SHIROBAKO: Episode 4 – “I Totally Messed Up”

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 Four sees Shizuka going to her first audition for an anime role. She’s obviously nervous, and when it’s over, she feels as if she totally messed up.

Most of the episode, though, focuses on a get-together the five high school friends have on a day Aoi has off from work. It was nice to finally see Misa and Midori for an extended period of time, as well as to learn that Misa works in 3D computer graphics and that Midori is still a university student. It was kind of amusing to see the girls going to see an animated movie together, and then “talking shop” afterward about what they’d just seen.

The most important takeaway from this section, though, is the fact that all of the girls except Aoi have major dreams and goals for where they want to go in the animation industry. Over dinner, her friends tell Aoi that her dream is becoming a producer, but she later admits to Ema that she really has no idea of what her goal or dream is.

The other takeaway here is that Shizuka doesn’t feel like she’s “made it” yet as a voice actress, especially when she talks about the few roles that she’s gotten for voice-over work. Because of this, she doesn’t feel as if she’s accomplished as much as her friends who are also in the industry. Luckily, her friends are very supportive and give her encouragement to keep trying.

Right at the end of the episode, we see that it’s chaos for the production crew for Exodus. The director doesn’t have the storyboards finished that are needed for a meeting, and Endou declares that he’s stepping down as the animation supervisor for Episode Eight of Exodus. So I imagine the next episode will show the chaos that erupts from these two events.

While this episode may not have focused as much on the animation business side of the story, it did a great job of developing the main characters’ bonds of friendship and helped to begin some character development for Misa and Midori. Also, it doesn’t hurt to take an occasional break from the animation business side of the story.

I continue to enjoying watching SHIROBAKO, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen in the next episode.

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