Shows You Might Have Missed - Shirobako

Shirobako is an anime about people making anime, and no this is NOT another show where character antics takes precedence over the subject matter. Here, the physical production of anime and the working lives people behind the making of anime take front and center stage.

The story of Shirobako ostensibly follows the lives of a group of 5 friends who dreamed of working in the field of anime production, and must now live through the trials, tribulations and reality of their now working lives. Rather than narrowing its narrative focus onto the group however, Shirobako is instead more focused on developing a fleshed out large-ensemble cast, featuring at different points of the show the people who write, direct, draw, animate, edit, and produce anime. It is so, so easy to forget when we consume the media, whether we like it or find fault and praise in its production, that it is a product created real people, and by real people I mean people that earn way less than they could be, who work in a brutal high-stressed environment all year round and really aren't that respected in their own wider society, all because it is what they want to be doing.

Shirobako is an upbeat slice-of-life about these very people. The anime industry is portray as a life consuming, soul sucking working life that can very easily turn even the most passionate people into jaded individuals. Pretty much every player in the show at some point exhibits their feelings of emptiness, frustration, and weariness. A good attitude and having a dream to hold onto isn't just some luxury to hold onto, it's simply something they NEED to even avoid continuing on as some washed-up, jaded wreck. Every successful industry veteran in the show has some passion they refuse to let go of and gives them the inner strength to thrive. Many of them know their outlook isn't that great, bad even, but they keep their chins up and push on, and their relentlessly positive and cheerful attitude make the show quite enjoyable to watch. The show isn't here to send a message on the problems and realities of the industry despite its often dour image, but rather to celebrate the efforts and passions of the people behind it all despite the difficulties.

Even without all the talk about the anime industry however, the show itself can already be considered a surprisingly effective piece of character slice-of-life, as we get to follow the trials and tribulations of the cast throughout the story.  Through every roadblock, setback, and small little successes the characters undergo every time we get to see genuine instances personal growth and it helps them come across as very human. If I had any complaints on the story, it would be that not every interesting character gets their journey fully fleshed out and felt like missed opportunities, but that doesn't diminish what the show has achieved in its many and varied character stories.

All this is backed up by yet another rock-solid production by P.A.Works. The subject matter and tone of the show necessitated the studio's characteristic colorful, artistic flair be toned down a notch, but the well animated, thoroughly consistent and holistic production means I can nary find a significant technical flaw in its production. Its another strong entry in the studio's already impressive portfolio, and perhaps one of their best to date.

All in all, I would say I greatly enjoyed watching Shirobako as a show and an experience. If you really like anime, it is well worth the look into their fascinating world. Heck, even if don't give a damn, its still a good enough show to be well worth the watch.


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