Review: Shirobako

Since being dubbed a co-host of Super S – Anime Podcast, I’m always in constant search of finding something to watch to share with you guys, whether it’s bad or good. I mentioned Shirobako in a previous episode and gave it pretty good praise. It wasn’t until I watched more that I realized how much I undersold it and how much of a gem it truly is. Shirobako revolves around Aoi Miyamori and the production company she works for in their quest to complete a 12 episode series, Exodus. Yes, it’s essentially a freaking anime about making anime, though there’s more to it than just that. It’s a good look at a production company and all the technical aspects necessary to complete an anime. Not only that, but it also gives us an inside look on what a company must do in order to survive out there as a business. That alone peaked my interests and had me hooked from the get-go. Again, the series is not just a “how-to.” There is an actual story being told, which is greatly appreciated.

Shario BakoOne of the areas where this anime really excels is with the characters and their development. All the character (around 20 or so) are all likeable and in some way relatable. There isn’t a character that you can’t get on board with. You have the jokester, the “heroine” (Aoi), the shy, timid one, etc, etc. As each episode is almost episodic, there’s a new problem or obstacle for our character(s) to conquer (eg. not getting the voice acting job, 3D vs 2D animation, getting key cuts completed, and so on and so forth). Because of that, we’re exposed to a lot getting to know the characters. Seeing each one come to their resolution brings a sense of fulfillment. It’s not done in a cheesy matter and they’re not instantaneously a completely different person. It’s subtle and done in a way that an actual person comes to terms when facing an issue of their own.

The animation is superb. The scenery/backgrounds are like what you’d find in movies: high quality and lifelike. It’s that good, every episode. There's also great detail put into everything being depicted. The male character designs are fine. Each male character is different and looks in no way similar to the next. I wish I could say the same for the females, though. If it weren’t for the different hair colors and clothing, you honestly would not be able to tell them apart. Luckily none of the enjoyment is taken away because of that, so I’ll overlook this trope as everything else is too good to ignore.

There are only two issues that I came across. One, and it’s really probably an only an issue for me, was the number of characters. Twenty characters is a lot to keep up with. Trying to remember their names and their positions was a chore. As it is, my memory sucks, so easy task for me. Secondly, there wasn’t a character that you know every office has: the bitch/jerk. I mean, every office HAS one. It’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t have included one here. I would have loved to seen that dynamic tackled.

Shirobako is, of course, with some minor flaws, but thankfully those are easily ignored. This anime is definitely not for everyone. It’s light-hearted with a whole lot of slice of life, which is apparently my go to (thank you for pointing that out, Dustin), and is down right charming. There’s something about seeing how an anime is made that is strangely interesting and makes me appreciate the process even more.

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