After two weeks, Shirobako returns for another cour and I’ve never been more excited.
With a new production comes new challenges and there is a lot of it in this new episode. Surprise promotions, voluntary demotions, a few inspirations, and an elusive author, Musashino Animation has a lot on their plate and there’s more on the way! Well, whatever is coming, inside this white box is still a colorful world and we all love to have a look.
The Musashino production team begins the new year with their daily morning assembly. While reminding them of their success with Exodus!, President Marukawa informs the team that the studio will be adapting a best-selling manga series into a 13-cour episode set to air in October. Tarou muses loudly that this is such a big deal, not for the studio, but for him. It’s a bit lonely now that Yano-san takes leave to take care of her father and Honda-kun starts his new job in a bakery.
[Cuts to opening sequence. It’s as cute as the first one. There will be new characters and the rest of anime club will be joining MusAni. Looks like I won’t be skipping this one as well!]
Aoi, Tarou, and Watanabe discuss how they’re going forward with with Third Aerial Girls Squad. Watanabe wants to put Aoi on production desk. This takes her by surprise as she mentions that it hasn’t been long since she joined MusAni. After learning that Kinoshita will be directing the series, Tarou gets into a jealous fit. The other staff in Exodus! will be reprising their roles. Tarou is promoted to head production assistant and three new ones will be joining him in the following months.
Aoi learns that the production desk does everything. Watanabe overwhelms her with making the ten-month production schedule, staffing, post-production and other anime production elements. He tells her to read all currently released volumes of the manga and to have a talk with the director about how they will approach the series.
Tarou reminds Watanabe just before he leaves of casting. The latter just dismisses it, saying that it can be dealt with on another date.
That night, Aoi reads the third volume of the manga. Beside her, Mimuji and Roro appear, making a fuss about lolis. They catch Aoi tearing up.
The next day, Director Kinoshita reads aloud some of his few favorite line from the manga source. Aoi shows him the schedule they have to finalize. The director tries to ignore her but she persists, reminding him that he made quite a lot of work and re-work while they made Exodus!. She wants to her Kinoshita’s perspective and what he plans to do with Third Aerial Girls Squad. He tells her that he wants her to be nicer but Madoka and Yamada remark at the background that she is starting to inhibit the personality of a production desk. But she brushes it off, reminding them that if Kinoshita just trolls around, they’ll have an even harder time.
Kinoshita tells Aoi of his aspirations for the adaptation, about how he wants to exceed expectations without betraying them, how he wants to know the most about the manga after the author. Aoi didn’t expect that the director to already be this serious and the episode directors laugh in jest. Kinoshita turns this around by saying that he expects to be complimented. Madoka and Yamada just scoff. He defends his stance by intending to create an anime worthy of those compliments, a “win-win” as Aoi repeats and asks him to pursue that.
The episode directors then compare the relationship between a director and a production desk to that of a married couple. Kinoshita reassures his present company that they have a top-notch staff.
Despite being highly-acclaimed as a character designer, Gothloli Rinko Ogasawara declines the job for Aerial Girls, saying she wants to go back to and brush up on her key animation. She then puts up the job to the ever-bubbly Iguchi, who almost spills her coffee upon learning of this. Just like how Aoi when she ws promoted to production desk, Iguchi gets intimidated by the job and the title itself. “There’s always a first time for everything,” Ogasawara encourages and offers her support. Aoi adds that Iguchi might even bring something new and refreshing to the table and compliments her. Iguchi promises then to do her best.
Aoi and Kinoshita then have a meeting with the art director, Yuuji Atsumi. I’d have to say that this conversation is pretty intense. Atsumi asks the director what cloud he likes. The latter replies, albeit unsurely, with cumulonimbus. Atsumi then asserts that one shouldn’t take this randomly and lightly, that even the art should have a bit of psychology in them. Kinoshita’s composure begins to falter. Aoi manages to save the moment by asking Atsumi how clouds appeal to him in themselves and in art.
