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PowerUpOrDie

  • Joined Oct 1, 2015
  • 32 / M

Shirobako

Mar 14, 2017

'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.

-Story-

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).

-Characters-

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.

-Overall-

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.

4/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
4/10 characters
7/10 overall

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