I’m just gonna get straight to the point here – Shirobako is a masterpiece. I’m sure for anyone that follows me on Twitter, its not a surprise that I’m saying this.

It’s an anime that tackles different topics like the anime industry, goals, motivations and interests in life, the hardships of the work environment. It has many different layers but manages to make all of it work so well.

With my own goals being working on a real anime opening/ending sequence, it’s an anime that really hits home for me and has that special meaning for me. Rewatching Shirobako after almost a year truly filled me with so much happiness, and once again worked wonders for my motivation.

The story

You could say Shirobako is a story that follows five girls with a common goal and their paths towards reaching that goal. But at the same time, its a story about making a story – in anime form ofcourse.

I believe it gives a good general insight of the anime industry. It’s chaos. But quite a lovely chaos. Much better than the chaos of university exams, that’s for sure.

The chaos most often occurs when a member of the group isn’t able to fulfill their duties properly or on time. And the production staff, mainly Miyamori Aoi in Shirobako, has to find solutions. What doesn’t help either is when certain members of the group have a different attitude than everyone else, disrupting the work flow. These are the hardships of the work environment that I mentioned earlier. I guess it shows why job interviews are a thing. It’s much harder if people don’t have similar goals and attitudes.

And yet every person is different and has its own level of ability and pace of doing things. Some may want to work from home. Some may not have issues doing things more quickly while some may need a motivation boost. Finding the balance between each individual needs and needs of the company is truly not an easy thing to do.

Shirobako makes the characters of its own story make new stories within its own story. The original anime project from Shirobako’s anime studio, Musashino Animation, is called Exodus, while their other anime, the Third Aerial Girls Squad, is a (fictional) manga adaptation. That’s a lot of different layers and stories to create at once, and its really admirable stuff from P.A. Works.

The characters

Miyamori Aoi has that stressful role among the production staff. It’s a job at the anime industry, which is her dream, but at the same time, it’s a much less specific job compared to a voice actor, storywriter, animator or CG artist. This fits Miyamori, who doesn’t have that specific occupation goal in mind.

Her friend Ema Yasuhara always loved to draw and she works at the same company as an animator. Ema is not fully confident in her work and criticism causes her to lose motivation as well as focus. Gradually, she began leaving her comfort-zone more. I totally understand that feeling of never being good enough. I mean, just look at the quality of my blog posts.

When that creative block hits, changing your setting really does help, as suggested by her co-worker Iguchi. For example, playing a bit with my dogs always helps “refresh” my mind. Going out and simply watching the sky during dusk does wonders too. Or indeed, doing special routines on music. I may not do it the same way as Ema, but I often find myself jamming to anime openings and endings which never fails to help. Especially if its the Shirobako OP or ED, but more on that later.

One of the main five girls is Misa Toudou, who wants to do anime CG work. Despite working at a well paid CG company, she is unhappy because her tasks only involve making tyres, which doesn’t exactly align with her dreams of making anime CG, and well, I can relate. Here I’ll go about university once again, but my first semesters involve struggles with electrical engineering, mathematics, physics, digital circles… None of that really aligns with my goals and makes me wonder what exactly am I doing here. The thing I could take away from Misa’s story is that even if the experience seems useless, it could very well prove worthy one day when you don’t expect it.

Reading literature thanks to Shirobako

Imai Midori, or Diesel-san dreams of being an anime storywriter. She got closer to her dream due to her love for discovering and studying new things. As you would imagine, she is really into reading, and her love for Dostoyevsky literally makes people read Dostoyevsky. Or at least that was the case for me.

You see, I watched Shirobako for the first time during those chaotic times called high school finals. And yes, even that was better than the chaos of university exams.

I had to do a lot of studying of the Croatian literature, as well as reading it. One of the books that had a very good chance of being on the Croatian finals was Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. And when Midori just casually said she spent the entire night reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, I got interested. I actually wanted to check out that book. Surely it was good if Midori appreciates it that much. In the end Crime and Punishment wasn’t in the finals. But that day, anime inspired me to read. And not manga or a light novel.

