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Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete OVA Series (anime review)

strawberry-marshmallow-ovareview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete OVA Series

Director: Takuya Sato

Studio: Dauma

Author: Barasui

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: July 12, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 5 OVA Episodes / 130 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, School

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Strawberry Marshmallow, Lucky Star, Place to Place, K-On!

Good friends are like marshmallows: whether they are being whipped into a frenzy or getting all warm and gooey inside they will stick beside each other, no matter what!

Synopsis:

There is rarely a dull moment when Chika Ito and her friends get together. Whether they are telling ghost stories, playing games, or taking trips to the beach and park, every day brings a new adventure. Of course, not everyone appreciates the constant presence of a pack of 12-year-olds, and Nobue, Chika’s big sister, might sometimes wish that Chika’s friends were not always underfoot. That is especially true of the troublemaking Miu, whose ‘help’ with Nobue’s job hunt is definitely not appreciated! Then again, Miu can cause problems just about anywhere, even when she hits her head and thinks she is in Heaven! Does anyone actually think the girls will make a clean escape and scrub away every single piece of evidence when they make a trip to the public baths? More than likely, no! Either way, the fun is sure to continue as the whole gang reunites in Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete OVA Series.

Commentary:

Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete OVA Series is the continuation of the Strawberry Marshmallow and basically continues the “cute girls doing cute things in cute ways” slice-of-life episodes that came before it. These five episodes could actually be placed anywhere within the original series as well since it is a slice-of-life series and there is no real plot between episodes. Each episode flows together well but then a new storyline starts with the next episode.

All the characters are back from the original series and they continue to entertain themselves with the activities they do and the things they say on a daily basis are still as funny as ever. Actually, each character contributed to the comedy this time instead of relying solely on Miu, which is a good thing because the comedy seemed much more polished this time around.

The opening and closing songs were changed but they lost a little bit of life this time around. However, they were still enjoyable and the voice actresses actually sang them. Speaking of the voice actresses, they did a wonderful job with the characters and brought them to life. I love the animation style for Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete OVA Series because it is really cute.

Extras:

Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete OVA Series includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: A-

I absolutely loved Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete OVA Series and I would recommend this series/OVA to anyone who loves the slice-of-life genre.

And Yet the Town Moves: The Complete Series (anime review)

and-yet-the-town-movesTitle: And Yet the Town Moves: The Complete Series (on Blu-ray)

Director: Akiyuki Shinbo

Studio: Shaft

U. S. Distributor: Sentia Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: June 21st, 2016

Format: DVD / 300 minutes / 12 episodes

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Titles: Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Synopsis:

Hotori Arashiyama just might be one of the most awkward girls in town. She has difficulty making it to school on time, is very clumsy and is know for being rather delusional, but she does have a special ability to make those around realize how special life really is.

Hotori works in a local Maid Cafe, or should we say, almost Maid Cafe. One of her school friends, Toshiko, who is very smart with a slightly different way of looking at the world decides to join her and become a Maid in order to help turn the place into a true Maid Cafe. The owner of the Seaside Maid Cafe, Uki Isohata, has her own ideas of what she wants her cafe to be and stands back and watches while no matter what these girls try they always end up right back at the cafe as it is. This part of town only caters to the shop owners and now with Hotori working there her math teacher who has caught Hotori without permission form the school. He tries to use this opportunity to help teach her and maybe just maybe see her become more than just a slacker without focus.

There is also Hotori’s child hood friend, Hiroyuki Sanda, who has a crush on Hotori and is the subject of affection by Toshiko. With the added inclusion of Futaba Kon the master plan of this simple series is in place. We follow the lives of these warm and funny high school students to see them interact in ways that we all wish we could have at that age. If life was always that strange and simple, what bliss it would be.

Commentary:

And Yet The Town Moves took a few episodes for it to get me warming up to it. At first it came across as just another slapstick comedy that had a very shallow plot. Once all the characters were assembled something very special began to happen. The development of their personalities bonded them in ways that were very unexpected and provided another almost heart warming edge to the series. I realize that comedies tend to try and give us the softer side of humanity but in the case of this small seaside town and these characters connection it gives us hope that people can really be this involved. Even the local cop has a special connection to these girls and especially Hotori and her inability to be serious.

