This week, I feel, we had a very good episode. Perhaps my favorite so far so rather than stating off with comments about how busy I am or about the seasons I shall jump straight into the review.
As should be expected from the end of last weeks episode we begin this week right where we lest off last week with it now being Aoi’s turn to retort to Tarou’s jubilation over their shared problems. As I’m sure we all would be, Aoi neither pleased about this issue nor the fact that she is now more involved and directly affected by the situation. The immediate situation is then, at a point where it seemingly couldn’t, further damaged but the untimely exit of Endou-san from the viewing room. Freshly annoyed by Tarou’s face, Endou-san reaffirms the fact that he has walked away from the role of animation supervisor for episode eight and the progress that Aoi had mad with him is seemingly lost.
Now that she is directly involved, Aoi feels confident in overruling Tarou’s wishes and decided to inform Honda-san of the situation despite the protest of Tarou.
Honda-san’s reaction to the news from Aoi is about what you would expect; total horror. Aoi goes to apologies expecting some form or reprimand but Honda is grateful for her informing him and more over, he’s resulting anger has a much more justified target. The frustration inducing Tarou attempts to talk his story into better light but Honda is having none of it and demands answers. Tarou explains things in a way that Shifts much of the blame onto the pride of Endou-san, this much is probably picked up my Honda-san but realising that chewing out Tarou would be less than productive this stage he decides that the appreciate course of action is to consult the director.
If Tarou didn’t want this going as far up as the production desk then I don’t think that I’m able to express how much he must not want this matter to be made concern of the director. But Tarou is significantly outgunned here and unlike the Aoi of last episode, Honda is not willing to wait and see if Tarou can sort this out and as such storms off towards the storage room in which the director’s cage can be found.
We find the director huddling in a blanket still contained within his cage. As Honda-san approaches the concealed figure of the director he calls out softly and politely as to not startle him. No response. Honda-san next goes to gently tap the director on the shoulder but to his alarm as his hand connects, the figure covered by the blanket collapses to reveal an arrangement of coat hangers and a lamp that had been set up to mimic Seiichi’s presence (What is this? escape from Colditz?).
A momentary assessment of the scene reveals shortcomings in the cage design that allowed the director to clime over to freedom (be concerned anime fans, the ones responsible for Glasslip may be on the lose!) and a note from our escapee telling Honda-san, or whoever many find it, that he has gone to the after-recording session.
After a short breakdown, an outburst of his signature “I am out of option” phrase and a self-inflicted blow to the head courtesy of the cage, Honda-san regains his composure and begins to get to work sorting this out. For him the first job is to get Aoi and Tarou in a position that alows them to get working so tells Tarou to get hold of Endou-san and that he will persuade him to return. This proposal is met with cynicism from Tarou prompting Honda-san to try phone Endou himself but it is to no avail as he is bested by Endou-san’s voice-mail. A result that compels Tarou to make a comet that basically equates to “I told you so“, helpful.
In the next scene we briefly cut away from the ever descending crisis and join a member of the production assistant team who we have not really head much from yet, Ochiai Tatsuya. We join him as he sits in a car sheltering from the rain taking to a producer from a different company (not G.I staff this time unfortunately). As the conversation progresses we learn that Tatsuya-san is to be transferring in two months time but is wanted early. However he declines the request and though a series of references to various second World War battles, including some more obscure ones such as the Battle of Imphal (Which I as one with an interest in history very much appreciated) which aligns with Tatsuya-san’s reference to
Kantai Collection G colle in episode one.
It is during this conversation that I am very much reminded of the fact that Tsutomu Mizushima is the director for Shirobako and with the level of historical detail that went into his previous work, Girls und Panzer, it is not surprising that he at least has some interest in World War Two history and as such not all that surprising that it gets a mention here. This scene being a set up of a plot point later on in the series is practically confirmed by the passing of Kisa-san, the key animator, and his interest in the fact that Tatsuya-san is siting in a car belonging to a rival company.
