Shirobako Review & Characters - Don, Don Donuts Lets Go Nuts!


  • Episodes : 24
  • Genre : Comedy, Drama
  • Airing Date : Oct 9, 2014 - Mar 26, 2015
  • Producers : Sotsu Agency, P.A. Works, Movic, Sentai FilmworksL, Warner Bros., The Klock Worx, Showgate

Shirobako Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

Shirobako follows 5 high-school friends who were members of the Animation Club who go on to pursue careers in Anime. Most of the show revolves around the fictional anime studio, Musashino Animation, where our main Character, Aoi Miyamori, works as a production assistant. Aoi has to juggle long hours, omnipresent deadlines, as well as handling the staff at her studio in order to meet her goals. Aoi and her friends are soon realizing that a career in anime isn’t all sunshine and roses, but hold fast to the promise to remake an production they did during high school together.

Who does Shirobako cater to?

Shirobako has been widely touted and well-received and this is in no small part to how accessible it is. It’s a slice of life workplace dramedy, which closely examines what actually working in anime is like. As such, Shirobako is a must-see for any serious anime fan, as the characters passion for the medium definitely made me reflect on why I love anime and the shows and moments that really endeared me to the medium as a whole.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

Shirobako made me cry of joy multiple times. Show’s don’t often do that, anime or otherwise. I could never spoil the moments in Shirobako in good conscience, as they were some of the most fun I’ve had watching anime in the last few years. What I will say is that Shirobako turns the mundane, into the heroic. Many of the situations that have occurred remind me of situations I’ve been in working in offices, or were specifically relevant to me as a young 20 something trying to figure out his passion in life.

Shirobako manages a huge cast about as well as you can in Anime and brings out themes of friendship, passion, doing your best while also examining alienation, cynicism and good ol’ fashion workplace bureaucracy.

Shirobako Main Characters List

Aoi Miyamori

Voice Actor :Kimura, Juri

Aoi lands a job at Musashino as a production assistant. Production in Anime is sort of like support/oversight, keeping track of all the tasks and projects needed to complete an episode. She finds it’s no easy task and, like most characters, struggles to meet her goals and deadlines. Aoi sometimes feels a bit insecure because of her work as a Production assistant feels less concrete than her other friends. However, Aoi has a solid work-ethic as well as a true passion for Anime and her co-workers, and becomes an essential member of the team.

Ema Yasuhara

Voice Actor : Yoshimura, Haruka

Ema also works at Musashino animation as a key animator. Ema is a bit shy and withdrawn, and initially feels a bit overwhelmed with her work. She struggles early on to manage the deadlines and demands of an animator while at the same time drawing with consistent quality. Still, Ema is committed to her craft and developers her skills, being helped along the way by some senior members, who help her become a fine young animator.

Midori Imai

Voice Actor :Ohwada, Hitomi

Midori is a college student who is trying to break into the Anime business as a screen-writer. Definitely a bookworm, we see a lot of Midori early on diving into literature, including Dostoyevsky. Midori has a knack for research and an ability to absolutely dive into a task at hand, devoting to it completely. This ability eventually leads her to jobs in the Anime industry.

Misa Toudou

Voice Actor :Takano, Asami

Misa studied 3D animation, and found a good job at a respectable company shortly afterwards. The trouble is, she’s not working in the anime industry, and spends her days designing cars for a game company. Misa has good income as well as security but feels she is moving away from her passion and struggles with feelings of alienation. Misa eventually has to choose with following her passion and risk failure, or stay safe and risk never attaining her dreams.

Shizuka Sakaki

Voice Actor :Chisuga, Haruka

Shizuka may be having the toughest go of it amongst her 3 friends. She’s trying to break into the Anime industry as a voice actor but it’s definitely easier said than done. Shizuka has to work hard just to get an audition, where dozens compete for the same roles. Directors have a tendency to pick established voice actors instead of new up and comers, meaning the odds are stacked squarely against Shizuka. Sometimes Shizuka wonders if she’ll even make it as a voice actor at all.


Contains Spoilers

Shirobako Review

Shirobako’s biggest strength is that you’re emotionally invested rather immediately, and this investment pays off in a big way towards the end of the show when we see some of Shirobako’s most heartwarming moments. It does this in a number of ways; the most important which is having likeable characters that are upfront about their feelings. You know their dreams and passions, as well as their anxieties and fears. All the dialogue seems well-done; all the characters seem real even if some of them are quite goofy.

Shirobako manages to use its large cast to its favor in this regard. I always worry about an Anime with a large cast. A lot of the times large casts either mean people disappear in favor of the main characters and reappear when it’s convenient for the plot, or it means that the main characters screen time is eaten up by those less important to the story. But by giving certain side characters the spotlight for a few episodes, Shirobako works wonders.

