Shirobako – 05

Shirobako-Just one punch

Come on, just one punch!


This is what happens when you get back to the grind: you find that all sorts of stuff has fallen apart.


Just Punch Him!!!!

Shirobako-please just a punch

Tarou’s face just asks for it…

Seriously, Aoi needs to just deck Tarou. I know we have Erika smacking him every week (where was this week’s smack, tho? I’m jonesin’ for it!) but I’m about ready for Aoi to punch him. This week he involves her, because she’s the ‘nice’ coworker, in his complete fuck up of the production of episode 8. And it really is Tarou’s fault. Some people are good at bringing people together to a mutually acceptable conclusion, like Aoi did for episode 4 with the redo of the crucial scene. And then some people are only good at driving people’s opinions apart. And that he does it with such unconscious ease is pretty amazing.

Shirobako-Not helping the situation

Doing what he does best… be terrible

What did he do? Well, he managed to inflame a disagreement between two polarized sides of animation production: 3D and 2D. Instead of mediating, his dismissive and patronizing nature makes both Endou and Shimoyanagi harden their attitudes toward doing the climactic explosion of episode 8 in their respective disciplines, leading to Endou quitting not just as the key animator, but also the animation supervisor for episode 8. At least Tarou’s retelling doesn’t make him out to be any sort of hero, as Aoi rightly pins all the blame on him. And Tarou even tries to blame Aoi for not listening when he called her, even though as we saw last week he was much more interested in talking about her girl friends and drinking and what kind of girl he likes.


Getting a little perspective

But Aoi just can’t get away from this whole debacle, because of the antagonism between some in the Key Animation world and 3D. Endou takes his young compadre, Hotta, to talk to an old friend Kitano, who they find out is working on teaching Key Animation techniques to 3D animators. In response to Endou and Hotta’s horror at such treachery, Kitano rightly observes that it’s better for anime if the product is better. And denying the whole enterprise won’t get you anywhere except out of work. I liked how Kitano didn’t rise to Endou’s bait of “Dey tuk ur jobz!” but instead replied with “don’t you think that you can use your skills in different (but still relevant) ways?” It seems like Endou had a bit of a light go on, but Hotta sure didn’t, because he forces the issue by doing Key Animation for the intro to episode 9, Aoi’s episode which links to the same explosion from episode 8. Too bad that the explosion is supposed to match (because if it doesn’t, folks like me would mention it on their blogs…). Of course, this is another reason to punch Tarou in the face, because of his reaction: “Hah, now you’re in the same boat as me.” What a jerk.

Purun-Purun Prison

Shirobako-do not mess with Honda

Do not screw with this man

 Honda’s fed up with Kinoshita, and it’s a critical point, because there’s nothing of the finale. Oh, there’s 25% of the storyboards. That’s not gonna cut it. So Okitsu the fixer comes up with a possible solution: the jail cell in the store room. Let’s not ask WHY there’s a jail cell in the storeroom, with tatami mats. We’ll just whistle past that particular graveyard. But that means it’s lockup time. Will it get anything done? Or will it just lose both Honda and Kinoshita some sleep?

Shirobako-Just giving up

Just get to work already

It does give these two industry veterans some time to talk, even if Honda would rather that Kinoshita just did his work. You get the feeling that both of them are feeling like they’re reaching the end of their rope, Honda at wrangling recalcitrant directors, Kinoshita at his inability to recatch the fire that he used to have before Puru-Ten. But ultimately, it’s the threat of the first series to ever end with a recap episode that gets Kinoshita to put his head down and get to work. Not even the studio head’s fried chicken was able to do that. By the way, who besides me thinks that guy has the funniest attitude? Honda’s losing his mind because of how far behind the finale is, and the head’s like “ahh, that Kinoshita…” Not the most urgent of people. But maybe that’s how you need to be sometimes.

Shirobako-Even Segawa is concerned

If Segawa’s in the show, I’ll put in a screenshot of her


Is 3D the future? I personally think that it has to have advantages. I see shows with heavy usage of 3D now, and I really enjoy them. Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Girls und Panzer, Karen Senki (that’s an underrated little show, for sure). I don’t mind these heavy CG shows. Sure, when something is blended in badly, it doesn’t work at all, like the CG in Tokyo Ravens or Unbreakable Machine-Doll, both of which used completely different textures for CG that made it stand out like a sore thumb. But then there are times when its use is magical, like the piano in Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, or even some of the performance sequences in Love Live! (and for a good example of how much CG has improved, compare the two performances of Snow Halation). And the way I see it, the more it’s used, the better it will get. Techniques improve, models improve, textures improve. As things are learned, the time it takes to do them goes down. And the time it takes to do the same thing again becomes much shorter. I think, like Kitano, that anime will have to embrace it, more than they have. And I think there will be a place for key animation as well, but it will certainly be reduced.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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18 Responses to “Shirobako – 05”

  1. RJD TAYLER says:

    Aoi should send on a left handed hammer hunt in Hokiado or something, like tomorrow.

