Welcome back to our impromptu and sporadically planned pandemic guide to anime. If you missed any of our past entries, you can find them all here; You can find our introductory post here.
We conclude our current set of suggestions with, appropriately, something completely different from all the others. Almost completely different, though. Like many of the others, it’s a school comedy. But there is not much else that is the same.
Anime about anime is not uncommon. However, today’s pick is probably better described as an anime about anime about anime. And it’s an adaptation of a manga, er, about anime about ani – you know what, we’ll just leave it at that. We are entering a complicated area.
Stay away from Eizouken!
As with all other forms of art and entertainment, the vast majority of anime consists of a collection of the agreed-upon little tropes of an era. With just a handful of details, you can quite accurately capture the decade in which an American television series was produced, even if you know nothing about it at all. What are the most common colors? Is it film or video tape? Opening music – what is it? Experts can date painting and sculpture in much the same way; you know which trends in colours, composition or decorations were in which places and at what times, and sometimes a glance is enough to see where a particular work was made.
Art is a negotiation between artist and audience. It has rules. It has fads. It has innovation followed by mass production. If you think every police procedure is the same, or are bothered by dozens of sitcoms each portraying every house, apartment or apartment with a layout consisting of an oversized living room to a kitchen and, oh look, there are the stairs leading to nowhere. disappear – yes. The stairs to nowhere have been there ever since Happy Days. The impossibly large lounge area that a family or group of sitcom friends can’t possibly afford is because the cameras you don’t see are hulking beasts that make Daleks look tiny, there is a specific number that are most efficient to use. , and the shots are to frame in a certain way. There are rules.
This is all a very puffy way of saying the obvious: a lot of anime produced in any given year looks the same, based on unwritten contracts about what the audience finds comforting and what goes too far. The characters drawn have the same facial proportions, each character in our friend group (usually four, as five is more difficult) will likely have a different hair color than everyone else, cut and styled differently (because it’s much, much easier to identify characters that way) , and you can see who is important and who is not based on whether their hair is Main Character Hair or Background Hair. The main character’s hair takes a lot time to draw. You don’t waste that on “man buying soda at the counter while main character contemplates frozen meals.” Not on these budgets.
Many animations usually look the same, and Stay away from Eizouken! looks like none of them.
Our trio of not-all-normal high school girls begins with Midori, a freshman with a sketchbook full of fantastical scenes, bizarre vehicles and illegible contraptions. She’s small, old-fashioned, clumsy, weird and obsessed. Sayaka, Midori’s ally, is tall, intimidating, cunning, and just as obsessed with making money as Midori is with drawing worlds. Midori’s interest in the school anime club is disrupted when she encounters our third conspirator, Tsubame, who promptly steals her favorite hat in an attempt to disguise herself.
Tsubame comes from a wealthy family and tries to dump her bodyguards. Her bodyguards have been given an all-important job from Tsubame’s parents: to keep her away from the school anime club. Like Midori, Tsubame is obsessed with anime, but while Midori compulsively creates new scenes, objects, and worlds, Tsubame’s only love is to show how people and objects Action. She’s very good at it. She’s also a high school fashion model with famous parents, lives on a palatial estate and is groomed like a potential top star; the thought that their kid would throw all that away to pursue a career drawing cartoons is enough to drive her parents to despair. Hence the hat theft.
It all works out, but since Tsubame isn’t allowed to join the anime club, the three form their own. It’s not an anime club, it’s a movie club: Eizouken. One that happens to be focused on anime. And his not the anime club because the anime club only watches anime – this club will to make animation. The club’s founding is largely due to the efforts of Sayaka, who skips the time-consuming steps of trying to convince the teachers and student council with logic and goes for the more efficient methods of physical intimidation and outright blackmail.
With that, the girls have their own anime production studio for three people. Midori does the backgrounds, lush and otherworldly. Tsubame does the character design and movement. And Sayaka takes on the role of producer; she doesn’t care about this sort of thing, but she smells money to make and will use her non-artistic skills to scrape as much of it as she can.
You know, a producer. The person with the biggest name in the credits, despite having no artistic skills and few skills that don’t revolve around bullying and/or betrayal. We all know what a producer is, we are not children.
Even though the club always seems a stone’s throw from disaster, the result is… joyful? I think that’s the best word for it. Midori’s imagination is so vivid that even describing her intended scenes leads to them manifesting visually, taking her friends on unsolicited joyrides through her own impromptu what-ifs. Tsubame’s skill is so great that the things she draws leave the frame and attack her audience. Sayaka…is along for the ride, and will get what the two need, even if she has to become the student council’s most dangerous enemy to do it.
The student council is bad, by the way. If anime is new to you, the student council is always evil, unless one of the main characters is chosen for it, in which case it’s not bad. Again, these are basic stuff, it should go without saying.
What makes egg pickles ‘joyful’, however, is that it is an unremitting celebration of the craft of making images move.
How do you sign? wind?
How does an object that never existed fly? Or jump? Or swimming?
How does a heroine who is nothing but a collection of a few scattered lines win battles against tanks that are also nothing but drawn lines? Not why, how?
There are only the smallest boundaries between the world egg pickles presents, with relaxed, sketchbook-informal lines and mysterious urban landscapes that even the main characters find suspiciously impractical, and the worlds Midori and Tsubame create within them. Tsubame gives voice to an ambition, who wants to draw scenes of people lounging in realistic poses, while the three do just that. The city’s strangest locations become useful backdrops for their own drawn anime mini-epic – and is that all, or was the city actually built to fight exactly this battle? The sea, the abandoned buildings, the cavernous underground chambers: do they exist only for these moments, because Midori needed them?
None of this is presented with this kind of philosophical leanings, mind you. egg pickles is just a lighthearted, wacky tale of a new club fighting for survival as the three happy malcontents attempt to create a hand-drawn masterpiece using nothing but their own skills and compulsions. Everything else is what your own brain puts into it as you watch.
Tsubame is described as beautiful, and she is drawn as beautiful. But she’s just a set of rules, the same as the others – how does that work? Midori is uncomfortable, always sitting in awkward positions, a tight knot of energy that never gets released.
But how can? to sit have energy?
Anime about the art of making anime is not new, and there are some that are quite good, but it is the outlined chaos of egg pickles that does the job here. The show is relentless in hammering away its themes of creation and imagination with self-referential scenes that seem to provide answers before asking the questions, but it still manages to dodge the lessons. Are we watching a show about a merry trio of obsessives who lose themselves in what they love, or a show where a deceitful god reinvents the whole world, on a whim, and takes everyone else for the ride?
And who is that trickster god? Is it Midori? Or is it the artist who draws her?
This is one to watch if you think you’ve seen too much of the same. From the opening track of the Earwig to the rickety art that is seemingly drawn both casually and with direct challenge from the artist, it will work its way into your head and make you take a closer look at the lines of whatever show you decide to do. to follow.
It’s incomprehensible. It’s a show that feels like it’s about to bully you, but it’s just too cute to be mad at.