One of the most emotionally impactful parts of the show was when Ogasawara, usually known as ‘Goth-loli-Sama’ unveiled the reason the dresses the way she does. Hearing about how she ‘donned her armor’ to deal with unsympathetic superiors at her last job made you feel like you understood her, and really made me admire her for looking out for her colleagues.

In knowing how to use its side characters, the show also knows how to write and develop MC’s. As we saw before, each of them has aspirations in different areas of the industry. They face various hurdles throughout the way and not every one of them is as successful as the other. However, the friendship they have with each other comes off as believable and enviable. We see them go through their own personal struggles and issues and relate it back to each other.

You get the sense that they all care deeply and root for one another to succeed, leading to amazing moments when they breakthrough on their goals. Every time I rematch the scene where Aoi looks on as Shizuka plays her part in episode 24, I can’t help but tear up. You feel the emotion that Aoi feels and you’re proud of what Shizuka has done. If I had to pick one scene which stood out to me as the highlight of the show, it was this one. Because we had a slow buildup of Shizuka’s frustrations, as well as her friends support, culminate in such a big way, with such a big emotional payoff.

One more of the show’s strong points is its focus on the anime industry and making of anime itself. Even many of the casual anime fans will be able to spot out some of the references to famous directors, influential shows and studios and other facets of the industry and history behind animation. There’s a lot that Shirobako touches on that gives a sense that the writers really took the time to honor what’s been going on in Anime. These include Debates between use of 3D animation and traditional hand-drawn (called ‘Key Animation’. It also shows the perils of adapting material and getting the creator behind it, as well as differences and tensions between the generations who grow up with different type of anime.

The show depicts the tight schedules, overworked employees and some of the cynicism and malaise in the industry as a whole. Shirobako is a positive show that generally lands more of the comedy side of the ‘dramedy’ scale. However, it still shows firsthand what alienation in the industry can lead to. However, with a strong sense of humor, jokes and gags that will make you laugh out loud, I would never say this show ever became a downer. Overall the show handles the balance between having a comedic atmosphere with positive outlook yet punctuated by serious moments very well.

Shirobako is also a nice show to just look at. There’s very strong character design and one of the things I liked was that many characters often had a number of different outfits, which gives you a sense of realism in a work-place show and also just more designs to appreciate. The animation definitely has some stand out moments. Again, being the type of the show that It is there aren’t many chances for the animation to stand out but the show does a good job of finding different scenarios to showcase the fluid animation.

I also loved how the animation of various scenes in the show the characters work on is a key plot point. Often times we see the directors worry about how difficult a scene would be, and who they have to assign it to. Several times at the end of a series you see the animated scene come to life in a big payoff that just wants you to keep coming back to the show.

1. The MC’s, or ‘The Bakos’!

The 5 main’s that make up Shirobako, sometimes lovingly referred to as simply ‘The Bakos.’ It’s awesome to see them continue to fight for the dream and promise to each other they made in High school. Each of them struggle daily with their careers and aspirations, but they all continue to strive to redo their high school project. For their own hopes and dreams and for their faith and love in one another they always do their best in their respective careers and are the heart of the story. From the vey first time they swore on donuts to continue working with each other, I loved all of the mains.

2. Musashino Animation

I loved every second of getting to know the many different characters that make Musashino animation (The studio depicted in the show) what it is. Shirobako has such a loveable and large cast that sometimes it feels like a crime we only have two cours of this gem. With so many distinctive personalities, backstories and developments you’ll come to love them as much as our MC’s.

3. The Anime developed in the show

It’s the source of headaches, long nights, anxiety, panic but also pride and love for our cast. For each of the cours that Shirobako runs, two different series are developed by the cast. It’s so interesting to see how the creators depicted in Shirobako come to approach develop their own series. You can’t help but think about the team behind Shirobako itself. Because it is an anime about making anime, it reaches a level of Meta that doesn’t really go overboard and fits in quite nicely, unlike many other series which go for the same effect.


For me Shirobako takes the anime of the season cake for Fall 2014 and Winter 2015. There was simply too much the like in the show for it to be ignored. From characters that I emphasized with, to humor and jokes that actually made me laugh out loud to the number of heartwarming moments in the show. Shirobako is something I can easily recommend to anyone. If you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely need to see Shirobako.

CJL

Writer

Author: CJL

Long Islander who loves anime. Interested in politics, philosophy and also a huge fan of sports and video games. Just about any series can get me going if it’s done well. From cute girls doing cute things shows, to gritty-action or space-opera or mecha series. Comment on my articles, let’s get a conversation going.

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