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Characters / Shirobako Musashino Animation Production Department

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The flowing bloodline and metal chains of the company, these are the people who are responsible for keeping the whole company connected. Plan every department's production schedules, run errands in delivering cut scenes to specific animators, serve as negotiators for each department line, reach for outsource when needed, and keep each department's production progress in check.

Aoi Miyamori

See the Main Characters section

Tarou Takanashi
Position: Production Assistant (Exodus!), Head Production Assistant (Third Aerial Girls' Squad)
Voiced by: Hiroyuki Yoshino

One of Aoi's seniors (by one month) in the production department, Tarou is generally a useless and incompetent employee, because he's a bumbling, airheaded fool who always forgets things and doesn't listen to advice, as he has a very inflated notion about himself. In fact, probably the only reason why he stays on a company roster is him being essentially a purposedly written in Joke Character—or, according to series director Tsutomu Mizushima, Tarou is a reflection of his younger self.

  • Bumbling Sidekick: A textbook example, the list of his failures that endanger the studio or simply embarrass it or himself is probably too long for this page. His only saving grace is that he's quite a fun person to interact with and is somewhat cognizant, if not accepting, of his failures.
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  • Character Development: Since the Third Aerial Girls' Squad arc, Tarou seems to indeed grow somewhat. Yes, he's still the same airhead and braggart, but his constant bloopers from the Exodus! arc just kind of disappeared, and while he's still tactless, loud and obnoxious, he grew a sense when better not to display it, and, moreover, he, seemingly successfully, took on himself the task to help the burnt-out and embittered Hiraoka reconnect to society.
  • The Ditz: He airheadedly entered the danger zone of Hiraoka and Madoka's quarrel that if it weren't for secretary Okitsu's badass save, he would've had his head stabbed by a flying peg bar.
  • First-Name Basis: The family name or the job title being the standard forms of address at Japanese workplaces, especially in middle-to-large companies in the Tokyo area. The fact that most of the staff at MusaAni addresses him as "Tarou" is evident of how little respect he gets.
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  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Why he isn't fired yet is a mystery of the ages — one of the traditional perks of the Japanese employment system that the animation industry most emphatically doesn't have is permanent employment.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Tarou always tries to present himself a cool and all-knowing expert in any field, but fails amusingly all the times — and it's a lucky day when this fail doesn't imperil the company more.
  • The Load: This guy seems to exist to get in everyone's way, and make things harder than they already are. Though to be fair, he can actually perform well given the right guidance, and even he would look like a workhorse compared to Shinsuke Chazawa, the liaising editor assigned to oversee their adaptation of Third Aerial Girls' Squad.
  • Never My Fault: Taro never really owes up to the fact that a whole lot of the studio's recent problems were because of his screw-ups.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He's pretty much a useless and incompetent dumb-ass, but his self-image is very flattering. Become the head PA for Third Aerial Girls' Squad, mostly due to a lack of personnel,note  made him swell visibly.
  • Pet the Dog: Against all reason, Tarou acts very friendly towards Hiraoka, almost immediately declaring them buddies. He even takes him out for dinner (and drinks) in Episode 22, inadvertently making Hiraoka reveal why he has become a burnout.
  • Self-Deprecation: In Episode 17 he casually admits that he's an airhead, only to get a grim reminder that it's not a trait to be proud of from Aoi. On a meta scale Word of God also has it that Tarou is essentially series director Tsutomu Mizushima's caricature of his younger self.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: He's not a protagonist, but his bumbling is a source of much humor, if of a gallows sort.

Erika Yano
Position: Production Assistant
Voiced by: Yuri Yamaoka

A somewhat older, more experienced production assistant, who takes Aoi under her wing and tries to beat some sense into Tarou — not that she ever succeeds, but he at least develops a genuine fear of her. Later in series she takes a leave of absence to look after her sick father, essentially making Aoi a head of the production department — even if Tarou technically has about a month of seniority on her.

