After PA Works finish producing a failure known as Glasslip, they have to come up with something that no studio has done before to make up for it. With that, they decided to make a show about anime production called Shirobako （白箱, lit white box), which focus on five girls trying to make it in an industry that is hard to get into.
The story starts off with five girls named Aoi, Ema, Shizuka, Midori and Misa working on a production together in the school’s animation club. After showing the finished product at the school’s festival, they dream of producing an anime production together on a professional scale.
Several years later, the story now focuses on Aoi who works at Musashino Animation, where Ema also works as a key animator. The first half focuses on an original production named Exodus while in the second half of the season, the studio works on an anime adaptation of a popular manga titled Third Aerial Girls’ Squad, where Misa, Midori and eventually Shizuka work together on some aspect of the production.
Of course, the girls soon realize that working in anime production is not easy as they dreamed of. They now have to deal with deadlines being missed, incompetent workers, and monotonous work along with staff members getting into disputes, all with mostly low wages. Of course for Shizuka, she was in a worse situation with the voice acting industry being extremely competitive. She soon realizes that it’s extremely difficult to land in a single role, let alone a minor one at best. Either way, the girls eventually overcome these challenges to achieve their dream as mentioned earlier.
As for the content itself, PA Works has done a great job showing several aspects of how the industry works such as showing every step in the animation process, voice actor selection, storyboarding, creating character designs, doing sound work, etc. Not only that, they also show issues that every animation studio face in real life such as the author demanding sudden changes, poor animation due to time constraints, deadlines not being made and sloppy animation among other things.
After watching Aoi having to deal with these issues, it’s easy to sympathize with her for the fact that a career in anime production, especially in an animation studio is very stressful. While they don’t cover other issues like low wages and poor work conditions, which I covered along with a few others several months back, it can give one a profound appreciation for the medium as a whole.
On the other hand, while there were a lot of characters, which is expected, I find most of the cast very enjoyable, especially our favorite director, Kinoshita Seiichi who can’t get enough fried chicken, Yano Erika who pushes Tarou into submission to do work and of course, Ogasawara Rinko who wears Gothic Loiita dresses and is experienced at hitting baseballs with a bat. On the other hand, there are a few annoying characters that I did not like such as Tarou and the overly arrogant Hiraoka. Of course, Chazawa, also known as “funny story bro” guy is the most annoying character since he does nothing but cause trouble by preventing Nogame to give his input to the production.
Even so, while I enjoy all five girls and their character development, I felt that Aoi and even Ema to a certain extent overshadow the rest of the girls mostly because the focus is mainly on Musashino Animation. Out of the five girls, I felt that Shizuka got the worst end of the stick with her endless suffering and the relative lack of screen time compared to the other girls. Hopefully they will give Midori, Misa and Shizuka more screen time when PA Works decide to make another season or a movie.
Overall, PA Works have done a fantastic job with Shirobako that I completely forgotten their last disaster of a production. Sure, there are still some things that they haven’t focused on. Aside from that, I think they done a great job in giving a general overview on the animation industry as a whole. So if you are wondering how anime is produced, I definitely recommend everyone to watch this show.
Overall Rating: 9.4/10, A, Masterpiece