This week we’re continuing our new watchalong series with special guest Miles, started last week with the first six episodes of Shirobako. This episode digs deep into the nature of careers and seniority for women in particular.
Date Recorded: 3rd June 2017
Hosts: Amelia, Peter
1:28 Hopes from last episodes
5:49 Enjoyment of the series
10:08 Ema’s advancement vs Segawa’s seniority and child rearing in modern Japan
15:38 Aoi’s advancement vs male counterparts and gendered social spaces
24:10 No panacea for workplace struggles
25:24 Uncertainty about the future
27:01 Lifetime employment culture Mii vs Kaori
30:57 Honda the baker
33:06 Kaori’s future
39:04 Tarou still sucks
41:03 The new candidates
45:15 Next six episodes
52:95 Miles surprises
AMELIA: Hi, everyone, and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. My name’s Amelia. I’m the editor-and-chief at Anime Feminist, and I’m joined today by Peter Fobian and a very special guest, Miles Thomas. If you guys would like to introduce yourselves?
PETER: Yeah. Peter Fobian. I’m an Associates Features Editor at Crunchyroll and a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist.
MILES: My name is Miles Thomas, and I got introduced to the head of merchandising at P.A. Works and he could not believe my desk.
AMELIA: [laughs] I like how you’re introducing a new credential each week that explains why we’ve invited you here. Looking forward to the next two as well.
So, what we’re doing at the moment is a watch-along where we watch six episodes of an older series at a time, and then discuss them from a feminist viewpoint. So, we’re watching Shirobako at the moment, at popular request from both patrons and fans. And we’ve invited Miles along as our resident expert, while Peter and I have not seen it before. So, the two of us are coming in completely new and Miles knows exactly what we’re in for.
AMELIA: So, this is our second episode in what will be a four-part series. We previously have covered episodes one through six, and now we’re picking up with episodes seven to twelve.
So, what I’d like to start with is looking at something that we discussed at the end of the last episode, which is how our hopes for these six episodes actually match up with what we’ve seen.
So, just running through. Peter, you wanted: more focus on different areas of the office or different departments within the animation production process; you wanted the disparity between Aoi and Tarou, who have the same job and apparently the same level of seniority, to be kind of recognized in-universe; you wanted there to be more ridiculous anime references; and more of a deep-dive into how anime is made, plus more of a focus on the broader cast. How do you think it stacked up?
PETER: I think I actually got everything I wanted. So, I remember, Miles, you said every six episodes is better than the last six—something like that—last time. I might actually believe you now.
AMELIA: Yeah. Same.
PETER: So… Should I go down, and…?
AMELIA: Yeah. Absolutely.
PETER: Okay, yeah. More focus. I actually liked… Oh man, I was so prepared to be creeped out when she went to that sound design place and he told her—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I know. Me too!
PETER: —He said, “take it off.” I was like, “Oh no, this scene’s gonna be awful!” But, then, he just kind of had her walk in different stuff and yell into a microphone, and I guess she seemed okay with it, so we kind of learned a bit about how the sound guys work.
AMELIA: It was really adorable, actually. Wasn’t it? Because she is, at heart, an anime fan. So she clearly was quite enjoying getting to see how it was made behind the scenes.
PETER: Yeah, it’s like being invited to your favorite studio or something.
AMELIA: Yeah, exactly.
PETER: It seems much more chill working in a sound place than an actual animation studio, too. “We like a week turnaround, usually, just so we can do the best work ever. But, whatever.”
And then, we spend a lot more time with the animation team. And it didn’t really get into coloring, or—I guess we learned a lot about 3D design going into… Her name’s “Rii,” right?
PETER: Right. Her job at whatever… special effects where they just do cars. So, we kind of touched on a couple different areas.
And then when stuff starts going bad, it kind of… We learned a bit about how the studio can pull in different resources. Aoi was given the 13th episode, which is very important, since the first and 13th, as I understand it, are usually—the main director always directs those episodes.
Meanwhile, Tarou… It’s just sort of become—what was the one line that I loved the most? They said, “No matter who we hire to replace these guys, they can’t be as bad as Tarou.” And everyone’s like, “Oh, that’s actually reassuring.”
AMELIA: Everyone just agreed, didn’t they? They’re like, “Yep, yep.”
PETER: Yeah, yeah. They’re like, “Oh, that’s true. Oh, thank god.”
PETER: I don’t think we got ridiculous anime references, but we got introduced to a couple more industry people, and they kind of played on the Initial D thing, where he wanted to race them, and then she looked kind of defeated inside, and then he peeled out and crashed his car when he realized that she’d gotten ahead of him.
All of that involved deeper dives into anime, and we got a focus on the broader cast, too. So, yeah. Every single point. Nice. Good job, Shirobako.
AMELIA: Good job, indeed. I found exactly the same. The second six episodes were much more engaging than the first six for me, personally. They did go into the broader cast. I particularly wanted the five school friends to be more fleshed out and be built up as more of a central ensemble. We got that, absolutely.
I wanted Tarou to be taken down a peg or two. I’m not sure we got that. He did… No, I’m not sure we got that. I think Tarou’s just so thick-skinned and oblivious that he’s not at the point where that’s physically possible. So, yeah.
PETER: So, they’re being very aggressive to his face now. I noticed they were just insulting him directly, but he just doesn’t… He’s so stupid that I don’t even know if he realizes—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] He just brushes it off.
PETER: —what’s even going on.
AMELIA: Yeah, it’s… He’s just the worst. And we’ll come back to that. [laughs] So, yeah. I think it delivered for me. Did you enjoy it more, the next six episodes?
PETER: Yes. A lot.
AMELIA: Can you pinpoint why, do you think?
PETER: Um, hmm. I think we got all the growing pains out of the way, where you really have to figure out… There was a lot of exposition where they had to sort of give you a general idea of how the business ran, and now that we have that idea, they can sort of work within it and do some interesting stuff.
And I think there were a couple plot points that focused on different characters. Aoi and some of the other side characters, where they—specifically for female characters, they had a lot of agency. They had to make important decisions. And they made it with support, but unaided. So I think, as far as specific character focuses, it was better. And, just, the show has kind of hit its rhythm, too.
AMELIA: Do you want to go into that in a little bit more detail? The idea of agency? So, you think that this six episodes shows certain characters having more agency than in the first six?
PETER: Yeah. So, I don’t know… I felt… Maybe you’ll have some opinions on this, actually.
AMELIA: Me? Opinions?
PETER: Yeah, yeah. I’m interested to hear yours, so I’ll set it up. So, there was the situation with the 13th episode, where I guess they just didn’t have enough animators, and they were trying to outsource, and just basically everybody in the industry couldn’t do it.
