12 Days of Anime – [3] Shirobako

If you’re any sort of regular reader of a variety of anime blogs, you’ll have no doubt seen Shirobako, specifically this scene, on other 12 Days lists. Miyamori Aoi’s front row seat to the advancing seiyuu career of her close friend, Sakaki Shizuka, had both her and I in joyful tears.

Shirobako made a name for itself among viewers as one of the most detailed and revealing catalogs of anime production. It’s all too easy to get irritated, even outraged, at inconsistent art and animation, improper use of music, and poor voice acting. We don’t stop and think about the people, money, time, and politics involved with the process. Anime is so accessible these days no matter what hemisphere you live in, and I’m part of that group of people who greedily snap up each season’s offerings by the handfuls like a thoughtless consumer. I tend to drop almost half of the shows I start, complaining about the story, art, music, or anything else to alleviate my busy schedule, and very rarely watch anything anymore with 100% of my attention. I’m almost always multi-tasking with the show playing in the background.

Shirobako reminded me of my love for stories of people and their journeys. Miyamori’s struggle as a young production assistant felt like a mirror of my own entry into the adult working world. Sometimes you sit in your car after a long day gazing dully at the green light wondering where all your dreams fled. Or you repeatedly try at your chosen career with a wall of rejection letters blocking your way. Shizuka’s smile amidst her friends’ growing successes almost hurt more than her tears. When her raw, young voice finally paired with a character in Miyamori’s production, I couldn’t hold back my own trembling smile, nor my watering eyes.

12 thoughts on “12 Days of Anime – [3] Shirobako

  1. Watched one episode. Understood the office working environment. As some one who has dabbled in video editing for fun, I get a small window view as to just how painstaking work it is. The long hours required to work on just one small project. I’m acquainted with some AMV (anime music videos) editors and they state that to make just one scene can take two – four hours. Working on a full project can take anything up to a week. Even longer if they are making a high quality AMV. Even though I’ll continue watching it. Knowing what hard work is all about, sometimes your dreams need that little extra push. And sometimes, hard work isn’t enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always amazed at the videos that my friends over at ISML create, with the combination of shots, music, and overall production–I can’t even begin to imagine trying to create anything like that. I hope you’ll watch the rest of Shirobako if you have time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If someone had told me I was going to shed tears while watching a series about a bunch of girls working in the anime industry, I wouldn’t have believed it. But, by the time this episode rolled around, I was so invested in the characters of Shirobako that all their frustrations, elations, and everything else in between really resonated with me.

    So, when Aoi hides her tears behind the script for the anime all her friends worked on, and Shizuka steps up to the mic to deliver her line, I was right there with both of them, joyful, relieved, and happy that all their hard work throughout the series was finally being validated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The change from the opening of the first episode with the high school girls are cheery and optimistic about their future, and the following episodes, was truly surprising. At first I thought the whole doughnut thing cheesy, but cute–by the end, every time the doughnuts came up, I couldn’t stop the “awwwwww” from escaping. Anyways, thanks for stopping by to comment! 😀


  3. If Hibike! Euphonium hadn’t come along, Shirobako would have been the clear best show of the year for me. It was so smart and informed, but didn’t just rest on that, as it did the hard work that a good show does to make you love the characters, even Tarou.


    • I could not fathom why the company would employ someone like Tarou, who requires so much micromanagement, it’s enough to drive other employees away! While I think most companies would have kicked him within the week, he did lend authenticity to a work environment that almost always includes that one coworker people can’t figure out.


      • Hmm, see, I came to think of him a different way. Yeah, he was a pain in the butt, and was the guy that you roll your eyes at. But there was one very important thing that is kind of lost when the show focuses on his not so great behavior: He got his shows done. Yes, there were a couple times that he got himself in trouble, and needed Aoi to get him out of it. But his shows still got done without much besides those interventions. I might be forgetting things, but I don’t remember that he was the reason anyone actually left. Honda left because he needed a change of job overall, not just because of Tarou, and Ochiai left because he got a better offer.

        Tarou was better than all of those guys that Aoi had to scrounge up. He was better than that whole other studio of clowns suggested by Hiraoka. And there’s going to be that worst employee at any company. Sometimes you just use that guy to bill. Sometimes he does something unimportant. And sometimes you need him to get through what he’s doing, so you just make sure it happens. But he didn’t really screw up his work.


        • Ah, sorry to misguide you–I was speaking theoretically about how someone like him would be be enough to drive done employees away who require coworkers more obviously competent.


      • Having worked with a couple guys who were worse than Tarou, I can say that it happens. You hope they’ll learn stuff. You hope they’ll get better. And sometimes they just don’t, and yet they do just enough to be productive enough to not sink you. Heck, sometimes you put them on something because you know that you’re ahead of time and they can be productive enough to bill on a project. But if it’s mission critical, you don’t give it to that guy. And sometimes they don’t get better. One guy we started describing as Frosty the Snowman, because it seemed like it was “Happy Birthday!” every day, he never remembered the thing you told him yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. But it took a recession to get rid of him.

        Liked by 1 person

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