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SHIROBAKO Episode #07 Anime Review

5 min read

Work continues on Exodus, but the departure of a staffer results in the workload being spread around.

What They Say:
Episode 7: “Retake With Cats”

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It appears that Aoi’s older sister is going to suddenly pop in, taking Aoi by surprise. That’s not the only surprise for Aoi, and the staff, as Ochiai finally lets the cat out of the bag: he’s leaving Musani, though he doesn’t give the real reason (not that it’s a secret from most of the staff, who know he’s headed to Studio Canaan). Of course, this means more work for the other production assistants and something of an opportunity–and a trial by fire–for Aoi, as she’s now going to be in charge of shepherding episode thirteen of Exodus, the final episode.

Now they pay me to sit around drinking barley tea and drawing puppies
Now they pay me to sit around drinking barley tea and drawing puppies

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like we will be having a “crisis of the week” thrown at us. Instead, we are given a few choice scenes of life in the production zone. Aoi is slowly trying to gear up for handling the final episode, getting advice from more senior staff. The same is occurring with Ema, who has hit something of a wall in her development as an animator: she needs to get faster but worries about maintaining sufficient quality. In this dilemma she gets some sage advice from Sugie, the senior key animator who we’ve only seen in the background so far. She should talk to Iguchi and Ogasawara, both of whom have overcome the obstacle that Ema is facing right now.

Then we get the visit by Aoi’s older sister Kaori. We see that she is very different from her younger sister: Kaori is very laid back to Aoi’s more serious and hard-driving demeanor. The relationship between the two is rather interesting, but also points to a problem that Aoi (and Ema) has: she is focusing at times too much on diligence and hard work without recognizing that there are pitfalls as well to effort that is not planned out. This comes into play with Ema, who was pressed by Aoi into rushing several cuts for the show. Aoi thinks that everything is fine, but she then is informed that Ema’s cuts are unacceptable in quality and will have to be redone. As they were hurried, the lines were not well drawn and it will be hard for the in-betweeners (the staff in charge of filling in the motion between the main pieces of key art) will not be able to connect the cuts of key art properly, resulting in the animation “melting.” This is what happened to the infamous Jiggly Jiggly Heaven that has scarred Director Kinoshita for life.


Unfortunately, when Ema learns about the retakes, she gets very depressed about it. It would appear that Kaori, for all her feckless ways, has some insight into the problems of overly-diligent people: they tend to take failure badly, being too hard on themselves. Ema even thinks that Segawa, the animation supervisor, does not like her. Aoi tells her she is overreacting, but that doesn’t do much to help Ema.

So, for a change of pace, the agent of angst this episode turns out to be Aoi, though it is entirely unintended. Aoi rushed Ema into speeding up her work, but this resulted in Ema lowering her quality which caused Segawa, the animation supervisor, to reject her work this time. Ema is caught in a trap that’s difficult to escape: the need to increase her speed so that she can keep up with the demands of production, but maintain her quality at the same time. Unfortunately, the only thing she can do is get better and the only way to get better is to draw more and draw faster. This is what Sugie has told her, but it may be that Ema’s only true strength is her diligence, which makes her key art very high in quality, but at the expense of speed.

After.  There is a next phase to this devolution, but it might violate community standards
After. There is a next phase to this devolution, but it might violate community standards

A somewhat more low-key episode, though that’s fine with me. It was nice to take a break from manufactured drama and overblown angst. Instead we have some comic relief provided by the appearance of Kaori, which also manages to bring Midori, the only one of the five friends still in college, back into the picture, as she lives in the same building as Aoi and tends to Kaori while Aoi is at work. Though Kaori may be comic relief, she also comes bearing a message that applies as much to Aoi as to Ema, that diligence, which a good trait to have, can also extract a price.

In Summary:
A mixture of some lighter moments, with the appearance of Kaori Miyamori, a very different type of person from her younger sister Aoi, and some heavier material as Ema faces a crisis of confidence. Her abilities are being pushed to her limits by the relentless demands of the production schedule. Aoi may think that things at work are running smoothly, but she inadvertently causes Ema some grief. A nice step away from overblown drama, as we have a somewhat calmer, but no less important, look into how everything can be connected in a production.

Episode Grade: B

Streamed by: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Apple iMac with 4GB RAM, Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard

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