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 Five sees two issues being dealt with that could potentially derail the production on Exodus. The first one, which plays the bigger role in the story, is the fact that Endou wants to quit because the director has decided to go with 3D animation for the explosion that ends Episode Eight of Exodus instead of with the key animation that Endou was supposed to draw.
Takanashi had to be the go-between for Endou and the 3D animation department, and let’s just say that with his personality, he made the situation worse. This ultimately causes Endou to quit. It turns out that this was the issue that Takanashi was trying to call Aoi about when she had her day off. Aoi finds herself being dragged into the situation, and it ultimately causes an issue for her for the opening of Episode Nine of Exodus. I imagine the problem that Aoi now has to deal with will be touched on at some point in Episode Six.
But one of the best takeaways from this part of the story was when Endou is having dinner with a veteran animator and a newer animator named Hotta. Endou and Hotta look down on 3D animation, and it’s the veteran animator that knocks some sense into them. In fact, it’s the veteran animator who says the line that serves as the reference point for the episode’s title, “Those who blame others should just quit!” I liked seeing the veteran animator was able to get Endou to start looking beyond his own view and to make him to rethink his ideas and perceptions of 3D animation.
The other plot sees Honda becoming frustrated with Kinoshita for already being a month behind on the storyboard for the final episode. Honda takes drastic measures: he locks Kinoshita into a storage closet to force him to get the storyboards done. Honda stays with Kinoshita to keep an eye on him and make sure that he gets the work done.
This portion of the episode gives us a little bit of backstory on Kinoshita. We learn that he’s a director who had his glory days about a decade earlier, and is now trying to rebuild himself after the last anime series he worked on ended up having a lot of problems. I’m not entirely sure that this backstory helped to make Kinoshita a more sympathetic character. While I appreciate having the knowledge to understand why he’s the way he is, I still think he’s basically an idiot who probably shouldn’t be directing anime.
While Aoi appeared in this episode and helped out to some extent, the overall focus ended up not being on her. I don’t mind, though, since Episode Four focused almost exclusively on Aoi and the other four girls who had been in the high school animation club together. In some respects, SHIROBAKO feels like it’s starting to evolve into more of an ensemble piece, instead of simply focusing on Aoi and her friends. What really leads me to think in this direction is the fact that Takanashi has become just as important of a character as Aoi has. We’re also starting to see more focus on Honda and Kinoshita as well.
Even though it may be turning into more of an ensemble anime, I’m still enjoying SHIROBAKO. I’m looking forward to seeing what kinds of issues and misadventures the crew working on Exodus will encounter next.
Additional episodes about SHIROBAKO: