12 Days of Anime: Day 9

As an anime fan, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that I would have anime items (DVDs, Blu-rays, and soundtracks) on my Christmas wishlist. It’s a rather long list (LOL!), but I thought I would share the items that I’m most hoping to find under the tree this Christmas.

Anime Blu-rays and DVDs

Assassination Classroom Season 1

I really liked the Assassination Classroom anime series when I watched it as a simulcast, and I would love to have this in my anime home video library. I’m grateful that FUNimation Entertainment released complete season sets for the series on Blu-ray earlier this year, so now I can ask for one set for each season instead of two sets.

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club Season 1 Collection

Watching Free! -Dive to the Future- over the summer as a simulcast reminded me of how much I enjoyed the series. I’d like to finally start adding it to my anime home video library.

Haikyu!! Season 1 Complete Collection

I really enjoy the series and want to add it to my anime home video library. I’d love to have it available on physical media to watch whenever I want while I keep hoping and waiting for another season.

Shirobako Collection 1

I really liked this series when it aired as a simulcast, and I would love to add it to home anime home video library. I think my husband and son would both get a kick out of this one if they watched it.

Snow White with the Red Hair: The Complete Series

This was another series I enjoyed watching as a simulcast and would like to add to my anime home video library. I especially loved Shirayuki and how she was a great female character with a lot of agency. To be honest, I think my daughters would enjoy this series.

Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 – Part One

This was a fantastic reboot of the original Space Battleship Yamato, and it deserves a spot in my anime home video library. I think my husband would also enjoy this reboot as well.

Yuri!!! On Ice: The Complete Series

This was such a well-done anime. I enjoyed it so much that I binge watched it within a very short amount of time, which is unusual for me. I would love to add this to my anime home video library so I can watch this whenever I want on a bigger screen.

Anime Music

“History Maker” single by Dean Fujioka

This is the opening theme song for Yuri!!! On Ice. This is such a fantastic song, and for me, is among some of the best anime opening theme songs I’ve ever heard. I would love to add it to my music library.

Yowamushi Pedal Theme Song Album

This is a CD that compiles various theme songs from the Yowamushi Pedal anime series. The series has a lot of great themes, and it would be awesome to have them on a single CD.

Yowamushi Pedal O.S.T. 1

This is the first CD of background score music for Yowamushi Pedal. There’s a lot of great score music in this anime, and it’s music I can see myself listening to outside of the series.

List: My Favorite Anime Set in the Workplace

This time, my list is focusing on my five favorite anime that are set in the workplace. However, rather than being a top 5 list, this list is being presented in alphabetical order.

Aggretsuko

This is an original net anime that features a small and cute-looking red panda named Retsuko, and she was a character created for Sanrio (who is best known for Hello Kitty). However, she doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional Sanrio characters.

Retsuko is a single 25-year-old who works in the accounting department of a Japanese trading firm, and she has to deal with supervisors and co-workers who cause her stress. When her job or her life cause her to fill with rage, she goes to the local karaoke bar and vents her frustration through singing death metal. However, Retsuko tries to keep this a secret from everyone she knows.

The series is very relatable for viewers who are currently employed or who have ever held a job. Who hasn’t had a bad boss or annoying co-workers who cause no end of stress or anger?

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!

The Devil King Satan and Demon General Alciel, who have almost conquered the world, is stopped by Hero Emilia… and they end up in another world: modern day Tokyo. Satan and Alciel discover that they have taken on human bodies and that their ability to perform magic is limited. In order to survive, Satan takes on the identity of Sadao Mao, and gets a job at a local fast food joint, MgRonalds.

We get to see Satan spend a lot of time at his job at MgRonalds. The best bit that takes place at his place of employment is when a competitor, Sentucky Friend Chicken, opens up across the street. But, it turns out that there’s more to the manager of Sentucky Fried Chicken than meets the eye!

