First Impressions Digest – Shirobako, Psycho-Pass Season 2

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Does Urobuchi Gen know something we don’t?

Shirobako – 01

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If Wake Up!, Girls! and Bakuman had an illegitimate child, it might look a lot like Shirobako.  And how much that prospect appeals to you might go a long way toward determining how much you’ll enjoy this show.

With Mizushima Tsutomu directing an original series at P.A. Works I had to give this series a watch, even if it has the whiff of something written by the marketing department.  In fact the credited writer here is veteran Yokote Michiko, who has a long resume that includes partnering with Mizushima.  I think in theory the prospect of a series exposing the serious issues plaguing the anime industry is a good idea but just as was the case with WUG, I seriously doubt there’s either intent or license to be a serious critique – much more likely we’re going to see a broadly positive puff piece with a few softball criticisms lobbed in from time to time.

This isn’t a bad premiere, though I think Shirobako could have been a much more interesting show if it hadn’t had the broadly pandering cute girls being cute veneer nailed onto it.  The first ten minutes which mostly follow the girls at the heart of that thread are pretty unwatchable, but once production on “Exodus” begins and we start to see the nuts and bolts of trying to get an anime produced, Shirobako gets fairly interesting.  There are some mildly amusing takes on stereotypes about those who work in the business, and the occasional funny parody like the mention of “G.I. Works” studio.  It should also be noted that in terms of art and animation, this is certainly the cheapest-looking (WUG, again) show P.A. Works has ever put out.

If the series sticks to focusing on the annoyances of the anime production cycle it has a chance to be pretty entertaining, though that WUG thing is quite palpable even here – the sense that the show is trying to be a heartwarming story of plucky girls trying to make it big rather that a serious (or seriously biting satirical) story about an industry that’s broken a lot of dreams.  I don’t see anything like the exacting detail or passion that went into Bakuman and made it such a rewarding series here, but at least Shirobako is providing a glimpse at something anime has rarely turned the camera onto.

Psycho-Pass Season 2 – 01

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When the creator of a series pre-emptively disqualifies himself from all responsibility for what goes wrong in the sequel, that could be taken as a worrying sign.  That’s exactly what Gen Urobuchi did a few weeks ago with Psycho-Pass – he has no involvement in this season – but it should be mentioned that his replacement is in fact an actual writer of some standing, Tow Ubukata (Mardock Scramble, Le Chevalier d’Eon among others).

My take on P-P II is pretty cynical, I admit.  When a show that seems to reveal that it didn’t really have anything to say ends indifferently, the last thing in the world it seems to need is a continuation.  And it’s continuing without in my view its three best characters (Masaoka, Makashima and Kougami in that order), so my expectations going in were pretty muted.

The premiere, as it happens, was pretty decent – entertaining enough in a straightforward way.  I don’t think much of where we are character-wise, with Tsunemori hinting at stepping into a Mary Sue role and a new tsuntsun cute girl detective whose main role seems to be to make pouty faces and insult the Enforcers.  We also have Fujiwara Keiji stepping in as a detective named Tougane, but he does’t have much to do in the premiere.  By far the most interesting seed planted here is the adjustment of Ginoza to the Enforcer role, but it’s hard to say how much screen time that’s going to get.

The plot of the first episode is pretty much a throwaway about a serial bomber whose crime coefficient hovers right at the 300 mark that’s clearly intended to establish Tsunemori as a hero, but there are hints of a larger story involving a drug that can supposedly keep your hue looking clear and a new big bad (played by Kimura Ryouhei) who can control both his crime coefficient and the Dominators.  The future noir atmosphere of Psycho-Pass still works a treat, and I wouldn’t imagine in Tow and Production I.G’s Tatsunoko’s hands this is going to degrade into an outright mediocrity.  But I don’t see much in the premiere to make me change my mind about whether this is a show that has a strong need to exist in the first place.

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15 comments

  1. w

    Didn't watch Shirobako, but as to the writing of Psycho-Pass 2, it seems like Tow Ubukata is in charge of the Series Composition and the scriptwriter is someone named Jun Kumagai instead. So, it seems like Tow was only in charge of the general stuff for each episode, while Jun-san will be the one in charge of what's happening specifically in each episode(?). This, I think, actually explains why this first ep has a little Zankyou no Terror feel because Jun-san worked a little of the latter (5th and 7th episodes), and he might have brought over some ZnT ideas during the production.

