I can hardly belive that it is already November, it feels like it is getting colder every day and the days grow ever shorter. Anyway you are not here to listen to me reminisce about how much I like early autumn, no you are here for an anime review. So without further delay here it is, I hope you enjoy.
It feels quite a bit that last weeks episode was very much the calm before the storm, as this week we start off right in the thick of things with Tarou desperately babbling inept comments in a vain attempt to stop Endou-san from storming out of the building and the role of episode eight’s animation supervisor.
As Endou-san shrugs of Tarou’s protests and leaves, Taoru turns to Aoi, who has been watching the scene transpire, and proceeds to attempt to shift the blame to her. Not happy with these accusations, Aoi returns comments with equal fury and verbally forces Tarou to retract his poorly thought out accusations. During this exchange it is made very obvious that the phone calls that Aoi received last episode something to do with whatever is happening now. We also implicitly learn that Tarou is attempting to keep this in the dark as the appearance of Erika generates quite the awkward moment.
Not really wanting to get entangled in what is certainly going to be a stressful situation Aoi refers Tarou to Honda-san, whose job is to deal with this kind of thing.
However, adding more to Honda’s work load is probably not the best idea at this moment in time, as in the next scene, set during the production assistants morning meting, we learn that he has very much got his plate full with dealing with the director and his inability to make notable progress with the storyboards. It is at the point where all hope seems lost that salvation once again comes from the direction of Okitsu-san who make the suggestion to use “it” and proceeds to take a lone key out of her desk draw.Okitsu gives it to Honda-san and comments “I will become a demon” and we are left with just this as the episode name screen shows.
As to what exactly the “it” Okitus-san and Honda are referring to we do not have to wait long to find out. At the very next scene we are greeted with the sight of a very joyous director who has been lead to believe that Honda-san has purchased him some kara-age (Fried chicken). Suspiciously said kara-age is within a darkened storage room (this is sounding really rather dodgy) but this doesn’t seem to phase the ever hungry director and he is blindly lead into the storage room.
The scene continues down this path as Seiichi, the director, is lead future into the completely dark room, bumping his head on something as he goes. Suddenly the lights are flicked on and Seiichi-san finds himself to be locked in a cage. It is at this point that I find myself really hopping that at this point Shirobako has dropped all pretenses to realism as this is simply borderline ludicrous (presumably if P.A Works do indeed have a cage in their office it is where all the people responsible for Glasslip are now).
Honda-san goes on to explain how the director will not be leaving this cage until he is finished with the storyboards for the final episode or if he is needed for important work related tasks. And despite much in the way of protest it would seem that Honda has indeed become a demon as the director’s child like tantrums get him nowhere.
With prospects of being let out our workshy director turns his agenda to escaping the cage but it is to no avail, despite all his rage he is but a rat in a cage.
With the situation regarding the director’s poor work ethic settling at its new atmosphere, our focus is shifted back to Aoi and Tarou. We join them in the production office just as Aoi, despite her previous stance of trying to distance herself from the problem, once again sugests to Tarou that he should inform Honda-san of the situation with Endou-san. However Tarou is still very much desperate to keep this problem quiet and in something of a deja vu moment another awkward moment is created by the reappearance of Erika.
After their awkward and hasty exit from the production office Tarou eventually divulges the details as to what happened with Endou-san. The cause of this issue is, as expected, the director who made a rash decision to have the key action sequence of episode eight done with 3D CG rather than with key animation. This would have been fine if he had actually consulted Endou-san and the other key animators but as he was busy
procrastinating working he left Endou-san and Shimoyanagi-san (the 3D director) to sort it out between themselves. Tarou, being episode eight’s production assistant acted as something of a shuttle diplomat between the two but rather than trying to reach a compromise or taking a firm stance he only exacerbated the situation by blindly repeating the opinionated comments that each side made and then pathetically agreed with the opinion of whoever he was taking to.
As Tarou’s recollection of events continue, we see how the chronology of this failed diplomacy fits with the events of Aoi’s life that we saw last episode, so having failed to obtain the help of drunk Aoi, Tarou, in his usual style, declares that everything will be fine tomorrow.
The flashback continues on to the morning of the current day and the tensions that Tarou helped create have not cooled off. Tarou finds a very annoyed Endou-san who is, despite the very much up-in-the-air status of the scene, working hard on the action scene. Tarou questions him but his week personalty and lack of empathy for the key animators only serves to aggravate Endou-san pushing him to the point of storming out.
With the flashback over Aoi’s response is about what you might expect.
And as for Tarou’s reflection on his performance.
Tarou once again tries to make it seem like Aoi has a share in the responsibility but very quickly changes his approach when it looks like Aoi may be the second person to storm out on him in one day. Begrudgingly Aoi realises that Tarou is not capable of dealing with this alone and agrees to at least try to convince Endou-san to return to the discussion table.
It is at this point that we momentarily switch back to observing the progress or lack there of that the director is making with the storyboards for the final episode.
Attention does not say on the zeal-less director for long as we once again switch focus, this time to Endou-san who is retuning home early after rage quitting work. His unexpectedly early arrival is at something of a good and a bad time as his wife is currently home, thus allowing for them to have coffee together, but she will have to leave soon.
