Shirobako and the Struggle

Hey guys! I wrote another essay, and we’re doing a bit of an experiment this time – the folks at ANN asked if I could send some pieces their way, and so we’re going to see what the usual ANN readers make of my heart-on-sleeve thematic pieces. If this works out, I’ll likely be able to write more consistent essays in the future, so here’s hoping they give a damn. Like those poor souls in Shirobako, I’m basically doing anything I can here to keep writing, but it’s not easy! Feel free to comment there or right here, and let me know if you have any concerns about me shipping some of these to ANN – I was somewhat anxious about it, but this will ultimately hopefully allow for more writing altogether, which I’m guessing is what people want the most. So here’s one more set of lyrics, playing in my newest piece, on that most heartwarming of dramas.

“I keep my head up tight / I make my plans at night / And I don’t sleep, I don’t sleep, I don’t sleep til it’s light / Some folks float, some are buried alive.”

Shine a Light, Wolf Parade

Shirobako and the Struggle


8 thoughts on “Shirobako and the Struggle

  1. Another really good essay. I watched Shirobako week to week and it’s made it’s way into my top 20 list. The show was consistently high quality almost every episode, but what really struck me about it is what it had to say about working in a creative field.

    I’m a film major and there have been several points where I’ve questioned the security of the career I’m trying to pursue. But whenever I go to the theaters and see a really beautiful movie, it reminds me of why I do this. Because I love taking in a good story and I want to someday make a great story that affects others the way this affected me. It’s easy to lose sight of that, but I love when I rewatch something great or see something for first time that refocuses me on my ultimate goal.

  2. I am very glad you wrote this piece!

    And I do hope you can achieve your goals. I do I agree that if we can see more of your writing then that would be a very good thing!

    Shirobako strikes many nerves, and not just for people on the creative industry.

    If you are interested I would recommend you take a look at Korean-German philosopher Byung Chul Han´s “Fatigue Society”, I think there are a lot of parallels between what you say in your essay, the show in general, and what this book talks about.

    For example, I am not in the creative industry (but in a boring old fashion “secure” career). Still, I can relate. Which leads me to believe that working on the anime industry must be literally hell.

    But what is really striking about the show is that it goes beyond “look at making Anime, look at making anime and how much it sucks!”. It shows us that life outside one´s desire career, even if our career is a “mistake”, can be soul crushing as well.

    Take for example the time the show spends on Aoi´s sister. I personally found it to be one of the most devastating bits of the show. And Shirobako is the kind of show´s that doesn’t pull it´s punches when it wants to drive it´s message home.

  3. Great read Nick, I hope ANN publishes more of your stuff so it reaches a bigger audience.

  4. Shirobako was such a fantastic show, and this essay definitely did it justice. I think most people who have started out in the working world can relate to Shirobako in some way.

    I myself emphasized most with Zuka. I had been out of college for nearly 2 years and had still not broken in to my chosen profession (engineering). Episode 23 was particularly special to me. The day before it aired I had a phone interview that went very well. Then I watched that episode and saw Zuka finally getting a part and getting a step closer to her dream. Somehow that gave me hope that I too would finally succeed. A few weeks later after an in person interview and 2 more phone interviews I was hired and I have finally started my career.

    So many of the situations and problems in Shirobako are universal to almost any working adult. Most anime deals with moral dilemmas or conflicts that are several steps removed from what we would deal with in our daily lives, so a show like this really hits home.

  5. Wait Zac wasn’t kidding about Creamer in your coffee? XD

    It was interesting seeing how the format was affected by the different location. I liked the myriad of links to relevant screencaps on this bare-bones WordPress theme, but with so much competing ad-color on the ANN site, I’d recommend removing them for ANN-published essays, and sticking to the critical displayed images.

    And maybe it was the format again, isolating each section between images more, but there seemed to be less of an overall flow/structure to the piece, with some of the paragraphs feeling a little redundant. (The section with the “But remember…” and “We are driven by…” paragraphs)

    I’ve never noticed that sort of thing in your essays before, so I can’t tell if it’s this essay in particular, or the format that’s causing me to nitpick like this.

    • I actually also noticed a bit of redundancy in those last couple paragraphs, but couldn’t really find a way to square what I wanted to say and keep the pacing while condensing. Not sure about the links, though – I’ve definitely reduced my links from some of the darker early days (looking at my Shinsekai Yori or Tatami Galaxy pieces makes me kinda wince), but I feel at least a few are kind of important when I’m calling out specific moments like this. I wouldn’t want to cut the link to Sugie, for example. Something to keep tinkering with, I guess.

  6. My biggest problem with Shirobako is its uneven share of spotlight to its characters particularly Zuka-chan. This is a matter of personal opinion but her struggle is the most endearing but was overshadowed by some of the characters (Heck, even the snotty Daisuke got more airtime than her on the later part of the story). A quarter of an episode of her denouement is not enough to cover that glaring weakness (although I found myself bawling the moment she and Miyamori met at the same studio). I like to see where the writers intend her development to go.

    The anime is also annoyingly slow at times. Comedic moments also fall flat due to its somber atmosphere. More so, some of the characters are just there. I don’t know. While I do not find Taro annoying, a development or two in his part would be a nice addition. Misa and Midori are kinda flat as anime characters for me with Midori with no real struggle on her part.

    This is not a top 20 material for me but this is a very heartwarming anime. Personally, I can relate with this one as a young professional struggling to find his voice in the industry (or my confusion as to where I should be) right now.

    PS: The Tatami Galaxy is still the show for me if I am asked to name a show that represents my inner struggle.

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