Most of the episodes were self contained but they did have some continuity that provided the glue for the series. I am very glad that it was only 12 episodes because I’m not too sure that any more would have done any good. It said what it needed to and gave us that light hearted humor and that was all it needed to do. I was very glad that it ended the way it did because it left me with the sense that there is hope for these characters that translated over to a overall hope for all of us.

Overall Grade: B

When it come to slice of life anime many of them fall into a trap of either too goofy or too sappy. And the Town Yet Moves managed to maintain a reasonably good balance even though it did lean to the goofy side once or twice. I still thin it was a very good series and if you are into slice of life anime then you should find this one to be something worth checking out.

Some other fine slice of life series worth seeing are Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Arakawa Under the Bridge.

Shirobako Collection 2 (anime review)

shirobako-2Title: Shirobako Collection 2 on Blu-ray

Director: Tsutomu Mizushima

Writer: Michio Yokote

Studio: P. A. Works

Produced by: Warner Entertainment Japan

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 24th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Drama

Age Rating: TV PG

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

It’s official. Musashino Animation’s next production is “Third Aerial Girls’ Squad!” In a surprising turn of events, Aoi finds herself assigned as the production manager for the project, but from the very beginning it looks like she may be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the project. Of course, her old friend Ema is already aboard as one of the animators, while Midori makes an enormous contribution by taking on many of the program’s important research duties. And when Misa’s new company contracts to produce CG for the series, all but one of the members of the old animation club are working on the same production! Left out again, Shizuka auditions for a role, but, as a relatively new voice actor the odds of her being cast in a major part seem highly unlikely. That doesn’t break the bonds of their friendship, however, and there are tons of surprises ahead as TAGS’s journey to broadcast draws to the finish in the second collection of SHIROBAKO!

Commentary:

Shirobako is one of those anime that will end up standing out as a go to anime for all serious fans. It will also find its way into the library of those who aren’t everyday fans but those who are looking for another slice of life anime that deals with everyday struggle that come with any job and deadlines. Anyone who has ever been a part of a major project with tight deadlines will enjoy this series because that is what it is all about.

The real strength of Shirobako is the character interaction and the wide variety of personalities blended in the stressful dynamic of the world of anime production. Everyone must start somewhere and for Aoi this is her big opportunity to discover her abilities and to maybe even learn something about herself that will help her become more confident in the path she is following.

The rest of the cast have their ups and downs but it is Aoi who is the spotlight and who has the biggest job that requires wearing many different hats. I loved the way we saw the doubt and resolve in her life along with the support she got from those around her along with the suspicion of her abilities for some.

Overall Grade: A

I can say that I have been very lucky with many of the series I have had the chance to review over the last few weeks and Shirobako stand at the top of the list with my other favorite Space Brothers. Both of these series take on the topic of following your dreams and even look at finding what is important in life too. Shirobako gives us glimpse into the fast paced world of anime production and also shows us how many different people and companies are involved in getting something as complicated as an anime on the air.

When it comes to anime or any series I find the story to be the driving reason to like it. Shirobako’s story hits a home run and is another one that could easily be prime time TV in the U. S. I think more and more families are discovering anime as a great source of entertainment and once people get over the sub title issues they will discover a whole world of stories that they could have never imagined existed. This type of series is s shining example of the difference in American and Japanese animation. I for one can’t remember the last time I watched a slice of life animation from any american production company. Yea for Anime give us more shows like Shirobako please!

Space Brother Collection 8 (anime review)

space-brothers-collection-8Title: Space Brothers Collection 8

Director: Ayumu Watanabe

Music By: Toshiyuki Watanabe

Studio: A-1 Pictures

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 26th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 11 episodes / 275 minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Slice of Life, Action, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A

Synopsis:

The single most important element of any mission is trust: trust in your equipment, trust in your crewmates and support team, and trust in yourself. As the trajectories of Mutta and Hibito’s careers continue to alter dramatically, self-doubt and lack of trust become the deadliest of enemies. Once the rising young star, Hibito must now undergo round after round of grueling tests in order to prove that he still has the right stuff for the space program.

