SHIROBAKO: Episode 8 – “I’m Not Criticizing You or Anything”

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 Eight has a strong focus on Ema, who’s still struggling to draw the key frames with a cat in it. The veteran animator who sits next to Ema asks another animator named Iguchi to help Ema out. Iguchi starts out talking with Ema about her situation. After learning that Ema is stuck, Iguchi recommends going out for a walk. Believe it or not, the walk does end up helping Ema out. Not only does it help clear Ema’s head a little, it also provides Iguchi a chance to explain what she does when she finds herself getting stuck while animating a scene. It also helps that they run into a cat while they’re out, which gives Ema a chance to observe a real cat. The impression is given near the end of the episode that Ema has become closer with Iguchi, so there’s always the potential of Ema spending more time with Iguchi and starting to slip away from her high school friends.

Aoi continues to have issues trying to figure out what her ultimate goal in life is, and is surprised to discover that most of the people that she’s around during the day have one. Even the lazy animator who keeps trying to duck out of deadlines has a dream! This issue distracts her so much that she ignores her usual rival while she’s out driving, and it’s even kind of funny to see how much being ignored by Aoi rattles her rival. And when Aoi goes to see Misato, she becomes concerned when Misato mentions that she received a call from Canaan asking her to come work on the project that Ochiai will be working on. Fortunately, it turns out that Misato has turned them down so she can focus on her commitment for Exodus. Poor Aoi was already feeling pretty shaken up between Ema’s problem and her own problem, so it’s possible that Aoi might have just snapped if Misato had said she was leaving. I’m almost afraid that once the stress of working on Episode 13 of Exodus truly kicks in that Aoi will end up becoming a basket case.

And while Aoi’s sister is in town, Aoi, Shizuka, and Midori get together. Shizuka and Midori are rather fired up about their promise to reunite in Tokyo and making another anime together. Seeing this makes the potential of Ema’s drifting away from the group an interesting hurdle for the group to overcome. Considering that there are only four episodes remaining, there will need to be something to drive the series besides Aoi’s stress of working on the final episode of Exodus.

There’s several different things that could happen to keep SHIROBAKO going for the remainder of its run, so it’s going to be interesting to see what ends up happening and how the story will transpire between now and the end.

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