SHIROBAKO: Episode 7 – “Retake With Cats”

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 Seven has a strong emphasis on Ema, who’s not feeling as confident about her work as she used to. She gets advice from an older animator who encourages her to work on her speed since she can improve her technique as she gets older. Ema’s doing work on an episode that Aoi is responsible for, and Aoi finds herself in an uncomfortable position when Ema’s work is sent back for being sloppy and needing to be re-done.

Just as we get Shizuka on the road to feeling more confident about her voice acting work, we now have Ema experiencing doubts about her work as an animator. Ema’s issues directly involve Aoi, since she’s doing work for an episode that Aoi is responsible for. There’s a scene in this episode where Aoi has to talk with Ema about the issue, and it’s obvious that Aoi has to try really hard to straddle the line between friendship and professionalism.

During this episode, Ochiai (another production assistant) is leaving Musashino Animation. Aoi learns from someone else that he’s moving on to Studio Canaan, which is a bigger studio than Musashino. This causes work to be shifted around, and now Aoi has the responsibility of being in charge of the final episode. It’s bad enough that Aoi has the stress of being in charge of the final episode, but she discovers that the director still hasn’t finished the storyboard for it. So now, not only does Aoi have to try to help Ema, she now also has the stress of being in charge of the final episode. Hopefully Aoi doesn’t end up losing it due to all of the stress!

We also get to hear a little more about the Jiggly Jiggly Heaven fiasco, which has been referenced several times in the series at this point. Hopefully the production crew for Exodus can manage to overcome the various obstacles they’re facing and be able to avoid a repeat of what happened with Jiggly Jiggly Heaven. It’s being stressed as the series progresses that the schedule for the production is getting tighter and tighter, so it’s starting to look less and less likely that everything will somehow turn out all right in the end.

And I’m glad to discover that what I had feared about this episode due to its title didn’t come true. At least the director didn’t decide to do something wacky and start re-doing elements of the series with cats!

From what I’ve seen, it appears that there are only five episodes of SHIROBAKO left. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not everything will turn out all right in the end.

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