Meanwhile, Mutta has never been working harder, continuing to prepare for his own mission to the moon while serving as Vince’s backup. But Mutta’s team is still incomplete, and Chief Butler has yet to assign a captain to the CES-62 backup crew. Will the unexpected new addition to the roster change everything? Get ready for a rendezvous with destiny as the brotherhood of space meets its greatest challenge in the eighth interstellar collection of Space Brothers!

Commentary:

The end of any series is always bitter sweet because you have invested so much time, energy and emotion into watching it. Space Brothers is no different in fact it may even be more emotional just because the series is 99 episodes long. Of course there will be calls for it to add another season, but in many ways I think it ended perfectly. My imagination filled in many of the questions left at the end and played out several scenarios that would make the story even better.

It is no secret that I found Space Brothers to be a top notch series and something the entire family could spend hours and hours watching with great delight. I realize that most anime fans will not give this series the time of day because it doesn’t have blood spattering or bouncing boobs in every scene, but for those who are looking for solid entertainment and a story you can enjoy then Space Brothers is for you.

Overall Grade: A

As I mentioned above, I think this is a series for the entire family. There is something for everyone. Thinking about prime time TV I could see Space Brothers filling a 7 PM slot and also finding a lot of families sitting down every week to get their dose of these two brothers trying to make their dreams come true. The series has it all, excitement, action, disappointment, attraction and even simple family fun. I am sorry to see it end and would like to know what the creator would do to fill in the open questions. The funny thing about leaving so much unanswered it that it is a very Zen thing to do. Life is full of unanswered questions and there are many possible directions to follow when traveling down any path which is why I found the ending of this series so poignant.

Giving an A to just this set of episodes is a true of not just Space Brothers collection 8 but of the entire series. I highly recommend Space Brothers to everyone and tell them to leave the world of fan service and extreme violence behind for a great story of dreams and struggles that can be applied to all of our lives.

 

Strawberry Marshmallow (anime review)

strawberry-marshmallowreview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete TV Series

Director: Takuya Sato

Studio: Daume

Author: Miharu Hirami

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: May 10, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Lucky Star, Place to Place, K-On!, Kiniro Mosaic

Sweet, delectable and mixed with a random selection of exotic nuts, (Is this a household or a fruit salad?)

Synopsis:

Nobue Itou may be attending college, but her real lessons come from dealing with her 12-year-old sister Chika and her equally adorable friends. There’s Miu Matsuoka, the troublemaking girl next door who’s never found a diabolical plan that she wasn’t willing to hatch. Then there’s the perplexing Ana Coppola, who was born in England but has lived in Japan for so long that she’s forgotten most of her English and is unsuccessfully attempting to re-learn her British heritage based on some rather erroneous assumptions. After those two handfuls, shy, sensitive Matsuri Sakuragi should be a welcome dose of normality, but unfortunately Matsuri is also incredibly gullible. And then there’s Chika herself, who’s actually the most mature and sensible person in the Itou household… which comes in handy when her older sister attempts to raid Chika’s savings in order to buy cigarettes! Get ready for a cute overload so intense that it can be used as a deadly weapon when slices of everyday life get whipped to frothy perfection in Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete TV Series!

Commentary:

The slice of life genre is usually a very hard genre for some to watch or like. They are literally covering every day situations, and that can be boring for some. If you like the slice of life genre, you are aware that life itself is never boring, and that simple every day life can trigger emotional responses. The premise of Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete TV Series is really quite simple. We drop in and out of the everyday lives of Nobue, the slacking college student and so called adult, and her younger sister Chika and three of her best friends Miu, Ana, and Matsuri. Do not expect a complex plot here as each episode is filled with the everyday things we all have done like going to school, enjoying cake, shoveling snow, getting lost and playing sports. However, it never gets boring as mischief is just right around the corner and it will have you laughing your head off from the silliness. The other thing about this series is its one of the first to fall into the “cute girls doing cute things” genre, a pretty recent addition to a long list of all the genres anime covers. The simplicity of plot can be a strong point but it can also be its downfall if you one of those that finds “cute girls doing cute things” to be annoying.

