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YMMV / Shirobako

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Appearances by Aoi's dolls aren't just cute ways to provide exposition, but actual psychotic breaks as stress drives her increasingly insane. It also makes you wonder if she's schizophrenic or not.
    • Why did Sugie's advising Ema to focus on increasing her drawing speed backfire? Was it because Ema was so desperate to prove herself that she ended up cutting corners? Was it because Sugie didn't understand Ema's perspective and simply told her what he thought he should have done when he was her age? Or was it because the advice was a bad idea to begin with, and Ema should have focused on quality while gradually improving her speed?
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    • Whether Hiraoka is simply an uncooperative jerk or Miyamori's Foil, having been burned and disillusioned by an industry he used to love, resulting in him becoming understandably jaded and cynical towards anyone who puts in extra work he believes nobody will ultimately appreciate. Episode 21 pretty much confirms it's the latter.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Ai Kunogi, who gets a lot of hate, mainly due to being a Shrinking Violet whose only thing she ever says is "uuuuuuu", in contrast to the just-as-cute, but more realistically characterized Miyamori, Ema, Yano, and Andou, or is liked because of her cute traits, her adorable interactions and "conversations" with Ema and her parallel Character Development along with the latter, and her hilarious "dialogues" with other characters.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Every time Yano hits Tarou or puts him in his place.
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    • The fight between Madoka and Hiraoka in episode 20, where the former spells out all of the things that the audience kept complaining about the latter.
    • Episode 23 finally gives Chazawa what he deserves.
    • The final scene in episode 23, where Zuka-chan finally gets to voice a character in the anime where Miyamori, Ema, Mii-chan and Rii-chan were working on for the second half of the series. The line "I'm now one step closer to my dream" really hits home, not only to the audience who have been waiting for this moment, but also to Miyamori who witnesses the entire thing.
  • Crazy Is Cool:
    • Miyamori's driving skills are very impressive. Especially if you consider that she doesn't break the speed limit.
    • Okitsu on the other manages to drive safely even in the snow, overtakes a train, avoids being caught up by dozens of police cars who are chasing her because she's 7 km/h over the limit! All of that just to deliver a tape in time.
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    • Ogasawara is a very talented artist, is apparently skilled in go, but she's an even more talented softball player, which she does with left and in her gothic lolita dress.
    • Director Kinoshita's abilities he displays in episode 23 are so crazy, that it's hard to believe that it's actually happening for real.
    • Hiraoka's speed in handling paper work in episode 24 is only possible in anime.
    • Iketani's crazy, spy-like attempts to escape from work, which are topped by Yano catching him every single time, no matter where he is.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Director Kinoshita. His awkward, yet Large Ham character is quite entertaining to watch, when he gets fired up, it really improves the quality of the production. His popularity increases throughout the second half of the series thanks to being motivated from the start and taking his job more seriously.
    • Erika Yano is very popular among the fans and easily trumps over most of the main characters thanks to her presence as the Cool Big Sis/Big Sister Mentor, being the most reliable production assistant and her constant jabs on Tarou. She has about a total of 16 minutes of dialogue and is even Put on a Bus for almost half of the second cour. Some dedicated fan even made three compilation videos of Yano's dialogues (and hits on Tarou's head).
    • Rinko Ogasawara, better known as Goth Loli-sama, who even has less screentime and dialogues than Yano does, is also beloved by the fans, mainly due to her bizarre character concept: an artist who dresses and acts as a gothic lolita with a rather realistic cast. She does give an explanation for her look, which helps to humanize and flesh out her character since her fashion style ties into her struggles she had in the past that her kohais are facing, cementing her role as Iguchi's Big Sister Mentor.
    • Production Manager Honda, who balances out Director Kinoshita's incompetence in the first half of the series and keeps the production flowing as good as he can. He eventually leaves the industry to join a different business and only makes two returns throughout the second half of the series, which are fondly remembered by the fans due to his unexpected weight loss.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In episode 22, we see Zuka-chan watching a variety show which featured a popular young seiyuu who is still in high school and has trouble balancing her school life with her work. Zuka-chan is very jealous of her and would be very glad to have her problems. If you watched the 10th episode of Seiyu's Life!, we see how Rin, an even younger seiyuu who attends middle school, struggles to have a normal life, keeps getting job after job and has barely or even no time to enjoy her school life at all, to the point that she is unsure if she can play an ordinary girl who is the same age as her.
    • The whole series becomes much less funny when considering the horribly accurate working conditions and schedules actually exist in real life Japan, including PA Works themselves (link in Japanese); characters in this anime will face sickness from overworking at worse, while in real life this can result in death.
