The current anime season is winding down, and as usual I’m scrambling to finish the shows I’ve been following before new ones start airing. One show I’m sorry to see go is Shirobako, a unique anime about…making anime. (The word means “white box” and refers the boxes the episodes are delivered to TV stations in.) The show follows five girls who move to Tokyo to follow their dream of working in the animation industry, enduring many hardships to eventually become established as a production assistant, key animator, 3D animator, scriptwriter and voice actress. Through this show fans have been able to learn a lot about the nuts-and-bolts of how animation is made: the rushed schedules, the conflicts between story creators and the animation studios who must translate their vision into 22 minute episodes within budget, the depressingly low salaries, the difficulty old-school paper-and-cel animators have adapting to computer-based animation techniques, and so on. While the show isn’t 100% honest — I kind of wish they’d included a non-Japanese character to reflect the reality that most “anime” is created in part by studios in South Korea, the Philippines etc. — I believe Shirobako will be counted alongside such classics as Genshiken, Welcome to the NHK and the
Gainax classic Otaku no Video as a series that adds real depth to our enjoyment of animation and otaku culture.
One of my female characters in recent anime is Sensei from Denkiya no Hon’ya-san, an anime about quirky people working at a bookstore in Akihabara. Part of the fun of moe is female characters who have some cute defect — clumsiness, bad eyesight, inability to cook food without poisoning someone — and Sensei’s problem is her total lack of 女子力 joshi-ryoku, or “girl power.” She wipes her glasses on her T-shirt, owns no sexy underwear and drinks from a tea bottle when she thinks no one is around, all of which are not very ladylike things to do according to the Japanese. Supposedly the latest trend in dating in Japan is girls being attracted to men who possess their own brand of “girl power,” spending more time on personal skin care than girls, getting good at cooking and making Japanese sweets, crying while watching touching dramas, and collecting Rilakkuma products. Sometimes this trend takes surprising turns. “I couldn’t believe my boyfriend,” one girl said in an article I read. “He actually bugged me to go see Frozen until I agreed to go with him.” The male who embodies this “girl power” the most is probably Yuzuru Hanyu, the 20 year old gold medalist whose trademark is a plush toy of “Pooh-san” (Winnie the Pooh) that he takes with him everywhere.
We’re proud partners of Nitroplus, the hard-hitting visual novel company responsible for such favorites as Deus Machina Demonbane, Saya no Uta and Steins;Gate. We recently shipped the long-awaited Hanachirasu
[newly launched official site], so you can play this amazing story of swordplay and revenge an alternate version Japan of Japan right now. Order it on instant-shipping download from JAST USA, or buy the shrinkwrapped package from J-List!