Shirobako – 07

Shirobako-There are some problems that aren't solved by donuts

There are some problems that even donuts can’t solve

spring14-highwHi everyone and welcome back for the anime about anime.


How Do You Find Your Flow


Some people never grow up

The transition from school to working is something that is really tough for a lot of people. You’re learning things like “I didn’t learn anything in school” and “Damn, I suck.” Well, you’re also learning about actually doing your job, the skills you need, the processes you need to follow or even improve on. And while the show has been focusing so far on Aoi and her growth as a production assistant, we get a little bit of a shift this week (since Aoi’s seemingly on top of her work) to Ema, who it seems has been struggling as a new Key Animator.

Shirobako-Some advice

It’s not bad advice, but she might take it the wrong way

And Ema’s struggle is something known to almost everyone. You need to produce, but what you produce has to be good enough. She wants to have higher quality, but is afraid that her slow speed is dooming her. This is certainly a dilemma and her struggle attracts the attention of Sugie, the old experienced key animator on staff. Unfortunately, his suggestions are somewhat circular: You need to draw more to get better, you need to get better to have higher quality, you need higher quality to get faster, and you need to be faster to draw more. And he finishes his advice with the somewhat disheartening advice of “If you can’t do that, you quit.” And also the self-admonition that “I’m just an old guy who missed his chance to quit.”

Missing the Mark

Shirobako-Segawa again

This is why you have the supervisor

Unfortunately, Ema takes the wrong side of that information to heart. Focusing on the “work on speed while you’re young and technique while you’re old” part of Sugie’s advice, along with Aoi’s pressing her to get her cuts done as quickly as possible, she actually does get faster, making Aoi happy. Until that call from Segawa, the animation supervisor for Aoi’s episode 9. I found it cool that the show went to the lengths to tell us what the specific problem with Ema’s cuts were: The lines were too vague and sloppy, which would lead to the in-between animators not being able to pick up the transitions, leading to the scene ‘melting’. I’ll admit that I couldn’t really see what the issue was as Segawa paged through the sheets, and I think it would be even more interesting to see more of a point-by-point explanation of “Here to here, this would be the problem.” But maybe that’s just me (and I doubt that many people would be interested in my explanation of why a storm drain system was sloppily designed and should have been done a different way, even though I’ve seen the same kind of thing) and I understand how they are pressed for time in the show.

Shirobako-Ema is down

Ema takes it really hard

The problem remains, tho, how to tell Ema. Aoi’s sister’s advice about ‘diligent’ people, a reputation that Ema has gotten, rings true: they’re very hard on themselves, and they can get away from what they want to do based on the advice of others. And when Ema and Aoi are talking, it’s obvious that Ema does feel lost. She feels pressure to get things done, she feels pressure to be better, she feels pressure to not have a bad reputation, which she’s sure she’s gotten (I thought Aoi should have chimed in with the other things that Segawa said about “her usual output”). She focuses too much on it being a ‘total failure’, and even on ‘someone else is better than me’ when reminded of how fast she’s been moving up. In short, she takes it entirely the wrong way, the way you don’t want someone to react after being told they need to redo something. An attitude like that doesn’t get the retakes done better or faster, and it has the result of just dragging the person down even more. We’ll have to see how Ema can pull out of it next week, or will that bring down all of Exodus?


Shirobako-Tarou is wrong again

Once again, Tarou is an idiot

Speaking of bringing down all of Exodus, while last week Ochiai was saying that he couldn’t leave his production assistant job at MusAni during the Exodus production and go to Canaan early, this week he’s apparently changed around and is going to be bailing now. That means that everyone’s tasks get shuffled around. I don’t know who is doing episode 10 (Tarou 8, Aoi 9, ? 10, Ochiai 11, Erika 12, Ochiai 13), presumably the 5th person who wasn’t pointed out, or maybe it’s Honda who has taken a couple of episodes, but as Erika says “things get pushed down the line”. On top of that, Aoi is assigned to episode 13, the final episode. And as Ochiai says, it’s a good news / bad news situation. The good news is that you get a little more recognition for being the PA for the final episode. The bad news is that it’s kinda hellish, and I can imagine why: It’s the end of the season, all the slack that you have used up throughout the series is now gone, and on top of that people are looking forward to the next production and checking out on the current production.


And so he gets smacked

The “I recommend it for promotion” line is something that rings a couple warning bells for me. One, Erika’s wondering about it being tough love: does she think she should get it, or does she think that it’s a little rough for Aoi? I can understand that Erika would probably be better at getting up to speed on the short timeframe for episode 11, and also that because 12 has been going well it would be better to hand it off. But does she feel like she’s being passed over, or possibly that she’s getting stuck in a PA position? It doesn’t seem that she’s that upset about it, so maybe it’s more of a “feeling sorry for Aoi” kind of thing.