The Devil is a Part-Timer! has its serious moments, but it’s primarily a light-hearted comedy. While Alciel provides a lot of the humor, the other characters get their moments of funny dialogue that elicits laughter from the audience. When Lucifer joins the series, his NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) tendencies provide some more humor for the series.

I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job

Raul Chaser, who was working at passing his Hero Exam, ends up not becoming a hero because the hero program was suspended. The Demon Lord is gone and the demon empire has collapsed, so it was decided there was no need to continue the hero program. Now that his dream of becoming a hero is destroyed, Raul takes a job at an electronics store called the Leon Magic Shop. One day, a person wearing a hood comes in with a resume and demands to talk with the manager. When the person goes back with the manager, the resume is left behind. Raul looks at the resume and discovers that it says the person is the child of the Demon Lord. The person, who is named Fino, ends up being hired over Raul’s objections, and Raul is in charge of them. It is revealed that Fino is the daughter of the Demon Lord.  For most of the series, only a few select people know that Fino is the Demon Lord’s daughter.

We see Fino having a rough time of it when she first starts working at the store. Since she was raised in the Demon World, she has no common sense on how to deal with humans. But as the series continues, Fino learns customer service skills, as well as how to be a good employee in a retail establishment. There’s also the aspect of Raul having to adjust to the idea of working with the Demon Lord’s daughter, since he was going through the hero program in order to fight against the Demon Lord.

The relationship and interactions between Raul and Fino are amusing to watch, and in a lot of ways, it’s kind of an exaggerated version of training a new employee. It’s an enjoyable enough series, though, and it gives a comedic look into the world of retail.

Servant x Service

The series is set in a Japanese government office building, and the main characters are new employees in the Welfare Department.

The main character, Lucy Yamagami, is enthusiastic and takes her work seriously. However, it’s revealed during the first episode that she has a more “sinister” reason for working in a government office building. When she was born, her parents couldn’t decide on a name, even after having people help them compile a list. Her parents decided to submit all the names on the list as her first name, and all of the names were allowed to be put on her birth certificate. Yamagami is trying to locate the person in the office who allowed that to happen so many years ago.

The co-workers include: Yutaka Hasebe (the office slacker), Saya Miyoshi (the nervous employee who is working at her first job), Taishi Ichimiya (the clueless supervisor), and Megumi Chihaya (the temp worker who likes to cosplay and create doujinshi). The series explores these characters and the interactions they have with each other, as well as with other characters who drop by the Welfare Department.

As the series progressed, it went from being a simple comedy to being a comedic series that focuses on the relationships between the characters. Secrets are also a big focus of the series. Servant x Service does a great job of being a series set in a workplace that mixes humor, character interaction, and character development.

Shirobako

The series 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. Two-and-a-half years later, we see that Aoi is working as a production assistant at Musashino Animation, and that Ema is also working there as an animator. Shizuka is a newbie voice actress at Akaoni Production, Misa is working at a computer graphics studio, and Midori is a university student.

The first half of the series places a strong focus on Aoi and Ema as they’re just starting out in the industry, and we get to see all the issues that go on behind the scenes during the production of an anime. Shizuka is also seen trying to break into anime voice acting, but she doesn’t have confidence and gets nervous at her auditions. Misa is dissatisfied with her job, because she’s always given the same thing to do over and over, and she has no interest in what the company is giving her.

The second half of the series sees Aoi being promoted from production assistant to production desk, so she has to learn a new job and how to handle all the stress that comes with it. It doesn’t help that Aoi realizes that she isn’t quite sure what her dream is even though her friends all have goals and aspirations. The other friends also see changes in their situations as well.

This anime about producing anime has a good combination of serious and humorous moments, and it gives a kind of behind the scenes look at what goes into producing the anime that fans enjoy watching.

Shirobako Anime to Get All-New Film Project

The “Musashi-Sakai x Shirobako Harumatsuri” (Musashi-Sakai x Shirobako Spring Festival) event in Tokyo for the Shirobako anime has announced that the franchise will get an anime film project. P.A. Works is starting production on the film, but that it does not have a set release date yet. The staff at the event confirmed that the film will be an all-new work.