And Aoi went around and asked everybody to help, and once in a while they gave her a couple numbers, or they would say, “You could try this strategy.” She started looking for freelancers, but apparently that’s a really awful idea, since if it doesn’t work it just sets you back to square one.
And I think ultimately she ends up meeting with… It’s basically Hideaki Anno. The resolution seemed a little bit weird, ’cause the answer was this dude sitting next to Emmy the whole time.
PETER: Tsuki… What was his last name?
AMELIA: Sugie. Sugie.
PETER: Sugie. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I don’t know how everybody in the office forgot. They’re like, “We need somebody who can draw horses.” And they referenced previously, “All this guy can draw is animals.” But I guess everybody just forgot he existed sitting in the corner there. So I thought that was sort of a bizarre turn.
AMELIA: I thought that was so strange, ’cause apparently he’s worked on these legendary anime that have inspired members of this company, so… Miles, is he based on anyone?
MILES: Uh, there’s a couple people that he’s allegedly based on. But he’s one of the—like the girls—a more generic character who’s just a combination of… I mean, but, also, I thought that was pretty realistic. I don’t know… You couldn’t ask me what my coworkers did 20 years ago. Right? Or if I’m in panic mode, or if I’m always high-strung, I’m not gonna be thinking in those terms. Anyway…
PETER: Yeah, so… I guess Anno knows literally everybody and what they did 20 years ago.
AMELIA: Kanno. Kanno.
PETER: Kanno. Yeah, we’ll call him Kanno.
Yeah, so I thought the… After that, they were… The character designer, and I think one of the colorists said they would help draw frames. And sort of everybody rallied together and got the episode done. But mostly it was just kind of on the back of Aoi literally talking to every single person in Tokyo. And then finding out that the appropriate guy was literally 10 feet away the whole time.
But I think… Yeah, I thought that was a good plot. Just kind of a weird. I guess it might be realistic in Japan where—’cause that guy’s been working for what? 20, 30 years? So, maybe—and he was on loan to another studio, so he wasn’t even working on their projects. So, I guess there really can just be people in the corner of your office that literally everyone’s forgotten about but is just still on payroll.
AMELIA: [laughs] It still feels amazing, doesn’t it?
PETER: Yeah. I guess that’s what they do instead of firing you a lot of the time in Japan, too. So, I don’t think it’s that bad. I don’t think he ever did anything that he’s… I mean, that’s probably gonna be Tarou in a couple years, hopefully.
I don’t think he did anything bad and he wouldn’t be on loan to another studio, but that’s how you can end up and why nobody would know what your specialties or skills are.
AMELIA: I don’t think it’s going to be Tarou, but I did want to ask a question about this. How do you think, in theory, Ema could progress to a point where she would have Sugie’s position in an office?
PETER: You mean like the veteran animator?
AMELIA: Yep, the veteran sitting in the corner working on what they’re good at and nothing else.
PETER: How do I think she could progress to that point?
PETER: Probably making some very noteworthy animation and being recognized for it. ‘Cause I know he was on loan to basically… I think it was some studio that made more children’s related anime, more Pokemon-type stuff where there’s more animals and designs like that. Which is his specialty.
I don’t know. I couldn’t say how somebody would… It’s like, you just get recognized and I think that’s sort of an alchemy all its own, because that means other industry people happen to notice, or it happens to be really successful for some reason, and your name comes up as the person who did it. That’s… I’m not sure how to answer that question, I guess.
AMELIA: Miles, what would you say?
MILES: I mean, would she want to be in that position? Is that her end goal?
AMELIA: Let’s assume she does. Just for the purposes of this question, just assume that’s where she wants to be. How would she get there?
MILES: I guess what Peter said is kind of where I would go. She just has to, through attrition, get recognized. It’s attrition, good luck, and skill. She would just eventually find something that she did spectacularly at, or just happened to be the one time where it worked; where everything worked in her favor.
At that point, whoever is managing her would say, “I guess it’s easier to just have you do all this all the time. It’s a bigger benefit to our company to have you recognized as this individual instead of as some anonymous animator within our studio.”
PETER: Can you think of any well-known female animators like that? Like an Itano or a Yutapon or something like that?
MILES: Gosh, I… No, I can’t. But the thing is, I think, in all fairness to me, I am not enough of a sakuga nerd to be able to tell you, “Oh, this is the guy that they get for every horse scene now.”
AMELIA: Yeah. No, no, no, and I don’t expect that. But I think it’s striking, and when I saw this—I obviously don’t know the process and what you both outlined sounds perfectly reasonable to me—but my thought watching this was, “Could she even do this if she chose to get married and have children?”
Because we watch this series, and the most senior woman we see, that I can tell, is Segawa. Now, she works at home. She’s not within the company structure. We meet Sugie’s wife in one episode. She was apparently an in-betweener back in the day. We don’t get any sense that her career progressed beyond that.
So it was just very interesting to me that there are apparently no women that senior who could potentially mentor Ema to get her to that point if she chose to take a career break. And that’s still very often the case in Japan.
MILES: Yeah, no, that… I mean, first of all, with animators, they do disproportionately or predominantly work from home, which is honestly fantastic for gender equity reasons. But at the same time, they’re not really gonna be encouraged to go back to the office after they’re done child-rearing.
AMELIA: Yeah. And I do wonder if it’s a coincidence that the most senior woman in this series is a woman who works from home. So that just occurred to me while I was watching.
PETER: I remember something you mentioned last ‘cast, as well, Miles, was that women have always been a big part of making anime, but they weren’t necessarily recognized or given senior positions. And, with Sugie, you get the impression that he’s been in the industry for 30 or 40 years.
So, could it be that there just aren’t many women who have a position like that of recognition because there haven’t been enough that were given the opportunities to enter that sort of position and then have been around long enough to enter into that status that he has?
MILES: I think that, absolutely, the history of the anime industry is that honestly there’s not even that many animators from 20, 30 years ago who are still in the game, right? And we know most of them who are. And certainly there’s not terribly many women because of what the industry looked like at that time.
The women who were in industry… And we do see, actually, some women older than—in the coloring department, which has been traditionally female, and the sound recording department. Which, again, has had a little more of a gender mix.
PETER: So, basically, the female “Sugies” might be the women working in animation right now. That might be the first generation.
AMELIA: But it’s worth noting that in Japan, right now, women are putting off having children later and later because they’re very aware that having children effectively means putting a huge dent in your career path.
PETER: Yeah, or just retiring.
AMELIA: Yeah, or just stopping work entirely. Yeah, absolutely.
Okay, so, moving away from animators—because I appreciate that isn’t a very specific niche—how would Aoi, in theory, progress to the kind of producer position that someone like Ochiai or Nabe-P is in?
MILES: I would argue she’s doing it. She’s doing it!
AMELIA: Yep. How is she doing it? How is she doing it?
