Shirobako

Title:Shirobako
White Box (literal translation)
Overall:Buy
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - P.A. Works
CHISUGA Haruka
KIMURA Juri
OHWADA Hitomi
TAKANO Asami
YOSHIMURA Haruka
Five girls chase their dreams. The story revolves around the everyday troubles and hardships that occur when working in the anime industry, and the results and conflicts that happen day-to-day among the group of girls. (Summary Courtesy of MyAnimeList.net)

[TV series, 2014, ?? episodes, 24 min; animated by PA Works; original story (with a manga being released in parallel to the TV anime)]
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 8 8 8 6 9 9 Ggultra2764 [series:2969#1552]
Shirobako explores five close friends who work in different aspects of the anime industry and explores the various challenges that each undergo with their line of work. The series does a great job at believably exploring the challenges that go into different stages of the animation process with putting together a TV anime that include story direction, key animation, computer graphics, voice acting and managing the production process. The job is not an easy one as the girls and those they work with face various challenges in the production process of their projects that include meeting tight deadlines, having to rework on prior designs, working on their work according to the author's direction, and living with the low pay that comes with being part of the Japanese anime industry. Each of the girls involved also have their own different issues stemming from the profession or current point in their lives that they are at and try handling their respective situations as best they can. Overall, Shirobako is a unique work offering a believable look into the pressures and challenges facing those involved in the anime industry while also showing how those hardships affect our five female leads throughout the series. A definite recommendation for those wanting a more believable focus on the production process that goes into an anime series.

Last updated Tuesday, July 05 2016. Created Tuesday, July 05 2016.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:2969#628]
(16 episodes watched):

Ha! This looks like fun. As I have said before, I enjoy shows about the anime/manga business, perhaps because I learn something from them as well as enjoying the usual drama and/or comedy. Some are better than others, of course; The Mangaka and his Assistants was pretty inane. But Shirobako looks to be taking the subject seriously, and has some definite talent and quality behind it. Aoi is quickly developed into a likeable character who does some of the always rushed tasks that get anime made. The obvious question is what happened to the other four girls who were once members of a school animation club along with her? They once made a vow to produce a commercial quality anime together. They also once made a halfway decent amateur one; based on the plots of the countless shows which I have watched, I had expected it to turn out to be a humorous flop and this to be a simple comedy. But no, these girls are realistic characters rather than stereotypical foils for the usual jokes. They're not dimwits and a career in the anime industry isn't easy. Aoi is neither laughably incompetent nor so supercompetent that things always go her way and as a result you can't empathize with her. Though I didn't realize it until this show came along, that's just what I have been longing for for some time. One of my favorite anime is Bakuman, and perhaps Shirobako will pick up where Bakuman left off.

I don't understand why episodes two and three were also almost entirely about Aoi's day-to-day job rather than the (I assume) main story about the project with her high school friends. They were informative, but there are so many people involved that I can't keep track of them all and I'm impatient for the main story to get underway. You might even say that these episodes were as much about the staff at her workplace as a whole than they were about Aoi. And the details of getting task X done before Y-o'clock, and persuading person Z to be on time as well, are not nearly as much fun as exploring the creativity of anime. There were no impromptu drag races or anything like that, either. So they weren't as much fun as episode one. All we get are a couple brief reminders that Aoi's friends still exist and they haven't completely forgotten about the pledge they made to each other.

In episode four we finally get a look at how another of the friends is doing with her anime industry career, this time as a voice actor. Still no mention of the pledge the girls made to each other, however. It is made clear that their high school anime wasn't exactly brilliant, and you wonder if they have realized that and as a result don't take their pledge all that seriously anymore. But this show has got to be about something, and not just unnecessary detail about how exactly the girls' jobs are done. Episode five was more fun, however. I guess that instead of trying to teach us how the anime business operates, this one went into how things go wrong--when careless or lazy workers screw up and ad hoc solutions have to be found in a hurry. This is better, and we learn a little more about the VA member of Aoi's circle of friends, but still little sign of their pledge being taken seriously. Did I misunderstand the basic premise? Or are things moving slowly because this will be a 24-26 episode series rather than a 12-13 one? Apparently one of Aoi's high school friends already works at the same company as her; there are so many people that I can't keep track of them all. Maybe that's why they get their names shown each time they reappear, not just the first one. That was a good idea, when the cast is as big as this. But two of the five have only shown up briefly for a get-together.

Around episode nine the friends start talking seriously about their high school pledge again. If this has taken so long, Shirobako will surely have to be at least a 24-26 episode series in order to carry the pledge out. It's an interesting show, but not as interesting as I had initially hoped. Maybe things will pick up now that the basic premise is getting underway. The show seems to be as much about Aoi's coworkers (like the lackadaisical director of the Exodus anime) as it is about her and her four friends. Anyway, the friends each have a problem with the job they currently hold, which are on the outskirts of the anime industry but seem unlikely to develop into the creative anime careers that they had hoped for. I still feel that other than Aoi, we haven't gotten to know them very well; we just know what job they hold and how work is going, but little about the girl herself. That could be a serious problem later on if nothing is done to address it. It will be hard to root for them achieving their dream if we hardly know them.

Well, I thought Shirobako was finished for now and wouldn't be back until some future season, but no, new episodes of a second season have arrived. In episode 13 we learn of the studio's next task, an anime based on a fairly prestigious manga called '3rd Girl's Fighter Squadron' or something like that. It's clearly an important project, and Aoi is given a more important role in it, since several people have quit and she largely saved Exodus from disaster. Again, there's a mention of her high school pledge, but that is moving so slowly that I doubt if even a second season will provide enough time to complete that; Shirobako must be meant to be a long series, like Bakuman. For now, the show remains fun and informative if we just concentrate on the relatively short-term tasks which the crew is undertaking. Like what can go wrong if the author of the Fighter manga doesn't like the character designs that the studio has come up with for the anime (and if the editor who usually acts as intermediary is just a yes-man who doesn't care about the anime). The themes of 'problem for studio employee X comes up, he/she solves it through extra determination and willpower, next episode much the same' can be a little tiresome, but these are largely likeable people and learning more about how they do their jobs is often fun (though it can get overcomplicated).

I guess the one thing about Shirobako that disappoints me is that it's unclear how or when the central conflict of the girls keeping their vow will ever be accomplished. In Bakuman, the male and female protagonist had vowed to marry if each reached their personal goal; each new manga that was created had a chance of being the one which catapulted the guy forward to that point. There were many that weren't good enough, some were outright failures, but we always had a sense of what the goal is and why this particular task is important in regards to it. Here it seems more like Aoi and the other people at the studio are running on a treadmill than moving forward towards accomplishing a major goal. What Aoi's doing right now has nothing to do with the ultimate goal. So, it's less rewarding to watch.

Last updated Sunday, March 15 2015. Created Thursday, October 16 2014.
Unevaluated Devil Doll [series:2969#752]
This one would be my no. 1 choice for this season, and I might actually watch this series.

Episode 1 was all about an anime TV series production (with that episode's lead girl being something like a production runner), in a way that I consider more realistic than funny, and it looks like the series will stay that way, with neither drama nor fan-service being in the way of telling a slice-of-life story.

Last updated Monday, October 13 2014. Created Monday, October 13 2014.

Other Sites
NameURL
Official Japanese Series Web Site http://shirobako-anime.com/

Community Anime Reviews

anime mikomi org