The confirmed returning staff includes director Tsutomu Mizushima, animation studio P.A. Works, scriptwriter Michiko Yokote, character designer Ponkan8, animation character designer Kanami Sekiguchi, and production company Infinite. The staff at the event said that the “story will continue” in the film.

Source: ANN

Winners of the 20th Animation Kobe Awards

The judging committee of the 20th Animation Kobe Awards has announced this year’s award winners. The awards are among the most prestigious industry accolades in Japanese animation and media.

Individual Award
Seiji Mizushima (director)

Special Award
Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (manga creator, animator, anime director)

Anime Work Award
Shirobako

Anime Work Award
Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie

Theme Song Award (Radio Kansai Award)
“JoJo – Sono Chi no Kioku ~end of THE WORLD~” (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc opening theme) by JO☆STARS~TOMMY, Coda, JIN~

The judging committee is composed of experts in the industry — notably the editors of the anime magazines Animage, Newtype and Animedia. Most of the awards honor works released between September 2014 and July 2015. The Special Award honors lifetime achievement, while the Theme Song Award honors a song released between July 2014 and June 2015.

An awards ceremony will be held in Kobe on December 6, 2015.

Source: ANN

Anime Spotlight: SHIROBAKO

SHIROBAKO is an anime produced by P.A. Works and directed by Tsutomu Mizushima. The series aired on Japanese television from October 9, 2014-March 26, 2015. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American distribution license for SHIROBAKO.

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 is working as a production assistant at Musashino Animation, a company that’s in the process of working on an anime titled, Exodus. Ema is also at Musashino Animation; she’s just getting her foot in the door as an animator. Shizuka is a newbie voice actress at Akaoni Production, Misa is working at a computer graphics studio, and Midori is a university student.

The first half of the series places a strong focus on Aoi and Ema as they’re just starting out in the industry, and we get to see all the issues that go on behind the scenes during the production of an anime. Shizuka is also seen trying to break into anime voice acting, but she doesn’t have confidence and gets nervous at her auditions. Misa is dissatisfied with her job, because she’s always given the same thing to do over and over, and she has no interest in what the company is giving her.

After completing Exodus in the first half of the series, Musashino Animation begins working on an anime adaptation of the Third Aerial Girls Squad manga during the second half of the series. Aoi finds herself being promoted from production assistant to production desk, so she learns a new job and how to handle all the stress that comes with it. It doesn’t help that Aoi realizes that she isn’t quite sure what her dream is even though her friends all have goals and aspirations. Ema is given more responsibility in her work, Midori is brought in to help with research for Third Aerial Girls Squad, and Misa works for a new computer graphics company that’s brought in to help with the anime. Shizuka has gained more confidence in her voice acting, but she’s still having a hard time getting her foot in the door.

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 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 glad that I did.

During the early episodes, I saw so much potential and promise in the story. I found myself hoping that the potential I saw would continue, and I can say with a lot of certainty that the series was continually strong for its 24-episode run. The main characters were well developed and were continually relatable throughout the series.

One of the most memorable moments came near the end of Episode 23 when Aoi realizes that she and her friends have gotten one step closer to achieving the goal they set for themselves back in high school. I nearly shed a tear during that scene. Aoi’s speech at the wrap party for Third Aerial Girls Squad also ranks high as a memorable scene.

My least favorite aspect of SHIROBAKO was a character named Ai Kunogi who was so shy that she had a hard time saying anything. While I understand wanting to add a shy character to the series, I think the way Ai was portrayed was really “over the top” to the point that I found it annoying rather than cute. For a while, a new production assistant named Hiroaka ticked me off with his attitude, but after learning some backstory for him, I understood why he acted that way. Right at the end, he started becoming a more enjoyable character.

After watching all the series, I can say that I’m 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.

Review: 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.

Review: SHIROBAKO: Episode 23 – “Table Flip Continued”

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 her 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.