Friendly Anime Hits The Big Screen

Anime studio P.A. Works’ popular series Shirobako returns for an invigorating movie full of zest and charm. The show built a loyal audience of fans through its first successful run on Japanese television, which lasted two full cours (24 episodes).

Shirobako: The Movie encapsulates everything which made the series so fun in the first place, returning favorite characters like Aoi Miyamori and the MUSANI crew. A few new characters are effectively sprinkled into the sprawling ensemble cast with positive results. Shirobako’s glimpse at the anime industry from the inside and working behind the scenes sets it apart from the competition.

It’s part of Shirobako’s unique charm while retaining a delightfully whimsical slice-of-life aspect

Set four years after the events of the television series, Musashino Animation has changed a great deal. A failed project has driven away many of their stalwarts and the anime studio is struggling at retaining its remaining animators. Line producer Aoi Miyamori is offered an animated theatrical project dubbed “Aerial Assault Ship SIVA” for production.

While the promise of work is great news for MUSANI, there’s a catch. Aerial Assault Ship SIVA must be completed within ten months, a ridiculously short schedule for an anime film made from scratch. Aoi Miyamori digs deep for inspiration with old and new friends alike, overcoming many challenges together during the creative process. Expect madcap antics and real life stresses working inside the industry.

Shirobako: The Movie is a down-to-Earth portrayal of the animation industry in Japan from top to bottom, loaded with inside jokes for long-time anime fans. Many of the films-within-a-film depicted are gags and parodies of popular anime. The cast is a huge ensemble driven by a few essential characters. The animators felt it necessary labeling the supporting characters on screen when they get a few lines.

The girls from the original animation club have grown up, working and sometimes struggling in the field they love as adults. Sakaki works on the fringes of voice acting. Her wayward career is an interesting reflection of the job’s reality for many young actresses breaking into the business. It’s an expected and seemingly natural step for Shirobako’s beloved characters.

Shirobako: The Movie could be intimidating if you aren’t somewhat familiar with the show. It opens with a brief recap of Shirobako’s original premise, how five girls made an animated project in high school. Eventually making a promise of working together in the future creating a real anime movie, after they all make it in the industry.

The story doesn’t shy away from the conflicts, challenges, and real struggles most production studios face when making anime. It’s part of Shirobako’s unique charm while retaining a delightfully whimsical slice-of-life aspect full of interesting personalities. The movie addresses some of the pitfalls and backstabbing inherent in a competitive workplace driven by financial concerns. Part comedy, part drama, this is an eclectic and appealing group of lovable characters.

Prior fans should love Shirobako: The Movie. It’s the natural evolution of a franchise from its beginnings. The journey is a satisfying and fondly enjoyable return packed with laughs. If this is truly the end for the popular anime steeped in the industry itself, Shirobako goes out in fine style.

Video

Shirobako: The Movie has a gorgeous 1.78:1 presentation on Blu-ray with radiant character designs and vivid clarity. Distributed by Shout Factory, the immaculate AVC encode perfectly captures the bright, colorful palette favoring primary tones. The main feature runs two hours on a BD-50.

Shirobako looked good on television and looks great as a movie. P.A. Works lovingly indulges in visual homages and dazzling sequences referencing popular anime, often employing more intricate and detailed animation styles. Character designs are fairly realistic and made for general audiences.

Shirobako: The Movie sparkles in 1080p video with perfect black levels. The key animation from Japan is great and it’s obvious P.A. Works put extra love and craft into the traditional animation. Minor CG elements are inserted like most modern anime.

Audio

5.1 DTS-HD MA Japanese audio doesn’t feature a flashy surround mix. The dialogue-driven dramedy has clean, intelligible audio with an adequate soundstage. Bass is rather heavy and substantial, especially for anime. The most active scenes are a couple of musical sequences and a few of the wilder conceptual pieces springing forth from Aoi Miyamori’s exuberant mind. It’s a nicely-recorded soundtrack with decent dynamics and pristine fidelity.

English subtitles play in a white font. It’s a problem-free translation from the original Japanese dialogue that doesn’t go overboard with creative interpretations. Secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA Japanese audio nearly matches the slightly more expansive surround mix. In fact, it’s a punchier presentation with tighter imaging.

Extras

Shout Factory distributes this Blu-ray combo release for Eleven Arts. Arriving with a slipcover replicating the cover art, it’s a simple Blu-ray and DVD combo package. A small booklet is included with a detailed character art guide listing each voice actor. In a movie which throws dozens of characters at you, it’s a welcome addition.

Shirobako: The Movie Teaser (00:31 in HD)

Shirobako: The Movie Trailer (00:36 in HD)

Shirobako: The Movie Main Trailer (01:32 in HD)

Shirobako: The Movie TV Commercial (00:32 in HD)

Promotional Video/Featurette (01:43 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Shirobako: The Movie
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

The fan-favorite anime series returns in winning style as a full-length film, returning popular characters like Aoi Miyamori as she manages a new animated project for MUSANI.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 73 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: