SHIROBAKO: Episode 17 – “Where Am I?”

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 started as a production assistant at Musashino Animation on the Exodus anime, and is now working as production desk for Third Aerial Girls Squad. Ema is also at Musashino Animation working as an animator, and Midori has joined the staff working on setting production. Shizuka is a newbie voice actress at Akaoni Production.

Episode 17 sees the editor of Third Aerial Girls Squad calling Watanabe and Katsuragi and telling them that they need a promotional video for the anime that they can show at their booth at the Manga Festival. There’s not much time until the event, and the studio is only given 13 days to produce and deliver the video. As you can imagine, this throws the production of the series into chaos, and the production staff has to scramble to try to make the deadline.

As soon as I heard that editor’s voice on the phone, I knew he was going to do something to disrupt the production again. Sure enough, I was right. It’s gotten to the point with him that I wish I had some way to reach into the screen and knock some sense into that man whenever I either see or hear him in an episode. Am I the only one who feels this way?

The new staff members receive emphasis in this episode. We get to see Sara and Tsubaki’s different ways of handling situations, and we learn that Sara is terrible with directions when it comes to driving. Tsubaki also falls asleep on a train and ends up at the wrong stop when she goes to pick up key frames. Fortunately, Aoi understands that they’re both tired from the tight schedule, but she tells them that while mistakes happen, they need to learn from them. Since Aoi was new to production not too long ago, she can relate with these two newbies and can be a good mentor to go to if they have questions, need help, or need some reassurance.

The third new production staff member, Hiraoka, is still as stand-offish and arrogant as ever. We see in this episode that he decides to skip out on the morning assemblies, and Aoi lectures him later about it because he’s missed out on important information. Sadly, he still doesn’t take her seriously. Hiraoka is another character that I’ve come to dislike, and it surprises me that he still has a job at Musashino with the way he’s been acting. But if he’s actually doing the job that he’s supposed to, even if he comes in late when he does come into the office, then that’s probably why they keep him around.

We also get to see Ai Kunogi, the new key animator. She appears to be rather shy still, and basically either stutters or uses charades to communicate. Fortunately, Ema is able to interpret what it is she wants to say, so communication can actually happen. While I understand wanting to add a shy character to the series, I think the way they portray it with Ai is really “over the top” to the point that I find it annoying rather than cute. At least we don’t see as much of her as we do the other new staff members, and I’m hoping that it stays that way.

Honda makes a surprise visit to the studio, and he surprises both his former co-workers and the audience with the weight loss he’s gone through. I thought he looked fantastic, even if Kinoshita was upset by it. And it’s been nice to see Honda pop up every now and then, whether Aoi goes to the bakery to pick something up or Honda makes a visit to the studio. While he may not be part of the main action anymore, it’s nice to know that he hasn’t been completely written out of the series. I liked Honda and was sad to see him leave Musashino.

But now that the promotional video is behind them, it’ll be interesting to see how the production on the actual anime series gets back on track. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing what new situations and obstacles come their way.

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