Zuka-chan

Sakaki Shizuka is the voice actor among the five high school friends. She is hugely dedicated towards achieving her goals, no matter the hardships she is facing. Her character and her growth prove that persistence and dedication are worth it. Shizuka lacked confidence, which caused her to fail auditions. When she was given jobs, it hardly felt like she was going towards anything. Yet she never gave up, kept trying, and in the end, her efforts proved to be worthy. Seeing her finally get a role after an entire anime of difficulties made for one of my favorite scenes ever in all of anime. Rare are the moments that can make me cry so much purely out of happiness, and every time rewatching the scene its hard to stop the tears again.

Making matters even more emotional is Miyamori Aoi’s reaction, basically mirroring my own reactions. Ema has also volunteered to make the keyframes for the scene that is voiced by Shizuka. And in the process she cried too. All of her friends just wanted to see Shizuka do well, and these moments were a beautiful way to show the bond the girls have.

Shizuka’s story truly does make me feel that working hard for your goals will be worth it, no matter how impossible it may seem.

Supporting characters

I’ve mentioned the five main girls. But Shirobako has a lot of characters. Going through all of them would really make this a long post. But let me just give some love to Erika Yano, Miyamori’s fellow production assistant. She really knows how to calm down and support a person when they are in a pinch. Yano radiates so much maturity and calmness. Calmness, when she isn’t talking to Tarou, at least.

Kinoshita Seiichi is the director and the funniest character of the series. His voice actor did a stunning job, and let me tell you that his voice really fits a comedic character. Kinoshita often procrastinates, and seeing Honda-san taking drastic measures just to make him finish his work made me feel lowkey called out. Not that I need to be put into a cell to finish a blog post, but there are moments when I just… procrastinate. Not just with blogging stuff but university stuff as well. Also those scenes when Kinoshita came to see the mangaka of the Third Aerial Girls Squad are just legendary.

Honda-san went from Production Assistant to a pastry chef. And I respect that decision so much. It shows its never too late to start pursuing your dreams. I could go on but I’ll just say the cast of supporting characters feels incredibly real. Both of Musashino’s anime felt like a true team effort that you just wanted to see do well because of all the hard work and love the characters have put into it.

One last thing. Andes Chucky. Those old generation scenes when Miyamori’s favorite anime was made. It felt so nostalgic and it put me into tears. Once again when Miyamori cried I did too. I don’t think any job that involves so many different people can go entirely smoothly without some kinds of issues or rushed things.

Sound

Just as the anime itself is inspiring and motivational, so is its OST.

The second opening sequence has the effect of a calming pill. It’s among those openings and endings that make me feel everything will be alright. And in that post I already told this story but I’m gonna do it again here.

It’s once again about exams. Those final high school ones from June last year. It was a very stressful time, and I watched Shirobako in that time period. The exhausted Miyamori shown in the sequence was basically me thanks to all the studying. The song involves the words “panic” and “pinch”, just making me relate to everything even more. This is the English translation of that part of the lyrics:

I’m miserable.

But I can’t lose.

My head is in a panic.

It was relatable, yet so calming at the same time. It filled me with all this optimism and made me feel it will work out well. No matter how many times I listen to that song or rewatch the sequence the effect stays the same. It never gets old.

Meanwhile, the second ending sequence had 6 different versions, each of them being dedicated to one of the five main girls, plus Miyamori’s two plushies. As the episodes went by, the five girls have been gathering on the final picture at the end of the sequence, just as they all gradually ended up working on the Third Aerial Girls Squad. I really love it when sequences slowly add new details or things that build-up to something.

Shirobako’s first ending sequence also does something like that. Mimuji and Roro, Miyamori’s two plushies are dancing through the sequence and every time at the end, Roro attempts to give Mimuji a love letter. Mimuji refused every time, but Roro never gave up, and in Episode 12 when he tried once again, Mimuji accepted his letter. In Shirobako, even the characters that are only alive in Miyamori’s imagination are trying their best.

Conclusion

Don’t give up on your dreams. Passion and dedication can go a long way. If you find yourself on what seems like a detour, it doesn’t have to mean the experience won’t prove worthy in the future. But even if you achieve your goals, after a while you’ll have to make new ones. I guess that’s just the nature of the goal-oriented human beings.