MILES: So, especially in the last two episodes of this cour of the show, you see a lot of her progressing in the most important ways, where she is talking to all the important people in the industry. And they all begin to know her and recognize her. And honestly just… Like I said, attrition is the number one way to get ahead in life, right? And she’s starting that attrition battle very early. She’s just an entry-level production assistant, and already she’s meeting people like Anno.
AMELIA: Kanno. Kanno.
MILES: Kanno. And interacting with the head of Studio… Definitely-Not-Studio-BONES—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Definitely not.
MILES: —multiple times. So, all these people within the industry are starting to get to know her and are impressed or interested in her. This, of course, may be interesting in the second cour. I hope you guys enjoy that element of the show.
But she’s doing everything. If I were her senior, I would be like, “Wow, you’re ahead of the game. You’re ahead of me. You’re doing a great job of just putting yourself out there, showing that you’re a very hard worker, doing all the things that traditional-style Japanese business is very fond of.”
Other than the fact that she’s a woman, she’s doing everything. [laughs] As terrible as that is.
PETER: She’s accidentally networking and I also—I did kind of—especially your question brought this to mind. The two most senior men in the production staff quit, so I guess the person in charge—the most senior employee on the producer’s side would be Erika, now, right? And she’s got issues with her dad. His health. So I don’t know if she might be out soon either.
But I mean, either way, that might… I don’t know if somebody else is going to appear, or if Erika ends up becoming their senior producer. And assuming she stays or leaves, that could mean that Aoi is next. ‘Cause I think at this point, nobody has any faith in Tarou. Nobody would… they wouldn’t put Tarou there. Just the way—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah.
MILES: [crosstalk] Thank God. Thank God!
PETER: —the way they act. Yeah. Early in the series, I would’ve been concerned that he would end up as somebody she constantly has to fight ’cause he’s in a position above her. But at this point, it’s just everyone has open hostility toward Tarou. So they would not promote him first. Absolutely not. If they did, I wouldn’t believe it.
AMELIA: I want to look specifically at the names I mentioned. Ochiai, he got a promotion through his senpai from university, presumably a guy. Nabe-P, when Aoi shows up, asks him for help; he tries to get her out of there as quickly as possible. And then even when she gets Kanno’s contact details, the other guy calls ahead of her and tells her that this interesting girl’s on the way and just humor her. Actually, nobody is helping Aoi up this ladder. At all.
So, if she does make it where she’s got a job like Ochiai or Nabe-P, it’s done against the odds. Massively. And I think that’s in stark contrast to the animation department, where we see that Segawa holds them to high standards but she also encourages her and reiterates her belief. We see that Iguchi tries… to get her past her artist’s block, she kind of takes her out and says, “No, you have to step away from the page and go and look at real life for a while.” And Sugie is the one who puts that in motion.
So, it seems like within the animation department, they have this kind of mentoring structure. Whereas, on the men’s side, it seems like the negotiation takes place through old-school ties or in social spaces that women aren’t welcome into.
PETER: Yeah, like weird Mahjong games.
AMELIA: I’m assuming that’s kind of a stand-in for any possible social space that women aren’t permitted into. I imagine there’s a certain amount of negotiation and discussion that goes on in other spaces as well.
PETER: Oh yeah. For sure.
AMELIA: So, it’s just the fact that she wasn’t even… It wasn’t even a case of, “Oh, you’re here. Come in. Join us. I’ll introduce you to these people.” Even though Aoi and Nabe-P work for the same company. He tries to get her out of there as quickly as possible.
PETER: You mean tries to keep her out of the little Mahjong game they have so she doesn’t end up sitting down, playing or something?
AMELIA: Yeah, but he doesn’t even say, “Oh, Aoi can’t stay long, but let me just introduce you briefly.” He doesn’t help her at all. And then as a result, when she’s sent off to Kanno’s place—no thanks to her coworker—it’s with this message: “Don’t take her too seriously.” And the fact that she gets anything out of Kanno at all is a miracle.
PETER: Okay, yeah. I see what you’re saying. So yeah. That guy, he just wanted her to leave. And then the other guy just said, “Why don’t you talk to this industry legend real quick?”
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah, exactly. And I don’t think he meant any harm by it. But the fact is Nabe-P didn’t help her. He didn’t support her at all.
PETER: And then Kanno kind of… They bonded over their mutual love of whatever—the chipmunk of the Andes or whatever.
AMELIA: Yeah. [laughs]
MILES: Rocky Chuck!
PETER: Yeah. I don’t know what a reference that was to, but that was pretty good. Whenever two people are talking about anime in that show, I really get into it.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah, and I—
PETER: “Yes. This is exactly what it’s like.”
AMELIA: Her conversation with Kanno was… It was lovely. It was fine. It wasn’t a problem and it was nice that he did actually meet with her and he did end up giving her some useful advice, perhaps inadvertently. But the fact that she wasn’t supported by her coworkers to get to that stage… Like, really? How would she get to the point of Ochiai and Nabe-P without connections and without being supported? It would be incredible.
PETER: Yeah. And I guess the reason we’re talking about this is because there’s a lot of shows that do have female protagonists where… The one that’s coming to mind right now is—this is a weird comparison—but in Psycho Pass, Akane is the main character and portrayed as very capable. But if you actually look at how all of the plots roll out, it’s just her watching other people figure things out.
And, occasionally, she says something that causes them to have some sort of emotional revelation, but then they kind of figure it out anyway. She’s just sort of a spectator that we—a perspective character. Whereas Aoi is actually making changes based on her own merits. And that’s the difference.
AMELIA: I mean, I’m bringing this up ’cause it’s real life. I’m bringing this up because it absolutely reflects situations that exist within workplaces, Japanese and otherwise. And I just thought it was noteworthy that this was reflected. It’s very subtle. But it’s definitely there. We’ve already seen so many examples of mentoring happening amongst women—only women—in a field where there doesn’t seem to be any kind of high-level seniority. And we’ve seen attempts at mentoring kind of crushed, basically.
So, the fact that you’ve got these two women—you’ve got Ema and you’ve got Aoi—and they’re both going down a road where, if they do succeed, it will be against, kind of twice the odds against them than a male coworker in their exact position, someone like Tarou, would face.
PETER: Yeah. Ema, it’s very—I appreciate that they presented it differently too. It’s a lot of “Your work speaks for itself” kind of thing. And what did Segawa say? She liked—even in the beginning, she said that she thought her art was very unique. It’s just she couldn’t produce fast enough, and she had… Whenever you’re drawing something new, I guess there’s a sticking point. So, she was having that problem with cats, which seems like, to be the animal she’s probably most familiar with. But…
AMELIA: What I took from that was less that she’s having this problem with one specific thing. It was more she doesn’t know how to get past a blocker like that. So, she’s currently struggling with the process of being an animator. Because everyone’s going to hit that wall sometimes, and she doesn’t know how to get past it yet.
