What They Say:
It’s official. Musashino Animation’s next production is “Third Aerial Girls’ Squad!” In a surprising turn of events, Aoi finds herself assigned as the production manager for the project, but from the very beginning, it looks like she may be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the project. Of course, her old friend Ema is already aboard as one of the animators, while Midori makes an enormous contribution by taking on many of the program’s important research duties. And when Misa’s new company contracts to produce CG for the series, all but one of the members of the old animation club are working on the same production! Left out again, Shizuka auditions for a role, but, as a relatively new voice actor, the odds of her being cast in a major part seem highly unlikely. That doesn’t break the bonds of their friendship, however, and there are tons of surprises ahead as TAGS’s journey to broadcast draws to the finish in the second collection of SHIROBAKO!
Contains episodes 13-24.
Just as it was in the first collection, Sentai’s home-release of Shirobako is [unsurprisingly] brought to us containing only the Japanese dub. This isn’t a huge surprise, though, considering it might have been a little stressful to cast over 50 roles had they elected to dub the series. Regardless, the original audio quality remains fantastic. Shirobako features over 60 minutes of original background music as well as several original full-length songs. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and does not clip or peak at any point throughout the series.
The video specs for this DVD release restrict graphics to the quality of 480i with a basic aspect ratio of 16×9. Of course, not much else is to be expected from DVDs at this point in their lifespan. Despite the video definition, Shirobako still manages to utilize its extremely clean art style in order to keep the series looking beautiful. There are no frame skips, cuts, or jumps at any point in the series. One more thing to note is that the extremely varied color palette is only slightly diluted from video quality. But once again, that’s only due to the fact that you can’t really get much more out of a standard definition DVD release.
If you read my review for Collection 1, you would have seen me rave about the cover design. Well, this time around, it’s even better. The front cover for Collection 2 has Aoi and friends gathered around on a vibrant hill staring off at the horizon (Or something else that we can’t see) and manages to mesh all of the colors of the rainbow into one gorgeous original picture that stands out as a gem amongst my DVD collections. The package comes shrinkwrapped and tucked away neatly. The rear cover, just as it was in the first collection, displays various thumbnails from the series and more inspirational Shirobako quotes. The synopsis is displayed on the bottom half of the cover.
With last collection’s menu scheme remaining loyal to the typical Sentai layout, this one does exactly the same. Instead of Aoi, however, we finally get a hefty dosage of Erika Yano (With Midori appearing on the special features screen). The original character designs once again add to the vibrant color scheme and remain a step up from an average Sentai menu.
The standard release of Shirobako is still lacking in special features, containing only the clean opening/ending songs as well as four trailers for other Sentai releases (Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun, Locodol, Space Brothers, and Tonari No Seki-Kun). There is nothing else to report on that aspect.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Being my choice for the best anime series of 2014, Shirobako really helped open my eyes to the world around me. And, as lame as that may sound, you won’t fully understand it unless you watch the series yourself. Picking up directly after the conclusion of Exodus! in the first collection, Musashino Animation’s next project comes in the form of an adapted series — Third Aerial Girls Squad. This series, deriving from an incredibly popular title, is going to be a lot harder to pull off. And of course, with that in mind, it’s going to increase the workload of our studio tenfold. Considering how hard it was to pull off Exodus, Musashino is feeling more pressure now than ever before in doing TAGS justice.
Miyamori, being promoted following the departure of Yutaka Honda, has to step up into a role she never imagined herself in — lead production assistant. And, despite being thrown into the fray unprepared, she does an exceptional job…albeit with a few bumps in the road. But these bumps are to be expected. After all, Shirobako can be seen as a parallel for any job, not just anime. In fact, this series does a better job in illustrating that than anything else I’ve seen.
Shirobako has attained a dedicated cult following at the same time as boosting the popularity of other industry related shows. And it couldn’t have done that without being believable. Deviating from plot points for a moment, Shirobako is packed to the brim with life lessons and inspirational quotes coming from characters that feel like real people instead of just 2D poster-material. As the second half of the show begins to speed up, these lessons become more apparent than ever. One-half of the roster is debating whether or not they want to stay in this industry for the rest of their life or start over, while the other half is doing everything they possibly can to make a home for themselves. Seeing so many different faces work hard in so many different ways becomes synonymous with how we, at times, struggle to find a place in not just the workplace, but the world.
There is an episode in Collection 2 that hits harder than any other moment in the series. Shizuka Sakaki, the only main heroine who, up to this point, hasn’t had any luck in Shirobako, walks into the dubbing studio for an audition while Miyamori, her lifelong best friend, sits behind the glass. Unable to keep her emotions at bay, Miyamori is flooded with tears as she tries her best to hold back an intimate outburst that goes on to sculpt an incredibly climactic moment for the series. This single scene demonstrates the idea of hard work and perseverance more effectively than almost anything I’ve ever seen. Hell, I just watched the scene again as a reference point and it still makes me tear up. Spending so much time with these characters over the course of the series really makes moments like this one break you. I’m still thankful that Shirobako ran for two seasons because, had this been a single-season series, this moment would have lost so much of its impact.
After the Shizuka scene, the ending of the series begins to fall into place. Third Aerial Girls Squad finishes up and becomes a highlight of its respective season. Miyamori has finally discovered what she wants to do with her life, and all of the other girls are beginning to find out where they belong as well. The promise that all five heroines made in the first episode of the series has been fulfilled, and we’re reminded that if we constantly work hard at what we believe in, we too will find our place. And, just as it’s illustrated in Shirobako, everyone we meet along the way will become an essential part in determining our future. Every single person you will ever meet has their own goals and their own desires — and one of Shirobako’s key points is reinforcing that notion.
You know, it’s really hard doing this series any justice in the form of critique. The fact of the matter is that there are so many elements of it that, when put on to paper, lose their feeling. Shirobako is one of those shows that really needs to be seen to in order to be believed. So close out of this review and go watch it as soon. You won’t regret it.
Shirobako, exceptional in every conceivable way, is a series that will be remembered for a very long time. With so many important and relatable themes and characters, Shirobako has something to offer every single one of us. This is so much more than just an anime about anime — it’s a story and step-by-step guide on how to lead a fulfilling life and propel yourself past any obstacle that may get in your way. Not only are the ideas raised in the series realistic and important, the characters are as well. You will find a piece of yourself in every one of them — I assure you. In addition to all of this sappy stuff, the series also boasts a plethora of hilarious moments that would make even your favorite stand-up comedian seem like the quiet kid who sits in the back of the room. I can not recommend this show enough.
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio, English subtitles, clean opening/ending songs, Sentai Filmworks trailers.
Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i Anamorphic
Aspect Ratio: 16×9