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
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.