Our insight into Endou-san’s home life is only a brief moment as we return to the director who is once again in the cage. As productivity is failing to make any kind of upward movement we are instead given a flashback of the director’s career in the anime industry up to this point. A tale of ruin is what we are told as we see how the directors career showed so much promises but collapsed so shockingly with the disaster that was Jiggly Jiggly Heaven.
With the threat of Exodus turning into another train wreck of a series the director finally makes gestures towards working.
With prospects of a productivity increase on part of the director, we cut forward to a scene later on in the evening with it being the turn of Endou-san to go out drinking with old friends. He is joined most notably by Kitano Saburou who, from what we can tell, is something of a very experienced and respected personality. Much like in last weeks episode the topic of conversation can’t help but be anime but an unwelcome phone call from Tarou (that as it should, goes unanswered) brings the topic of conversation on to the recent happenings with regards to episode eight.
With the topic of conversation shifted to the key animation verses 3DCG, Endou-san and Hikari-san are very quick to rise to the opportunity and vocally advocate the traditional animation master race. However once they have said their pieces the most experienced one among the three voices a more reserved and progressive stance, advocating a middle ground that makes use of the advantages to be found from both. A stance that shocks the other two.
As can be expected Saburou-san’s stance is very much considered heresy by the other two but the fact that someone he respects so much is taking such a stance works to corrupt Endou-san somewhat. However Hikari-san remains firmly in the rejection of CG camp, a fact that will resurface later on.
We leave as, what we can only imagine to be, a very thought-provoking evening for Endou-san and cut to Aoi and Tarou as they bump into Shimoyanagi-san just outside the building. Much to exemplify Tarou’s uselessness Shimoyanagi-san did not even know of the situation with Endou-san’s storm out and as such enquirers about it. In stark contrast to his earlier hushing tone Tarou openly tells Shimoyanagi-san that Endou-san had stated that he would quit, admits that he doesn’t understand why and promises to fix things.
Tarou then proceeds to tell Aoi that she too can go home now, an opportunity that she takes. Aoi goes out for a spot of late shopping where she meets Ema who is doing the same and the two of them agree to have dinner together at Ema’s place.
With Ema’s artistic talents serving to make dinner all more appetizing, Ema, having over heard comments, quizzes Aoi on what she knows about the situation regarding Endou-san and admits her own personal worries regarding the key animation and CG issue.
Having eaten, Aoi returns to the office to find that Tarou’s grand plan for dealing with this situation is to find a replacement for Endou-san. Thankfully the ever useless Tarou has no one in his contacts who is willing to do it and upon questing from Aoi he states that he will continue to keep the issue from Honda-san until he has a solution lined up. Having had enough of Tarou, Aoi leaves him to it.
With Aoi’s exit we return to the storage room to see that Honda-san and Seiichi-san are still at it and in complete zombie mode but still determined to not let exodus fail at the final episode.
Moving away from what is practically become the sleep deprivation torture scene, we once again join Aoi as she completes her last task for the day; collecting work form Segawa-san. Segawa-san has also manged to hear of what has happened with Endou-san and is, like the other animators, shocked by it. More worryingly for Aoi though is the fact that Segawa-san reminds her that the scene is one that carries over to episode nine (the episode that she is responsible for) and as such the switch to CG will affect her too.
However, this is not a major problem yet and we rejoin Aoi the next morning as she arrives at the office on her bike. Surprisingly enough the first person she meets is Endou-san who, most likely sick of dealing with Tarou, has come to ask a favor of her. This tuns out to be her assistance in viewing the 3D modeled version of the explosion scene, a viewing session that sees the scene in a very new light.
With it looking like Endou-san will accept the use of the CG version a resolution to this issue is just millimeters away but it is at this point that situation manages to worsen as Aoi is informed by Hikari-san that the connecting scene in episode nine has been completed in key animation. This move by the key animation master race is blatantly a move to force her hand and opt for key animation over the CG that now looks to have Endou-san’s support.
At this moment, the original cause of all the problems arrives and well …. precedes to be his usual self and thus we end on another cliffhanger.
German is a wonderful language if for no other reason than the fact that it contains the word “Backpfeifengesicht“. This word has no direct translation but it roughly means person whose face looks like it needs a good punch and quite frankly I can think of no better word to sum up Tarou.
Well, overly creative insults aside this episode has more than a bit of significance to it. Arguably the key theme of this week was the idea of 3D CG animation against traditional key animation. This much is a very real issue in today’s anime industry as we are beginning to see anime making far grater use of CG animation even to the extent that in some cases (shows such as arpeggio of blue steel) CG is used exclusively and I have every confidence that the staff of P.A Works are not ignorant to this slow paradigm shift so we can consider this as a very meta episode. It is because of this that we saw some more outlandish happenings, namely the whole cage thing, occurring to try to prevent this episode from feeling too deep.
Though this does somewhat lead on to my second important point about this episode which is, as expected, the pacing. Initially I was in the mind-set to declare that once again, for better or worse Shirobako cant seem to decide on a standard pacing pattern. However I do feel like the much slower and drawn out pacing of this episode is because of how important the meta issue being showcased here is for the anime industry and as such P.A works clearly feel it needs to be mentioned in detail and I am inclined to agree with them. The future of anime and the people who make it is something that is difficult to predict and who knows what anime will be like in the year 2024.