SHIROBAKO: Episode 1 – “Exodus to Tomorrow!”

SHIROBAKO is an anime produced by P.A. Works and is directed by Tsutomu Mizushima. As of this writing, no one holds the North American distribution license for SHIROBAKO.

At the beginning of the first episode, five friends in a high school animation club produce an animation to screen at their school cultural fair. Aoi, Ema, Shizuka, Misa, and Midori swear that they’ll eventually reunite in Tokyo and make another anime together.

The story then jumps ahead in time two-and-a-half years, where Aoi is working as a production assistant at Musashino Animation, a company that’s in the process of working on an anime titled, Exodus. We see Aoi as she retrieves checked animation for the fourth episode and brings it to the studio. Unfortunately, her co-worker, Taro Takanashi, drops the ball for the key frames for the third episode. Misato, the animation supervisor that Aoi works with, is called upon to animate the key frames for episode three, and Misato only wants to deal with Aoi. Poor Aoi finds herself in a stressful situation. During the ordeal with the production of Exodus, we see that Ema is also at Musashina Animation; she’s just getting her foot in the door as an animator.

I’ve heard some comparisons being put out there between SHIROBAKO and Animation Runner Kuromi. Even though I’ve only personally seen part of Animation Runner Kuromi, I can see where the comparisons are coming from. I have to admit that I get a kick out of seeing anime having a story that focuses on the behind the scenes inner workings of anime production.

There’s an inherent risk with this type of series, though. If it’s not done right, then it could turn out to be rather boring. Fortunately, I wasn’t bored at all while watching the first episode, and I hope the remainder of the series continues to be this way.

I give the episode credit for showing the girls in their high school animation club at the beginning, because this helped to establish their characters before the timeskip, as well as to establish an overarching idea of the five of them reuniting someday. At this point, we’ve only seen Aoi and Ema having contact with each other, but I suspect they’ll eventually run into the other three girls at some point.

I also have to say that the animation looks pretty good. I mean, if a series looking at the behind the scenes inner workings of the anime business has rushed or bad-looking animation, it just wouldn’t work. I just hope this series doesn’t encounter any of the pitfalls that we’ve already seen in the story of this episode, or to any other pitfalls that could happen.

SHIROBAKO is off to a promising start, and I hope the quality that I saw in the animation and storytelling of Episode One will be able to carry through the remaining episodes of the series.

Additional posts about SHIROBAKO:

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