SHIROBAKO: Episode 20 – “I’ll Do My Best, Mustang!”

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 20 starts out with several members of the team working on Third Aerial Girls Squad trying to figure out how to write the final episode and not getting any guidance from the editor. This leads the group into discussing why they got into producing anime in the first place, and at first, most of them don’t have any real answers. The last couple of people do, though. Aoi and Midori later ask other people involved with the production, and they receive all kinds of answers to the question. I was kind of torn on this part of the episode. On the one hand, the answers given did provide some insight into the various characters. But on the other, it kind of felt like it was there to kill a little time in order for the episode to reach its allotted runtime.

Hiroaka gets a strong focus in Episode 20, where we get to see that in addition to being a lazy, arrogant jerk, he’s also sexist. I disliked this character from the first time he opened his mouth, and this episode did nothing to improve my opinion of him. An animator named Madoka finally has it with Hiroaka and they get into an argument. Madoka said a lot of things that Hiroaka needed to hear, but it was unfortunately that it evolved into violence. The president has a talk with Hiroaka, and it’s surprising to see that Hiroaka wasn’t fired for his behavior this whole time. I suspect that the president is hoping to turn the situation into a teaching moment for Hiroaka. Unfortunately, as we see later in the episode, Hiroaka’s attitude hardly changes. The only surprise is that Hiroaka actually apologizes to Madoka for his behavior.

There’s also some time spent on Midori, and we get to see her doing “assignments” for Maitake, the writer for Third Aerial Girls Squad. He makes it clear that he doesn’t actually take any students, but he gives her projects to work on to help her improve her writing. Midori is the one who has to put up with sexist comments that Hiroaka makes during the episode, and his comments rattle her. Fortunately, Maitake is able to give Midori some advice that helps her deal with the situation.

With Episode 20, it seems that things are coming to a head, between trying to get the script for the final episode of Third Aerial Girls Squad written and the issues that more people seem to be having with Hiroaka. I suspect the reason that Musashino is the fifth animation studio that Hiroaka’s worked for is that he’s constantly getting fired for one reason or another. But it looks like the stand-offish Hiroaka is going to have to work with the outgoing Takanashi as a partner for an assignment that Aoi gives them, so the results of this pairing could either be very surprising or a complete disaster. I suspect that an upcoming episode will be able to answer that question.

It turns out that Episode 21 of SHIROBAKO had to be delayed due to a production delay, so Crunchyroll will be streaming it for free users later on Thursday than usual. Because of that, I’m going to have to wait to watch Episode 21 on March 13, so the write-up for the next episode will be on Friday next week instead of on Thursday.

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