SHIROBAKO: Episode 12 – “Exodus Christmas”

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 12 sees Aoi going to see famous anime director Kanno Mitsuaki. He doesn’t agree to help, but he does give Aoi some advice, which includes letting her in on the fact that there’s someone as Musashino who is more than capable of drawing the key frames for the scene featuring the horses. That would be Sugire, the old man who everyone thought was too old to animate a scene like that. But it turns out he did some impressive animal animation in an older series that Aoi really enjoys.

It’s a good thing she learned this tidbit from Kanno, because it’s starting to look like corners may have to be cut in order to get the episode delivered on time. Through Sugire’s work, along with the younger animators all pitching in and learning from him, it looks as if Episode 13 of Exodus will be completed on time.

But as small errors are found in cuts, as well as the director wanting to make last minute changes, it almost looks as if Episode 13 won’t be delivered on time. It’s pretty much a nail-biter for both the characters in the show and the audience to see whether or not Episode 13 will be completed on time.

I have to say that I thought this episode was executed perfectly, and that there was tension in all of the right places. I also liked seeing Sugire getting his due, since he was basically being treated more or less as “extra baggage” at the studio, especially among the younger animators. So it was also rewarding to see them taking an interest in what Sugire had to teach them; it also appears that by the end of the episode, Sugire may be setting up conference sessions with the younger animators to teach them even more.

It’s revealed at the end of the episode that while Exodus Episode 13 was completed with only a short time to spare, it’s not the end for SHIROBAKO.  From what’s seen at the beginning of this episode, it appears the stage is being set for Musashino to get to the rights to produce the anime adaptation of a popular manga titled, Third Aerial Girls Squad. So my guess is that the next season of episodes will focus on the production of this new series.

Overall, I’m satisfied with how the first season of SHIROBAKO went, so I’m looking forward to being able to watch the second season in order to find out what happens to Aoi and the others. If I have any gripes about the first season of SHIROBAKO, it’s the fact that as we got closer to the end, we saw less and less of most of Aoi’s friends from high school. I understand that these last few episodes were focusing more on Aoi and on her struggle to make sure Episode 13 of Exodus was delivered on time, but hopefully we can get to see more emphasis placed on some of the other characters during the next season of SHIROBAKO.

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