Shirobako: Flippin’ Good

Though PA Works has never delivered a clunker in the animation department (save for those weird CG cars or even weirder groups of CG people walking around in long shots), the visuals aren’t really the prime appeal of Shirobako.

Things that are great about Shirobako:

  • charmingly hilarious and dysfunctional characters that are loosely based on life
  • the schadenfreude of watching them go through their weekly suffering
  • good character-driven and situational humor, both delivered with impeccable comic timing you don’t see much in anime
  • the weekly educational experience that will (unfortunately) make us all armchair anime experts
  • the way it sometimes gets really “anime” exactly when it needs to

This week’s episode, “Table Flip,” is the perfect illustration of how every one of those pieces snap together into a combiner robot creation of fighter planes, deadlines, desperation, and goth-loli baseball.

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Not only is the inevitable rejection of the manga author — something we’ve been dreading since the first meeting with the editor — a perfect situation for showing the characters at their best and portraying the struggles of adaptation, the break in character animation is a perfect opportunity to get into vehicles and background art. Both of which are the protagonists.

The growth of the Director as he finally starts to pull out of his post-Jiggly funk has been great, and he had a few brief but great chances to shine. Unfortunately, though the story focused on Iguchi, we didn’t get much insight into her. But who wasn’t fine with seeing Ogasawara and her airborne submarine pitch steal the show?

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It’s one of those episodes that stands out, even in such a strong series with no discernible weak ones, and makes me wish that every day was Shirobako day.

Fuck these (4) Comments.

  1. I think I have a little more insight into Iguchi from this episode. She might be gay?

  2. TWWK says:

    Such a good series – it’s been a long time, I think, since I’ve watched an anime where I feel so invested in the characters’ lives. Shirobako makes me feel as if I work at Musashino!

  3. Shinmaru says:

    Of all the qualities that make Shirobako excellent, I think what I appreciate most is that it gets the most out of every character, no matter how much screen time they get. Whenever we see someone who hasn’t been around for an episode or two, I always react like, “Oh, hey, I wonder how they’ve been doing this whole time!” like they’re an old friend of mine, haha.

  4. omo says:

    All these elements you guys mentioned are great, but for me what sealed the deal is the recontextualization of the themes explored. I really liked this latest episode too, because it was a great exploration of the role of the woman in the workplace. The whole combination of being new at something, taking up a career goal, overcoming challenges (but not by yourself and yet by yourself at the same time), learning to push back against your cis male counterparts who just didn’t know better, etc, in a professional manner. All rooted in some semblance of reality, drawing from a source where you know some person in the Industry had to go through something like this.

    And that’s just one thing. A thing that is so rarely depicted in anime (or mass media in general). There are so many other things.

    Turning it 90 degrees, the fact that your post (and many of the comments, it seems) are praising Shirobako for what and how it executed, context-mostly-free, also just says that this is simple solid anime. I just think there’s at least one more dimension more than that to draw on.