Anime is a favorite form of media for many, but have you ever wondered how hard it is to create an anime series? Manga, light novels, and video games have so many people working on them and most of the time we know little about the process behind them.
There is no better way to show how the industry works than through anime. Seeing how things work will make you value the medium you love so much more than before. If you have no idea how anime are made, prepare to be amazed, because it’s super interesting and entertaining to see how everything is brought to life!
As someone who has been fascinated with anime production for a while and with my first experience of anime about anime being Golden Boy (an 1995 ecchi OVA series), you can imagine how desperately I have been looking for series that could show me how things in the industry work. So without further ado, let’s dive right into the recommendations.
2014 – 2015 Fall 2014 24 Episodes
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 managed to land jobs at the Musashino Animation production company while Shizuka, Misa, and Midori are finding it difficult to achieve their goals. Even though the daunting reality of their day jobs seems to diminish their enthusiasm, they don’t give up and carry on to reunite and one day create a real animated feature of their own.
Hands down the most amazing show about how the industry works and how anime is made. Don’t get tricked by the synopsis of the story, Shirobako is not just about some girls and their promise to each other; it’s actually so much more than that. It has real insights on anime production and on how much it has changed over the years. It has a lot of comedy and drama, and it can be very accurate on anime production in many parts, but what really wins you over is its realism and the way it presents the girls’ expectations. It’s also an original anime, not an adaptation of a manga or light novel. We need more original series as they are a positive influence, especially if we take in account its outstanding production. Long story short, this is an absolute must-watch for anyone who would like to take a glimpse into how the industry works.
Chitose Karasuma is a college student that tries to pursue a career as a voice actress after landing a job at ‘Number One Produce,’ a seiyuu agency managed by her older brother, Gojou. She thinks she has everything it takes to make it big, but she cannot seem to get anything else than minor roles. As she gets through many experiences and sometimes arguments with the rest of her colleagues, she learns how competitive the industry really is and how hard it is to make a living.
Girlish Number is a comical and a rather cynical approach to the anime industry. It focuses on the voice acting part of the anime production and It’s the kind of show that parodies and satires both the good and the bad sides of the industry. It also heavily criticizes the business and its obsession on creating ‘content to satisfy the masses’. Like Shirobako, it also shows that landing a job in anime is not as charming and dreamy as most might think.
Futaba Ichinose is a rookie seiyuu that has just started taking her first steps into the world of professional voice acting. As she tries to make it big, she befriends Ichigo Moesaki,an aspiring idol who dreams of enchanting audiences with her singing and dancing, and Rin Kohana, a cheerful child actress who tries to balance her career and school life. Together they get through many difficulties that show that the entertainment industry is not as easy as it looks.
If you have ever considered getting into the voice acting industry, Seiyu’s Life! is a great anime to watch. It has some useful information on how the industry works, and offers great tips and words of wisdom. The protagonist is an ambitious voice actress who tries to make it big. She voice-acts for anime, performs in a voice-actress pop idol group at a radio show, and more. The anime was created by a voice actress who makes a cameo appearance in the anime, and many other accomplished voice actors are featured as special guests.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
2004 – 2005 Fall 2004 26 Episodes
Chiyo Sakura is a high school girl in love with Umetarou Nozaki, a high schooler who is also a very famous shoujo mangaka. In her attempt to confess her feelings to him, she is mistaken for a fan and ends up as his manga assistant. She strives to help Nozaki with his manga and hopes that he will eventually notice her feelings.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a romantic comedy that gives you some insights on the creative process of making manga. Nozaki is clueless about teen relationships but yet he is the creator of a romantic manga that Chiyo adores. He tries to drive inspiration from other sources and puts Chiyo in many romantic scenarios without really realizing her feelings for him, which makes everything rather ludicrous and ironic in a way. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is an inside look at how manga are made. It also points out that situations which seem to always work in manga never do in real life and Chiyo’s unrequited love acts as an example of it.
Moritaka Mashiro always dreamed of becoming a mangaka, but he never fully followed his dream. One day, after leaving his notebook behind at school, he returns and finds his classmate Akito Takagi, the school’s top student and aspiring writer, looking through his sketches. After valuing his artistic talent, he suggests to him that they should become a mangaka duo. After a lot of thinking, Mashiro agrees because there is a chance he might collaborate with his crush, Miho Azuki, who dreams of becoming a voice actress. Mashiro and Akito start creating manga under the pen name Muto Ashirogi and strive to be the best manga artists Japan has ever seen.
This is an anime based on a manga about making a manga that tries to get made into an anime. Since most anime nowadays areadaptations of manga, Bakuman is a unique series that lets you explore the manga production process. It shows in detail the various steps of manga creation, like sketching, inking, filling, effects etc., and emphasizes the difficulty of the process while keeping the scenes fun and educational. It also shows how things work with weekly manga publishers, the selection process, how artists stay serialized, and much more. It analyzes the key elements of creating successful manga and what it really takes to be a good manga artist. It’s a story about people who love manga with all their heart, and about the struggles that come with the creation process.
A Sister’s All You Need.
Fall 2017 12 Episodes
Itsuki Hashima is a novelist who has a sister complex and is trying to make a living by writing novels that are all about little sisters. His younger ‘brother’ Chihiro takes care of him and his friends: Nayu, a pervy young girl who is deeply in love with him; Miyako, his friend from college; and Haruto, another novelist.
A Sister’s All You Need is a light novel adaptation about writing light novels. It is a social commentary on the light novel culture and what it has become. It offers a hilarious glimpse in the light novel industry and involves a lot of meta humor and many funny characters you won’t believe that most of them are actual working adults. We see Itsuki and his friends deal with deadlines, struggle to get inspired, handle their feelings towards bad anime adaptions or other writers’ prosperity, and fill their tax returns. The characters play various strange yet entertaining board games, celebrate everything with alcohol, and throw horny and lewd jokes all the time. Even though it has a lot of light novel tropes, it is a fun anime.
If you are not familiar with the meme from 2014, Hayao Miayazaki trolled everyone when he expressed his thoughts on thecurrent state of the industry, and critisized the new generation of animators and their lack of real-world experiences and inspiration.
It’s very easy to complain about the lack of quality or the low production of recent anime anime and manga, but after watching the series above, you will have a better understanding of how they are made, and hopefully, get to value the work behind them.