With a plot point about Tatsuya-san’s transfer sufficiently set up we cut back to events pertaining to the run away director. Our setting is the recording studio and we see that things are progressing according to schedule despite the directors absence thanks to the capability of the remaining members of the upper echelons of the production team. However it at this point when the directors absence is being explained that Seiichi-san makes a surprise entrance. His appearance is quickly interpreted as him having finished the storyboards and before he has a chance to explain otherwise the congratulations begin to flood in from literally everyone present.
Delusions as to the amount of progress the director has made do not last for long though as only moments after Seiichi-san’s entrance, Watanabe-san receives a phone call from Honda-san enquiring about the directors location. Watanabe-san offers to let the director talk to Honda but he declines. The phone call between Honda-san and Watanabe-san leaks the fact that something is awry and this is made painfully apparent when the director brings up the fact that he has brought equipment to allow him to work in the recording studio.
With the directors escapades foiled we return to the story of the other problematic situation regarding episode eight and also to the central theme of this arc which is the whole Key Animation or CG uncertainty.
We join Aoi as she reenters the production assistants office to be greeted by Erika and then goes on to tell Aoi about how Tarou wanted her to hold his hand (in a metaphorical sense) while he goes to pay Endou-san a visit.
The topic of conversation does not stay focused on the ineptitude of Tarou for long as Aoi seeks Erika’s thoughts on the Key Animation vs CG issue. Erika’s opinion is a pragmatic one; she feels like CG will inevitably become but the demand and need for hand drawn anime will not fade into the obscurity of the history books as it can be more expressive of certain things. However she does concede that, on accounts of it becoming more niche, the task of making key animated anime will become the reserve of the elite. Erika does not seem to want to dwell on this issue for to long so seeks to get herself and Aoi back to work by reminding Aoi that it is not just the animators who have a hard job and that they too need to work hard if they want to make it in the industry. This is an opinion that may be shared by many of those who work in the industry, the change is inevitable so there is not much to discuss nor is there much point in fruitlessly trying to resist the change.
Despite Erika’s wishes not to focus on Tarou’s attempts to get Endou-san to return to work we cut to Tarou’s perspective as he stands outside of the apartment building where Endou-san lives and attempts to get his attention using the intercom system. He succeeds in getting Endou-san to answer with his incessant ringing but that much is all that he succeeds in as this has served to annoy Endou-san and, in typical Tarou fashion, comments by Tarou fail to improve the situation in any respect.
As should have been expected, Tarou’s negotiation skills do nothing to help events so we move back to the production office to witness an encounter between Aoi and Shimoyanagi-san asthey stand in front of a poster for an exhibit of sorts and a stack of complementary tickets. Shimoyanagi-san is as easy-going as usual saying that he is fine with the explosion scene being done in key animation but expresses concerns over whether or not Endou-san will come back to do it.
Aoi returns to the production assistants office to find Tarou babbling nonsensical metaphors to express the hopelessness of the situation. he finds himself in. Aoi, very much not in the mood for this, retorts to Tarou’s comments but is unexpectedly countered by comments suggesting that she only interested in the episodes she is in charge of. And so, not wishing this to b the case Aoi begrudgingly reaffirms her commitment to helping get things back on track.
Via an extremely brief flash back of Endou-san watching the CG model for the scene we skip to a time after sunset and presumably after work where Aoi is conversing with Misa. It can be said that Aoi doesn’t really know the various 3D animators at Musani overly well so her falling back on Misa to provide perspective on the key animation vs CG issue from the CG side is something of a logical turn of events. Misa’s expression of the CG side is very much a we CG artists need to catch up type angle and she goes on to mention how much CG animators, such as herself, have to learn from their traditional animation senpai’s. Now this is only speculation on my part but this much combined with Shimoyanagi-san’s attitude in general suggest that the shriobako writers are quite bias in favor of key animation but at least they are not demonising them so I’d call this progressive. The closing comments of this conversation however are most interesting however as Misa expresses how important it is for a CG artist to have good artistic sense and even goes as far as to float the notion that Endou-san could become a CG artist himself.
