The optimism is strong in this show, very strong.
Not that I mind, of course.
Coming off the tails of the organizational clusterf*ck we bore witness to in episode 5, episode 6 presents our main characters in an understandably frustrated state. With Honda losing his patience with the producer, Endou’s continual refusal to draw that stupid explosion scene, and Aoi caught up in the middle of it all, the beginning of the episode really felt…panicked.
So I’ll give it this–Episode 6 displayed Shirobako’s mastery of tone once again. Thanks to some surprisingly fitting music, vocal performances, and well-animated facial expressions, it was able to turn what might have been a petty argument into something tense.
Mind you, I still find the extreme miscommunication rather frustrating–but that’s just me. Since the tone was so well established this episode, I can give it a pass.
During this episode, the plot didn’t feel very focused, if I am being honest–it was all about picking up the pieces of what happened in the prior episode, which, as necessary as that may be, made for a rather slow experience. Bouncing around from Endou and Tatsu, to Aoi, to Sakaki, to the Producer, it all felt rather haphazard, at least for the first half of the episode.
Not to say that this was bad, not at all. Simply speaking, lots of the episode was dedicated to set up and resolution, which…doesn’t lend itself to an engaging watch, and, sad to say, made me a bit more annoyed with Kinoshita, for his insistence on not doing his work. His bit of development during these episodes just felt a bit rushed, so, I’m hoping very much that he gets a bit more over the next few episodes.
With the last half of the episode, however, the plot narrowed down, and the optimistic spirit of the series really shone through.
Having all “coincidentally” met at the Idepon expo (or convention? I’m not actually sure what the event was) Endou and the main 3D animator were able to bond over their common love for the series, and as such, grow their appreciation for each others’ work. Able to work together, the eighth episode of Exodus looks like it’s all going to be good to go!
With this coincidental meeting, the main plot points of the past two episodes were resolved well! Endou and the Animator whose name escapes me are getting along, and respect each other, and Aoi got praise from her co-workers for her ability to work with people! Endou was able to get an ample amount of character development that I really wanted him to have, and the company’s no longer in too much immediate trouble! Everything’s good.
However, if I am to be frank, this fairy tale ending, this clean resolution, didn’t sit…perfectly well with me.
The main thing is that this episode exploited a trope that I’m not exactly a fan of–contrived coincidences. From meeting Endou’s wife to deliver tickets, to Idepon conveniently being his first anime, to Idepon ALSO being the 3D Animator’s inspiration?
My suspension of disbelief can be pretty strong, and I’m fine with it all here because the episode was strong too, but I can’t just ignore the long string of coincidences that led to the happy ending the episode needed.
The last big thing I’d like to mention, is that this episode, as haphazard as it was, manages to convey a surprising sense of thematic consistency through it all (and I feel like I’ve been saying that every episode so far). From Sakaki’s worrying about her job prospects, Aoi’s reflections on her own strengths, and the ever-present talk of what inspired everyone to go into the industry, the themes presented all work very well together.
It all presents a strong feeling of being in the real world, of dealing with real feelings of disappointment, while mixing it all with that delicate touch of Shirobako idealism that gives the series personality. Especially in regards to the idea of being inspired by something, having a moment that changes everything–I don’t know about any of you guys, but that idea was one that really appealed to me. I mean, don’t you remember that ONE anime? That ONE anime, book, or just moment in general, that made you think, “I want more of that–I want to do that.”
That’s a theme I’m a sucker for I admit–but I’m glad it was pulled off well here.
Overall, this episode was solid, and provided great development for Endou, as well as progression for the theme of Shirobako as a whole. In the whole scope of the series, it feels like a foundational brick, one that I will back on fondly when considering its thematic strength However, on its own merits, it feels very much like a mid-season episode–one that did its job, and didn’t distinguish itself beyond that.
Which, you know, is fine. I’m just looking forward to what the next series of plot points will be!