      • Word of God described the anime contains 50% IRL facts, 20% "It's good to be like this", 10% "No way" and 10% "What?"; in other words, the anime can be seen as an Adaptation Distillation for what actually can happen in real life anime industry.
    • Director Kinoshita's backstory revolves around him being the director of a poorly-adapted anime with a Troubled Production, which tarred his name in the industry for years. The real life person he is based on, Seiji Mizushima, ended up being the director of Beatless in 2018, which had such a rough production they needed five filler episodes, and which was critically panned.
    • The key visual of the movie shows Musashino Animation's building burned to the ground and destroyed, with Aoi rising above it. Many fans found it a very sad coincidence when Kyoto Animation's main animation building was similarly destroyed in July 2019.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Most of the time in episode 14, we see the executive production committee discussing about the casting of the main characters. Considering that everyone involved (barring Katsuragi) is voiced by a famous or popular seiyuu, it's a clever satire that seiyuu fans would easily can pick on. Another hilarious point of the discussion is that they ended up casting Ink-Suit Actor Suzuka Ito as the fifth main character while Shizuka Ito is present at the scene as Eri Nakata. Nakata even gets to talk about Suzuka Ito's schedule.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Kaoru (Kao-chan), Oi-chan's older sister, instantly becomes this in episode 8 when it is revealed that the reason why she went to Tokyo is not only to just have a fun time, but to escape from her miserable work atmosphere. She certainly doesn't enjoy her Office Lady job, yet she doesn't tell her sister or any of their four friends about her own problems and she's gladly spends money for things they would enjoy. Not only does Kao-chan barely spend time with her sister, Oi-chan is annoyed by her sister's picture spam and has her own struggles at work. When Kao-chan goes back to her town and Oi-chan asks if she's fine, Kao-chan's replies to her that she's doing her best. It's shows that she's a Plucky Girl, but it also means that she has to endure her work atmosphere no matter what.
    • Aria Hitotose, The Protagonist of Third Aerial Girls Squad, is given the nickname "Ice Doll" because of how cold she acts on the battlefield and is said to feel no remorse of using her dead allies to kill the enemy. Thanks to Catherine, we do get see very soon that Aria does feel sadness for what she's doing, but Aria keeps her feelings inside her to keep going as a soldier. Her family were also killed in the past, so the only people she has now are the other four pilots of Hell Alice. Late in the series, she's confronted with the realization that she has no motivation to fly and fight like her other four comrades, quits being a pilot and she still doesn't know what she wants to do. Cathy, who is the closest person to her and heavily implied to be the person Aria has feelings for, dies in the final episode, which puts her in a state of depression. Director Kinoshita manages to avoid a Downer Ending and works together with Nogame-sensei to give Aria the hope she needs to fly again. By encountering Cathy's little sister Lily, Aria has finally found her hope and future she has been looking for.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Hiraoka's behaviour is inexcusable, but it's understandable to the viewers, since we get to hear and see what he has been through during his career.
  • Les Yay: Surprisingly, the amount of it is very low for a series featuring moe main characters. The most you can get would be Kunogi's Big Sister Worship towards Ema. However, there are other examples:
    • Iguchi's Imagine Spot of her, Miyamori and Ema wearing gothic lolita dresses and being embraced by the two makes you question her sexuality. Although, given the industry she's working, it's not that surprising to think like that.
    • Third Aerial Girls Squad isn't subtle about Aria's affection towards Cathy, who may feel the same towards Aria.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Ema is smelly.Explanation 
    • Collages of Miyamori's various facial reactions are also quite popular.
    • BANSAKU TSUKITA!!!! Explanation 
  • Moe:
    • The five main characters (Miyamori, Ema, Zuka-chan, Mii-chan and Rii-chan), the three New Meats (Andou, Satou and Kunogi), as well as two of the senpais (Yano and Ogasawara) are all designed to appeal the viewers with their cuteness and stick out because of character designs. All of them have their own distinct aspects of moe.
    • Exodus is even called a "moe series" in the second episode, so it's no surprise that the three main characters (Akane, Aya and Arupin) are meant to be super cute. The second episode mainly focuses what kind of cuteness and moe Arupin should represent and how her character is.
    • Third Aerial Girls Squad is a Military Moe series, but mixes it up a bit with its main cast by having two moe characters, two sexy characters, and one character who is a mix of the two. Tatiana, fulfills the role of the Token Mini-Moe, while Aria is a Rei Ayanami Expy with an Sugar-and-Ice Personality. Episode 16 is all about how Iguchi struggles to depict Aria's cuteness that Nogame-sensei has in his mind.