  2. JPNIgor says:

    The problem with CG animation in Japan is that it doesn’t work with the manga-style character design and they are too behind in the character expressions in 3D. These latest shows that feature full CG animation has been executed well but the character design and their facial expression are laughable at the most.

    About the episode… God, I want to strangle Tarou. And Kinoshita, too.

    • Highway says:

      See, to me, that’s just a factor of time and experience. How many decades is CG anime behind hand-drawn, or even Pixar-style? 2? 3? And character detail animation is pretty much the last frontier that they’ve been moving on, because it’s the hardest. I think shows like Karen Senki are showing pretty big strides in that particular direction. And as it’s done, it goes into the “bank of knowledge”.

      Plus, it’s not like 2D doesn’t take some pretty egregious shortcuts with facial expressions at times.

      • skylion says:

        US 3D animation has had plenty of time (1997?) and experience, but for me, they’ve yet to break the glass ceiling they’ve put over themselves. All the films look the same to me irrespective of studio. “Pixarblobs” Is that a limitation of the tools, or a self-imposed limitation coming from “this is what it is supposed to look like”.

        • Highway says:

          It’s not a limitation of the tools, it’s probably a combination of “this is our style” and “this is what we have to build on.” And the other US studios doing the same thing is probably because 1) guys are coming from Pixar and that’s what they know how to do and 2) Pixar is successful at it, and they want to grab some of that success. Plus, let’s be honest: Pixarblobs are relatively simple to pull off now.

          I thought it interesting that Kitano called it “Japanimation”, a term that I haven’t heard in 20 years (and I think was considered a bit offensive even then). It would be interesting to see if some of the anime influence starts to filter into US animation, especially if there is convergence between the tools that both use. Disney has done a few drawn animated features in the past 10 years, but none of them have been anywhere near the successes of even the middling Pixar films.

          To me, one of the biggest advantages of fully CG productions is the seamlessness with the parts that they are going to do in CG anyway: fights, fast action, effects. Some shows are blending this in with key animation as well (like Girls und Panzer) but shows like Sidonia no Kishi and Karen Senki show how seamless it can be when it’s all rendered.

          • skylion says:

            Japanimation….I never took it as offensive, just kinda goofy.

            I wonder if what I am seeing in US 3D is the same thing the Key Animators are seeing..

          • JPNIgor says:

            Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are some of the best examples when it comes to japanese influence in western animation. Even though it’s mostly drawn in South Korea… Which is not… Japan…

      • JPNIgor says:

        2D character design only gets lazy when character expression is not important at a given time. When it is needed, it delivers gloriously. 3D fails in character expression when it’s most needed. Whoever watched Knights of Sidonia must remember Izana’s facial expressions when he/she/it/whatever was jealous.

        • Highway says:

          I think Sidonia is a poor one to use as comparison. They obviously spent very little effort on facial expressions (starting from the very beginning). But it’s also true that 2D doesn’t just get lazy when it doesn’t matter. The climax of Golden Time, for instance, was embarrassingly bad, with cheeky mouth profile talking that just looked awful. They *can* do better, but that doesn’t mean they will. And I’m sure that CG will get to the same point. I think that the facial expressions in Arpeggio of Blue Steel were pretty good (if frequently subdued, because the characters like Iona and Haruna were subdued).

          • JPNIgor says:

            Yeah, most of the main characters in Arpeggio were kind of pokerface 24/7 so I couldn’t really tell if they made any effort in facial expressions there…

            • Highway says:

              In particular: Takao, Kirishima (when she wasn’t Houtarou the bear), and Kongou were very well done as far as range of expression. Kirishima in particular during her impending loss.

  3. HannoX says:

    The whole episode was good, but my favorite parts were two.

    First, Kitano’s little talk regarding 3D animation. It will get better and there’s a place for both 2D and 3D. For each side to dismiss the other is just ridiculous. Both sides must learn to embrace the other and work together. The goal of both is to turn out better anime and that is best achieved by using the strengths of each and integrating them.

