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 Nine places a lot of focus on Misa and her job at a CG company. All she seems to be getting is work designing tires, and she learns that the only work the company gets anymore is making designs for cars. As the episode progresses, we see Misa feeling dissatisfied with the work she receives, but the pay and benefits at the company she works for are great. Near the end of the episode, Misa receives some surprising advice from the president of the company. All in all, I have to say that I thought this was an accurate portrayal of someone who’s not happy with their job but feels conflicted because the pay and benefits are some of the best in the industry; the inner conflict is very real. With what we see later on the production of Exodus, I wonder if Misa may somehow become involved in order to help bail Aoi out.
There’s also a strong focus on the director of Exodus, because he’s not satisfied with the ending for Episode 13. When the scenario writer is brought in for a meeting, the director is inspired for a new ending; at first, it sounds great, but once he adds in the cowboy and a hundred horses, it starts getting a little ridiculous. After the meeting, Aoi realizes that a hundred horses is going to take a lot of animation, and as the one in charge of Episode13, she needs to find a way to make this happen. The expression on her face when she makes this realization clearly indicates that she’s starting to panic. This is where I think Misa may come into play; perhaps Aoi may ask for her assistance in order to get the horses done in CG and try to get everything done on time.
There are also a couple of scenes of Shizuka getting to be part of a group providing background and crowd noise for an anime called The Prince of Baseball. It’s at the same studio where she failed her audition, but she’s determined to give it her all; unfortunately, she’s too enthusiastic and makes herself stand out too much and is called out by the director. This seems to deflate her a little bit, but hopefully this setback won’t hold her back for very long.
With only three episodes remaining, I suspect that the focus of the series going forward will be Aoi’s stress to get Episode 13 completed in time with such a tight schedule. I’m wondering if we will ultimately see Aoi ask for her friends’ help in order to get the project completed, and if this will end up becoming the anime that they work on together to fulfill their promise from high school. This seems rather obvious, though, so perhaps SHIROBAKO will surprise me and end up going in a different direction than I expect.
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