This being a re-release (thank you very much Sentai for getting the older out of print series back into print for everyone to enjoy again) of an older anime, the art work is what you can expect it to be from a series originally from 10 years ago. Not overly done but well done. The music tends to be catchy and not annoying. The voice acting is one of the high points as they did a good job with the characters, and with keeping in character well while dealing with the ages of the characters. Voice acting younger characters and keeping it believable can be very hard. The characters are well developed over the series and you notice trends, and with some you can start seeing what they are going to do. The characters are well written and completely believable.
Extras:

Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete TV Series includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with English and Japanese with English Subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A-

Azumanga Daioh Complete Collection (anime review)

azumanga-daiohTitle: Azumanga Daioh Complete Collection

Director: Hiroshi Nishikiori

Studio: J.C.Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Re-release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Format: DVD / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Absurdity, Slice of Life

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

For the members of Miss Yukari’s English Class, a typical day may be just a little unusual. Part of that’s due to Miss Yukari herself, whose teaching style (and personal ethics) tend to be odd, improvisational and spontaneous, but her students are just as unconventional: There’s 10-year-old Chiyo, still at the top of her class after skipping five grades, and her opposite Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga, whose poor grades are surpassed only by her horrific skill at sports. Then there’s Tomo, a competitive slacker who puts excessive energy into doing very little, and Koyomi, whose surprising maturity is compromised by a malevolent sense of humor. Tall, statuesque Sakaki’s athletic exterior hides both unexpected shyness and a most unfortunate obsession with cats, while tiny Kaori’s heart is mainly obsessed with Sakaki. They may all seem like perfectly normal girls on the outside, but even their most mundane activities magically become the most extraordinary adventures as they learn all about life, the universe and affairs of the heart in AZUMANGA DAIOH!

Commentary:

I was very happy to see that Sentai Filmworks was going to bring this gem back to life. The series as a whole is rather wonderful with its simple yet complex look on life and a rather perverted view of itself. I truly enjoy it for its rather absurd approach to the story and the silly character development.

The other aspect that I loved was the general happiness that ran throughout each episode. Azumanga Daioh is a older series that deserves to remain in the current lexicon on anime.

Overall Grade: A-

Okay, Anime fans lets set the record straight there are plenty of older anime series that should never get re-issued and plenty of series that should have never made their way over to North America. In the case of Azumanga Daioh neither of these are true. This series should have gotten picked up the day the original license was dropped. Thank you Sentai Filmworks for bringing this back to us. There is a whole new generation of anime fans that need to see this series just because it is great and a smile factory.

If you don’t own this series you must go out and buy it now. You will not be appointed.

Celestial Method (anime review)

celestial-methodTitle: Celestial Method the Complete Series on Blu-ray

Director: Masayuki Sakoi

Writer: Naoki Hisaya

Studio: Studio 3Hz

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 22nd, 2016

Genre: Slice of Life, Fantasy

Age Rating: TV PG

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

It’s been seven years since Nonoka Komiya last lived in Lake Kiriya City. However, while she knew that there would be changes in the town, she’s still unprepared for what she finds upon her return: A giant saucer hovers over the entire city, as it has since shortly after she and her family left.

Stranger yet, a girl she doesn’t know, Noel, is waiting for her, claiming that they have met before. Confused, Nonaka tries to focus on reconnecting with her old friends, but odd memories, suppressed in the wake of her mother’s death, begin to float to the top of her consciousness.

Can it be that she has met Noel before? And how does this connect with the appearance of the saucer itself? To solve the riddle, Nonoka must join with her friends and rediscover the events that occurred before she left Lake Kiriya. Because there’s more than a mystery that must be solved: there’s a promise that has to be kept in Celestial Method.

Commentary:

There is one thin that can be said about anime and that is that it covers a great deal of ground from hard edge dramas to silly strange comedies. Celestial Method is a series that is dear and sweet that explores friendship and the bonds that transcend space and time. There is also a very buhhdist  idealism running through it regarding connections and happiness.

I found much of Celestial Method to be a reminder of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day in how it approached the groups of friends but with the group not being so damaged there was a sweeter side of them coming back together. This kindness made the series a great fit for the younger audience.