So, in the course of that little arc, she kind of learned how to get past it. So I’m hoping for really great things from Ema in the next 12 episodes. I think that her arc is probably gonna be one of the most satisfying of the entire series.
PETER: Yeah. I remember, I took a note when I saw that. The way they portrayed her situation is like: there’s no panacea. So there’s no “you found the animator you need and then you just all come together and do the work” kind of thing. Sugie was sort of describing it as… I can’t remember what he said. “You have to draw fast to draw better. But you also have to draw better to be able to draw fast.”
And it was like this problem with speed, the amount of work you do, and the quality of your work. Which is like: you can’t do one without the other three. And then it’s just like magic and hard work whether or not you can get to the point where you can do quality frames at the right speed.
And even once she had a solution, it was still this kind of grind, and existential horror that she wouldn’t be able to keep up with her work. She wouldn’t be able to feed herself. So, it’s like you just have to keep working and use the other strategies that people give you and kind of hope for the best.
So it wasn’t like she got her confidence and then everything was fine, either. It’s like she got one or two more tools and that terror is still there in the background. But she managed to make it through the current project and she’s still working hard.
AMELIA: And I really like that, actually. I think the way that career path, in general, is represented is really great. It really resonates with me, certainly. And I think it does feel really realistic.
So, we’ve got… Shizuka is another example. You know, the voice actor. She’s desperately trying to break into this and she just seems to be making misstep after misstep, but not through any fault of her own, if that makes sense. She’s just new and awkward and fumbling through it. And at some point, we hope she’ll get a lucky break. But, actually, she might end up deciding this isn’t for her after all and walking away. And that would be absolutely fine.
PETER: And then there’s… There was Mii as well, with the CG. That was another—I think that was kind of… If you could condense those six episodes down, there was a lot of uncertainty as to where they were when it came to progressing toward their goals.
‘Cause Aoi and Ema both had that issue at their studio. And then Mii had that—I guess because she was the most successful out of all of them—she worked at a studio that had great pay and great benefits. But it’s like all she was doing was making cars, and that’s not why she wanted to learn how to do CG.
So, it’s like, she could work there for five years and get a good reputation but then all she would know how to render are wheels. Or, she could quit now and take a huge risk to try to find another studio that happened to be hiring. I think the only real job prospect they found was some dude’s startup, which was five employees, and they needed one CG person.
So, this is like a tremendous risk, but she ends up resigning because cars are boring.
AMELIA: What did you think of her decision to resign? Would you have?
PETER: Me, personally?
AMELIA: Yeah. Would you have made the same decision, do you think?
PETER: Yeah. Definitely.
AMELIA: Miles, how about you?
MILES: You know, I… I struggle with that question. Because I like to think that I would, but also, her specific context seems, honestly, terrifying. [laughs] Japan is a country where you stick with one company for life. And it’s not like she’s got some sure thing she’s working towards or leaving for.
AMELIA: Yeah. I mean, lifetime employment isn’t… It’s never been quite as widespread as I think we see over here. But it certainly is a factor that you would expect a new employee, straight out of university, would expect them to stay for a few years. You’d expect them to stay for at least two, three years.
MILES: You’d just get weird questions all the time for the rest of your career.
AMELIA: Yeah, exactly. She is taking a huge risk. Absolutely huge. There is a chance that she could be working in a convenience store just to pay her rent. And I think she’s very aware of this. So, the fact that she’s making that leap is really impressive, or terrifying, depending on your perspective.
But I think it’s really interesting. Between these six episodes, we’ve seen the counterpoint of that, which is with Aoi’s older sister, Kaori, who is almost thirty. She’s in a job that she absolutely hates. But presumably, she’s built up a decent CV. She seems to be in a stable company with presumably good benefits and so on. And she’s done everything right. But she cannot stand the position she’s in.
And I really thought that they were gonna do some reveal where it turned out she quit her job and her little holiday in Tokyo was actually just her way of getting up courage before confessing to everyone that she left her job. But that didn’t happen. So I guess she just couldn’t bear it anymore and took a few days off.
PETER: Yeah, I thought that was an interesting subplot. And the ending was sort of like, “I guess she just goes back to work.” I guess she was just inspired by how everybody else was working hard and I guess she’s going back to the job she doesn’t like to work hard. I don’t know. Actually, that got really real for me.
AMELIA: Yeah. [laughs]
PETER: When she was there, I could kind of sense… I mean, you could sense immediately that there’s something going on with her, but then they did that little bit of exposition, and it turned out it was a freaking credit union.
AMELIA: Of all things.
PETER: And I was like, “Ugh.” And all those scenes were just so… I don’t know if somebody [on the staff] worked at a credit union, but that was spot-on. Somebody was talking to her about some shitty reality television show, and they were talking about sports and their kids and just like, every aspect of the business that they’re talking about is some sort of unquantifiable number. It’s very abstract. And you could tell she just doesn’t care at all. And to be real, that is absolutely what it felt like when I was working at a bank.
PETER: And I got the fuck out of there. It was awful. But she goes back.
AMELIA: She goes back.
MILES: But she goes back.
AMELIA: Why do you think she goes back? Why do you think she doesn’t leave?
PETER: I don’t know. I can’t honestly… I’m so happy to be out of finance, personally. I’m so thankful to be out of finance. It… yeah. I guess maybe that just didn’t resonate with me, personally. ‘Cause I know a lot of people are able to work in that kind of job and they don’t have a problem with it. But, she doesn’t really… There was no other presented prospects for her. It was just her on vacation trying to get away from it, right?
But the fact that she is just going to continue to keep working, not looking for outs or anything like that, I… That seems terrifying to me, personally.
AMELIA: There was another counterpoint that I think goes with both Mii-chan and Kaori, and that was Honda who, in these episodes, says, “I’m gonna leave. I like this well enough, but I actually really want to be a baker. I really want to make cakes. So I’m gonna go work in a bakery.”
AMELIA: Identify with that?
PETER:I think so. I mean, that’s cool. You know, working in anime… making cakes ’cause you really like cakes. I think that’s cool. It reminds me of something else where a guy quits and makes cakes. No, I think it was just an internet thing where he baked a cake that had his resignation on it. That Facebook story.
AMELIA: Yeah, yeah. I saw that.
PETER: [laughs] But, I mean, that sounds cool. It sounds like he was always baking things during the weekend anyway. And they were talking about how he brought in brownies. Probably not good for the other staffers trying to watch their weight and stuff.
He said he’s just gonna work down the street, so if he’s friends with them, he can come by whenever. So, honestly that seems really awesome. I’m happy for him.
