SHIROBAKO: Episode 24 – “The Delivery That Was Too Far Off”

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 24 focuses on the staff at Musashino Animation as they scramble during the three weeks they have to finish and deliver the final episode of Third Aerial Girls Squad. As part of this scramble, we get to see Hiroaka actually helping out and starting to take his work a little more seriously. This was a nice character progression moment for him, and it’s too bad that we won’t be able to see whether or not he continues to progress in this way in the future.

When it’s the day of delivery for the final episode, filming isn’t scheduled to finish until noon. In order to get the tapes delivered to all the stations on time, six employees at Musashino have to rush to various locations and hand-deliver them. The most amusing delivery was Otsuki, who ends up being chased by four or five police cars as she goes over the speed limit in order to reach her destination on time. If being chased by the police wasn’t amusing enough, it turns out that one of the officers recognizes Otsuki and mentions he hadn’t seen her in eight years. It’s amazing to realize just what lengths that members of the Japanese anime industry are willing to go to in order to get their episode on the air in time.

The only other staff member to have any major issues is Aoi. First, the train she’s on has to start going slower due to snowy weather, and then a cab she takes gets stuck in a traffic jam. She’s forced to run to the broadcaster and has to hope that she’ll make it on time. But as Aoi runs, she remembers various things she and her friends have said about the industry over the course of the series. This starts leading her to think about her future and whether or not that includes continuing to make anime.

About the last seven or eight minutes of the episode focus on the wrap party for Third Aerial Girls Squad. Aoi’s impassioned speech for the toast was very moving, and it showed just how much she’s grown as a character since she started out at Musashino Animation back at the beginning of the series. The very ending of the episode kind of mirrors the very beginning, with the five friends making a toast with doughnuts. The only difference now is that they swear to continue doing their best making anime.

I was very happy with how SHIROBAKO concluded. While it would be nice to see more episodes of this series, the story ended on a high note and leaves the door wide open for fanfiction writers to come up with their own stories for how Aoi and the others continue following their dream.

When I first heard about SHIROBAKO prior to the start of the Fall 2014 season, the idea of an anime about producing anime appealed to me. But I have to admit that the “cute” designs for the protagonists had me a little worried that the series would end up being too cutesy. I decided to give SHIROBAKO a chance, and I’m really glad that I did. This was a very well done series, and it’s one that I truly looked forward to watching week after week. SHIROBAKO is a series I definitely want to add to my anime home video collection at such a time that Sentai Filmworks releases it on home video in North America.

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