirobako tells us from the opening moments the tone it’s going for – a lighter-hearted and humorous one – so don’t take everything you see as gospel when it comes to the production process. The show maintains a level of silliness at times and it’s better off for it.
This polished work had me going on all ends of the emotional spectrum. Characters mad me mad and moments made me overjoyed. This is a special show and one that should be put on a pedestal in people’s ‘recommended anime’ list. It’s one of those shows I wish I could wipe the mind clear of just to experience it for the first time once again. Congratulations P.A. Works. You turned a show about making anime into one of my most treasured anime.
Shirobako is yet another series I watched on a whim and which ended up surprising me in a very good way.
While the first episode shows a bunch of high school girls who're part of an anime-making club, the show nearly immediately skips past that part of the characters' lives and instead treats us to a completely different setting instead, where we see them several years later as they're either already working professionally, or at least looking for a job. This alone was enough to catch my attention, since it avoided the overly done high school setting that so many series end up doing.
The main character
who gets the most showtime is, by far, Aoi, as we're shown the highs and lows of the anime studio she works at as a newbie producer. It was really interesting for me to see the anime industry shown in both its good side, showcasing the passion and drive people have to try and make something they can be proud of, but also its bad side, with looming deadlines, quarrels and all sorts of hurdles that the studio is forced to overcome in order to deliver on its promises.
Despite being a show about something fairly mundane, it was really nice how much Shirobako showcased the whole process of making an anime, all the way from acquiring the rights to a series, to script writing to delivering the finished episodes, and the passion that oozed from each part of it. Besides the focus on Aoi, we can also see the her former schoolmates as they either work on the industry or try their best to make it in there, and the way they experience the whole process, learn from it and make decissions.
While Shirobako might be a bit too positive at times (which might be a bit off-putting for some people), I'd definitely recommend it. It's a short but sweet series that happily surpassed the expectations I had for it.
Shirobako is an anime about making anime. In this sense it feels very different to most shows you might have seen but different doesn't have to mean bad. At first I was a little sceptical about the show, after all, how exciting can an anime ABOUT anime be? Although at the same time, I was also a bit curious about what exactly would be in the show. If you've been watching anime for a while, then I really would recommend you take the chance, because the odds are that you won't regret it, it really helps you appreciate anime more. Even if you are relatively
new to anime, it is a wonderful eye opener.
So, how is the show presented? Shirobako does a good job of trying to pass on its message in the form of a believable story and very vested characters. We start the story following the lives of 5 girls who are all part of an anime club in high school as the year comes to an end. For some it is their last year while a few still have one year left, although no matter where they go on to work, they promise to one day work on a professional anime together. That is their dream, that is the goal that they look to pursue during the show. All these girls have their own passions within the anime industry, some want to be voice actors, producers, graphic and sketch artists and some don't really know where they can fit in, but want to be part of something.
The 5 giels aren't all given equal screen time, which in my eyes was a let-down since they all had such distinct personalities and you really want to know about all of them in detail. Shirobako concentrates on one of these girls a lot, Miyanmori, who has gone on to find a job as a production desk assistant at a small anime production studio, Mushishino Animation. We see the show through her eyes, her experiences and her interactions (for the most part anyways). She has a stable, friendly and professional attitude however is prone to stress (but aren't we all!) Shirobako then takes us through what it really is like to make anime, sometimes getting the point across via its bonkers characters or through very real, very grounded situations.
When first watching the show, you might find it a bit slow to start with, I certainly did and for the first few episodes I wasn't getting a great vibe. After all, this show doesn't have much action and a lot of the time it is set in the studio, so those looking for something jam packed with action will not find it here. Instead, Shirobako has wonderful dialogue and great character interactions to keep you interested, it may be a little slow but persist.
The show really gets across the struggles faced not only in production, but also of common recurring problems in life. This was what was really refreshing, the struggle and hard work needed to reach a goal were highlighted well, some characters struggled to the bitter end while constantly questioning themselves and running into one wall after the other. Things aren't always sugar coated to make it nice, but the realism is conveyed in a believable manner. Almost all the characters have had problems to deal with in even the most simplest of jobs, it's very easy to relate to.
Now, the biggest attraction of this show was the insight to what making an anime is like and in this respect you will not be disappointed, although for some I can understand why they might find the whole idea a little dull- although Shirobako does try to make it funny and quirky at the same time.
Going through the process of how voices actors work, how the people who are behind the drawings and sketches are inspired to just how difficult it can be to meet deadlines all the time. It really captures how frantic the entire process can be. It is also really fulfilling to watch the characters go about different aspects of building together an entire series. You will learn of the techniques they use as well as the new and old styles. You will get an idea of how friction might arise and how different people have different solutions around problems.
