Dreams. We all have’em, don’t we?
Shirobako’s eighth episode is full of them too–or rather, talk of dreams. And, as is so often the case with such a topic, the episode gets simultaneously deep, and relatable, very quickly.
We All Have Dreams
Shirobako, up to this point, has been all about crafting real situations, that ask real questions we all have to deal with. Nothing too depressing, nothing too powerful, just…real.
And of course, episode 8 is just continuing this trend.
Continuing on from episode 7 the story of Ema’s artistic insecurity, episode 8 makes sure to expand upon her struggle, as she asks questions, tries to answer them, and comes up seemingly short. Throughout the episode, it appears as though she can’t find any easy answer, even when she is challenged as to why she started animating in the first place.
I mean, isn’t it supposed to work out? You work hard, you do what you love, get better, and live a good life. That’s what you do, right?
Well, suffice to say, Shirobako doesn’t give Ema the easy answer. And in fact, it doesn’t give anyone an easy answer, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
With Ema, she receives advice from an elder, someone who’s been in the business a bit longer–but really, it’s not quite a straight answer to the questions she’s been asking. When she asks, how does she keep up with the people she works with–people who’ve been in the anime business a lot longer than she has–she only receives indirect help, ultimately coming to a conclusion on her own, to help her with the specific problem that she is dealing with.
It’s a roundabout way of telling a lesson–but I love it.
In the real world, advice is never so simple, cut and dry. It’s complex, and oftentimes, random, seemingly unrelated actions go a long way towards a practical solution to your problem. Shirobako acknowledged this during the course of the episode, and you know, I really, really appreciate that it did.
That being said, while Ema deals with this personal crisis, Aoi is shown to be in a similar rut. While the audience is presented with a selection of people who have simple dreams that they care for, we also get to see, as if to contrast their determination, Aoi’s own struggle–her lack of a dream.
These are the two sides of the episode–Ema’s personal struggle with fulfilling her dream, and Aoi’s with her lack of a dream, and they complement each other very well. It’s an interesting dichotomy, one that gives importance to every interaction that Aoi has with another character. Not many anime can pull this off, so there’s something to be said that Shirobako can so consistently attain such a contrast in just an episode.
A Story Without Words
The other thing that stood out to me during this episode, is the technical ability of the series to tell a story without words.
Look at that image, for just a moment. Do you see the cat booklet? The animation book to her right? The pencil sharpener, the cat drawings in front, her hand on her head, her posture, her hair strands that are just out of place? Heck, even Ema’s position in the camera, dead-center?
There’s a LOT of detail here, a lot of technicality going into this shot alone, and it tells a story–one that really complements the mood of the plot being told.
Every angle, every scene, every detail in Shirobako appeals to serve a purpose. It’s extremely intentional, and that’s something that I noticed throughout this episode in particular. There’s not much to say here, apart from…man, it feels really good to notice it. Just that extra bit of flair–like the real world that Shirobako tries to portray has to keep a bit of cinematic magic that makes anime special.
I’m sorry, every episodic reaction has been nothing but praise for Shirobako, but good lord. I’m trying to be a bit critical at points, but this is a good series so far!
Looking forward to the next episode already, I can tell you that!