I do say this often: I like anime. As it turns out, I quite like manga as well. And not just the end product, I am very interested in the industries that produce them. Not to be a part of those industries mind you. No way, that looks like way too much work for me. Besides you need to have talent or something. But I can,t help to be curious about people that make the magic!

As such, I do enjoy when an anime comes along and gives us some insight on just how manga and anime are made. Even if I suspect there’s a bit of artistic license going on!

Here are 5 anime about making manga or anime that I really liked.

5. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

To be fair I think more time is spent on showing us how games are made but we do still get a little overview of every aspect of the anime industry. One character is an artist, another an animator, a scriptwriter, a computer wiz who can do CG and finally a young lady is an aspiring voice actor. I don’t think I have watched a show where it’s a young man w wants to be a voice actor.

In any case, throughout the episodes, the kids to work on some projects that give us an idea of how all those separate parts come together to create a single work of art. And also of how they fail to do so sometimes.

4. Bakuman

I actually read this rather than watched it. And it works out since Bakuman was a manga about writing manga. I guess I have a thing about reading Tsugumi Ohba’s works rather than watching them. Now Bakuman does add a lot of high school tropes and dramatic flair to the story but there are moments that really ring true to the creative process of writing a manga.

Like how it takes a lot of hard work and inspiration isn’t something you can turn on and off. How there a specific learning curve when an author and an artist have to work together. I have a sneaking suspicion that Moritaka and Akito are closer than most creative teams but then again, what do I know?

3. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Another title about manga. Nozaki-kun is a goofball comedy. You can’t really take much of what goes on in there seriously. That includes glimpses of Nozaki sensei’s mangaka career. However, there is one aspect I thought had some kernel of truth. I also really like Nozaki-kun so I’m going to put it in as many lists as possible.

I really liked the relationship between Nozaki and his editors. He gets two different ones during the show/manga and they have very different approaches to work. A lot of people think manga is somehow a pure realization of the author’s vision or something. But even in cases where an author works alone, creating both the story and art for his manga, there is still a ton of input from the editors and publishers. And sure, you could ignore some of the advice, but at the end of the day, if the publisher decides not to print the chapters, that’s it. And artists know that so they do try to accommodate. We saw just how ridiculous Nozaki’s manga got depending on his editor’s mood.

2. Shirobako

Maybe this should have been number 1. You can switch them around if you like. Shirobako has the distinction of not only being about anime but being about professional anime. As in not students trying to make an anime but real members of the industry with all the stress and hardships that brings. I will always appreciate Shirobako for that.

It’s still a sitcom and events are surely exaggerated but there were a lot of aspects I was keen on believing and I learned a lot. For instance, the artistic adaptation process of taking a flat manga character and redesigning them to work in a dynamic anime setting where we can see them from all sides. It never occurred to me just how much goes into that. I mean when the characters look more or less the same what design is there to do? Turns out tons! And it makes a huge difference.

I guess we don’t see things like that much because it’s not always that exciting but to me, it was great!

1. Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken

I just said that it was awesome to get a professional perspective as opposed to an amateur one but my no.1 pick is about a school club creating amateur anime. But well, Eizouken is a great anime. It also deals with all the different aspects of anime, including the business side which often gets ignored by us fans but is crucial to the industry.

Moreover, there’s something infectious about the sheer, unrestrained love the girls have for anime. At least Midori and Tsubame. It brought back the wonder of discovering animated works for the first time and gave us all just a taste of what the thrill of bringing those works to life must be like.

And fr that, it’s my number 1. Of all of these, it’s the only show that made me think just for a minute that I would also like to make anime… as a producer.

So those are my 5 picks for the day. Sort of a half and half list. I should watch more shows about the industry. It’s odd, there are so many movies about making movies. I once heard that the academy, being all members of the industry, likes to give Oscars to movies that portray their own professions as exciting and even a little heroic. That’s why so many directors like to make movies about movies to get an award.

That does not seem to have translated to anime. I guess the industry is a little less in love with itself. That,s a good thing but I think it could be a bit more self-obsessed. I wouldn’t mind finding more anime anime. Do you have a favourite one?

16 thoughts

  1. Re:CREATORS would fit into this category, wouldn’t it? I’m on another Re:CREATORS kick. Though come to think of it, I’m not sure I’m ever not on a Re:CREATORS kick.

    Aside from that, I think Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken is probably my favorite. It was so much like what I experienced in high school and college (for newspapers and literary magazines — I _wish_ it had been some kind of video production!). I’ll second Dawnstorm’s praise of Sayaka Kanamori. How she drove the others was just awesome!

    1. I thought reCreators was about games. I still haven’t gotten around to watching it but if it’s about the anime industry, that’s extra cool

  2. Eizouken is better than Shirobako. Eizoken has Kanamori. (I thought she brought the business aspect across better than any of the pressures in Shirobako did; both the pragmatic and the supportive side.)

    I’ve seen and liked them all (with Bakuman being my least favourite; I still haven’t watched the seconond season.)

    There was a short that was pretty non-descript, but I remember it mostly for the title. They rendered it in English as “Mangirl”. It wasn’t what I was expecting; I didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t a CGDCT show about making manga. In retrospect the title is clear: In katakana that’d be Ma-n-ga-ru – a blend of manga and garu (girl). In English, it’s misleading. I don’t remember much about it, and it certainly wouldn’t make my top list.

    I can’t think of any other shows you didn’t mention. Whenever I think of something it’s about making games…

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