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 23 starts out with a lot of tension when Watanabe and one of the other producers go to see Chazawa, the “funny guy” editor, and the other members of the editorial staff. The Musashino staff tries to to work things out over Episode 13 of Third Aerial Girls Squad. They are ultimately told that Nogame, the author of the series, won’t see them and that they have to accept the rejection. When the representatives from Musashino insist on knowing what they need to redo, Chazawa grudgingly says he’ll ask Nogame.
During a meeting with the production staff, it’s revealed that this is the second manga of Nogame’s to be adapted into an anime. It turns out Hiroaka did some production work on that other adaptation, and he explains all the changes that the animation studio made, how they ignored the original story, and that the ratings were terrible. Not only that, Nogame himself was being attacked by the fans for the anime adaptation. After hearing this information, I could understand why Nogame was upset with the changes made to his story for Episode 13 and why he was acting very protective of his work. I’m actually surprised that he allowed Third Aerial Girls Squad to be adapted into an anime after that fiasco with the first anime adaptation of one of his manga.
Musashino gets an email from Nogame, explaining what he didn’t like and insists that they end the story arc in the anime the same way it ends in the manga. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make for good television and Kinoshita wishes he had a way to talk with Nogame personally. Honda comes over for a visit and points out Nogame’s email address on the printout of his response. Kinoshita emails Nogame, and gets a prompt response about when and where to meet.
A very hilarious sequence takes place when Kinoshita goes to his meeting with Nogame. Chazawa and the other editorial staff try to stop him, but Kinoshita is able to use his flab to thwart off these attempts to block him. I nearly laughed several times during this sequence because it was so amusing. And it was awesome to see Kinoshita actually being proactive instead of whining about things like he normally does.
At first, the meeting with Nogame is rather tense, but as Nogame and Kinoshita talk, they are able to craft a new ending for the anime together. It ends up being revealed here that, as I had guessed earlier in the series, that Chazawa hadn’t been running things by Nogame at all and just rubber stamping his own approval on everything. I loved what happened to Chazawa here, and I thought he deserved everything that he got. I so wanted to cheer when the other members of the editorial staff voiced their disapproval of how Chazawa handled things. It was about time!
The major change to Episode 13 was the addition of a younger sister for the character of Catherine. With the addition of a new character, they needed to bring in another voice actress. For those who have followed SHIROBAKO, it’s easy to guess who was brought in. I loved Aoi’s reaction at the end of the episode, especially after Shizuka delivered the line, “I’m one step closer to my dream.” Her tears of joy were so realistic, as were her reactions during this sequence. I admit that I nearly shed some tears myself during this scene.
So I ended up being right with my prediction early on that Third Aerial Girls Squad would ultimately bring the friends together to work on an anime together. While it may not be their own original anime yet, getting to work together in some capacity on this series gets them one step closer to their own dream.
There’s only one more episode left, and the title of it has me feeling a little worried about how this series is going to end. I’m really hoping for the best, and that the final episode of Third Aerial Girls Squad can make it to the air on time.
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