  • Beauty Mark: She has one under her left eye.
  • Big Sister Mentor: Takes Aoi under her wing and guides her through her first production.
  • The Bus Came Back: Come back to MusAni in episode 18.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: She presents hers with an adorable cutie smile, but underneath it means terror for Tarou and Iketani.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Towards Tarou and Iketani, who would be a handful to just any other person.
  • Cool Big Sis: Towards Aoi, especially when Aoi is becoming stressed out by how busy the job of a production assistant is.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Sports this hairstyle, though despite that she's one of the more mature characters.
  • Put on a Bus: She has a sickly father who she has to look for, eventually taking a leave of absence in the second half of the series.
  • Reality Ensues: Her father becomes gravely ill, forcing her to be absent. Though Aoi is not entirely dependent of her at that point, Erika not being there certainly leaves a dent on the whole department's performance.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: To Tarou, who fears her only a bit less than Honda.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: She was enrolled in the same vocational school as Hiraoka and Isokawa, only she's the younger of the three since the two men enrolled after they earned their bachelor's degrees.

Tatsuya Ochiai
Position: Head Production Assistant (Exodus!)
Voiced by: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka

Another veteran of the Production Department, he's already a somewhat known name, and ripe for promotion. Before the finale of Exodus! he transfers to Studio Canaan to work on their troubled A-list mecha show at the behest of line producer and college upperclassman Hiroaki Houjou.

  • The Ace: Apparently, something of a genius in production, as it is him who was originally responsible for the final episodes of Exodus!, and was scouted for a production desk not just of an A-list show, but a Troubled Production as well.
  • Bishōnen
  • Fiery Redhead: Subverted, he's a cool-headed guy.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: ...And it is him. One of his college upperclassmen is a line producer for Studio Canaan's new A-list title, RoboHaru, which is a Troubled Production beyond all belief, and he needs the most help he can get.
  • Otaku: A military one, judging by his description of the situation in the studio as "Stalingrad" in Episode 6. Well, that whole dialog is just one big Shout-Out to military history.
  • Passing the Torch: To Aoi once he transfers out of the company.
  • Put on a Bus: In Episode 7, he notified everyone that he's transferring to Studio Canaan, hence MusAni has to make rearrangements within the production department, making Aoi responsible for completing Exodus!.
  • The Stoic
  • The Quiet One: Possibly the most taciturn character in the whole series.

Daisuke Hiraoka
Position: Production Assistant (Third Aerial Girls' Squad)
Voiced by: Yuusuke Kobayashi

A veteran production assistant to four companies for the last five years, Hiraoka just got hired into Musashino Animation starting with the Third Aerial Girls' Squad.