AMELIA: And he seems to be making a pretty brave decision as well, because when he first said that this is what he wants, their response is… It’s almost homophobic, isn’t it? It’s really like, “Ugh. Gross. I ate brownies that a guy made.”
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh, the thing about him in the apron.
AMELIA: Yeah, picturing him in an apron with hearts on it and with lipstick on, and it was… It was really kind of startling to me because I just wasn’t expecting something like that in the middle of this.
PETER: Yeah, I was waiting for a line that was really dangerous to come out of one of them.
AMELIA: Yeah, I was waiting for that.
PETER: It was kind of a weird… I wasn’t entirely upset with what they were doing, but at the same time, he also locks dudes in cages, so seeing the same guy baking and locking people up, maybe… I hope that’s the contrast that they were trying to overcome.
MILES: I’m happy just not defending either of their reactions, personally. I—
AMELIA: It was pretty bad.
MILES: I’ll defend this show up and down, but not this part. I don’t know.
AMELIA: The last thing I wanted to—
PETER: [crosstalk] Not a great moment.
AMELIA: The last—Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
MILES: [crosstalk] Well, actually, before we go on, I want to talk about Aoi’s sister real quick. So, with Kaori, when she comes back, part of me was very frustrated that she just comes and leaves, and there’s no visible conclusion. Right? There’s no… She says, “Oh, I feel motivated by you guys.” But that’s about the end of it. And if you’re having an existential crisis, that’s usually not enough. And I don’t think it is enough.
But I think what happened there is you kind of get a sense of her being able to see the distance that Aoi has already taken from where she was when they lived together as kids to where she is now, and is able to see, “Oh, I guess I can’t overcome that gap. I can’t do what Aoi did. So, I’m gonna go back and just be happy that I’m not the type of person that can find happiness in their jobs, but at least my sister and her motivated friends can.”
That was my takeaway from that whole ordeal and it kind of made me sad, ’cause I know a lot of people in my personal and professional life who are like that, and I want people to want the most out of everything, but sometimes people kind of are resigned.
PETER: Yeah, I don’t like that at all. That’s… [laughs] I don’t like that take. I don’t like that at all.
AMELIA: You’re gonna hate my take, then.
PETER: Oh, okay. Hit me.
AMELIA: She’s nearly thirty. She’s pretty junior. She’s a woman in Japan. Who’s gonna hire her? She is at a point where marriage and children is a career option, effectively. I say this as a 33-year-old woman.
Pressure to find the right career path—”right” in inverted commas, but as right as you’re gonna get—before you are old enough to get married and have children. Because even if they’re legally not allowed to, and they don’t tell you, employers do hold it against you. I absolutely know that there are jobs I haven’t gotten through for, or that friends of mine haven’t gotten through for, because you’re up against people who definitely aren’t gonna take maternity leave at the very least.
So, the idea that she stays in her job and that if she gets married she might be able to escape it that way, or even if she has to carry on working for whatever reason, she might get some paid maternity leave out of it… Yeah, that rings true. Absolutely.
PETER: Are you saying she’s just going back to their hometown to… resolved to go to every employee mixer she can from that point, or something?
AMELIA: We don’t know that she’s not already doing that. We don’t know her background. I don’t know if we’re going to. But this is so important to me to talk about this one right now. Because there are moments in this where we see Aoi talking about the choice that people face.
We see Honda, in her imagination, reaching a crossroads between anime and baking. And we see him running towards the baking. How old is he? Is he in his thirties? And he gets that. He’s in his thirties, in his forties. He can just decide, “Hey, I want to change careers” and change his career.
And she looks at Mii-chan, who is so young that even if she does cause some damage right now, she probably has time to make it back up before she reaches that point. Aoi is refusing to think about the ultimate ambition of her actions at the moment. That’s fine. She’s busy. I’m absolutely certain that we’ll get to that and that she will have formed a dream of her own before the end of the series.
But, for now, she’s surrounded by people who are acting on their dreams. It is very, very important to acknowledge the fact that her sister, who is around the age of thirty, is not one of those people.
MILES: And she doesn’t even question that.
AMELIA: She doesn’t question that. And I have felt that pressure for years. Absolutely years. That you have to get it right, because if you get it wrong and then you have children, then you are stuck.
PETER: When her sister’s leaving, doesn’t she say, “Is everything okay?”
AMELIA: Yeah, but she doesn’t tell her anything, does she?
PETER: Her sister doesn’t say anything, no. But I… She knows something’s wrong.
AMELIA: I mean, I wouldn’t talk to my—22? 23?…I wouldn’t talk to my 23-year-old sister about: “I’m having a crisis about my work but I feel like I’m trapped and I can’t get out.”
PETER: “It seems like you’re happier where you are in life than me while being ten years my junior.” That’s, uh…
AMELIA: Oh, too real there, guys. Too real.
PETER: [crosstalk] “What would you think about that?” Yeah. Mm-hmm.
AMELIA: Yeah. So, I’m really sorry to be depressing, but that leaped out of me.
MILES: No, no. It is depressing.
MILES: On, I think it was my second rewatch—’cause I had almost forgotten on the first time I watched the show that Aoi’s sister existed. I had almost forgotten her.
AMELIA: Oh, really?
MILES: And then I realized why. And it’s because the show kind of forgets her. If you’re watching for fun, like if you’re not watching with a critical eye, it’s very easy to just lose a character like this. And that’s tragic.
AMELIA: That’s life. [laughs] This part really got to me. Her arc and everything around her. And especially… In these six episodes, we’ve got her, we’ve got Mii-chan, we’ve got Honda. And just the contrast between the three of them really, really stung me.
So, just wanted to bring that to your attention.
PETER: Yeah. For sure. Same. I felt like she was… I don’t know. Somebody knew that I was watching and put that character in just for me.
AMELIA: Just to make you feel huge relief?
PETER: I guess, yeah. ‘Cause, I mean, I’m around the same age as her, too, I guess. And I feel like I just squeaked out, you know? So…
AMELIA: Yeah. Absolutely.
PETER: And that’s why I was rooting for her, too. I was like, “Oh, no. You gotta get out of there.” But I guess Miles just said they forgot about her, so…
AMELIA: I thought that too. I was like, “Well, maybe she comes back.” No, apparently not.
PETER: Yeah. Rest in peace.
AMELIA: [laughs] Okay, last character. Tarou’s still the worst, right?
PETER: Oh yeah. This one… Okay, I know you don’t fire people in Japan. But he—
MILES: [crosstalk] You do sometimes.
PETER: —he actually stole the company car. He drove Erika to the hospital in the company car, and then just said, “I’m not gonna come back. I’m gonna take a day.”
PETER: And he does some shit like that. He had the car that they need to go get frames and stuff. That’s… I can’t think of that as not theft.
AMELIA: It’s gross misconduct, right? At least.
