Disclaimer: This post tries to be as spoiler-free as possible.
Shirobako is an anime original by P.A. Works, who belong to one of those anime studios with most of their anime projects being anime originals (eg. Angel Beats!, Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari, Nagi no Asukara, Glasslip and of course Shirobako).
As this anime presents all the boring behind-the-scenes everyday lives of the people who produce anime, what’s a better way to tell the story than with all the main characters being kawaii bishoujos? Here we have 5 heroines who represents the many sides of anime creation:
Miyamori Aoi is the protagonist of Shirobako and most of the time the story is told in her perspective. She is a production assistant working in Musashino Animation, an anime studio that is struggling to take the limelight after a disaster involving their last anime project. Because the production assistant needs to interact with every department of the company to ensure that the anime production is done on schedule, you’ll get to see Miyamori having to constantly face a lot of stress and pressure due to overwork, deadlines, problematic colleagues, and so on.
Yasuhara Ema is an animator in Musashino Animation, and an amateur starting out at that. The anime tries to convey the stress and troubles that an animator might go through using her character like having an animator’s (writer’s) block.
Sakaki Shizuka is an aspiring voice actress, or seiyuu at Aka Oni Production. While she is not doing seiyuu work, she works part-time as a waitress at a pub. She is the personification of the woes a typical seiyuu in Japan might undergo in a saturated industry full of amateur and veteran seiyuu. With so many newbie seiyuu popping up in Japan in the recent years trying to earn their limelight, the pressure is there to carve out a fan base and a lovable personality in the industry.
Toudou Misa works as a 3D designer in her company, and represents the 3D CG sides of the anime industry. With the rise of 3D animation using software as a viable alternative to traditional 2D animation drawn by hand, the anime tries to portray both sides of animation and how they try to justify their side as the better form of animation while treating the opposing side with disdain. In Misa’s perspective, you will get to see her struggle to maintain her love of 3D animation while performing her boring job at her company.
Imai Midori is the only college student out of the group. Her dream is to be a scriptwriter and she always admire her friends for already being involved in the anime industry. She can sometimes be seen helping Miyamori out with research on certain topics relating to the anime she is working on.
Many of us knew the process of making anime was tough work, but just how tough is it? Danny Choo had a chance to take a look inside J.C. Staff and Production I.G.:
So after all that has been said, what is the purpose of this anime? What is P.A. Works trying to convey through this show? Are they just running out of ideas for anime story plots that they have to make an anime about animated characters animating more animated characters? I think not.
This may just be my biased assertion but I believe that the anime studio is trying to show us that producing anime is tough work by showing the amount of effort put into each and every anime they make. This also goes for all other anime studios out there. With the abundance of piracy and unofficial anime streaming websites at the convenience of a simple Google search, they are starting to feel unappreciated for their work.
By letting viewers in on the process of making the series, they hope the viewers would understand as well as support them by turning to less unofficial anime streaming sites and go through the proper purchasing/membership channels so that the producers get rewarded for an anime well done.
So after watching this series, would you appreciate anime more?