SHIROBAKO: Episode 13 – “What Kind of Cloud Do You Like?”

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 13 is set at the start of a new calendar year, and the production staff at Musashino learns that the studio will be producing the anime adaptation of the popular manga series, Third Aerial Girls Squad, which will begin airing in October.

Aoi finds herself being promoted to the production desk to replace Honda, who has left the industry to pursue his dream of working in a bakery. When Aoi first learns what’s going to be expected of her, she just looks so overwhelmed that as a viewer, I had to feel sorry for her. However, from what we saw her accomplish in order to get Episode 13 of Exodus out the door on time, I believe she’ll be able to pull this off.

Then we see Aoi starting to work with Kinoshita, who will be directing the new anime. A lot of this episode focuses on the two of them trying to get the staff finalized for the series, and of course, nothing falls into place exactly as they expected. Ogasawara, who had done character design in the past, realized after helping with the key frames for Episode 13 of Exodus that she wanted to return to her roots as an animator and improve her craft. She recommends Iguchi for character design, which will mark her first time in this role. We later learn that the producer wants to be consulted on every decision, because when he made the deal for Musashino to produce the anime for Third Aerial Girls Squad, he said it would be done with the same staff as Exodus.

When Aoi is trying to do research on fighter jets, she becomes frustrated because she doesn’t really understand what she’s reading. Midori finds her in the library and offers to do the research for her. Aoi ends up agreeing, and this research impresses Kinoshita and the script writer so much that they ask her to do more. So, it’s looking like Midori may end up playing a more important role in this season of SHIROBAKO than she had in the previous season.

We also see that Shizuka has an upcoming audition, and that she’s handed an audition manuscript for Third Aerial Girls Squad. With Episode 13, it not only appears that a foundation is being laid for who will be working on the new anime at Musashino Studios, but that Aoi’s friends will all somehow end up becoming involved in the production of this series. While Shizuka may have failed at her previous audition, she could end up getting some kind of a role in Third Aerial Girls Squad. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of her friends is now working at the production desk for the series. It’s already been mentioned that Kinoshita wants 3D computer graphics for the planes, so perhaps this could be Misa’s way to join in the production as well. And with Ema already working as an animator at Musashino, perhaps the five high school friends can start making their dream come true by working together on Third Aerial Girls Squad.

I also thought the meeting that the producer, Kinoshita, the script writer, and other higher ranking people on the production had with the manga editor was rather enlightening. The editor just seemed like he wanted to rush through the decisions without really looking at anything, and also claimed that the manga author was too busy to come to the meeting to make decisions. The editor definitely came across as being untrustworthy, and I have this sneaking suspicion that the mangaka has no idea that a deal was negotiated to turn the manga into an anime and that the editor only really cares about making money from the project. If I’m right with this hunch, it could cause major problems for the production when the mangaka learns of it.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how Aoi will cope as the one in charge of the production desk and seeing how her character evolves as she works in the position. I’m also interested in seeing how this season progresses, especially since I’m already seeing some warning flags between the untrustworthy manga editor and some of the decisions that Kinoshita has already been making about the production.

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