PETER: Yeah. But you know he’s gonna go back to work and they’re just gonna go like, “I guess we can’t trust you.”
MILES: “Oh, Tarou. Oh, you.”
PETER: “You goof.”
AMELIA: The obvious awful moment for him was when he said that he wants to be a director, but he doesn’t want to be an episode director. And he might settle for being a producer.
MILES: Oh my God.
PETER: I love the line where he said something about being a raging tiger. So, Erika says, “That’s an insult to every tiger. You need to take that back right now.” [laughs]
AMELIA: Yeah. He’s just awful. But the idea that he could still be successful is just bothering me so much. Something needs to happen with him in the next six episodes, for sure.
PETER: Yeah, I guess I don’t know what it takes in Japan to get fired. I’m assuming this is going a bit further than it’s willing to. It’s not going to be super realistic about this aspect of the show. But there’s got to be a point, right?
MILES: Honestly, what you described is a firing offense. Even in a very anti-firing culture. I don’t think that’s a controversial thing to say.
AMELIA: Yeah. Absolutely. He just skips out on work.
PETER: Yeah, while they’re in a rush to finish the final episode of a series that’s very important to them and might affect if they get a huge contract.
MILES: With the car.
PETER: Yep. With a company car that they need, possibly, to complete the episode.
AMELIA: He’s pretty awful.
AMELIA: We’ve got a new character, potentially. Has she been hired, the girl with the kind of blonde streaks in her hair?
AMELIA: Wow. That was a strong reaction to someone who’s name I don’t even know.
PETER: That will… Yeah, I don’t know her name either, but—
PETER: They did that interview thing. They interviewed four people, and she was the cute girl. And I’m like, “That one gets hired.” That was my thought, the moment I saw her. Even though three of them had apparently watched a lot of anime. One said he liked a lot of anime that that studio happened to not have made.
I don’t remember what she said. But I was just like, “She’s got a very unique and cute character design. So I wonder if she ends up…” And then she’s in the car with Tarou in the next scene. I’m still not clear on if they hired her.
AMELIA: I’m not.
PETER: I did respect the fact that she really told Tarou to shut up, though.
AMELIA: Yeah, exactly. She immediately—yeah—picked up on the fact that he’s the worst and responded accordingly. So, good for you, whoever you are.
PETER: Yeah, but I don’t know if that’s the new member of the team to replace their—’cause they’re two short on the production team now.
AMELIA: Yeah, and I do see why they didn’t hire the guy who got the name wrong, because if you’re a production assistant, attention to detail is pretty much your job. So, if you can’t keep the names straight in an interview, then it’s not quite right for you. But the others… The woman who just said she wanted to cut down her commute.
PETER: How do you feel about that one, Miles? If somebody told you that during an interview?
MILES: Can I expose something really small for you guys?
AMELIA: [Hesitant noise] How small?
MILES: It’s fine if I can’t. It… You find out in the next… the very first three minutes of the next episode.
AMELIA: Okay, go ahead.
MILES: The commute girl gets the job too.
PETER: Oh, nice.
AMELIA: Oh, okay.
PETER: Well, yeah.
AMELIA: Okay. Fine.
MILES: They’re in the second opening, so I feel like it’s fine to talk about this. No, so the two newbies, the two new production assistants… When I was watching, I’m like, “Neither of them are gonna get the job.” Then, of course, they both do. Everyone but the guy gets the job.
PETER: Well, wait. There was two guys, two girls.
AMELIA: Yeah. There was the guy who didn’t actually form a coherent sentence.
MILES: Then I won’t say anything else, but… It’s interesting that the only look into those characters we get is, “Hey, I like really basic-ass movies.” And then the other girl says, “I just need a closer commute.” And both of them get the job.
And I think that speaks a lot to being a production assistant. How they will take anybody. And they keep Tarou because he still comes into work everyday.
AMELIA: Wait, wait, wait. “Basic-ass” movies? Are you talking about Ghibli?
MILES: Yeah. If that’s what you’re saying at an anime studio? Everyone’s gonna say Ghibli. Come on.
PETER: It’s like, “Are you into film?” And you go, “Yeah, I love Marvel movies, man.”
AMELIA: [laughs] That’s fine. That’s fine. Ghibli movies are…
PETER: Just to say—I think all of us can empathize with that commute part, though. Every single one of us. I’ve actually used that one in an interview before, and I got the job. So. I was going out of Palo Alto. It was a two-hour commute.
AMELIA: Oh my God.
PETER: Yeah, the other one was local for me.
AMELIA: I mean, I say that. My commute right now is two hours.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. And Miles, I believe you can also empathize with this?
MILES: Almost three hours a day total commuting.
AMELIA: Yeah. That’s about what I have.
PETER: So, literally saying, “I would like 20% of my life back and this job is nearby. I think I’m qualified for this job. It seems like a fun place. And I want 20% of my life back.” Oh, okay, all right.
AMELIA: Yeah. It’s certainly… It’s not Tarou-level bad, is it? That’s the bar they’re being judged against. That’s fair enough.
MILES: Yeah. I mean, really.
PETER: It depends on their competence and how connected they are with reality.
AMELIA: Okay. Next six episodes, where do you want to see it go? You can go first, Peter.
PETER: [exhales] I don’t know if I’m prepared for this one. Let’s see.
AMELIA: Do you want me to go first? I can… I have some ideas.
PETER: Yeah, sure.
AMELIA: Okay. I want Segawa to get a bit more development, for a start. Because I was listening back to the previous episode, and I talked for ages about how I’m really interested in Segawa and Endou’s relationship and where’s that gonna go and what does it mean and what’s the background there? And we get nothing for six episodes.
And now that we’ve seen Segawa kind of mentoring Ema, I’m more interested in her now. In the next six episodes I’d like to know more about her career. How did she get there? Where does she see as her next step? She’s a supervising animator now, I think? Or an animation supervisor? So, does she want to progress, or is she quite happy where she is? I’m interested, now, in her career path.
I’d really like to see something positive happen to Shizuka, the voice actor. I cringed so badly almost every moment that she showed up this six episodes. I felt so bad for her. And it just… again, there’s nothing wrong with what she’s doing. She’s trying hard. She’s just a bit awkward, and it’s just hard to watch because I feel for her and I like her and I want her to do well. But at the same time, if she just sails straight into a voice acting career and hits immediate success, that’s completely at odds with the obstacles that the rest of them are facing, which are much more realistic. Much slower-paced.
So, I’m kind of hoping something positive happens to her. And that might be deciding, “Actually, this isn’t for me. I would love to make anime with my friends again. But I’m not sure that this is what I want to do every day for the rest of my life.” That might be what it means. I don’t know.
PETER: I just realized something. I think Aoi has just as many voice credits as she does now.