  • Ascended Fanboy: Deconstructed. He is a fan of Sailor Suits and F3s (a previous work by Takezou Nogame, who also did Third Aerial Girls' Squad), and as such he is excited to work in it as production assistant. What he witnessed, however, unnerved him beyond repair.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Out of all people in the company, it's Taro who is able to break through his callous shell with his relentless positiveness, encouraging him not to give up on his aspirations. Even before, he even attends the rooftop cookout precisely because Taro asks him to.
  • Break the Cutie/Cynicism Catalyst: In his younger years Hiraoka was almost like Aoi's Distaff Counterpart. Five years in crappy work environments and one piss-poor adaptation of one of his favorite manga (of which he had an indirect hand) later, however, and he has become a jaded, embittered jerk. He was even last seen in his flashback sporting Dull Eyes of Unhappiness following his harrowing experiences.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Deconstructed, because this shows what such a character can really mean for a workplace.
  • Defrosting Ice King
  • Epiphany Therapy: Administered by Tarou, of all people. After getting soused out of his pants in Episode 22, Hiraoka finally admits that all his bitterness stems from spending five years straight in one abusive workplace after another.
  • Foil: To Aoi. Hiraoka's experiences in the industry mirror hers, except he was surrounded by mean-spirited, uncooperative, impatient workers who pushed him around. He went into the business with the same enthusiasm for anime as Aoi, but ended up being burnt-out by the stress of working in bad environments, even by anime studio standards. The result is someone who has become cynical, overly pragmatic, unmotivated and unfriendly.
  • Freudian Excuse: Episode 21 sheds light on the origins of his behavior: among his classmates in vocational school he was the most enthusiastic and serious about making anime, and thus was hit by the Cognitive Dissonance the most, coming to see the everyone around him as an obstacle rather than people. Subsequent episodes also reveal that his terrible work experiences and having an indirect hand in the Adaptation Decay of one of his favorite manga shattered whatever semblance of optimism Hiraoka had for the animation industry.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: With Madoka, when their conflicting attitudes came to a head.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: He doesn't seem to like how Midori is moving up as a writer with Maitake (a well-known screenwriter) becoming her mentor, to the point that he makes sexist remarks to her.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He did not take Madoka's complain responsibly, even if it was confrontational. This is an example of a very bad scenario to happen in a workplace, and can easily have him fired if he had anyone injured by him.
    • Marukawa's said that in his time such incidents were dime a dozen, as the times were simpler, limits tighter, and tensions ran higher. The times have changed, though, as this isn't the norm any more.
    • But that didn't stop him from lashing out again by the next episode on Aoi, when she actually was confronting him in a calm, serious matter.
  • Ineffectual Loner: His teamwork is pretty much nonexistent, and his effort, while competent, is just barely adequate — which contrasts with his aloof attitude.
  • Jerkass: He's quite snarky, rude and condescending. Turns out there is a good reason he is what he is today.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He personally worked in Sailor Suits and F3s as a fan of the manga, spending his time trying to make an extremely conflicting team work and failing miserably, leading to them taking too many liberties in terms of plot and character design, and seriously deviating from the manga source by doing so. When he gets to Mushashino, he sees that they're working on a series from the same mangaka, and starts noticing overtones of the same problems that plagued the previous work.
  • No Social Skills: Only the other way round — not that he hadn't them in the first place, he just burned out from five years at the numerous abusive workplaces.
  • Reality Ensues: Largely due to his initial enthusiasm about making anime, Hiraoka didn't take the harsh reality of the industry well, becoming bitter and confrontational.
  • Sour Supporter: He doesn't mesh well with the team, and definitely note  doesn't like to overxert himself to boot, so all his experience doesn't really translate into real efficiency: he often comes late, skips on regular morning orientation meetings, etc.
  • Stepford Snarker: All his bitterness has to come from somewhere — and as it turns out it stems from his rude awakening into the dark side of the animation industry.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: In vocational school he was in the same class with Erika Yano and Hisamitsu Isokawa, one of MusAni subcontractors, and they were great friends, but Hiraoka has since distanced from them due to his psychological trauma.

Tsubaki Andou
Position: Production Assistant (Third Aerial Girls' Squad)
Voiced by: Ikumi Hayama

A newbie of the Production Department hired starting Third Aerial Girls' Squad. Optimistic, outgoing, and with more knowledge of the industry, she is able to become friends with the staff members pretty easily.

  • Cute Clumsy Girl: She's your normal less-harmful version of Tarou and Satou, in which the audience can relate to within a workplace. One incident had her land on the other side of Tokyo, only because she slept away her train stop and rode the entire stretch of the line.
  • Genki Girl
  • Multicolored Hair: Though being a normal black-haired girl sporting gold highlights "seem" normal in real life, but the way she wears it really stood out within the cast, even beating those with bold colors.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: She held an amazingly good poker face when facing freelancer Kisa's Shirtless Scene.
  • Otaku: She knew too much about anime to not fall into this trope (she has made doujinshi at school, after all). The word "otaku" was used in official materials to describe her.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: What Tarou snarks on her for, but she seems to be appreciating works in a more analytical sense than digging wholeheartedly in the genre.

Sara Satou
Position: Production Assistant (Third Aerial Girls' Squad)
Voiced by: Madoka Yonezawa

A newbie of the Production Department hired starting from the Third Aerial Girls' Squad production. Calm, collected, and used to customer service. Compared to Andou, she's not as familiar with the anime industry, so she has lots to learn to up her game.

