Warning: contained within are spoilers pertaining to Shirobako episode thirteen and episodes preceding. It is recommended that you watch this before reading this review.
As a bit of house keeping first: I’m sure that you noticed but there is now a spoiler disclaimer at the top of the review. The lack of spoiler tags on the site up to this point is an issue that has been highlighted so it has been decided that we will be including disclaimers on all future posts.
That aside it is business as usual (regrettably that also means my, now seemingly usual, delays as well) so on to the review:
Thankfully episode thirteen is not a New Years themed episode as I don’t think that I could face putting out another seasonal episode review so late after the actual event. Instead we start off the episode by joining Aoi and the, now notably smaller, production staff for the first morning meeting of the year. The format of the meeting is as standard for these events but the meeting does provide the president with the opportunity to announce the fact that Musashino Animation have been able to secure the rights to produce an anime adaptation of the third aerial girls squad (apparently the dealings we finalized off-screen). News which is very much to surprise of everyone present, producing a suitably Tarou-like response from Tarou. There is little time for celebrating the acquisition of such a popular title though as with their now reduced staff and high expectations to meet time will once again be tight.
With the meeting adjourned and the first showing of the new second cour opening credits behind us we move to a smaller meeting between the only two remaining productions assistants and Watanabe-san in which it is announced that Aoi will be promoted to the position of Production desk. Aoi whist still being the newest member of the staff and still very much a rookie is quite thrown off by the prospects of this but, as Watanabe-san explains, there is not really any other option. The full weight of this position does not immediately hit Aoi, as in a move that is probably more for the sake of those watching, Aoi proceeds to ask what exactly the job will entail. As it turns out the job of production desk is perhaps the most important job of them all; if one were to liken the studio to a series of cogs then the production desk is the poor soul tasked with manually cranking the machine along.
One thing at a time though, for Aoi has yet to finish reading the original work so in the next scene we see Aoi reading the third volume of the manga. By the looks of things Aoi has returned home to do the reading and is being harassed by the two desk based mascot characters. Aoi pays them no mind as she is engrossed in reading, the story is evidently a good one as it is able to reduce her to tears.
Reading finished and Aoi is back in the office getting stuck into her new job as production desk. She may be inexperienced seems to have got the temperament required for this job nailed much to the surprise of the director, with whom she has her first dealings. Having experienced the problems caused by the whims of Seiichi-san so this time wants to have a clear and detained plan of action laid out ahead of time that represents the entirety of his vision, thus avoiding potential remakes.
The director is not the only one to be surprised in this conversation though with Aoi being taken aback quite a bit by just how serious Seiichi-san is about this. Him being serious is a very good thing though, particularly for Aoi for -as explained by Madoka-san and Yamada-san- the director and production desk are tied to the same fate much to Aoi’s concern. Seiichi-san however is confident and attempts to generate faith from Aoi by listing off the “dream-team” he has lined up for the staff (changes to production not withstanding, it is the same team as he had for exodus).
Talk about falling at the first hurdle though. Seiichi-san has barely finished his decoration when we cut to the next scene in which the planned character designer, Ogasawara-san, refuses the role. Her refusal is not for an expected reason though, rather it is an unexpected side effect of Sugie-san’s involvement in the production of the last episode. Because of this Ogasawara-san feels like she needs to return to basics in order to progress as an artist so is unwilling to dedicate time to a job she sees only as a distraction.
All is not lost for too long though as Ogasawara-san, who is approaching this issue in her typical manner, has nominated Iguchi-san as her replacement. With this much said Iguchi-san is quickly summoned and surprised by the news. Iguchi-san is rather hesitant to accept the role and acts in a manner reminiscent of Aoi every time she lands a new job or promotion but Ogasawara-san is insistent that she is well suited for the job. Such insistence from the much acclaimed Ogasawara-san is all that it takes to convince Seiichi-san and Aoi though and with their additional persuasive weight -mostly the weight of Aoi though as she quickly cuts Seiichi-san off before he can say anything problematic Iguchi-san is won over and accepts the job.
With things not going 100% to plan but with progress being made regardless we push on to the second half of the episode and join Aoi and Seiichi-san as they meet with Atsumi Yuuji, an art director, with whom Seiichi-san wishes to discuss the symbolic use of clouds in the background. This is quite a good idea for a show featuring fighter jets but a nice idea is all that it is at this point as Seiichi-san lacks the required knowledge about clouds to make informed decisions about the idea, much to the annoyance of Atsumi-san who seems to be quite the fan of clouds. Production desk Aoi is on hand to prevent the negotiations going too far south though and despite the director leaving feeling dejected Aoi reassures him that Atsumi-san can still be convinced to take the job.
Time passes and we and we cut forward to a time after Aoi has finished for the day and is on the phone to her sister, informing her of the promotion. The anime industry job titles are a bit confusing for Kaori-san and Aoi’s limited knowledge of what exactly her new job entails does not really go very far to clarifying things. Aoi does however, fully realize that her new job will be even more hard work, to the extent that she doubts she will have the time to cook properly.
Aoi starts the next day early and we rejoin her in the library, doing some research on fighter jets. The same library that we once saw Midori in and was assumed by me to be her collage’s library but I guess the fact that Aoi is there means that it is a public one. On the topic of Midori, Aoi is suddenly surprised my a tap on the shoulder from her friend who is curious as to what she is doing. Upon learning that Aoi is doing this research Midori is curious and excited which is somewhat to Aoi’s surprise as she is having a hard time of it.