The art-style was impressive and you tended to notice it a lot more given how the show makes a point of art-styles itself in the actually storyline. The dialogue as mentioned before was excellent and the interactions very real- although there are some more over the top sequences with the sole purpose of emphasis, which is great. The OPs and EDs were nice, but mostly forgettable after having watched the show and it was only the 2nd ED that really stood out for me- they weren't bad but weren't amazing either.
Other than being initially slow, of the drag back for me was the fact that so much of the show is within the confines of an office and while it was interesting to see a group dynamic, the show could have benefitted from more action outside the walls. While this wasn't a major problem for me since I am happy to go along with the situation, I can see why this might be a major turn off.
Also, despite having mentioned it before, I would like to seriously point out how there isn’t much in the way of action or incredible tension (other than the stress of work) and as a result it can seem a down-right bore, especially to new viewers who are looking for action. The exaggerated areas, most which take place outside the show, like the car-racing sequences or the fictional left-shoulder devil and right-shoulder angel characters or just the extremities the characters take, does sort of remedy this.
Despite everything, this is a thoroughly enjoyable show as long as you aren’t predetermined in what to expect. It felt like a lively slice of life with plenty of humour. If you have been watching anime for a while, you will undoubtedly love the show even more, since so many different aspects and styles of anime are put forwards with great effect. In some sense’s it will polarise opinion- but you won’t know if you don’t try!
I most certainly will not be forgetting this show.
Shirobako is a great and unique anime that tells the story that nobody elses try to made, its about the anime industry itself, how to make anime ? How many people are involve in it ? The intrique and the hectic situations that comes up from making anime. From that description alone, this anime could be the most boring anime or the most interesting anime, and i'm here to tell you that its the most interesting anime that i ever watched.
First thing first, the story isn't like your typical anime story telling, the characters dilemma, problem, happiness its all told from a realistic view point,
you can easily relate to the story and the characters because of this. The plot itself when it didn't focus on the characters, it focused on the anime making process, it teaches the viewer how to make anime, what are the roles, the dynamic relations between roles and how all of that is combine to make a team that is capable of making anime. It also told the viewers about the hardship of scheduling, how one failure could destroy the whole schedules, its very mature and i can see from the viewers perspective that this anime is made with love, PA Works (The production company that make this anime) love what they do and love every anime that they are making. Everything about this anime is oozes with love, even though some scene like the driving scene feels out of place because they feel the need to make it exciting at the cost of realistic, its just feels off when been compare to the realistic plot.
The character developments is great for some characters and really bad for some other characters. From the main characters, Miyamori, Ema, Zuka, Misa, and Midori, they all got good development, they all got a really realistic problem that really hits me personally, its about what do they want to do in life, what is their dream, and how can they achieve it. They all grow to appreciate themself and others in the course of the anime. The trip and hardship that they have to face to reach their dream is both really sad and exciting when they finally reached it. I cry with tears of joy when one of them finally reach her dream after soo much hardship and failure.
For some of the other characters though, some of them got 1 or even 2 episodes dedicated to they development as a characters, and some others only got a little bit of development or even none in the course of the anime. What i didn't like but totally understandable is that, its really hard to remember all the characters name since they put like 20 or more characters in the anime, i can't even remember some of the important side characters name because of this. They nearly did it right but putting the name up everytime we see them for the first time in an episode, but after episodes 7 or so they just didn't put the name up again.
The background art and the music is really beautiful and great, its really add to the whole experience as a whole, its one of the most beautiful background art that i ever seen from an anime with actual complex plot. The sound suit everything well, especially for the sad scene. The beautiful background music will makes you feel the scene more. The charaters art itself is pretty cute and cool, the variety on the male characters is really good to looks at. Theres's a fat guy, old guy, cool guy, normal skinny guy, and a lot more variety. But, i know why they decided this because anime viewers like cute girls but all the girls in the anime looks young and cute at the point where i don't know who is older than who most of the time.
Soo.. Is it good ? Yes. It might not been the most fun anime out there, but if you want a unique realistic anime with a deep character development and beautiful art and music. I can even say its an educative anime. You would want to watch this.
Shirobako is a good choice for you if you want to have a look into the anime industry but without events and characters seeming like they progress in a natural or realistic fashion, but still giving you somewhat of a decent insight into the industry regardless.
You see, Shirobako does do a good job at putting on the line some of the goals and aspirations the characters want to do, even if it's half corny and generic safe responses and the other half is mostly what would feel natural for someone that has entered into the industry making a decision that fits their original goal presented
in a situation that makes sense. Well maybe it's more like, 60-40%. Well... maybe... erm...
