Day 12 – Anime’s Eternal Brilliance in Shirobako

Unlike the other shows I’ve discussed, I did not watch Shirobako in the order I’m talking about it. No, I watched it for the first time as it aired, loving the hell out of it but without the series having any great effect on me as an individual. What’s important is the time that I rewatched it, that having been only last year.

Let’s get the background setup for where I was at this point, so that everything will fit into place when the show takes center stage. While I had been a blogger since all the way back in December of 2015 — please don’t look for those old posts by the way — it wasn’t until 2017 that I actually gained any kind of serious audience. But that’s not surprising. One of my resolutions for the year was to seriously step up my writing, and to do that, well, I’d have to write, as anyone in the field would tell you. So I embarked on a quest to post a whole five articles a week, somehow managing to balance this with school. These posts consisted of a tri-weekly series of episodic Aria analyses, a weekly recap of seasonal anime, and one other, assorted post. This plan fell apart after a bit over a month, but it spurred me to update the blog far more regularly, and eventually, that consistency combined with my quickly improving ability to write, rapidly giving me something of an audience.

To imbue a sense of scale here, in February of 2017 I got 117 total views. In April I got 182. In May, 395, a huge leap but not one that blew my mind. But in June, the month where I graduated high school and definitively left behind the life I’d been living for the past 4 years, I got 1329. This massive growth, spurred on by my growing existence within a broader community, a greater focus on the much-neglected yuri genre, and steadily improving writing,  came at the perfect time for me. It struck right as I reached the end of adolescence, at the point where I was thrust into the decision-making seat, functionally for the first time in my life. Knowing that I’d be taking a gap year before attending UC Davis, I was resolved to continue working on my writing, perhaps by finally making a Youtube channel, something I’d been planning on for as long as I’d had the blog.

Look, this has been a roundabout story, so let’s get back to the main topic. Shirobako is a show I rewatched early into 2017 and I can not understate the influence it had. For one, it caused a few obvious effects in me. Like with many, the show helped teach me a lot about how anime production functions, coming at a point where I was already getting sucked deeper into that rabbit hole, a necessary precondition to the kind of writing I do now. Second, it convinced me of the value that comes in rewatching things, both in terms of what it does for me on a personal level and in the sense that it’s oftentimes necessary to be able to properly analyze a work; one of the posts I was most proud of for the first third of the year was my article on the show. This has ultimately had mixed effects, as at times it’s killed my ability to watch anything from my ever-growing backlog, but it ensured that I’d be a capable critic and some of my best pieces never could have happened were it not for this rewatch-heavy mindset.

More importantly, however, it crystalized both my love of anime and my love of what I do. Shirobako, as a series, wants nothing more than to convince you that anime is the most wonderful thing of all time. It doesn’t do this by ignoring the awful working conditions that its creators are placed under, however. It acknowledges these problems and argues that anime is still good anyway because no one would work in this industry if they didn’t, on some level, love it with all their heart. This hits home. Anyone who’s gonna be watching the show likely loves anime as well, so the lightly mocking but ultimately affectionate portrayal of it all works on multiple emotional levels. In exploring the unique ways in which every member of the massive cast relates to the industry, it hits the appeal of anime with the precision of an expert sniper.

Similarly, Shirobako picks apart why people would enjoy working in an artistic field at all, basically concluding that those who do so feel like it’s what they should be doing above all else. It encourages this, pushing its main characters to pursue their dreams even if they are bound to lead to some degree of hardship. The earlier shows that had pushed me to write, such as Hidamari and Nanoha, had not been enough to make me entirely confident that I could survive in this field. But with my rapidly increasing success and the motivation of seeing Shirobako’s leading women pursue their dream, I had hope that I could, in fact, make it. I didn’t want to be Yuno anymore, I wanted to become Miyamori, so I took off from there.

And now, I kinda feel like I have become her. I still don’t entirely know where I’m going, with my “career” remarkably unstable and my specific dreams somewhat clouded over. However, like her, I know that I love what I do, so I’ve got to keep doing what I love while following whatever path that takes me down. What I devote myself to has value entirely because I devote myself to it and nothing I do could be worthless. Shirobako is the culmination of many shows that have taught me that over the last 5 years. In that time, I’ve come so far, becoming happier, discovering my gender, getting a girlfriend, and finding a job to be passionate about. The fact that I have an audience now is absurd and amazing in itself. Shirobako is, as I have said, all about a love of anime, and as I hope this series has conveyed, without this blessed medium, I never would’ve truly reached self-actualization.

That would be too cheesy of an ending, wouldn’t it? Obviously, I have not reached some perfect state of self-actualization, never to develop again. This isn’t the story of my life; it’s a tale of the last 5 years. With any luck, I’ve got another 60 or 70 left to go, and I plan on changing plenty in that time, no matter how happy I am with where I’m at right now. So for the rest of the video, I’d like to look at how the year compared to my resolutions, what my resolutions will be for the next year, and a hint of what you can expect out of me in 2019.

First, I hoped to be making $500 a month from my videos. I’m not consistently getting there; while my patreon has grown almost every month this year, ad-rev simply isn’t consistent enough. Still, I’m much closer to that than I honestly expected to be, and if plans bear out, I’m definitely on the up, so I’m satisfied.