  • Chekhov's Gun: During her interview in the Exodus! arc she mentioned that she left her previous job because it required long and complex commute. Turns out that she has No Sense of Direction, and probably got lost numerous times commuting there, which can explain the incident from Episode 17 where she takes the wrong turn on a highway and landed herself on the other side of Tokyo from the studio.
  • Lethal Klutz: When you're hired in a position where understanding people, places, and driving is mandatory, having No Sense of Direction can have nasty consequences; on the other hand, her serious and responsible character keeps this trope from becoming a full-on Achilles' Heel.
  • Meganekko
  • No Sense of Direction: She left her previous job almost entirely because of the lengthy and complex commute, and joined MusAni mainly because it was close to her place. Unfortunately, a proper production assistant is always on the move and must remember literally hundreds of places.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Along with Tsubaki, she too held in a good poker face when facing freelancer Kisa's Shirtless Scene.
  • Office Lady: Her previous job.
  • Proper Lady: She retains an extremely formal disposition from her previous job, which makes her stand out in a relaxed atmosphere like MusAni's workplace.
  • Straight Girl: Along with Okitsu, she's one of the most frequent voices of reason within MusAni's motley crew.

Shun Watanabe
Position: Line Producer
Voiced by: Masaya Matsukaze

A liaison between the Director's creative vision and the Executive Producer's need to watch a bottom line, a Line Producer is responsible for the smooth running of a project in general and managing of the whole branches of the studio, including animation, photography, voice recording, post-production, etc, so that every stage of the production process would complete on time and properly segue into the next one. As Watanabe has the animation side of the process largely covered by Honda, we see him mostly connecting the voice recording sessions, post-production, etc together, and contacting publishers to lure in new projects for the company.

  • Affectionate Nickname: "Nabe-P", short for his surname. Ending credits only list his nickname.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Watanabe is so prone to picking up people's Catch Phrases and Verbal Tics (such as Honda and Chazawa's) that he tends to recite them for his own usage at ease.
  • Chekhov's Gun: He (and Katsuragi) loves to play mahjong, which becomes a plot point in Episode 11, when one of his friends introduces Aoi to the Hideaki Anno stand-in. His hobby is also justified, as his co-players are often publishers and promoters, with which they talk shop behind the game — in fact, this is exactly how MusAni got adaptation rights for Third Aerial Girls' Squad in the first place.
  • Iconic Item: His newsboy cap, which he often wears even indoors.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: In a ponytail.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: He basically assigns Aoi to be the Production Desk just because, and only offhandedly guides her on-the-job training.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Arguably the character most frequently shown smoking onscreen, despite having much less screentime than the others.

Yutaka Honda
Position: Production Manager (Exodus!)
Voiced by: Shuuya Nishiji

A general supervisor of the critical production process, in our case the animation, Honda is the heart of the production team, as it is his task to ensure that everything was finished on-time and in satisfactory condition. A jolly and good-natured man, he's nevertheless strict enough for slackers (especially Kinoshita) to be utterly fearful of dissatisfying him.

  • A Friend in Need: When he knows that Kinoshita's having a major downtime especially during episode 23, he will go into Kinoshita's office to feed him Mont Blanc cakes and give Kinoshita the encouragements he needs to move on.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's a fairly Nice Guy, but even he had to resort to locking up Kinoshita in Episode 5 to force him into finishing the scripts for Exodus!.
  • Big Fun: He's quite jolly and isn't generally bothered by his size.
  • Bishōnen: When he reappears in Episode 17, Honda has lost a lot of weight (despite opening a bakery, ironically) because he is no longer so stressed out.
  • Catch-Phrase: His "We're out of ideas!" ("Bansaku tsukita!") was so catchy Aoi and Watanabe caught his influence.
  • Formerly Fat: Episode 17, he revealed his new look, and man was that transformation dramatic or what?
  • Irony: After quitting to start a bakery, he somehow loses weight.
  • Put on a Bus: In Episode 10, he decided that once Exodus! is finished, he'll quit the company to start his bakery business.
  • Passing the Torch: Invoked and subverted. Following his resignation, his position is dropped on Aoi, a decision he has very little to do with. Good thing she pulls through.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He likes to bake, and has always dreamed to be a baker one day.
  • Team Mom: He's the ultimate control tower of the company. Like a mom, he may be nurturing and sweet in personality, but he will absolutely not be hesitant to press the staff members to have them report their progress to him. And if anyone'll be close monitoring jail time for them.
  • Weight Woe: Zigzagged. Episode 17 implied that Honda was a Formerly Fit guy who gained wieght due to the animation industry's unhealthy lifestyle, but he lost it again after leaving the business.