Readers Recommendation: Shirobako

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At the end of 2016, while setting up a new MyAnimeList account under my current online alias, I discovered something fairly shocking: I haven’t seen around 80% of the Most Popular and Highest Rated shows on the site.

It’s quite funny actually. I’ve been a die hard fan of this medium for the best part of a decade and I’ve invested over a year of that time into watching it, yet, I feel I’ve been missing a fairly large and extremely important part of it. To list a few shows and movies I hadn’t/still haven’t seen:

  • Steins;Gate (yet I own it on DVD)
  • Clannad
  • Your Lie in April
  • Anohana
  • The entire Monogatari Franchise
  • Shinsekai Yori
  • Mushishi
  • Wolf Children
  • Anything Haruhi related
  • Haikyuu!
  • Natsume
  • Rainbow

You get the point… There’s also a ton of them that I’ve watched like 2 episodes of and stalled because… I forgot why. And there’s some that I’m 60 episodes into, like Gintama and Legend of the Galactic Heroes that I’ll finish one day…

So I came up with a great idea. This current Anime Season is fairly quiet for me in terms of what I care about watching, and I’ve got all these “classics” I’ve never seen before, so why not watch them?

But then I wondered: “Where the heck do I start? There’s so many of them!”

And that’s when I decided to ask you guys on Twitter. I’ve done this twice so far, and it’s had fantastic results, and I’ll keep doing it for every one of these shows until I’ve more or less exhausted myself from the process.

So, here we are. A new series on this blog titled “Readers Recommendation” where I ask you guys to pick a show from a choice of four and I’ll watch the whole darn thing then write a post about it.

I apologise if this whole post seems kind of lacking in structure. I’m winging this entire thing to see how it goes. I’m too lazy to come up with any kind of game plan, you should all know this by now! If not, welcome to Lethargic Ramblings!

…Ahem.

Anyway… Shirobako was the first show you guys picked for me to watch. So I’m going to talk about Shirobako!

I’d heard a lot of positive things about Shirobako in the past, but I never bothered to check it out because, at a glance, it looked like another average show about cute girls being thrown into a setting for the sake of being cute. On top of that, my history with P.A Works as a studio hasn’t been all that great. I’ve more or less seen everything they’ve put out, and I only really fully enjoyed 3 of their shows, one of which is Angel Beats, a show that I haven’t seen since 2010, so I don’t even know how I’d feel about it now.

So I went into this one expecting to get very little out of it, only to be completely blown away by how engaging, motivating and incredible the whole experience was. Because Shirobako isn’t a show about cute girls doing cute things, it’s a show about making Anime! And no, it’s not cute girls making cute Anime, it’s just a show about a group of hard working adults making Anime under the roof of a once legendary, but now small scale, animation studio. The best part? It has an actual focused narrative, dramatic character arcs and stakes that actually matter.

Yes, it’s a Slice of Life. Yes, it’s full of cheery goodness and is bursting with positivity. But it balances all that with a sense of genuine stress and realism that I didn’t expect to see at all. Making Anime is a tough, stressful and fast-paced job, and surprisingly, Shirobako did a fantastic job at showcasing that in almost every episode. The characters are always busy, rushing around like headless chickens, trying to meet every deadline all the while solving unexpected problems that arise out of the blue because that’s just what happens. The show always felt busy, like something was going on, and it was awesome!

But that’s not the main thing I got out of Shirobako. The best part of the whole experience was its emotionally satisfying character arcs. There are five main characters, and they’re all childhood friends who one day dream of working on an Anime together. One is a Production Assistant, another is a Key Animator and one is even an amateur voice actress struggling to get roles due to how competitive her line of work is. The show focuses heavily on each of these characters and shows us their journey towards success and the struggles and sacrifices they must make to make their dreams come true. It all feels very real and it’s an incredibly emotional journey to watch each of them succeed and fail throughout the show. By the end of it all, I was literally in tears. I cried my eyes out like a baby because of the emotional payoff that came at the very end of the series. I grew to care about each and every one of these girls, something I thought wouldn’t be possible when I first started watching the show.

Another thing I loved was how educational and accurate everything was in relation to the industry. I learned a lot about how Anime is made and it was really interesting. I’d honestly recommend Shirobako to any Anime fan for that alone, as I believe its something any Anime fan would appreciate.

Also, the main character loves donuts. I also love donuts, and my team leader buys a box of them for us every Friday. I can relate to the donuts. DON-DON-DONUTS!

Sorry…

I honestly haven’t been this emotionally engaged or satisfied with a show like this in quite a while. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I full scale wept like I did at the end of Shirobako. When my favourite Anime, Hunter x Hunter (2011), ended in 2014? That alone is a testament to how much I enjoyed this show.

Watching Shirobako was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was a phenomenal series, it surprised me and it was one of the most emotionally satisfying watches ever.

I don’t regret giving it a shot, and I thank those who voted for me to watch it. You all made an excellent choice. And yes, it’s now one of my favourites and has a spot in my Top 20.

And if you haven’t seen it: What are you doing? Go watch it! It’s amazing!

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Tanaka-Kun has donuts in it too. This is relevant.

What’s Next?

The next Readers Recommendation has already been decided! It’s Bakemonogatari, a show that I’ve been meaning to watch since it’s release, but never did because… *shrugs*

I’m almost done with it and have 4 episodes to go, so I’ll be posting about it soon!

As for what’s after that, I’ll let you all decide on that soon.

What did you think?

So what did you guys think? Did you think this is a good idea? Would you like to see more of these? Let me know in the comments, and, as always, thank you for reading!

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7 thoughts on “Readers Recommendation: Shirobako

  1. ” I’d honestly recommend Shirobako to any Anime fan for that alone, as I believe its something any Anime fan would appreciate.”

    I second this. If you haven’t seen Shirobako then you should definitely give it a go

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shirobako was such a great series! I thought it was going to be “moe” but it wasn’t at all! It was pleasantly surprising. I was recommended to watch it by one of my besties. He wouldn’t stop raving about how “meta” it was. And I trust his taste; so I watched it and it’s also in my top 10 faves! Will a new poll be up on twitter soon?

    Liked by 1 person

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