Maybe reaching your goals doesn’t end up feeling the way you expected. If that’s the case, think back to why you even wanted to reach the goal in the first place.

Shirobako takes a closer look into the workings of the anime industry. At the same time, it reminds us of the importance of dreams, ambitions and persistence. It reminds us how important it is to be surrounded by a group of people with similar attitudes and ambitions.

Would it be too much to say that it is a gift given to us by the anime gods that we are not worthy of having? I have so much love and appreciation for everything Shirobako, and I’m so grateful to P.A. Works for making it a thing. That Shirobako movie that they announced can’t come soon enough.

As always, please leave your thoughts on Shirobako in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

 

Affiliate links

The Shirobako Blu-ray is available on Amazon.

Or maybe you want a Shirobako nendoroid or figurine? Amazon has one for Miyamori and Yasuhara.

Anime OVAs are often the more lighthearted and fanservice packed episodes.

But they can also be great additions to the main story – they can provide interesting backstories, a better closure for the story or a more in-depth experience of the story.

Here are my five favorite OVA episodes. I didn’t rank the picks because I realized its actually quite hard to do it xD

Bungou Stray Dogs: Hitori Ayumu (MAL link)

The Bungou Stray Dogs OVA gives us a certain important detail we haven’t found out in the main story. This alone makes it stand out from the common lighthearted OVA episodes.

Kunikida is trying to go with his day as he planned, with Dazai trying to ruin that for him.

A very well-made episode that expands on Kunikida’s character and makes you appreciate him more.

Steins;Gate Oukoubakko no Poriomania (MAL link)

After the thrilling and emotional experience of Steins;Gate, this was a refreshing and fun way to expand on the story.

And it introduced some Steins;Gate 0 characters along the way.

Steins;Gate 0 also had an OVA, but it was much less related to the main story, which kind of left me dissapointed.

Shirobako Specials (MAL link)

P.A. Works really made two one off episodes of two different anime for the OVA of their anime about making anime.

It just makes the whole Shirobako experience even better.

You get the feeling as if Musashino Animation really does exist – they even wrote the names of the Shirobako characters in the ending credits.

And the episodes themselves are more than decent quality to say the least – especially the “Third Aerial Girls Squad” one.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Specials (MAL link)

The Fullmetal Alchemist OVA gave some great backstory content. It’s definitely not one of those OVAs you can skip without missing anything too significant.

Roy Mustang is my favorite character of the series, so it may give you an idea on which episode of this OVA I enjoyed the most.

Gabriel Dropout OVA (MAL link)

Gabriel Dropout provided some great fun with 4 memorable characters.

But it never really had any emotional moments, as you would expect from an anime of its kind.

That was until I saw the OVA. The feels the second episode has provided was just something I did not expect from Gabriel Dropout.

This is the only OVA on the list that actually has a higher MAL rating than its “main” anime and I think I understand why.

 

Are you surprised with my picks? Am I missing out on an OVA that you really love? Let me know in the comments!

Music is one of those things that will, for me personally, almost always work when I feel down.

And when you add anime to it, the effect can grow even more.

I’ve talked before about my love for anime openings, so in this post I will suggest you 7 Openings and Endings that will help you when things get rough.

SAO II Ending 1 (Haruna – Startear)

The first part of the second Sword Art Online season, the GGO arc, talks about Asada Shino, who wants to overcome her trauma of guns by playing the VR game Gun Gale Online. I won’t go into much spoilers, but she definitely had a tough childhood, which left her in the depressed state portrayed in this ending sequence.

I want to be stronger; just a little stronger
With that, I made a wish,
In hopes of overcoming this sadness.

The lyrics, combined with the beautiful visuals, including the scene when Sinon, Asada’s VR avatar hugs her, really feel helpful. The overall feel of the song always makes me feel encouraged. It makes you feel like you are not alone.

You can do this. You can get stronger. Just keep fighting.

Shirobako Opening 2 (Masami Okui – TREASURE BOX)

Since hearing the first seconds of this opening for the first time, I just knew it will become one of my favorites.

This song. It just fills me with this feeling of satisfaction. Satisfaction with life. It simply makes me feel like everything is going well and that it will continue going in that direction. It makes me feel like my dreams are achievable and I just need to relax and let it happen. Work a lot for it, ofcourse, but also not stress about it cause it’s bound to end up well.