AMELIA: [laughs] Oh, man, ’cause of the falling?
MILES: Oh no.
PETER: Poor Shizuka.
AMELIA: I really hope this is the most depressing episode of the podcast that we put out on this. Everything…
PETER: Just the uncertainty of their careers?
AMELIA: All of their career paths: going nowhere. On that—
PETER: [crosstalk] If you—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Go ahead.
PETER: [crosstalk] Go ahead.
AMELIA: I was just gonna say: on that note, I really hope that Mii-chan is actually rewarded for taking a risk. I really hope that she ends up working for someone who makes stories in one way or another. I don’t want her to be punished for this. I do want Tarou to be punished for being the worst. Those are the only two other wishes I have for the next six episodes.
PETER: On the trajectory of the series, I don’t know if… I don’t really think any of them are gonna drop out. I’d be pretty surprised if that happens. That would be interesting, but I feel like all of them are going to find a place—
MILES: [crosstalk] We already lost Honda, though.
AMELIA: Of the main five.
PETER: Of the girls, yeah. Of the girls from high school.
I would like something—is it Mytha who’s the writer, then?
AMELIA: That’s Rii.
PETER: That’s Rii.
AMELIA: Yeah, Midori.
PETER: Oh, is that why they call her “Diesel-chan?” Okay. Yeah. So far, she’s just helped find a… it was a diesel train, too.
AMELIA: She’s not… I don’t think she’s been called “Diesel-chan” yet.
AMELIA: Spoilers. You’ve ruined everything.
PETER: Oh, is that why they call her “Diesel-chan?” You know, “Dee.” “Rii.”
MILES: I’m sorry! I’m sorry! It’s so natural for me.
AMELIA: You’re doing really well at not spoiling us, I think. If that’s the biggest spoiler you’ve dropped, you’re doing fine.
PETER: Yeah. Well, I mean, it was a diesel train. We’ll say that’s the reason.
AMELIA: Yeah. She’s very much in the background at the moment, ’cause she’s a student. She’s not actually working. But she does say that she wants to write a novel, which I thought was quite interesting. She’s not writing spec scripts or anything. She wants to write a novel. So, maybe…
PETER: So, maybe she won’t get in. She’ll choose to go through a different medium or something.
AMELIA: Yeah, maybe.
PETER: But, I don’t know. Writers do all kinds of stuff. ‘Cause, what is it? McCarthy’s written a movie, a play, and a bunch of books now, so. It’s weird.
AMELIA: It’s totally possible to. It’s a flexible career path, but it’s also highly competitive, and very low-paid. So, we’ll see how that goes for her. But, for me, I would like her to get into some kind of work that is in line with her reasons for leaving the last job, I think. Even if it doesn’t seem directly… like the direct path that she wanted.
PETER: Yeah. Also seeing somebody working in a startup environment would be pretty interesting too—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah, it really would.
PETER: —if it has a chance in going in that direction. ‘Cause a lot of the studios you hear about today are usually started by somebody who was a huge name at a previous huge studio. MAPPA, Trigger, KyoAni, all of them had pretty well-known names found the studios.
MILES: Those are just the studios you know of.
PETER: Well, those are the studios people, at least in our sphere, talk about. Okay, Miles.
AMELIA: What were you saying about not being a sakuga nerd?
MILES: Well, no, I’m just saying… What’s it called? Who’s the student who did the McDonald’s anime? The little commercials.
AMELIA: No idea.
PETER: Oh, man. I haven’t even mentioned that. I don’t remember.
MILES: They’re… Colorido. Studio Colorido was started by two women who worked at P.A. Works, but they weren’t high-up. They were just animation supervisors.
AMELIA: That’s pretty interesting.Two women started a studio that got picked up by a corporation that huge.
PETER: Canipa did a thing on that too, right?
AMELIA: Who did?
MILES: There’s not—The Canipa Effect. They did a little video about Studio Colorido. It’s really great.
PETER: Lots of really animated things of women flying and a McDonald’s commercial.
AMELIA: Nice. Yeah, I saw the ad.
PETER: [crosstalk] It’s a good commercial.
AMELIA: I haven’t seen Canipa’s video on it yet. So I’ll have to watch that.
PETER: It almost makes it look like working at McDonald’s would be fun. [laughs] Maybe it is in Japan. I don’t know.
AMELIA: It’s probably a bit nicer than England.
MILES: I mean, if you can impress senpai.
PETER: [laughs] Every job is worth it if you have a senpai.
AMELIA: Okay, back to Shirobako. What do you want to see in the next six episodes, Peter?
PETER: I definitely… I want to see both—I guess it’s Mii and Rii, right? Yeah, I want to see more of those two, ’cause I… as a writer myself, I’m pretty interested in seeing how that part of the industry might work out, since right now it seems like all she’s doing is watching movies until 6 AM in the morning, and… I don’t know what else she’s doing. And hanging out with Aoi’s sister.
And also the CG work. Especially if she goes to a startup, I think it’d be pretty interesting. On the whole—and I think this might be something we wanna touch on before we end—I can’t think of any fanservice that I really noticed in this six-episode portion. So, I feel like as long as the series maintains on this course, it’s pretty good so far.
Past that, it sounds like they might be getting this new witch girls contract thing, so I want to see how production might be restructured, especially if Erika’s in charge at that point. And I guess maybe some actual upward mobility from Aoi. I think she’s gonna decide that she likes to do production. But I kind of want to see how that rolls out.
Yeah, everything I want is just kind of like in the direction of plot. Which I guess is really good.
MILES: That speaks well of the show.
PETER: That’s a good thing. It does, yeah.
AMELIA: Okay, Miles. Has anything surprised you about our discussion or is it more-or-less as you would have expected for these six episodes?
MILES: So, I honestly expected Kaori to come up. I’m really glad. That is, I guess, my biggest satisfaction, because in Shirobako discussions that I’ve heard, read, watched, and all that, she’s not a part of those conversations. And I honestly thought you would talk about Honda more and his decision and how that relates to… Could Aoi make that decision right now and be respected within society? And I don’t really feel that way.
So, that was something interesting that I was just maybe projecting on y’all.
AMELIA: No, no, no. Absolutely. You should’ve brought it up at the time. That’s perfectly good to discuss.
MILES: What else do I got? I’m interested that you guys didn’t talk about the relationship of the main five girls with beer.
PETER: With beer?
MILES: Yeah. With alcohol.
PETER: Oh. Do you mean that they like to drink?
MILES: They like to drink, all the time.
AMELIA: I mean… that just feels really normal. [laughs]
MILES: That feels really normal. But you don’t see it in anime.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Ah, yes.
MILES: And I think it’s really wonderful how… What do people do after a hard day at work?
AMELIA: Have a beer.