    Second, the conversation between Honda and Kinoshita. As I said in an earlier episode review at one time Kinoshita was a hot director in order to get another chance, even years later, at helming another series. It’s just that things went disastrously wrong with his labor of love Puru-Ten and that apparently destroyed his confidence. I expect him to regain it by the end of Exodus. Although it came awfully late in the process, his reimagining of the main character’s character resulted in a better character and will improve the show. It was a flash of his old fire returning.

    The line to strangle Tarou forms on the right and I’ll be in it.

    • Highway says:

      One thing stuck with me as well: the key animators complaining that 3D takes so long. This is something that I’ve run into as well in my job. There are new computerized modeling tools that I could use for my work. But until right about now (literally, we are just starting to use them) we have not spent the time to learn how to use them, because of the initial investment in time to educate ourselves on their use. Ultimately, my job is not to know how to use drainage software. My job is to give my client a set of plans with a functional drainage system they can build. So it’s been hard to justify spending the time learning the software on one project and potentially making that one late, even though it would have a time-saving effect on later projects.

      The same thing would happen in animation, I think. Yeah, making this explosion would take a long time, but the next one would go a lot faster because they know things to do. I think that is known subconsciously by the key animators, and they’re actually somewhat afraid of that, because it’s irrational to think that something that is always slower and inferior is going to take your job, they have to figure that eventually it will be faster and better.

  4. bobob101 says:

    I see you mentioning you are part of the problem lol.

    What stuck out the most was when Segawa said she was going to be drawing for the next 30 years just to put food in her mouth. It is common knowledge anime doesn’t pay amazingly well, and the show is showing how hard the people are worked. I wouldn’t want this show to be really depressing and show how hard it can be at its worst. I really appreciate these nods to the harshness of the job. That is the kind of stuff that makes this show the most realistic to me, and as a result I think the show is even better.

    • Highway says:

      But what exactly is “the problem”?

      Perhaps it’s the way I think of ‘jobs’. People don’t have ‘jobs’. Noone should be ‘giving’ anyone a ‘job’. If you do work that other people value, those people will pay you for it. They will pay you what they think its value is. What you, as the person doing the work, think it’s value is is almost irrelevant. It is only relevant in the calculus of whether you will continue to do the work for what you get paid for it. This is true of any work, whether it’s drawing anime, cooking, office work, ditch digging, anything. Where I think a lot of people have a hard time is understanding that just because it’s hard work doesn’t mean that other people should value it more. It’s easy for anyone to say “They don’t value my work enough!” I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think that. But it really doesn’t matter. Unless there is severe distortion, then what you’re getting paid is what it’s worth, because that’s what your part is worth to the next customer, etc.

      I do think the show is being realistic about how hard people work, and the kind of schedules they’re on. And it’s true that “if you don’t work, you don’t eat”. But it’s sheer luddism to fight against technical innovation in your field because you fear it will put you out of a job. Either those innovations happen and your work changes, or *you will not have that work*. In the long run, that’s what always happens.

      • HannoX says:

        I agree it’s just luddism to reject technical innovation in your job field. Technology always happens and change can’t be stopped, only delayed for a while and then it’s going to run over you.

        But there’s one important aspect regarding 2D vs 3D that hasn’t been mentioned so far in the show or in these comments. Whether it’s 2D or 3D the most important thing is the artist using the technique. You still have to be an artist to create art either way. A 2D artist can learn to use the software to create 3D art. However, no matter how good you are at using the software, if you don’t have an artist’s eye your creation might be technically proficient, but it will be missing something, might as well call it ‘soul.’ And perhaps that missing something is what the key animators are complaining 3D lacks.

  5. Namaewoinai says:

    I was wondering…why is that guy (endou) thinks that 3D animation technique is kinda distasteful or perhaps it needs to be addressed.

    and UGH…Please Mr. Tarou Takanashi Stop whimping around and get to

    and the director guy uh…i see doing a Little girl Genius around here lately…kinda remember of ep13 or14 of this show …if somebody notice it..

  6. Soliloquy says:

    This was an interesting episode because I also had similar conversation Mr. Endo had with an acquaintance from uni. We have pretty much been studying same topic, digital media and this acquaintance is pretty much in agreement with Mr. Endo saying 2D animation is much more detailed and fluid. I also have to lean to what he is saying. While 3D makes the job easier but it takes lots of tinkering to make it look genuine. At the same time I do have to say I learnt a bit about the subtlety from this episode.

    It’s interesting dilemma that I don’t really enjoy the characters as much as other viewers but the whole behind the scene from anime production fascinates me, I don’t miss the episode. Hopefully, soon they fire Mr Takanashi because for all his liability, he certainly have quite a bit of screentime when it could be given some other staffs.

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