On the train ride back, Kinoshita heaves a sigh of disappointment over screwing up at the meeting. Aoi consoles him, noting that people like the art director need some time to think.
Aoi and her sister have a phone conversation about what a production desk actually means. Aoi mentions how busy she’ll be getting and that she won’t be having much time even to cook.
She goes to the library and researches aeronautics. Deep in her work, she receives a surprise from Midori. They go outside for a snack and talk about how complicated the history of planes can be. Aoi seems thrown off by the amount of work so Midori offers to help her with the research, wanting to start somewhere in the anime-making business.
Elsewhere, Shizuka is informed that she’ll be having an audition for (guess what) Third Aerial Girls Squad. She gets encouragement from her mentor. The latter notes that she lacks confidence, resolve, and frequent experiences of failure.
While in a mahjong game with his usual circle, Watanabe discusses the production updates with Aoi. He tells her of the risks of unsolicited changes in staff assignments. He instructs her then to call and email him everyday for updates. (Alright. That’s it. I’m shipping these two.)
Iguchi struggles a bit with designing. She is briefly interrupted by Ema and Ogasawara who gives her her signature advice.
The director, scriptwriter producer and line producer meet with the editor of Aerial Girls, Chazawa. The editor apologizes for the author not being able to make it. The guys of MusAni wanted to talk to the author about the production approvals. Chazawa practically gives them the go signal without the author’s word on every little detail they carefully prepared and left abruptly for another meeting he’s booked on the same time. Appalled, the director and scriptwriter note that they didn’t even have a chance to speak.
In an aerospace museum, Kinoshita and scriptwriter Maitake, discuss the script. Aoi, who is tagging along, mentions that it was her kohai who did the research on planes. Impressed, Maitake asks if she could do more since doesn’t have the luxury of time and internet.
Later on, Iguchi shows the director her designs. Aoi tells her that she’ll show it to Watanabe and that there will be more designs to make.
In the last scene, Shizuka puts on her confidence and enters the studio.
[Ending theme! It may not be as great as Animetic Love Letter was. But it still has good vibes and danceable beats.]
OP: Takarabako -TREASURE BOX- by Masami Okui
ED: Platinum Jet by Donuts Quintet (Juri Kimura, Haruka Yoshimura, Haruka Chisuga, Asami Takano, and Hitomi Ōwada)
Last season (or cour), we met Musashino Animation, a humble animation studio, in the midst of producing their first anime (an original one at that) in a long time. It caught us by surprise and we all agree.
This season, MusAni will be adapting a bestselling manga. And although making anime is making anime, I always think that creating an original one and adapting from a source both have their fair share of difficulties (which gives us more reason to appreciate them all!). I hope, this season, Shirobako shows this and more about the nitty-gritty and even bigger aspects in producing anime.
Well, the problems don’t take their sweet time finding their way to the spotlight. The studio can’t get a hold of the author whose approvals are crucial. What’s more, his editor is a bit of a douche and leaves everything seemingly permitted. (But seriously, who in the world schedules two meetings at the same time?) Him ignoring the staffing proposal was a bit unprofessional too. The Aerial Girls adaptation will suffer undoubtedly. You can alredy see it in how Kinoshita and Maitake brainstorm about the story (like everything’s permitted). Funny story, they never even got a word out of the editor.
It’s also striking how meticulous the art direction can be. We understand how they want it to be meaningful to enhance the storytelling but we never knew they can be very, very specific. What’s next? The trees? The terrain? Even the direction the wind blows?
It’s not new but I’ve always loved Gothloli-sama. In this episode, she is just everything a professional ought to be. I have a strange feeling, though, that she won’t be explored as much as she was in the last few episodes. Shirobako still has a large cast and I don’t think P.A. Works is willing to let them run free without presenting them in a non-cameo way. Grandly or subtly, in huge amounts or small, they will do so in either manner which gives us all the more reason to await the next episode.
A whole ton of things about the industry is still to be showed to us. What will MusAni do next?
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