I’m late with this, I realize, but the lockdown order has given me a great chance to play catch-up.
While the hype has certainly died down, it was hard not to know what Eizouken was during its airing days. The goofy animations, lovable interactions, and distinct visual style had the anime community buzzing like bees whose hive was doused by a water hose’s powerful punch. After finishing, its average rating on MyAnimeList is certainly commendable, though a little lower than what I would’ve expected considering its quantity of memes.
The prospect of appreciating anime in anime is not new. It seems like Shirobako opened the floodgates a few years back, and now there seems to be an anime or three every year that tries to capture the spirit of creating the present medium. To this end, I figured Eizouken would prove a little dull—after all, I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoy Shirobako, so how can I not compare the two? And so I began the series with caution, knowing that other recent ultra-popular series have proved disappointing.
Guess what, comrades? I think it’s pretty good.
What is probably the most impressive aspect about the series is the role that each character plays, without the series explicitly stating it. There’s the starting duo Asakusa and Kanamori, who become involved in a series of misunderstandings surrounding Mizusaki, which catapults the series into action. Asakusa and Mizusaki are the passionate ones, those wanting to create and have fun doing what they love. Kanamori is the level-headed outsider, inquiring about various things and keeping them grounded. Through their communication, the audience is given a catalyst into the world of anime through the knowledge of these two passionate ones, while the third is usually asking questions and setting up the explanations. Learning through Kanamori, better embellishing the others two’s qualities; it’s a win-win scenario.
Such is not the only thing at play, either. There’s a great mix of eccentric fantasizing and realistic expectations at play, again perpetrated by those in their respective roles. Mizusaki is also a famous fashion model with tons of money and privilege to her name, which creates opportunities for her to grow through the unforeseen arduous commitment attributed to creating quality animation. Asakusa is in a similar position, only her far poorer upbringing and grand ideas better embody the “big picture” aspect that makes it hard for her to properly plan (or start) anything. Kanamori… just likes profit, it seems, but perhaps there will be more for her to do later on than serving as an advisory/viewer-link role.
This careful planning and attention to writing is something that is, unfortunately, not something I see often in anime series. Most of the time, exposition rules, putting everything in plain sight to ensure everyone and their apathetic acquaintances know everything that’s happening. To be fair, this is most relevant to shounen series, yet the general consensus of series seems to be that of overexplaining details that are otherwise pretty easy to grasp. I don’t see much of this in Eizouken, as it’d (normally) rather show more than it tells, specifically with creative animation sequences that capture the essence of illustrated imagination. Finally, I can guess what these characters are thinking/planning, as opposed to just knowing.
Much can be said of the overall look and feel of Eizouken, as I could (and would) argue that some series live and die by their art direction. Choppy, stylized, and infrequent. Those are the terms I would use to describe the aesthetic here. Sometimes the animation is great, particularly with the imaginative scenes. Other times, you have a character repeating choppy movements while the other two stand solitary in an unmoving background, which can be distracting. As for the style on its own, it won’t attract the more stingy art snobs of the anime world, but it has a refreshing uniqueness that pays dividends through realism. Mizusaki is a fashion model, and she appears that way. The other two, with all due respect to them, are not and do not.
I’m also of the opinion that animation doesn’t always have to be brilliant so long as it’s active. Not to continuously shit on Kimetsu no Yaiba, but that series had lovely battle animations… and a whole lot of basic actions. Sitting, standing, walking, talking—general expressions befitting moods and pretty clean-cut. This isn’t setting up that Eizouken is the complete opposite, as it occasionally performs on the slow side, as well. Yet within the overall, this is far more energetic and lively, which translates to a larger percentage of memorable and expressive scenes. This is why I think, outside of character designs, Eizouken will end up being more impactful to me than series like Kimetsu no Yaiba.
I’m looking forward to watching more, though I anticipate I’ll finish this by week’s end, assuming work-stuff doesn’t interfere. It’s been an interesting and lovely first three episodes, and I hope it continues the momentum up until the finale. Until then, let the record show that I am (currently) along for the meme ride.
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.