SHIROBAKO: Episode 3 – “No More Recap Episodes”

SHIROBAKO starts out with five friends in a high school animation club producing 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. Ema is also at Musashino Animation; she’s just getting her foot in the door as an animator. In Episode Two, we learn that Shizuka is a newbie voice actress at Akaoni Production.

Episode Three focuses on Aoi and all the stress she’s under. Not only is she trying to keep straight what needs to get done for Episode Nine of Exodus, she’s also trying to coordinate everything for the last minute changes being made to Episode Four. When it comes to Episode Four, it seems like one obstacle after another gets in her way. As the episode progresses, we get to see Aoi starting to lose it more and more. Fortunately, she has co-workers who give her encouragement and help keep her going. Without that, I think Aoi would have completely snapped before getting Episode Four completed.

As a viewer, I thought the episode convincingly conveyed the stressful environment at the studio due to the production of Episode Four falling more and more behind. That stress level was definitely at its highest when the FTP server was inaccessible and they really needed data from another studio in order to get Episode Four completed. The episode was written in such a way that it really started leading the audience to believe that Aoi wouldn’t be able to get Episode Four done in time for delivery.

I may only be three episodes in so far, but SHIROBAKO has given me a greater appreciation for all of the work and stress that goes on behind the scenes for the anime that I enjoy watching. While I’ve heard about these various issues and scenarios before, it’s a completely different story to see it depicted and to get a sense of what it all truly means. I also appreciate how SHIROBAKO is able to take these various stressful production issues and convey them in a light-hearted manner.

Now that this storyline is over, I hope that the series will find a way to start incorporating Misa and Midori into the story. While we’ve only seen Shizuka once or twice since they graduated, we’ve at least seen her and know what’s happened to her. I think we might have gotten brief glimpses of Misa and Midori in this episode, but if we did, they were really brief.

Right now, I’m enjoying SHIROBAKO. The series still shows a lot of potential at this point, and I hope that the series can follow through on this potential through to the end.

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