Shirobako spent so much time showing us the dizzy-busy world of making animation in such an frank way (read: never breaking character or the fourth wall) my brain melted. Here, check the key frames! You can see my gray matter dripping out and plopping on the floor!
In all fairness, Shirobako’s overwhelming detail makes for exceptionally educational viewing. Except, according to people I know on FX’s Archer, Cartoon Network’s ATHF and PBS’ Peep, this is not entirely how the animation goes down in the USA. It’s not totally different, mind you, but the structural differences and timelines don’t really match up.
Unfortunately it’s not very educational for me either; it would be if I hadn’t done some animation in school and/or if I wasn’t married to an animator and been roped into several of her projects.
Blah blah blah enough about me and my spoiled eight years of art school. what happened this episode?
Lots happened but none of the details matter! Not even the people matter, really. You’d have a very hard time remembering any of their names without constant name-blocks popping up on screen and, even then, they are just cogs in the process of making the show.
And making of Exodus Episode 4 was all this week was about. Things have fallen apart, new people are getting overwhelmed and the old-timers (and a 2.5-hour drive) save the day.
Is Shirobako bad, then?
No. No, it’s pretty good. At least, it’s very well-constructed, visually appealing, and very coherent in so far as understanding who is doing what and what they are working towards. But…
Oh my god! I don’t care!
Excluding the occasional dolls coming to life in the protagonist’s sleep-deprived mind, it’s a show about a bland magical girl show being made by a head-splitting number of characters. The subs can be massive and the details provide nothing interesting if you don’t want to learn how anime is made.
And I already know most of that!