Overall Grade: A

I realize that it might seem strange seeing Celestial Method as a top notch anime, but there is something very simple and heartwarming about it that made it great. Celestial Method is another example of a anime geared toward a younger audience that was not  given and English dud and that for me is a great mishap. I know that older viewers won’t have any issues with the subtitles, but it would be wonderful if there was a English dub for those viewers under 11 or 12. Over the last 12 to 18 months there have been a good number of anime that fall into that category and each one of them have been solid titles that would have helped foster a new generation of anime fans. Alas, they will just have to wait until they are older and only want to do sub-titles.

As you can read, I really like Celestial Method. It is a solid little anime which offers a tad bit of a tear jerk at the end, but all in all it reminds you of the friendship. So, if you are in the mood for heartwarming story about a small group of friends then Celestial Method is something you should see.

Space Brothers Collection 7 (anime review)

space-brothers-7Title: Space Brothers Collection 7 on Blu-ray

Director: Ayumu Watanabe

Music By: Toshiyuki Watanabe

Studio: A-1 Pictures

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: February 16th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 11 episodes / 275 minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Slice of Life, Action, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A

Synopsis:

Whether in the planning rooms for lunar missions or the claustrophobic steel confines of an undersea laboratory, the one thing that every astronaut must learn to deal with is pressure.

But as deadly as the blowout of a pressurized cabin may be, the peer pressure that weighs on brothers Mutta and Hibito may be even more crippling. As Mutta prepares to journey to the bottom of the deep blue sea for NEEMO training, Hibito’s path descends to even lower depths as his inability to recover sends him into a downward emotional spiral. Will a trip to Russia be the cure for Hibito’s malaise?

Or, having once reached the stars, will he now end up forever grounded by NASA and JAXA? Yet even as one rising star falters, a second prepares for his ascent to the heavens as Mutta’s quest to reach space advances to the next level in the seventh spellbinding collection of Space Brothers!

Commentary:

I know that by saying how much I like Space Brother makes me sound like a broken record, but the simple fact is that it is one of the more humanistic slide of life series I have seen. It doesn’t just tel a story to make you cry or be happy. Space Brothers comes at you with real life lesson that make you stop and think about your own life and how you might react in the same situation. Space Brothers collection seven provides us with more trials and tribulations for the brothers and also give us a glimpse at what it means to be a brother, either a younger one of a big brother. There is something special about family that has a universal understanding about it.

I had my concerns that with a series this long that it will lose it’s way and either become a silly redundant story about brotherhood and achieving dreams. Instead it gives us a plot line that makes thing tough for both brothers and shows us how life can be about choices and decisions rather than just dumb luck.

Overall Grade: A

Again these 12 episodes put you in the mood to stand up and applaud what you have just watched. Space Brothers is written by a person who have experience life in a way that makes it interesting with a understanding of the universal struggles that we all go through from fear, anger, frustration and competition against friends. I was impressed how each emotion was brought out and exposed in both of the brothers. There is also the aspect of understanding and friendship that comes into play for each. I found myself looking at myself and trying to see when I was in a situation like this. No I am not an astronaut and yes these struggles are not the same for everyone, but when you watch the series and get to these episodes you will understand what I am saying.

This is a great series and I know most anime fans will not even care about it. It may not be Free or Attack on Titan, but it much better. Space Brothers is about us, humanity and how we go about working toward our dreams. So, if you are looking for a heart warming series that gives you more to think about than how many bad guys get killed then you really need to pick this up. Be sure to start from the beginning. You will thank me later.

Bring on the last collection!!!!!!!

 

Waiting in the Summer (anime review)

waiting-in-the-summerTitle: Waiting in the Summer Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directed By: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Written By: Yōsuke Kuroda

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 15th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes + OVA / 325 Minutes

Genre: Harem, Slice of Life, Fan Service, Romance, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis: 

When a group of friends decide to make a movie over a long summer holiday, they end up learning a little about film-making and a lot more about each other and themselves. What begins as a simple way to avoid the summer doldrums quickly turns into something much more complex, intimate, and downright revealing.

As the summer heats up, so do the maturing relationships between the young cast members, taking some new, and sometimes unexpected, turns. Get ready for a whole new look at summer romance as hidden emotions get captured and secrets meant to be kept hidden inside young hearts instead spill off the screen for your viewing pleasure in Waiting in the Summer!

