I don’t watch as much anime as I used to when I was younger, but occasionally I still find some real gems that resonate with me personally. I want to share a few with you today that are meaningful to me as a person, but specifically with relation to my career in tech and entertainment software. I’m going to reiterate that the reason I’m sharing these is because of something I saw in them personally—other people (including you, dear reader) are likely to take away entirely different meaning. On the surface, two of the three listed below aren’t related to game dev at all. But I’ll explain for each one.
Additionally, if you want to watch them yourself, I’ve included a couple helpful resources for each. One, the streaming service where you can find them, and two, a link to a YouTube review from Arkada of the Glass Reflection channel—a resource I can’t recommend highly enough. Each one is not a huge commitment if you want to watch (only 1 or 2 seasons each), and the review might help you decide more than my personal thoughts.
Let’s get started!
Shirobako is a slice-of-life drama about a group of high school friends who break into the anime industry. It’s mostly focused on Aoi Miyamori, a low-level producer on a fictional anime series. The backdrop is a realistic depiction of what goes into producing an anime series combined with some pretty great character development from multiple characters throughout the show’s story arc. The wholesome female friendships depicted in this show are quite refreshing.
As a long-time project manager and one-time producer myself, I found a lot to relate to in this series. There were many times I nodded to myself knowingly or felt myself sympathizing with all the trials Aoi and her fellow producers go through. It includes working out tricky dependencies, keeping to a tight schedule, and trying to influence people you have no authority over. Sometimes navigating the tricky relationships between people is just as difficult as delivering the product itself. Also keep an eye out for the intricate, realistic production schedules! While the series is not related to game/software development, the challenges faced in the show are very similar to those I’ve faced in real life. Long-time producers aren’t likely to learn much (but may find a lot to sympathize with, as I did). However, if you’re considering a career in production or project management, you can definitely learn a bit about the obstacles that are ahead of you from this show.
Some days it’s like this. ©2014 P.A. Works
You would think with the attention paid to realistic episode production would make a dry story, but the interspersal of the individual character stories keeps everything moving forward and engaging. This is one of my all-time favorite anime now, and I’m excited that they announced a movie.
Review: GR Anime Review: Shirobako
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (subbed)
Admittedly, NEW GAME!! is a bit more difficult to recommend. It falls into a recently popular genre I just refer to as “cute girls doing cute things.” Like Shirobako, it’s about a group of high school friends who end up following their dreams, this time in game development. However, it’s definitely more of a comedy about awkward situations and frantic slapstick at times. It also features a little bit of fanservice and yuri-bait. The focus is more on the silliness and situational comedy than on compelling character development. Still, whomever put this show together did their homework with regards to the industry, and they do succeed in making their characters unique and endearing.
Air soft guns are standard issue in game dev studios. ©2016 Doga Kobo
TV and movie productions aren’t really known for being realistic in a lot of ways when it comes to anything related to computers, but NEW GAME!! features some accurate depictions of the way the different disciplines work on a video game. It is mostly focused on art/3D graphics, though, since that’s the profession of the main character, Aoba Suzukaze. While I can’t recommend this as highly as Shirobako, it’s mostly harmless and a fun watch, and it can give you a bit of insight into some of the inner workings of a game studio. Probably the least realistic part is that there’s no producers hovering around nagging everyone.
If, like me, you’re a woman who’s worked in a mostly male-dominated industry, you’ll find many aspects of main character Retsuko to identify with. She mostly plays the part of the demure office drone, but internally every little thing that happens to her throughout her day, especially from her chauvinistic boss, piles up until she finally snaps in the most hilarious ways. Primarily that’s through singing death metal. Her desire to vent her rage at her frustrating coworkers really speaks to some of the trials of being a woman in the modern white collar workforce. Several of the supporting cast are office stereotypes that you’ll immediately recognize. One of my favorites was Tsunoda, the cute, perky girl who plays into all the expectations of her boss in order to stay in his good graces.
Thankfully, I can say that most of the places I’ve worked in recent years have not been bad places for women to work. Still, there were times and places where something happened to me or something was said to me that really just made me want to scream. Retsuko embodies that feeling perfectly. Considering this is a short series about funny animal characters, you’d think there wouldn’t be much depth to be found here. Surprisingly, there’s a bit of development for Retsuko and her friends as the show progresses, which makes it all that more engaging.
Do not be fooled by her appearance; this woman will sing about your demise. ©2018 Fanworks
Happy to see this one’s getting a second season!
Where to watch: Netflix (subbed)