What literally, makes up a great anime?

The ideal first rule is, of course, to find voice actors who can sing, has soaring popularity and big racks to voice the main characters. The second one is to avoid creating original anime, because if the ideas to be presented are all horribly mashed together, then it is doomed. The third is to find production staff with a strong motivation, more than “just because”.

Yet, look where we are.

Being both an original anime, and has mostly not-so-popular voice actors to back up the main characters, Shirobako colorfully takes off to the sky.

It defies the very rules that it sets, the challenges that it adds, and trample them one by one; all through the perspective of the characters inside the story world. And, there are tons of them popping up unexpectedly from time to time: annoying ones, irresponsible ones, and the lazy ones.

But most importantly, are the ones that are willing to go the extra mile, to hold the team together, to make the sound effects a bit better, to make the sky a bit sadder, to do just a few more key frames, to give one extra piece of advice, to spend a few more nights and ultimately, to dream.

To try and make a great anime.

As an anime about anime, it’s undeniable Shirobako did a flawless job in depicting the responsibilities, the scopes, and the skills of in-between animators, sound director, 3D-CG animators, producer, storyboard directors and tons of roles and jargon that only those who work in anime industry are familiar with.

It shines lights on them, credited their works in the dark and did the best to highlight what makes an anime great—the production team.

“I realized that anime is made by hundreds of thousands of people, decades’ worth of time, and the thoughts and feelings of all the people who watch it.”

Aoi Miyamori

The stunning visuals, the right sound effects, the music that elevate the ambience, the intensity of tone of the voice actors, the delivery of dialogues at the right time, in the right mood, the details in the characters animated, the breathtaking landscape, the blue sky and white clouds—each and every of these componets are needed to be assembled and blended in the right portion to create a heartfelt anime, to create Shirobako.

Which, the team succeded in.

But Shirobako is much more than that.

It’s a prime example that portrays only one’s own efforts can move oneself. It’s never easy continuing something without credits, and only harsh criticism. But little by little, you’re gonna make it. Because everyone’s been through it; they are made stronger by it. And these lessons, they never stop emerging and igniting the fire inside others. To inspire, and to support.

Shirobako is, in essence, far from cute girl doing cute things in anime industry or simply about anime production. And it is, by no means, a perfectly perfect anime. No. It’s the culmination of the struggles they face, the endless efforts they poured, the failures they dread and the taste of teamwork comes to a satisfying conclusion that makes up its story.

They dream, they act and they keep pushing forward however bitter disappointment tastes. Moving forward, little by little, towards their dream. The four of them, and her.

One step closer.