Have you ever wondered how anime are made? Have you ever wanted to know more about the anime industry? Shirobako can take you behind the scenes of an anime studio and still keep it fun and entertaining.
Aoi made a promise when she was young with her high school friends that they will all pursue careers in the anime industry and that one day they will work together to create their own anime show. Two and half years later, Aoi and Ema have landed jobs at the Musashino Animation production company while Shizuka, Misa, and Midori are finding it difficult to achieve their goals. As their hopes and daunting reality of their jobs seems to diminish their enthusiasm, they don’t give up and carry on so they can reunite and make a real animated feature of their own.
Plot & Story
At first you think that Shirobako is all about the five girls and their promise, but as it goes on it gets much better than that. The strongest point of this anime is that it is very real and accurate. It’s very informative and tells a story about adult characters and their career struggles. Shizuka is not landing jobs as a voice actor, Misa has a secure yet unsatisfying career designing 3D models for a car company, Midori is still a university student with the dream of pursuing a career as a story writer, Aoi has a good job but doesn’t understand why she is working for the industry (as well as many other characters) and Ema thinks her skills as an animator will never be good enough to make a living. Their visions meet their real life working conditions as they come across huge obstacles, unrealistic expectations, long working hours, and the dissatisfaction that comes with any real job. Eventually, they all realize that dreams can still be achieved through their passion, perseverance, and hard work.
Shirobako is an anime show and not a documentary, so the plot sometimes goes all over the place (the scenes of the director meeting the author and deflecting bullets with his belly, and Aoi’s imagination that brings the stuffed animals into life), so don’t expect it to be a precise representation of how the industry works. Another thing worth mentioning is how the characters of Shirobako resemble actual people that you could see in any working environment. Although most of the female characters do have this ‘moe’ feeling to them, their designs are still very natural and cute and it’s very refreshing to see characters that break out of the usual stereotypes.
Art & Music
The art style in Shirobako is lovely. I think it would have been ironic if an anime about anime production was badly or poorly made. The animation is simple yet lively and dynamic and uses of vibrant colors that compliment the characters and their surroundings. It’s a visually pleasant show that really showcases that good animation should have a consistent quality. The detailed backgrounds are amazing: just take a moment to look and fully enjoy the office environments when the characters interact with each other, and the sky, the park and their apartments. Each character has more than five outfits (which is just outstanding). Even though the music is not memorable, it still brings out the right atmosphere.
I was really surprised when I read this but Shirobako was not dubbed in any other language, because the makers believed that a dub would take something from its originality. The production of this anime is just mind blowing in so many ways.
Themes & Trivia
What does Shirobako mean? The anime’s title literally means ‘white box’, as in the boxes where the VHS tapes of finalized episodes are put before being submitted to TV stations. In the animation industry, an anime episode distributed to the production staff members prior to its official release is called ‘shirobako’, and that’s because the VHS tapes containing the episode were enclosed in white boxes. Although this procedure has been modernized and is no longer used, the term still remains.
There is an upcoming movie: Shirobako will be releasing a new movie.
Shirobako made me cry like a baby because it resonates with me and my life at the moment. It also actually truly restored my faith in anime as a medium. Shirobako is an original anime and we need more like this. I believe original series would truly benefit the industry and help create better content.
‘Better to ask and be a fool once than never to ask and be a fool forever.’
- Real insights on how anime production works
- Fun, entertaining, and engaging plot
- Interesting and relatable characters
- Nice references
- Good humor and inspiring dialogues
- Masato Marukawa is the most unrealistic image of a boss. There is absolutely no president of a company that would cook curry and fried chicken for you, or lent you his cowboy outfit (if there is, please contact me and hire me, asap).
Shirobako is a well-written and entertaining story about how the anime industry works. If you are even remotely interested to see a glimpse behind the scenes of anime production, this is the anime series for you.
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