Another excellent episode. While I continue to think that Glasslip is probably PA Works’ best artistic effort, I think that the amount of personal love of what they do that’s being poured into this prodution is matchless. Nothing’s glossed over, it’s not like they’re making a particularly sanitized version of what goes on, but it feels all so real even though they’re focusing this show on these new people in the industry. And to a degree, that’s a lot of what all jobs revolve around: bringing in new people. It’s really surprising how much time is taken getting new people up to speed, to be useful at the office. And when you’re done with them, there are other new people to get up to speed. It never ends. We’ll see how this drama with Ema ends, tho, as the preview sure didn’t give anything away. Hopefully she’ll get some confidence in herself.


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!
Blinklist BlogMarks Delicious Digg Diigo FaceBook Google MySpace Netvibes Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter

10 Responses to “Shirobako – 07”

  1. skylion says:

    Why am I reminded of who is doing SAO from week to week?

    I love the mediation on how you build discipline. Ema so wants the journey to be over, but is faltering on how to take the first step. Good pacing on stories part to bring that bit by bit.

    And wow, someone actually is showing they give a crap about In-Betweeners. From what I now of the business, they are second class at best.

    • Highway says:

      I don’t know if they’re worried about the in-between animators themselves, just that there are conditions that need to be met so they can do a good job. Segawa’s solely worried about the finished product, not the well-being of the people who have to make it.

  2. bobob101 says:

    I honestly just finished re-watching Otaku no Video before I saw this post, so good timing all around. If Otaku no Video is the story of the founding of Gainax, this is the day to day existence of PA works. You have animators and CG people bickering, swaps of production assistants when you really need them, and Tarou like assholes who make everyone mad (I’m convinced the whole point of the show is ACTUALLY to get a guy named Tarou who works at PA works to quit).

    It is funny how this really picks up the pace in episode 4, so if you follow the 3 episode rule, you might miss out on when the show gets good IMO.

    • Highway says:

      It would be really funny if there was a specific guy that Tarou was based on, but there’s no way that a guy like that quits. He’s the guy who wouldn’t understand that he’s the guy on the show.

      I personally didn’t see a difference in how the show proceeded through the first 7 episodes. But then, I pretty much eat up PA Works shows, and think they’re ‘really good’ all the time. For instance, I thought that meeting about the direction of Arupin, even all of Tracy, in the second episode was gripping.

      • HannoX says:

        Yeah, “Tarou” would be too dense to realize it’s him.

      • Bobob101 says:

        I feel the show did change direction quite a bit in episode 4. the first three were solely Aoi workng with others to try and fix her mess. To me, those episodes were more focused on introducing people and what it’s like to work in anime. I’m not saying they were bad at all, but episode 4 and onward is when we start learning what makes these characters tick.

  3. HannoX says:

    I’ve been hoping for an episode focusing on Ema and now I’ve gotten one with apparently another one to follow. It’s tough in any line of work when you’re a new person and you see how the experienced people around you are doing so much better at a task you’re struggling with. Sugie did try to be helpful, but unfortunately his advice wasn’t the best. It should have been more like, “Everyone struggles at first. As you gain experience you’ll get faster. Here’s a couple tricks I’ve learned.”

    And Ema should have asked Goth-Loli for advice. But there’s that diligent person thing getting in the way. Ema feels she should be as good as people who’ve been doing it for years and doesn’t want to be a burden on her co-workers, thinking she’ll throw Goth-Loli off her schedule by turning to her. She hasn’t realized yet that it’s part of the job of the old-timers (not that Goth-Loli’s old) to help out the new people.

    Hopefully in the next episode or two she’ll get pass her crisis of confidence and the wall she seems to have hit in developing her skills. I would imagine speed is almost as important as quality in that line of work.

    Highway, I have nothing to do with storm drain systems, but I might actually be interested in hearing why a particular one was poorly designed. I can be nerdy that way.

    • Highway says:

      Actually, I think part of what Sugie was saying was the opposite of what you said: “You need to get faster now, you can get better later.” It’s almost like the tough love that Erika mentioned with Aoi. You’re thrown in the deep end. Hopefully you have enough wherewithal to get through it. Now, Ema’s been drawing in the industry for a year and a half, so she’s got some experience, but she’s on something new, something where she’s less directed, I think. So she has to come up with more original drawings, rather than following along with what other people did.

      I also wonder how much help Iguchi (glasses) and Ogasawara (goth-loli-sama) can give her as far as how to improve her productivity, which is the main thing she’s worried about. As Aoi mentioned, Ema’s already got a high seat rate, that means she has to work faster.

      (this is in contrast to me, someone who has a low focus rate: If I wanted to up my productivity, I would spend more time actually working, and less making comments about anime…)

      • HannoX says:

        I would think there’d be some tips they could give her something like, “When drawing this you don’t have to be as exacting, but with that you do have to.” That alone would improve her productivity since she wouldn’t be spending too much time on something she could fudge a little. I’m sure an actual animation artist could think of more tips.

Leave a Reply