Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken is, I think, the perfect counterpoint to Shirobako. Shirobako was a show about the business and the process of making anime. It’s about what goes into the shows you watch every week. By comparison, Eizouken is much more about the joy of creation.
The show follows a trio of high school students: Midori Asakusa – a student who is primarily about setting in anime and background art, and is very curious and imaginative but not very sociable; Tsubame Mizusaki – a successful model whose parents want her to be an actor while she wants to be an animator, and has a very keen eye for movement; and Sayaka Kanamori – a childhood friend of Midori, who is much less interested in anime than the other two, but wants to help them succeed, and has the emotional distance to rein the two in when they need it.
The three girls end up forming the “Film Club” (or Eizouken) at their high school as the anime club is less interested in making anime, and Tsubame’s parents forbid her from joining the anime club anyway. Each arc of the show follows the three on an animation project – starting with a test project for the student council, one commissioned by one of the school’s clubs, and finally a project intended for sale.
Eizouken has a tremendous sense of visual style. Each episode includes a wonderfully animated dreamscape sequence as the three (and occasionally some people they rope into the sequences) imagine a world related to their art or their project. The sequences often (though not always) have a deliberately sketchy stylistic feel, complete with sound effects being done as onomatopoeia instead of conventional foley work.
These sequences also do a great job of showcasing the dynamics between the characters, both in terms of their imagination and with Tsubame finding ways to keep them grounded.
In turn, director Masaaki Yuasa’s studio, Science Saru, does a tremendous job of showcasing their own love for anime as an art-form, doing tributes to other directors (particularly Hayao Miyazaki), while also showing that Miyazaki is not the only creator worthy of praise and while also skipping the more prurient elements showcased in shows like Genshiken.
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll. A physical release has yet to be announced, but once one is I will update this space with a link to where you can get it.
The manga has also been licensed for a US release, but again there is no release date as yet. Watch this space.