Second, I wanted 500 anime completed and 150 days watched on MAL. Honestly, I barely made this, and I’m disappointed in myself because of it. I started off the year clearing a ton of shows from my backlog, but once I began dating Lachlan and working on the Ikuhara video in full, I simply lost time for that. For that reason, I’ll be starting less than 10 new shows every season from here onwards — it simply isn’t justifiable to be wasting so much time on weeklies.

Next, I wanted 10K subs. Well, that’s done. Honestly though, I still am a bit disappointed with my growth — while it’s fairly steady, I haven’t seen a massively successful video since the start of the year, so fears that I simply won’t be able to make something as popular as my biggest videos again do occupy my thoughts. Still, as I said, I’ve got plans for 2019 that should put me far above where I’m at right now, so I haven’t fully given into pessimism.

The desire for review copies went nowhere, but that’s not a shock. I simply haven’t had time for most the year to focus on something like this. If anyone comes up with a format where I could review licensed manga, that’d be great, but this one isn’t getting duplicated for my 2019 resolutions.

Next, I wanted to improve my Japanese. Well, it has gotten better, but not enough. Unfortunately, that’s simply been the way of things for the last 4 or so years of study. While I can look at how good I was back then and know I’ve improved a ton, it hasn’t been at the rate I’ve wanted to, though that’s entirely my fault.

The last three resolutions are all quite different, but I met none of them. I started exercising regularly at the start of the year, but again, it fell off after I began dating Lachlan, and now the only exercise I get is biking to and from school. Not excellent.

Second, I wanted to train my voice. This didn’t happen entirely because I grew comfortable with it as it is. Is this just because Lachlan always called it cute, so my insecurities about it faded away? Is it because I heard it so much while editing that I grew close to it like a sort of Stockholm Syndrome? Who can say.

Lastly, I wanted to write a novel. Yeah, I sure wish I had the time to do that.

So, what are my resolutions for 2019? Well, they’re pretty simple, all things considered. I want to hit 50K subs and pull in well over $1000 per month, helping me to feel more secure. I still want to write a novel, likely that Nanoha fanfic. I want my Japanese to hit the point that I can read one of Yoshiya Nobuko’s works, if not at blinding speed. I want to watch a non-anime film at least once a week with Lachlan, so that I have a less incestuous vision of the medium. I want to get through at least 25 works from my backlog, so that I make progress towards one day clearing it. I want to gain a better understanding of the various forms of theory that get discussed in my circles, both to improve my content and the quality of my discussions. I want to do more writing about games, because it’ll motivate me to play more games and serve as an essential backup in case anime writing falls apart. I want to save enough money that we can take a trip to Japan, because I’ve wanted to go for over a decade and I’m tired of waiting. And lastly, I want to continue living the happy life that I have right now, spending time with my wife, making content that others enjoy, and simply enjoying the world I was born into.

And so, I’ll leave you off with a selection of 10 quotes from 10 videos I have planned for 2019, alongside their thumbnails. These are all temporary, so don’t be shocked if they change, some of them will likely never come out, but I hope they make you just as excited about the coming year as I am.

“So at least we reach the question. Why is slavery so common in isekai? It’s certainly not due to the real experiences of slavery in medieval periods. Fantasy works are no historical documents, they are at all times a commentary on the present.”

 

“If a show as rich as Flip Flappers could be boiled down to some simple Freudian and Jungian psychoanalytic concepts I wouldn’t still be talking about it today. There’s a good reason Eva discussion moved beyond that and we must do so with this series as well.”

 

“This is why the concept of Western companies healing the ills of the anime industry smacks of chauvinism. The rights of workers emerge from their own concrete struggles, not from the moral beliefs of our rulers.”

 

“It’s somewhat controversial to say this, but a serious consideration will bear it out as true. Doujinshi have had a stronger influence on otaku culture than the development of the multiplane camera or digital animation suites.”

 

“It was not the decline of the USSR that forced Miyazaki to reconsider and eventually abandon Marxism. No, this transition was most clearly caused by the process of writing Nausicaa.”

 

“It would be foolish to ignore the fact that creators occasionally implant queer subtext in order to satisfy viewers who want that material without upsetting those put off by it by taking things further. However, to write this subtext off as immaterial or ‘just baiting’ is to ignore the intentionality of subtext, as well as its centrality to the richness of a work.”

 

“I suppose it was only natural that Tatsuki’s new work would air alongside the bastard child of his Kemono Friends anime. Nothing could be more emblematic of capital’s utter disregard for artistic value.”

 

“I’ll be clear: for as much as the right ignores reality in acting as if Japan is a safe-haven, free of the SJW scourge, my attentions here are turned towards many members of the left. By acting as if Japanese works are necessarily ‘weird’ due to the country’s supposed lack of struggle, they infantilize and depoliticize an entire nation that is, like any other, political on all fronts.”

 

“It would certainly be acceptable to simply throw away the shoujo trappings that it criticizes. Instead, however, it incorporates them into its own thesis, merging them with a focus on the theatric in order to pull out the reality of performance these Class S works contain, a process necessary to properly articulating queer life in a general sense.”

 

“To throw moe out is to abandon the revolutionary potential that can exist in dreaming of a better world. These works don’t avoid portraying men in order to refuse dealing with patriarchy; no, they posit a world where patriarchy is not a problem and to ignore the feminist possibilities in this is just wrong.”

 

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