  • Pandering to the Base: Ai Kunogi has become controversial among viewers, because quite a few them considered her to be a moeblob, put into an otherwise realistically characterized cast just for this trope.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Surprisingly, Tarou in the second half of the series to some degree. He's still annoying and a lot of people still hate him, but to many fans, he has become somewhat tolerable due to two factors. First, he makes far less screw-ups than he did in the first half, and those he makes in the second half are not as severe as previous ones. Second, the inclusions of Chazawa and Hiraoka make Tarou look competent (and sympathetic) in comparison, which is even acknowledged in-universe. His constant attempts to get closer to his declared buddy Hiraoka in the last five episodes also are quite heartwarming to watch.
    • Hiraoka in the last five episodes, to a better degree than Tarou. Unlike Tarou who feels like a walking plot device to make trouble for everyone, Hiraoka's humanized flaws and his unfortunate work experiences in the past manage to flesh out his character, and he does eventually warm up to his new co-workers and he starts to improve himself as a person and as an employee. It also helps that we get to see what he had to work with prior to joining Musashino Animation. And him being a caring cat owner is another plus point.
    • People who weren't fond of Director Kinoshita in the first half of the series quickly warmed up to him in the second half where he has already left his incompetence and most of his laziness behind, but he keeps getting funnier and more awesome.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Chazawa. Just like Tarou in the first half of the show, he's a walking strawman for everything that can go wrong in the production of an anime- in this case, of the Executive Meddling form. But unlike Tarou and Hiraoka, his incompetence is deliberately malicious to a contrived degree- resulting in a blatantly obvious Conflict Ball. And more unlike the former two, he never gets the chance to show off any Hidden Depths; instead, his entire on-screen role consists of trying to sabotage the anime production for poorly-explained reasons. This ends up resulting in a character who's supposed to be hated being instead hated for entirely meta reasons—in fact, many believe Chazawa's awfulness ended up being one of the major factors that changed fans' opinions on Tarou and Hiraoka because they looked much better by comparison.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The driving scene in the first episode, which fans may call the "Initial D scene".
    • Ema's Angel dance in episode 16 is one of the most memorable scenes of the series.
    • The director's battle scenes in episode 23.
    • The final scene in episode 23, where Zuka-chan finally gets to voice an actual character in an anime show, particularly an anime where all of her four best friends are working on. The line "I'm now a step closer to my dream" not only perfectly fits Zuka-chan's earned happy ending, but also brings Miyamori to tears, who tries to hide in front of everybody. It's probably the most emotional scene of the entire series.
  • Values Dissonance: Hiraoka, who has several years of experience in the animation industry, is expected to defer to Aoi, a recent college graduate who has all of one anime series under her belt, when he is hired at Musashino Production. While ranking employees based solely on time served with the company is nothing to bat an eyelash at in Japan and Hiraoka doesn't help his case by being a lazy Jerkass about it, most viewers anywhere else in the world would find it absurd that an experienced employee would be ranked the same as an entry-level college graduate with no work experience just because he is new to the company. In the West, new hires with industry experience expect to be placed at higher pay grades, but this concept is not common in Japan.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The whole leadup to the Kinoshita and Nogame meeting in episode 23. It's so heavily stylized and full of metaphors, that it's entirely open to interpretation. No way in hell could it represent the real turn of events. The meeting itself, on the other hand, is entirely mundane, and aside from a bit of Creative Differences that they were able to patch up pretty easily was very useful to both sides.
  • The Woobie:
    • Zuka-chan, who keeps failing auditions, messes up during her voice work and fails to get any job she wants in the voice acting industry. Most of the time, she's working in a bar or gets odd jobs (although she doesn't dislike any of those), while all of her best friends are working on the same project in the second half of the series. But the lowest point of her misery is shown in episode 22, where she's drowning her sorrows in jealousy of a younger seiyuu who once appeared in the same audition as Zuka-chan did. It also doesn't help that Kyouko Suzuki, who also is a rookie seiyuu like Zuka-chan, managed to get casted as The Protagonist in the same anime where Zuka-chan failed to get any of the two roles she auditioned for, and we do see Suzuki struggling to play her role properly, but she's given guidance by Sound Director Inanami to pull it off right, earning her sympathy by both Miyamori and us, the audience. It shows that Zuka-chan would likely have gotten similar support if she didn't lose to Suzuka Ito during the casting. All of Zuka-chan's suffering serves to set up the finale of the episode 23, where she finally gets to voice a character where her best four friends are working together, realizing their dream in the end. The next episode also shows that she's starting to get more work from there on.
    • Ema barely earns a living as an animator, and is constantly fearful that her work isn't good enough. As a result, when Segawa criticizes her cuts and orders retakes, she falls into a deep depression.
    • Kinoshita was once an enthusiastic and passionate director, but the failure of Jiggly Jiggly Heaven and his wife divorcing him resulted in him becoming a broken shell of a man.


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