Anyway, what it absolutely fails to do is present the situation of the working space in a believable way. You see there is this director who is, putting it mildly, the absolute worst thing in the world. He constantly procrastinates, he is usually indecisive and he had no sense of direction to the point that when he was asked what he wanted to do with his series, his answer was simply "moe". That was his answer for why he created the series and where he wanted to take it. I'm sure anyone, despite however rancid might think has gotten and maybe wanted to capitalize on the moe factor, if that was at all the case in this director's case, would have at the very least an idea on how to capitalize on moe and give a different answer. But, no, he said that because he was asked what were his original intentions with the series in order to get help from another writter, and that was his answer. And he's already known in the industry for his poor direction and what not, because he had failed on directing another original work called "Jiggly Jiggly Heaven" which is exactly what you're probably thinking. I won't represent him as antagonistically as I can, but trust me, he seems very unqualified all throughout the first cour.
The reason I'm mentioning all this and I'm stopping here is because I want to ask you the following questions:
Would you work under him?
Now think a bit before you answer because these are the guarantees of your job: you will probably be forced to take a lot of retakes due to his indecisiveness and work under a very limited timespan due to how much he's delayed writing the storyboards due to him procrastinating, which would make the retakes that much more difficult. Also keep in mind that he has a terrible reputation and if you're there and he fails he probably is going to drag you down with him as well. Maybe you're asking yourself how would I have known which, okay, good point, then I'm gonna ask you the following question instead.
What would you do when you found out he's this way?
Would you continue working so the anime won't be a permanent stain on your resume and make it as great as possible, would you bail because as soon as you could before you would be able to have it as a permanent stain on you or would you have an outburst at the director and tell him to get his shit together? Or would you simply just quit as soon as the project is done? I mean, you would feel at every point like you're in a sinking ship, right? Or maybe if you wouldn't, someone else at least would?
Except that's not what happens. Most people continue working so the work won't leave a permanent impact on their reputation in the industry but there is absolutely nobody, except one guy who downright forces the director to work. There's nobody that expresses any sort of frustration at the chaos the director has caused at things that are completely his fault. They had opportunities to do so with a bunch of characters, but no, they instead chose this path with this character: "Everyone struggles until the asshole finally fucking gets some inspiration and then everything ends fine and dandy." I can't imagine in a realistic situation where there wouldn't be at least one person lashing out or at the very least talking the director behind his back for being this pathetic at what he's doing, hell, I barely can imagine someone being this tolerant in a fictional scenario built in my mind. Instead people just take it and do their work and eventually the director stops fucking around. You could've given the director some motivation to correct his ways through consequences of his work force simply not accepting what he's doing by lashing out at him or quitting or anything. But, no, that would make too much sense. Lets instead have his actions have very little voiced consequences and everything ending up pretty much okay.
And this is the main problem with Shirobako, whenever there is a problem, everything ends up okay in the end, to the point where you get to the content of the second cour, where everything works even better in the project and the director isn't even a problem anymore, whenever a "oh my god a setback" happens there's no sense of urgency behind it and the tension from this type of situation is pretty much gone. There's no consequence to things going wrong other than, okay, lets work a little bit harder mkay? Okay. You're writing a story about an industry, there's always a risk for someone doing a bad job, but quitting and being fired are totally natural responses a person or a company could take in these situations. Failing a deadline or the work suffering a drop in quality are also possible consequences of incompetence or simply harsh conditions. As a result of this, none of the events happening in Shirobako have any dramatic value, despite trying to build them up and failing spectacularly at them. You know they will strive to make things in the series as optimistic as possible while creating tension with only one result, you feeling relieved it worked out.
It looked like all the characters were pulling punches in the hopes that things will work out and they will somehow manage, which made me feel very cynical about the whole experiences they've went through.
That was what mostly almost kinda made me drop the series a bunch of times but instead I continued watching the series because quite frankly, I enjoyed the parts where Shirobako presented the motivations and ambitions the characters had in the industry, or their loss of motivation and how they got over it. It does do a genuinely good job with that whenever they don't go on the safe route and offer some sort of insightful advice through a conclusion you could draw out from what the characters experience which is a good thing to see. Like what happens when you lose inspiration (no, I'm not talking about the director) or when you are stuck in a loop where you don't get any experience that would help you improve in the future. If the story focused more on this aspect of what it was trying to do while creating tension and focusing more on how to get over yourself and how you've achieved that and what consequences this could have not only on you but also on the team, I'm sure this could've been quite good, but it wasn't. I thought this aspect was enough for me to second guess calling this show bad, but I can't say it's fine for the lack of repercussions for every problem in the series that has appeared in it and making it seem quite unrealistic.
