In late 2014 when Shirobako began airing, I was a thoroughly broken person. I didn’t consciously realize it at the time, but I was running away from responsibility. I was a 21 year old college dropout with no future to look forward to. I had just lost my minimum wage job at a local Subway restaurant located inside a Walmart. Maybe it was because I constantly showed up late for work, disheveled and reeking of marijuana; or maybe it was because I stole some of the food inventory, thinking I was clever. But I won’t ever know. After that I drifted – I stayed at a friend’s place, then at a few different lover’s apartments, and even lived on the streets for a while. And during none of this time was I trying to get out of the hole I was digging underneath my feet.
But I was still watching anime. I was still looking for the perfect series to watch, so when I started up the first episode of Shirobako and five promising young students swore to each other to work hard together to accomplish their dreams, I turned myself off to the concept of the show entirely. I was extremely disinterested in watching characters who knew what they wanted to do and were taking steps towards succeeding at their goals. The reason I dropped Shirobako was because I didn’t want to see what I was missing out on. Shirobako’s first episode touted the idea of life as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I didn’t want to face the truth of that statement in the mindset that I was in.
In contrast, a fall 2014 first episode that did catch my interest was that of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. I was immediately intrigued by the the mysterious, seemingly tortured nature of main character Kousei Arima. He was noticeably withdrawn and I related to his deep-seated emotional trauma on an all-too-personal level that I hadn’t encountered in media…maybe ever. I needed to know what would become of him, just like I needed to know what would become of me.
Today I have 1000 times the work ethic I did back in 2014 and I take pride in working 60 hours a week. From all the critical praise I have heard lauded upon Shirobako since its original airing, I am almost certain that I will thoroughly enjoy the series now when I find the time to watch it.
My own personal experiences and attitudes informed my initial reception of Shirobako, and my experiences since then will inform my reception of the show now in a very different way.
Thank you for reading and I hope you can get at least a fraction as much out of this hyper-personal post as I did.