Commentary:

Waiting in the Summer is one of the sleeper anime that few people have seen. It has a rather straight forward plot and a simplistic romance structure, yet it catches your attentions and makes you really like these high school students on summer break and wish you could hang out with them and make a move too.

With this being a re-release and adding the OVA I am curious why there wasn’t a English dub. I understand that there is a large cost to doing that. I just think that a English dub would have brought another layer of fans to the series and proved to be profitable.

Overall Grade: A-

I is nice to see Waiting in the Summer re-released with the OVA and forcing me to take another look at it. One one level there is a warn innocence that flows though it and on the other hand a sad reality to some things just can’t be. With all that is going on with the film mirroring the plot line and the hidden specter of the men in black makes it hard to stop watching.

The animation is a smooth easy touch that is very typical   for anime of this type and the attention to detail done with such a soft touch that things flow together with the plot perfectly. I can’t think of any other style that would have helped tell the story any better. The only detractor I have is that it does drag a bit in the middle and leave the viewer a tad frustrated with what is going on. I still find the series strong and with the added OVA it is just that much better.

If you haven’t had a chance to see Waiting in the Summer then I think that this is the time to discover a series that is warm and friendly with layers of strange goings on. If you are in the mood for a easy going anime that has plenty of fun and oddities in it then Waiting in the Summer is for you.

Shirobako Collection 1 (anime review)

shirobako-Title: Shirobako Collection 1 on Blu-ray

Director: Tsutomu Mizushima

Writer: Michio Yokote

Studio: P. A. Works

Produced by: Warner Entertainment Japan

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: February 9th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Drama

Age Rating: TV PG

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

After making an animated film together in high school, Aoi and her friends Shizuka, Ema, Misa, and Midori made a promise to each other: to all get jobs in the anime industry and someday work together again.

Two years later, Aoi is learning that working as a production assistant at a small animation studio is far more demanding than she ever imagined, and Shizuka’s aspiring career as a voice actor involves more time waiting tables than recording.

Meanwhile, Ema’s slowly making a name for herself as a key animator, Misa’s moved from 2D to 3D and now works in computer graphics, and screenwriting hopeful Midori is lagging furthest behind, still looking for her first big break. But are they ready to give up on their dreams just yet? No way! Because while anime may come from inspiration, in the end it’s the ones who’re willing to put in the perspiration that make their dreams real in Shirobako!

Commentary:

Shirobako is wonderful way to start off the 2016 release season. It is a smart lively slice of life that gives us a group of young adults trying to make their way into the anime profession. As we follow these five young ladies it becomes very clear that we are seeing a true cross-section of how life works. The series gives up a rather upbeat view of their world with moments of struggle and frustration tossed in. It is easy for most of us to think how great it would be to in the anime industry but the truth is that it is a meat grinder that demands long hours and a work ethic that s second to none. Shirt Bako does a great job of portraying these struggles but is not too discouraging.

I think that approach may be the real strength to the story. I would never want to totally discourage people who are still as idealistic and have big dreams because once you loose your dreams life just becomes a series of good and bad moments. Of course I am coming from a jaded viewpoint of someone who has been a part of the corporate world far too long.

Overall Grade: A

Shirobako isn’t a top notice anime just because it gives a solid slice of life. The truth is that is does this without making you cry. I was beginning to think that slice of life meant sad and depressing, but it is great to see a positive anime come out and breach the fourth wall an look back at its own industry. There is also the fact that it is rated PG, not TV14 or even MA, but rather PG. That is awesome in my mind because a story like this should be available for all audiences. I think there are plenty of younger teens that might watch this and find it to be something of value rather than something that just bleeds all over the place.

It is understandable that P. A. Works took on this story and why it turned out the way it did. Way to go P. A. Works, here is another anime that proves that you understand what you are doing and why you are still going strong after 15 years. You have survived through some of the toughest years and still bring us some of the best series out there. Shirobako is a  good one thank you.

Shirobako is a series that you need to check out. It is well produced, well written and well voice acted. I love that it fires on all cylinders and proves that it is not boring to tell a good story and make it believable.