I’m not sure if I made much sense there, but yeah, this is just how this opening makes me feel. I guess optimistic is the word?

Another personal thing related to this opening is how it helped calm me down during the stressful times in June before my high school final exams. The image of the exhausted Miyamori on the table was basically me. The song also included the word “panic”, which when I noticed, helped me relate to it even more. It helped calm me down and things did somehow worked out in the end. Sure, a bit differently than expected, but I can’t exactly say I’m unhappy.

Don’t lose hope. I’m sure everything will end up in a positive way. Just think of Sakaki Shizuka from this exact anime. Those who watched Shirobako will know what I mean. If you haven’t, I highly recommend you do it.

Your motivation levels are sure to grow thanks to this anime.

Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho Ending (Koko kara, Koko kara)

Now how do I even start with this masterpiece of an anime? One of the most inspiring shows I’ve ever seen.

As someone who loves travelling as much as anime, which is, let’s say, too much even, this show really made a mark on me. It reminded me why I love to travel so much, and it ignited my wish for travelling to even higher levels than before.

Both the song and the visuals immediately put me in a happy mood.

If you want to get inspired by an anime, look (on a place) no further than this one. It worked in every single way for me personally, and it is now on my list of anime that I awarded with the perfect 10/10.

Hunter x Hunter Ending 3 (Yuzu – REASON)

Talking about anime I awarded with the perfect 10/10, here is the third ending of Hunter x Hunter. Things are calming down a bit after Kurapika did THAT, and we follow Gon & Killua as they try to beat the game called Greed Island. Despite the dangers of the game, this feels like the fun side-story for those two characters, which also serves as their training arc of sorts.

From the first listen of this ending, I was hooked and I jammed to it every single time. It never fails to improve my mood.

Unless it’s the 147th episode. As soon as I heard this song start there, I started crying…

In any case, this song always reminds me of the great times I had watching Hunter x Hunter. It’s perfectly fitting for the relationship between Gon & Killua.

Oh, and the ending includes Bisky. So many reasons for this ending to improve your mood.

Harukana Receive Opening (Kana Yuuki and Saki Miyashita – FLY two BLUE)

I would’ve never thought that I would end up enjoying a show about beach volleyball so much. I never even knew why exactly I started this anime in the first place, I guess it was the eyecandy. But I stayed for that, but also a genuinely enjoyable show about friendship, and guess what? Beach volleyball.

And let me just talk about the music. This anime has one of the best soundtracks of the year. The composer of the OST, Rasmus Faber, a Swedish DJ, has done a fabulous job.

This opening reminds me of the good times I had while watching this anime.

And a part of the OST, the song called Rise, even became my new alarm clock song (starting this week it replaced the Charlotte ending).

The fanservice is not the only good part of this anime.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Ending 2 (Miho Fukuhara – Let It Out)

Sometimes you just need to let things out. And I do that every time when I lipsync while watching this ending.

This song feels like a friend is comforting me and telling me to just let things out of my system.

Let it out.

Leave it be.

And move forward.

An added bonus is that it reminds me of that day when I received the results of those final exams I mentioned before. To keep it short, I was fully convinced that I failed those exams and that there won’t be any university for me this year. When I received the results and realized I passed the exams, it’s fair to say it was a quite shocking moment. I would even call it the most shocking one of my life so far.

The results were not sufficient for my first choice university, but they were for my second choice, which is where I am now. That night our national football team has also won against England and we ended up in the World Cup final. It’s fair to say there was a lot of shock and euphoria that day.

And how does all this relate to FMAB?

I finished the anime the day earlier. I listened to it’s EDs on the day of the results. I tend to remember unimportant stuff, so I remember exactly which FMAB EDs I listened that day. It was this one and the third one.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! Ending 1 (Chīsana Bōken-sha)

This ending takes me back to the end of November last year, when I watched Konosuba. Damn it’s almost been a year since I saw this anime.

Everything about this ending is so relaxing and satisfying. It almost makes you wish you got revived into a fantasy world too.

Which anime songs do you listen to when you feel down? Do you like the picks I made? Let me know in the comments!