MILES: It’s a pretty normal thing to go out for a beer. But usually in anime, you see the characters are being covered or all these things that producers assume otaku want out of anime is these sweet, virginal girls. And the girls aren’t seen as—if a woman drinks beer in an anime, it’s normally in the context of, she’s either sloppy or she’s got male mannerisms or something like that.
And here it’s like, nope. They’re the same girls. As you would expect. They’re cute girls, but they’re just drinking beer. It’s not played up or played down. It’s just, that’s just what they happen to do. And I found that so refreshing how they just drink beer. It’s not a point.
AMELIA: That is such a good point. And I’ve drunk beer with Japanese women many, many times, and it… You’re absolutely right. You don’t really see it in anime even though it’s everywhere in Tokyo, of women drinking beer.
PETER: Well, I think that’s also just because there’s not a whole lot of anime that cover work culture, and drinking after work is very, very common. So, since it’s all high school anime that we’re seeing, they’re not gonna go get beers afterward.
MILES: But it’s not. And we talked about high school anime as like: that’s the only thing. But there’s really a pretty good diversity in anime, we just—as a Western anime culture, we like to overgeneralize.
PETER: But do you think there’s a lot of workplace anime, Miles?
MILES: I do. And I think there’s a lot of anime with adult characters. I cataloged all of 2014-2015 anime by “did they have adult characters?” and it’s pretty good.
AMELIA: Did you break that down by gender?
MILES: Mm-mm. I could. I’ve got my database.
AMELIA: Yeah. No, no, no. I’d love to know how that breaks down. Because I think you’re absolutely right. The image of adult women drinking beer is, like you say, it’s kind of allocated to certain stereotypes. Like the messy Misato-style drunk, or on the other hand… Actually, I think that’s kind of—that’s what you’re relegated to if you’re a woman drinking beer; an adult woman drinking beer in anime. Or you’ve drunk some alcohol that you don’t recognize is alcohol and one sip later, you’re completely wasted. So, those are kind of your two options.
MILES: There’s also the lush type, but I guess that’s pretty close to Misato, you know? So anyway. I just really—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] And, actually, when I was watching this, it occurred to me that you don’t see adults driving very much in anime. That was something that really struck me. Partly because that’s in Tokyo. You would expect them to take public transport everywhere.
PETER: It’s mostly just ’cause they have company cars that they drive a lot.
AMELIA: Yeah, it just occurred to me while I was watching it, like, “Oh, this actually feels really rare.” And… yeah. I don’t think there’s a whole lot in the way of adult women driving cars normally in Japan in anime.
MILES: There’s also two elements to that. The first is that the part of Tokyo where people do all the animation are pretty far off to the west, and there’s not as much train traffic out there, and it’s a lot more car-focused. So, just by nature of what parts of Tokyo they’re in, it is more of a car culture.
And the second part is cars are a bitch to draw. Excuse me for the terminology, but, you know, no one wants to draw cars. Even in Shirobako, all the cars are CG.
PETER: Yeah, and when they introduce the CG place that just made cars, I was just like, “This is where they all come from.” ‘Cause there’s been—especially the last couple seasons, I’ve just noticed that all cars are CG all the time, always.
So it was like this is the spring from which all those bad CG cars—all these really beautifully drawn streets with these clunky CG cars driving down them. Although, I don’t want to say their wheel was that bad. It looked like a good wheel. [laughs]
AMELIA: Okay, did anything else surprise you?
MILES: I also… I guess I just really like how invested you both are in the five main girls. I know that following their stories takes away from a lot of really interesting side characters that I was always so hungry to learn more about. But at the same time, I was really happy to have those five—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah, I’d agree with that.
MILES: —all grow. And the last point, I guess, would be Erika leaving work to spend time with her dad.
PETER: Yeah, they were super supportive. I even wrote that down. I was like, “Wow, everybody’s super understanding.”
MILES: I just, I’m trying to think of… What would’ve happened if it was Honda leaving to go be with a sick parent? And I think there would have been a little more weirdness there.
AMELIA: Yep. Absolutely. He can’t even bake a cake without people questioning his sexuality, effectively. So.
PETER: I do think it’s weird. That’s the second male character in the series that very distinctly cooks a lot, which is kind of… This has been a good season for cooking dudes. You’ve got Willem, too.
MILES: That’s a Western thing, though. ‘Cause in Asia, cooking is not a predominantly female-designated task.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] But baking probably is.
PETER: [crosstalk] I’m trying to think if I see a lot of that. Pastries and stuff.
MILES: Baking probably is, yeah.
PETER: And maybe it’s ’cause… I don’t want to say all anime is high school, ’cause apparently I’d be wrong, but a lot of times… You always get to Valentine’s Day, and all the girls make chocolate and stuff, and then the few things I’ve seen about White Day is just the guys are gonna buy it, ’cause they don’t know what they’d be doing if they were making a chocolate or a pastry or something like that. It might just be baking-centric, yeah.
But I think just the fact that… Especially since that’s all—what’s the director’s name? the president? the guy who’s supposed to be Masao?—All he does is cook. And then this guy says, “I want to be a baker.”
I think is pretty interesting. I just don’t see that kind of stuff very often, I guess. Just like that Russian guy that makes sushi in Durarararara.
AMELIA: Baking in anime?
PETER: Yeah. I guess there’s—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] We’ve got Yakitate Japan, and also My Love Story—
PETER: [crosstalk] I guess—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] There’s a whole patisserie guy that’s kind of a rival to the love interest.
PETER: My Love Story is definitely not… That one’s very unique in a lot of ways. Although there are a lot of cooking anime like Iron Walk John and—did that get an anime? There’s Food Wars. Iron Walk John at least got a manga. I don’t know if it got an anime.
MILES: Cooking Master Boy.
PETER: Yeah. So, there’s a lot of… If it’s focused on cooking, it’s a pretty diverse cast, usually. Not to say that they do a very good job or anything, but…
AMELIA: I think it’s the case that when people are baking professionally, there’s more likely to be men or women. When you’re talking about just home baking, it’s more likely to be the female characters. This is just anecdotal from my observations. Feel free to challenge me. But that’s what I’ve kind of noticed.
MILES: That sounds about right.
PETER: Especially sushi is very… seems to be male-dominated. I don’t know if that’s ’cause it’s kind of like a lot of knife-work and butchering fish, maybe. That’s masculine, right?
MILES: There’s a thing about that. I don’t remember what it is, but there’s a thing about it being a men’s trade. I don’t remember the details, so don’t quote me on this. I seem to remember something along those lines.
AMELIA: He can look it up and link us to it.
PETER: Interesting cultural context, I guess.
AMELIA: Okay. I think we need to wrap it up. So, housekeeping.
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So, thank you so much to Peter and Miles for joining me today. We will be back next time with episodes 13-18 in our Shirobako watchalong.