Otto von Bismarck said that “The making of laws is like the making of sausages – the less you know about the process the more you respect the result”. As far as Shirobako is concerned, I haven’t yet decided if anime is like law.
Now that the cute girls being cute hook that was used to sell the series has been largely cast aside (though not in the show within the show, “Exodus”) Shirobako is a fairly entertaining enterprise, if nothing else. But the most interesting element is trying to figure out just how much of what the series is showing us we’re supposed to take as-is, and how much as satire. No one who’s never been involved in the production process for anime can say with certainty how accurate any of it is, but one supposed there must be at least a germ of truth to Shirobako‘s depiction of that chaotic process.
As with WUG, it’s quite obvious there’s a lot of sugar-coating going on here. The naked financial considerations that drive anime production are being downplayed in favor of fanciful notions of creative ambition, but the truth is that the show being made here looks truly awful – a formulaic trifle of the worst kind. So how seriously are we supposed to take the director’s impassioned speeches about character integrity and notions of what’s moe and what isn’t? Is this Mizushima and Yokote viciously mocking what passes for 90% of anime today, or is this a kind of defense of the status quo?The truth is, I’m not sure – and that’s sort of interesting in itself, and maybe what the two of them had in mind. Their track record suggests it’s mostly the former, but I obviously can’t say for certain.
In purely practical terms Shirobako is certainly unexceptional in terms of execution, but the irreverent look at the production process it offers is dotted with enough funny moments to make it watchable. It rings most true when we see the various members of the staff defending their turf (and their time) and pissing each other off in the process, something anyone that’s worked as part of a complicated org chart will instantly recognize. If nothing else this is a story of adults in the workplace, and those are rare enough in anime these days to make Shirobako a lot more interesting that “Exodus”.
Psycho-Pass 2 – 02
The new season of Psycho-Pass continues to be a triumph of style over substance, though there are far worse things that could be said about a series. The style really is a good one and in Shiotani-sensei and Ubukata-sensei’s hands it’s survived the transition to Season 2 fully intact. I don’t see any evidence that the show has anything new to say that’s of much philosophical or political interest and on the whole things feel very derivative of events in the first season, but in narrative terms they’re certainly working.
One thing that strikes me as odd is the inclusion of Sakurai Takahiro as Enforcer and holo expert Hinokawa Shou. Is there a deeper meaning here, or is Sakurai simply so omnipresent these days that Shiotani couldn’t bring himself not to include him in the cast (if it’s the latter it’s kind of a needless distraction)? None of the new characters has made much of an impression yet, though Fujiwara Keiji’s enforcer Togane seems destined to be a major player. We find out that he’s from a rich family, that he used to be a therapist, like practicing MMA against robots and that he’s enough of a magnetic personality to get Tsunemori hooked on second-hand huffing cigarettes. S1 bit player Inspector Aoyanagi looks on-track for a larger role here, too.
As for the big bad, Kimura Ryouhei’s Kamui (S1 head-faked on the big bad a couple of times before leading us to Makishima, but it had two cours to work with) is certainly the “ghost” everyone is on about. His agenda (apart from tagging “WC” – What Color – everywhere) is still a mystery, but it’s already revealing yet more flaws in the hopelessly flawed Sibyl system. This time around Sybil seems to be trying to fight from the inside out, using an inspector (Shisui, who’ll be played by Ise Mariya) as a club against what it perceives as a threat.