Recently I finished Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, and as an animation enthusiast (and just generally creatively fascinated person) I was blown away. Eizouken is truly heartfelt, and an absolute joy to behold for hopefully everyone, but at the very least, for those that are or wish to become “creators”. It’s not easy to learn about anime from a Western perspective, there’s not a lot of deep and highly articulated schools of thought on the subject in very many schools, universities, or public forums. It certainly becomes easier everyday with the birth of new fans and new scholars happening all the time, but for a long while it seemed that to learn more about anime, you’d have to delve into studies of Japanese and film. Nowadays, we have anime YouTubers and bloggers to add to (and sometimes detract from) educated discussion. Luckily, like any story with meaning, anime have the power to educate as well. And when it comes to the education everything to do with animation production, you’ll find no better teachers than Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! and Shirobako.
Shirobako is a endearing showcase of all the cogs in the industry, from writers and key animators to directors and producers, to shareholders and executives, to voice actors and PAs, to CG designers and background artists, and so on. Every person that has a hand in making an anime come to life is a character in this show, and the only drama they face is what it takes to make that happen. There’s no romance or tragedy, just friendships and working relationships. All the obstacles they face, the hardships of just working on this project of pure passion–everything feels so true to life, or assumed to be because of the people that made it. All the roles in their real life production pipeline are portrayed, and very often is it ever glorified. It’s just work. And it’s tremendously fascinating.
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! branches away from a grounded reality like Shirobako, but at it’s core it’s still the same–just focused more heavily on three key roles: Creative direction, character animation, and production. In Eizouken there is more of an indulgence in animation, often breaking into fantasy, dream-like scenarios for the characters to find what it is exactly they wish to create (or sometimes just frolic about). But when they’re not busy exploring creativity, they are very grounded in the real world of production–of deadlines and budgets and bureaucratic obstructions. Kanamori, who fills the producer role of the animation team, is a brilliant portrayal of what it takes to reign in creativity and get people to the point of completion. I could watch an entire show about her just handling money, marketing, and business relations, and probably still be enthralled because the way she does it, while ostensibly cold and calculating, is actually quite endearing and NECESSARY.
The other roles are just as fascinating, and just watching them pull off groundbreaking feats makes you want to cheer at your television screen. Both these shows emulate the feeling of creation, of finally getting the job down and being proud even if the final product fell short of expectations. It feels good to finish something, that’s why we watch through entire TV series or play through entire games. In these shows, everything leads to a feeling of accomplishment that all creative people strive for. And if that’s something appeals to you, I highly recommend watching these shows.
Thanks for reading. I’ve been silent for a long time again, it’s hard to keep a regular schedule under normal circumstances, let alone during a worldwide pandemic. I’ve been doing my best to keep well, and I hope you all have been, too. I’m still working on other creative things, hopefully they’ll come fruition soon so I can share them here. It felt good to write this little post. There’s been a lot I wanted to write about, but have been lacking the motivation, partially because some of those projects would be so big and time consuming. Let me know how you’ve been doing in the comments and what shows about anime you might recommend–I’ve been avoiding Twitter a lot because it just sucksssss. Anyway, hope you have a nice day. See you next time.