As we reach the second half of the episode and in a manner most typical of Shirobako we once again switch perspectives. This time we catch up with Shizuka and find her still working part-time at the bar, it is late in the day but a smile radiates from her face when Tateo Mari, Shizuka’s teacher from voice acting school enters the establishment. Mari-sensei is naturally curious as to how Shizuka is getting on in her line of work, Shizuka admits that things aren’t going so well and with a little persuasion she retells how she managed to mess up her first audition. Being a teacher in this kind of profession Mari-sensei has likely seen this kind of situation many times before but encourages Shizuka to keep at it and invites her to come and see the rehearsal of a play she is working on.
Returning to the office once again we witness the director sneaking his way back into the office after his exploits at the recording studio. His stealth doesn’t hold out for long though as he is quickly spotted by Madoka-san which begs the question how he got out in the first place. Surprisingly enough Madoka-san is rather sympathetic of the director, offers him the option of working back in the main office and even goes as far as to say he can have the air conditioning on again. Seiichi-san however refuses this kind offer and willingly returns to the cage dramatically declaring that he will see this though.
With the director in full zealot mode we pick up the continuation of Shizuka’s section in this episode as she attends the rehearsal of the play that she was invited to. Watching the rehearsal does her a world of good and serves to reignite her passion for voice acting. Mari-sensei offers Shizuka the chance to go out drinking with her and the actors but this offer is politely refused so instead she is offered a copy of the script to take home with her.
As Shizuka walks home she sends Aoi a text to tell her that she didn’t get the role. Concerned, Aoi phones her friend to check that she is all right but is somewhat taken aback by how full of cheer she sounds. Shizuka goes on to tell Aoi about her day and how much she had enjoyed the rehearsal that she witnessed. The phone call is then somewhat reversed as Shizuka expresses concern about how Aoi sounds really rather down. Aoi briefly explains how her work is stressful but is reassured by Shizuka who reminds her how good at organising things she was back in the animation club.
The next day we are shown the new and improved director cage that is now sporting some spools of barbed-wire atop the bars thus making escape via is previous method no longer an option. It was presumably Honda-san’s idea to install this feature but by the looks of things he needn’t have bothered as the director is working away diligently of his own will.
The, perhaps, more serious event of the morning is the meeting held in the production assistants office in which, despite everyone’s efforts the situation still looks bad. So with the impending grim conclusion to events hanging over everyone, it is Okitsu-san who, seeking to lighten the mood, reminds everyone that today is the last day of the Idepon exhibit and that those who want to go should do so. The same Idepon exhibit that we saw Shimoyanagi-san take tickets for about half an episode back.
It is with this as a backdrop that Aoi receives a summoning phone call from Segawa-san which throws us right into the, much awaited, return of street racer Aoi!
Having achieved victory in the field of street racing, Aoi now returns to here objective of achieving victory as an animation assistant and as such collects checked work from Segawa-san. Much to Aoi’s surprise Segawa-san is somewhat forceful in her inquiries about the Endou-san situation but dejectedly she admits that there is no news. As something of a conciliation prize Aoi offers Segawa-san one of the Idepon exhibit tickets she has. Segawa-san considers taking the ticket but instead tells Aoi that she should give it to Endou-san as Idepon was the anime that inspired him to join the anime industry in the first place.
Armed with a new way to motivate Endou-san, Aoi travels to his house but is bested, like Torou was, by the intercom system. However luck, or perhaps it would be better to say time, is on Musani’s side as Aoi’s visit considers with the exit of Endou-san’s wife. Unable to give the tickets to Endou-san directly, she hands them over to his wife and with that the seeds for this episodes climax are set.