The art style of the show is generally good, given its a show about creating anime and animation plays a big part in it, most things are animated well. Everything looks well put together and you could technically see the process behind it too, which will probably help you have a better appreciation of it. The art style is a bit too cutsey for me but, I can say that it looked good regardless. The sound was generally fine too, although if I caught a glimpse of either the intro or ending I would immediately get turned off because I hate j-pop, and there are some downright cringy moments in the series that are meant to be heartwarming when the main character along with her friends go on and say this: "DON DON DONUTS LETS GO NUTS!". Ugh.
As you might or might have not guessed from what I've already said, the purpose of the characters is mostly to display one aspect of the industry or that area of expertise through either shared wisdom or experience or the difficulty said person might have in their area. The situations presented by them tend to be hit and miss but they usually are enjoyable enough for what they're trying to do and they tend to have some insight into them.
If you think you'd be frustrated by the lack of consequences the problems in the series, like the poor direction or the problems created by the staff itself, having little to no consequences to the overall quality on the series could be a hurdle for you, or the fact that the interpersonal relationships of the series being treated so casually is a really bad thing just like me, I can't recommend this series to you at all. But if you think some of the insight Shirobako might provide into the industry might be worth it, although I would suggest looking for some documentaries that might offer the same insight into the industry from real people talking about real experiences, you could have a look into it. As I've said, it does present some insightful situations and how people get over their own hurdles, which might be something you want. But I don't know if that would justify it as a good series for you, given it's possible you could get the same feedback from different sources. I managed to enjoy Shirobako enough to finish it and thought it was an okay enough experience, despite the hurdles, but I can see them being too much for other people as well.
'Bakuman' became a cult hit by giving manga fans a look inside the industry. If the manga about manga can do well, why not an anime about anime? Much like 'Bakuman', 'Shirobako' delivers a high level of enjoyment and information, but threadbare plot and character development keep it from being anything beyond a fun ride.
There is very little story to speak of, as what plot exists is there solely to deliver lessons about the anime industry or occasionally set-up a debate over some facet of it (such as 2D vs CGI animation, or the politics behind choosing a voice cast). There are occasional side-trips to
visit the personal lives of 5 main girls, but these serve as little more than breathing spaces between information-heavy lessons on how anime is made. The 'slice-of-life' elements have no real drama or tension, as every problem is inevitably solved by hard work and patience (much like Bakuman, this series is an optimistic look at the industry). Like I said earlier, the plot exists as an excuse to look inside the anime industry- and as a look inside it's informative and entertaining, but it's hardly deep or moving.
-Art & Sound-
I have little to say on either of these segments, so I'll tackle them both at once. Production values are as high as they need to be, but nothing spectacular. The soundtrack is light and upbeat, the voice actors do their jobs, and the OPs and EDs are fine. Art is your pretty standard for a show centering on cutesy girls, but quality is solid. (side note, for a bit of a 'meta' moment, 'Shirobako' shows that CGI is most often used in anime today to handle complex moving machines like cars- and the most obvious use of CGI in the show are the cars).
Quick, tell me what the main 5 girls want to do besides make anime? Yes, they each have some quirk to distinguish themselves from each other, but that's hardly depth or internal conflict. They are plot devices and need to be treated as such. Since MAIN main character Aoi is a production assistant, it means that 'Shirobako' can seamlessly move between the various stages of anime production (if she were specialized and stuck in say, the sound department, the plot would get stale quickly- sound designers are rarely sent to draw key animation frames after all). Meanwhile, by giving Aoi a friend in each major area of anime production 'Shirobako' can get in-depth on a particular subject when it wants to. The side characters are one-trick ponies with little development as individuals. There are occasionally *tiny* changes and developments (Director Kinoshita is more self-confident and dependable and Taro is a bit less useless in the second arc, for example) but nothing that would exactly be confused for the Valhalla chapter of 'Vinland Saga'. The cast is so large, and individual development so minimal that each character is introduced with on-screen text giving their name and job title the first few times they appear just to help the viewer keep track. Like the plot, the characters serve as a vehicle to drive the audience from one look inside the anime industry to another- Misa's story arc about the life of a CGI designer might have been INFORMATIVE and INTERESTING, but I was hardly kept awake at night pondering the depth and twists of her internal debate on whether or not to leave one CGI production company for another.
This series is highly enjoyable for anime fans who want to look inside the industry. If the lessons on anime production aren't entertaining however, I doubt you would find anything else to truly make this show a must-watch.
It's best to view 'Shirobako' as a fictional documentary about anime. I say 'fictional documentary' because while it follows a fictional cast of characters through fictional events, its main focus is teaching the viewer about the anime industry- not getting them deeply invested in the cast and their conflicts. For what it is 'Shirobako' IS enjoyable and educational, but it is at its core an entertaining lesson about anime production, if those anime lessons were removed there would be very little of value or interest left. Not bashing 'Shirobako' by any stretch, but while it is certainly a fun ride, it's just a fun ride.