    Agree with OP Akane, no matter how developed. She did have an error though, regarding the last part.

    As to the q if this series is needed, I guess it is. Sibyl is still somewhat undefeated, and I guess there might be some to be explored as they'll also be making a movie for next year. >.>

  2. R

    Ah, Shirobako. This series…. …could work. Or not.

    If the series sticks to focusing on the annoyances of the anime production cycle it has a chance to be pretty entertaining,

    I was kinda worried when PA Works announced that this is going to be 24 episodes. The initial premise felt like it was fit for just a 1-cour comedy series. Now that I have seen the premiere, I am very mixed. On one side, they seem to have at least enough(?) story to fill more than 13 eps. On the other hand, the way they opened this one feels like it is bound to have some unwanted drama later on.

    the sense that the show is trying to be a heartwarming story of plucky girls trying to make it big rather that a serious (or seriously biting satirical) story about an industry that's broken a lot of dreams.

    At least, there won't be angsty high school drama here since all of the characters are 20+ year olds. Though, if I might ask, why would you want this one to be a serious critique instead?

  3. s

    Oh enzo its not IG working on psycho pass this season; its tatsunoko. Upon closer look, the art and animation is slightly different

  4. s

    and while Urobuchi did say not to blame him for any deaths in Psycho pass 2 , supposedly there will be a movie after this season that will act as the finale for the series, and that is being written by gen and makoto fukami

  5. Thanks for the update on Tatsunoko, I didn't notice that. Still a very good studio though.

  6. H

    "This isn't a bad premiere, though I think Shirobako could have been a much more interesting show if it hadn't had the broadly pandering cute girls being cute veneer nailed onto it."

    That's really what's stopping me from pushing the start button on Shirobako.

  7. A

    One thing I liked about the first episode is that it was very possible to see someone making a whole series about a high school animation club learning animation and going all out to make something for their last festival. So it came as a surprise and relief when they blasted through all that in a few minutes and moved on.

    What I liked even more is that this seems like it's one of those very rare shows about working adults doing their jobs, and if that remains the focus then that can only be A Good Thing!

  8. B

    i think it picked up the pace as it went along. but i don't get how gen could say that there was no real story behind the show. i mean it preached the unfairness in society and threw so many hints that it was on the verge of preachy sometimes. i thin he probably played it safe when the questions got a bit heated. the new inspector really annoyed me the way she talked down to the enforcers. i hope akane puts her i her place at some point. either way it was one of my fave shows last year so i am in. i do hope it gets a lot better though.

  9. Z

    If it was Urobuchi doing this show then I'm sure that inspector might meet a grisly end seeing how sure of herself she is, but the new hands might let her off the hook despite the contrarian attitude.

  10. Z

    Let the Psycho-Pass hate train begin!~

  11. R

    I would have felt more thrilled if this was my first time watching PP. Having said that, the atmosphere is still good. Tsunemori is not a character that I'd care for, so I don't know how I'd feel having her as the focus, seemingly, of the second season. Luckily, we're introduced to an interesting character at the last minute of the premier — it's when things get more exciting to me. By the way, I like that Kimura Ryouhei is playing a serious — and important — character. He's too good for those side-kick type of characters that he plays a lot, and he has the potential to be as good as Sakurai Takahiro, playing those smart yet twisted villains. I'm keeping this show and will see how things play out in one cour.

  12. Indeed, I've been puzzled that Ryouhei – who was one of the hot lead names in the biz not long ago and is still quite young – has been relegated almost exclusively to sidekick and minor roles. He is indeed a very talented seiyuu and one of the better lead actors in the business.

  13. Z

    His agency decided those roles would be good for him.

  14. w

    I was also thrilled at the last part of PP2. ^^ Which reminds me, does anyone think that maybe it was because the new villain was wearing gloves that is why he was not read by the Dominator? I know Ginoza wore gloves too, but I think he wore it in only his left hand, leaving his right hand be free and bare.

  15. Z

    An actual writer of some standing lol.

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