Having extensive conversations in a public library is considered bad manners though so in order for the conversation to continue Aoi and Midori move outside. Aoi attempts to clarify her understanding of what she has learnt thus far but this only serves to demonstrate how little she has actually manged to understand. Midori however sees this as an opportunity to produce another summary along the lines of the one she produced on diesel trains. Aoi is cautions about the ethics behind this kind of think but Midori is more than happy to do it completely confidentiality. Aoi is grateful for the offer of help but cant help but wonder why Midori is willing to go this far but doesn’t have to wait long for a suitably moving response as by helping Aoi, Midori feels that she too is contributing towards the making of anime and feels that it allows her to get closer to her dream. A response that Aoi could and would, never wish to counter.
Continuing on with the theme of Aoi’s old school friends we next transition to the perspective of Shizuka as she receives news that she has secured an audition for another role. This much potentially serves to finally tie Shizuka’s story into Aoi and Ema’s, for the role is a character in the upcoming anime adaptation of the third aerial girls squad. The feeling of everything finally coming together is quite the noticeable one this episode and many hints are given as to the inevitable involvement of everyone from the animation club which is quite nice to see. Waiting till the second cour for this to happen was, in my opinion, a rather good call as we are now well acquainted with all the returning support characters and the production side of the anime so now should be considered the opportune moment at which to expand the spectrum of areas at which we look at in the same degree of depth that we looked into the role of production assistant. Returning to events, Shizuka is understandably pleased with the fact that she has manged to secure this audition and later that day imparts this much to her old teacher Tateo-san, who is naturally pleased with the fact her old student is doing better now.
After this section we return to events at Musashino Animation to find out that Aoi and the directors decision to abide by Ogasawara-san’s wishes and have Iguchi-san do the character design has not floated with Watanabe-san as well as they might have liked. It is not Iguchi-san’s inexperience that is the problem here though, Musani was only given the rights to the third aerial girls squad on the basis that the staff would be the same as it was for Exodus so such a change might be problematic. This isn’t the only staff change to have happened though and Watanabe-san says he will talk it over with Katsuragi-san but tells Aoi that he will need samples of work from Iguchi-san as soon as possible and also suggests that she checks in with him daily in order to confirm that she is making the right calls (I was pretty irresponsible to just leave the new production desk to figure things out on her own to start with).
The natural flow of things would dictate that we next transition to Iguchi-san and this much is indeed what happens. She is hard at work but with this being her first time in the character designer role she is finding it hard going. A dialogue to explain how the conversion between a manga character and an anime character is set up by the appearance of Ema and after a short while Ogasawara-san too. If I were to highlight notable changes between this episode and the episodes of the first cour I would have to say that we seem to now have a stronger focus explanations regarding the ins and outs of anime production which I quite like on the grounds that I personally find it facilitating and I would speculate that I am not alone in this.
Staying with the logical flow of things we next transition to a meeting between the senior Musashino Animation staff and a representative from the book publisher. Said representative is certainly a character but not in a good sense as he does perhaps, stand in contention for worst character (that is right, worse than Tarou!) on the grounds that he simply doesn’t seem to have even the remotest interest in the anime adaptation. Firstly being the bringer of bad news -the author is to busy to attend- and then blitzing though the meeting with a torrent of yeses and that’s fines to everything. Leaving before anything can be agreed on, essentially saying that everything to do with the anime is up to Musani. Technically this could be considered a good thing as Musashino Animation have basically just been given free reign over the project but the fact that the meeting ended the way it did leaves the Musani staff feeling abandoned.
Pressing on regardless we now join Aoi, Seiichi and Maitake-san as they go on a research trip to an aviation museum. The inclusion of this scene pleases me greatly as one of the things that gets me very excited when watching anime is the inclusion of locations based off of real places, particularly those that I know of (you should have seen my face whilst watching the first episode of kiniro mosaic or the K-On! movie). As well as providing P.A. Works with an opportunity to give us shots of various jets and helicopters it also gives Seiichi and Maitake-san the chance to discuss how they want to proceed with regards to the adaptation of the story and for Aoi to deliver the results of Midori’s research to them. Like last time the research is very well received and under inquiry Aoi reveals the source of the information but far from this being a problem it seems to bode well for Midori as Maitake-san shows much interest in using her a collator for further information which could perhaps represent Midori’s ticket into the anime industry.
Continuing on with the things are going well despite the lack of cooperation form the book shop theme we tie up events surrounding the production of the character designs by joining Iguchi-san as she delivers the finished artwork for the main characters to Aoi and Seiichi-san. Artwork that is met with praise and approval but also with news that she still needs to compete the artwork for the secondary characters but knowing how Shirobako works this much will likely be done off-screen.
The last scene before we get to have a look at the second cour ending credits shows a very determined looking Shizuka standing outside a familiar looking recording studio and thus sets up events for the next episode.
Well the second cour of Shirobako is certainly off to a good start, sadly the start my writing schedule for the winter season is not so good as the last two weeks have been really busy for me and university has generated an awful lot of work so early on in the year. Excuses are cheap though so hopefully I will be able to find enough time to burn though the backlog that has built up quickly.
So until next time, thank you for reading.