Anime Blu-ray/DVD Combo Review: SHIROBAKO The Movie

SHIROBAKO The Movie is a sequel to the SHIROBAKO anime series, and it was released to Japanese theaters on February 29, 2020. This release only includes the Japanese audio with English subtitles.

English Publisher: Shout! Factory
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: December 7, 2021

SHIROBAKO The Movie is set four years after the end of the anime series. Aoi is one of the few characters left at Musashino Animation. At this point, they are not producing their own anime. Instead, they are supporting other studios.

We quickly learn what happened at Musashino Animation during the intervening time. The studio was working on an anime series called Time Hippopotamus, but production was halted because of issues created by the company that commissioned the anime. After putting their heart into the production and to just have it yanked away, many of the characters that the audience knew at the studio quit and moved on to other companies. Marukawa, the studio president, took responsibility for the incident and resigns. Shun Watanabe took over as company president. I thought that it was realistic for characters, especially the number of characters, to leave the studio after that fiasco.

Unfortunately, Aoi has been dealing with depression since the Time Hippopotamus incident. But it’s not just Aoi feeling this, because her other friends from high school are having similar feelings. While most of them have been promoted in their careers, all of the girls feel like their dream of creating an anime together is getting further away from them. However, things begin to change when Gotaro Katsuragi, the producer with Western Entertainment, has a dispute with GPU over an original anime titled, Air amphibious assault ship SHIVA, because GPU had promised storyboards by a particular date, and there are only four made. An angry Gotaro decides to have Musashino Animation work on the film on their own, since a teaser has already been posted. Katsuragi approaches Watanabe, who in turn approaches Aoi with the idea of doing a film. After spending some time deliberating, Aoi agrees she wants to do it… even though they only have 10 months to get the film completed.

Aoi spends time trying to bring back as many of the staff members from Time Hippopotamus as she can, since the decision is made to incorporate elements from that production into this one. It’s not easy to get the staff back, but in the end, she is able to just about get everyone back on board. This production also finds way to bring in all of Aoi’s friends from high school as well.

Just as things seem to be going up for the production, a new roadblock appears: GPU tries to exercise a copyright claim on the title. We’re shown that Katsuragi was quite upset when he discovered GPU hadn’t kept up their end of the bargain, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he hadn’t approached anyone about whether or not he had the legal right to take the title and create a work without GPU’s knowledge.

The film introduces a new character early on named Kaede Miyai, a producer who works at Western Entertainment under Katsuragi. I thought she was an awesome addition, especially when she plays a major role when it seems like the production of SHIVA could be halted, thus creating a repeat of what happened with Time Hippopotamus. But even with achieving a victory here, there’s one more roadblock that the staff has to overcome before the film opens in theaters.

I have to say that I enjoyed SHIROBAKO The Movie, and that it is a worthy successor to the anime series. I enjoyed getting to see what happened to the characters in the future, even if it was a little depressing at first. Having Aoi and the others going through the trials and tribulations of producing an anime film, especially with such a tight window, really was the most logical way to go to tell another story in the SHIROBAKO universe.

When it comes to the Blu-ray included in this release, it has 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1) video. For audio, it has Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The DVD has Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) for the video and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 for the audio. I only watched the Blu-ray that was included in this set, but I had no complaints about either the audio or the video on the Blu-ray.

The only bonus features included on this release are a promotional featurette, trailers, and a TV spot for SHIROBAKO The Movie. To be honest, I’m not surprised that these were the only bonus features included. Since Shout! Factory only has the rights to the film, which had a rather limited release in U.S. theaters, it wasn’t likely that they would go to a lot of effort for bonus features for this release. The bonus features are included on both the Blu-ray and the DVD.

The package also plays up having an “exclusive booklet of character art,” but it is essentially one sheet of paper that’s folded in half with printing on the front and back. It includes one picture of each character, the name of the character, and the Japanese voice actor for the character. The back page is labeled as “art board,” and it shows backgrounds for some of the major settings of the film. I was kind of underwhelmed with this “exclusive booklet of character art.”

But if you’re a fan of the SHIROBAKO franchise and want to own everything that has been released for the series, then this release is worth picking up for your anime home video library.

Additional posts about SHIROBAKO:

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