There is perhaps no better location for an anime exhibit than Akihabara and as such we cut to the iconic setting of the area outside Akihabara station for the next scene. We see Aoi waiting alone in front of a large advert for the Idepon exhibit with an expression on her face that says she has been waiting for quite some time looking like a school girl waiting for her date. We however do not have to wait around as it is not long before Aoi catches sight of Endou-san. Evasive at first Aoi explains the story behind the tickets and they both proceed to enter the exhibit.
The viewing of the exhibit however does not get off to the best of starts as they encounter both Tarou and Shimoyanagi-san within moments of entering the exhibition hall. However let us not forget that Shirbako is not some kind of shonen anime and none of the parties present have any desire to make a scene in public so begrudgingly wander around the exhibit and enjoy it as best they can. It is whilst this is happening that, as much as it pains me to say, that Tarou plays a useful role (that sentence just feels wrong) although I doubt that he would be aware of it. His ineptitude and poor interpretation of a series that both Endou-san and Shimoyanagi-san are passionate about serves to anger both of them and thus recognise that they are more similar than either wants to admit. With a common interest and common opinions we reach a point where in inner children in them are able to reconcile with each other and work towards putting their feud behind them.
As the four characters leave after a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon all is summed up my Endou-san’s comment of “I’m glad I came”. Aoi too expresses how happy she is with the turn of events which fuels speculations that the whole meeting had been synthesized by her. Parallels are drawn between recent events and the story of the Idepon anime and thus Aoi is dubbed with the nickname of Idepon Miyamori in reference to the fact that she -accidentally- had two warring factions fight so they could get past their differences.
With her new nickname, Idepon Miyamori boldly suggests that since they are all in Akihabara they should all go there. There turns out to be a building on which a large poster for Exodus is displayed. It is a powerful scene for the quartet and it is at this point that Endou-san states that he will return to work and animate the explosion scene. With that he walks off in the direction of the way back to the studio followed by a Tarou who is half confused and half overjoyed.
Some time passes and we cut back to the Musani studio and witness Endou-san already hard at work catching up with the backlog of work that this series of happenings has created.
The next morning is apparent that Endou-san has pulled an all-nighter in order to get the scene done in record time. As expected Tarou is annoying even in his praise of Endou-san’s work and rushes of to show the other member of the Idepon fan trio but, exhausted and tired, Endou-san lacks the energy to get overly angry at Tarou so decides to head home.
Endou-san’s return home is to be slightly delayed though for just as he is exiting the building he is called out to by Shimoyanagi-san how has just been shown the key frames by Tarou and has nothing but praise. In light of his improved view of Shimoyanagi-san’s character, Endou-san admits that he had watched the CG version and despite his pride as a key animator her concedes that it was well done. With new-found mutual respect for each other they agree it is best for them to lean from each other to better both of their work.
As we continue to witness the positive aftermath of Endou-san’s return we move inside the building once again and see Aoi at first becoming frustrated with Tarou but then being praised by the other production assistants. It would very much seem that Aoi, just like she did back in the animation club, has a talent for dealing with people. A talent that, provided it is used well, will take her far in the anime industry.
Episode six comes to an end with a brief clip of the key animated explosion sequence.
Well that was quite the episode and quite the review if I don’t say so myself. However it is not really my place to decide how good my writing is but I suppose that I am going for something of a quantity has a quality all of its own approach but now that I am writing over 3500 words per episode I cant help but feel it is a bit much so I guess I will endeavor to work on making my work more concise for next week (I would ideally like to keep it under 2500 words but what happens happens)
All the way back up at the top of this weeks review I mentioned that this weeks episode is my favorite thus far and this has to do with the structure of the episode. With regards to episode structure Shirobako is normally very good but I feel this weeks episode exemplifies this very well. As we watch Aoi deal with the feud between Endou-san and Shimoyanagi-san everyone that she encounters seems to have a little piece of advice that keeps her moving forward until we reach the culmination of all these encounters at the end of the episode where Aoi finally manages to set up a situation in which the feud can be resolved. This is a very grounded angle that the writers have gone for and I have to say that it is excellent to watch. P.A Works, more please.
You though I was done? Too bad there is a post credit this week!