With their presentation deadline approaching, the trio is making a desperate push to complete their short film. Kanamori makes it clear that at their current pace, there’s no way for them to finish, but Mizusaki and Asakusa are both reluctant to compromise on their vision. The final product is nowhere near their original grand schemes, but they do get it done, and it’s time to see if they can wring a budget out of the notoriously harsh student council.
I’ve been loving Eizouken since Brendan told us to give it a shot, and every episode has been an amazing look into the creative process of animation. Episode four brings us to the final, agonizing push to get a small but ambitious project across the finish line, moving from the realm of anime theory and into painful reality. We’ve established our club, the studio is functional, and we have a story to tell. Now it’s time to get it done.
All of these girls are very talented and practiced at their roles, and they’re putting together some amazing work, especially since they’re doing this as amateurs. However, they also run into creative blocks and limitations that the power of youth just can’t overcome. Working with such a small team, they need to rely on each other to keep going, and this is where the episode shines.
We watch a lot of great back-and-forth between Kanamori and the artists as she lays out how dire their situation is. Asakusa’s attachment to the story and Mizusaki’s focus on hand-drawn animation are costing them precious time, and no amount of crunching is going to make up the difference. The only way to succeed is to cut things down, adapt and utilize every dirty trick and tool in the animation game.
Being in a creative field, this hits home in a big way. Every project starts out ambitious and full of creativity, and the creators throw themselves into it with vigor and stars in their eyes. As development moves forward, concessions have to be made, huge chunks of work end up cut down or removed completely in the drive to release something that is still worth the audience’s time. It’s a painful, exhausting process, but one that is done out of love for the craft and a desire to push through as much of your original vision as you can manage. There’s a reason my coworkers and I use “SHIP IT!” as a borderline curse.
To make even a small project like Eizouken’s come to light, this requires someone who can keep the other developers on track and tell them no when things are getting out of scope. This attitude is what makes Kanamori a fantastic producer and manager. She is deeply invested in the project, but maintains an overhead view that Asakusa and Mizusaki often miss while buried in their own work. She guides them to tools like automated in-betweening to help fill the in Mizusaki’s animations, and inspires Asakusa to try other shortcuts to cut down on complexity.
That line… that line hits HARD, folks. I appreciate shows like this – that acknowledge just how challenging and exhausting artistic work can be, whether student or professional.
In the end, the girls just barely manage to finish their project, and present it to the student council. It’s here that we see another reason I love the show – the quirky nature of the school setting. We’ve seen the strange mish-mash of architecture that turns the school into a bizarre but lived-in maze, and now we see the students that help run the place, holding off agitating high schoolers with a security club in full riot gear. This place is utterly absurd, and I love it.
Before the episode wraps, we finally get to see the finished film. It’s choppy in places, the story is non-existent, and entire sections have been left on the cutting room floor, but IT IS DONE. We also get to see how the film draws the audience into the world the girls have created, much like their own creative design sessions. The lines between the film, their imaginations and the real world get blurred, and the finale is a serious piece of work.
In spite of the hardships Asakusa, Kanamori and Mizusaki have gone through, they and the show are still beaming with positivity. So far, it looks like they’re still holding on to that energy that Su mentioned in episode three, and it looks like they’re going to stick with it going forward. I’m excited to see where we go from here, and what sort of new challenges the girls face now that they’re under more scrutiny. Can’t wait for episode five!
I loved watching these girls work together just as I loved that despite showing us some of the struggles of the creative process ultimately these characters remained incredibly optimistic and enthused about creating something. It was just a lovely celebration of the craft while not sugar coating the process.
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