Anime & Subculture Articles

Shirobako – Passion or Pragmatism?

Artist - Kosuke Haruhito Source:
Artist – Kosuke Haruhito

With the Fall 2014 anime season nearing its conclusion, I have to say that I am mostly satisfied with my choice viewing selections.  Shirobako is one them, P.A works adaption of a group of dreamers and their challenges in the production of animation. While I can’t exactly say that I’m enjoying the show based on the real life semblance alone, it does at lend itself admirable to the concept of work, the quality of work life, and the frictional challenges any job presents as it becomes a personal desire. As I begin to embark on a new and exciting albeit, tumultuous part of my life in a couple of months concerning the workforce, one relevant message from Shirobako comes to mind: Is it important to do what you love or work for your own sake?

If you have been following the series thus far, Shirobako portrays the life of the animation unit and their many functional involved hands as a meager one. Staff members like Ryōsuke Endō and Misato Segawa live on very modest budgets while younger members like Ema Yasuhara deal with both inexperience and trying to make this love a livelihood. Even the director is a selfless visage of his former bright-eyed personality after the abject failure of “Jiggle Jiggle Heaven” – hoping to grasp for redemption on his budget constraints set by the Producer and time allowance before episodes air. Add to that people like Shizuka Sakaki, doing waitress work trying to work her way into the voice actress industry and Aoi Miyamori, production assistant to all, skilled at nothing trying to find her calling – passion is the only thing possible that makes them all persevere. The risk are enormous and the rewards minimal at best for a profession based in entertainment for others. My girlfriend is also trying to go down the same path of the artist/animation, but does have her A.S in business administration and plans to go into the Airforce (as I do at some point, if needed) as a fallback plan – nothing remotely close to the aforementioned crew staking it all on emotional stability become the victor over financial security. However, if animu and edumacation (yes, misspelled those for humor) – or namely Full Metal Alchemist and my college professors have taught me anything of use it is: sacrifice is inevitable no matter what and only relevant to what it lost or could be gained in the process. Call it  “Equivalent Exchange” or “Opportunity Cost, if you will.”

[HorribleSubs] Shirobako - 08 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.28_[2014.12.06_21.44.30]

I never run into the issue directly of my passions interfering with more reasonable choices – not that I can think of any, but after finally deciding I wanted to be involved in the world of Information Technology/System due to my early interest in computers, the sacrifices made themselves known. Taking on student loans, long hours of studies, and diminishing my social life were exchanged for a 4 year degree and hopes of a job somewhere on the rungs of society. Not that these are significant tradeoffs, yet coming home from class late evenings to massive amounts of material struggling to comprehend and assignments due, second thoughts are common occurrences: “Is it worth it?” “Do I even want to do this?” “Will I be able to payoff my loans?” were questions never to distant from my mind.  Now that I am nearing the entry point to go into my chosen profession and taking up intern work next year, it will only be a little taste of where my choices can lead me. Maybe if I did have something I was so fond of no matter the cost  I would be more in tune with the perspective of many of the characters in Shirobako. Living in a family of realist and seeing many of the opportunities and options most of my relatives have thanks to their life choices – IT was something that I willingly picked more than it picked me. Willing to choose it to live a reasonably financial secure life, to one day care for my parents as they for did me, and more than anything, possible contribute something useful  to whatever I am part of – not just my time or skill. With my hometown already projected to be the #1 hub in all of the U.S for IT and Cybersecurity, getting a job should be easy enough. Although, my mind isn’t exactly set at ease because of that fact.

[HorribleSubs] Shirobako - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.19_[2014.12.05_20.24.46]

With the economy making slow, yet sluggish gains in recovery and even more fragile with employment infrastructure, not only working hard, but working more effectively and efficiently than my fellow peers and competition aboard is the only way to ensure that I continue to have any place in the labor pool. Happiness, stress, and regrets are the furthest thing from my mind and more focused on personal ability, opportunities, available, and my own personal worth to the company I will eventually be apart of.  Of course, my tone might also change after the years go by. For Miyamori, her friends, and everyone at Musashino Animation – they are willing to defer themselves the needed momentary gain that their real life counterparts see little of in order to meet a life long dream and so that people like myself can enjoy it and hopefully, spend their cash on. It is so ridiculously laughable to think that the person working to earn a living can be less happy than the person killing themselves to live their dream, yet somehow does make my reasonable personality wonder if I could possibly be doing something else with my life.  Shirobako might very well be trying to tells us something other than the hardships and risk the individuals in the animation industry are subjected to. You can’t live on dreams alone, yet living on complacency is not great either. It might be trying to ask us are we happy with our lot in life, if we choose what we do for the love of it or just to simply to continue to exist as we are? What about you?

5 thoughts on “Shirobako – Passion or Pragmatism?”

  1. In an ideal world, one would pick the job that’s an optimisation between the two: one would sufficiently enjoy it, and it would provide a decent income. My first choice as a medical doctor fell through, so now I’m pursing a career in software development, especially for mobile systems or usability.

    From a personal perspective, I’m constantly striving to improve myself, regardless of what I do. If I need to learn C# or Unity3d, I will (and have). My graduate work now necessitates that I know AutoDesk Maya and Mudbox, so I’ve learnt that, too. To make a living and survive in the world now means to be multidisciplinary and adaptive to change. Over the past year, I lost my direction in life when my ambitions for medicine failed, and rediscovered my path again, so I find that the most important thing to have (and that you’ve mentioned) is to be adaptive.

    Of course, there is one field I’ve proven to be consistently deficient in, and that’s the fact that I’ve never been in a relationship before. Yes, I absolutely love what I do and I can see myself committing myself fully to my work once I finish this next degree, but I also feel melancholy on occasion because of this. I wonder if that’s a necessary trade-off, as well as whether or not I should be too worried about this.


    1. Only in ideal world, but for most individuals, the job chooses them rather than they get to decide – whether they like or not to. Yet, I do agree with you 100% on trying find the level between the two. Really sorry to hear about your medical choice falling through, but to be honest, think you sound better suited for software development. Not many people can pick up some the programs and programming languages quickly, so think you have a lot to be proud of in that regard.

      True, you really need to have diverse toolkit these days than you probably needed years back, Although, if I entered my career back during “less” competitive years , I probably would took up more than I needed to know just out of sheer interest. Nowadays, you need at least a sliver of experience just to land a job – even worst if it is your first job, since most companies won’t even look your way without it. However, I’m just speaking from personal experiences from years back trying to find a small summer part-time job in this respect, lol. At any rate, adaptability is a nice skill set its own right, but limited by time – since the older you get, the harder it is to keep staying relevant or pick up new skills, especially if some of those “skills” aren’t transferable and what you do is no longer viable. Yet when choosing a career, longevity is not an easy thing to predict.

      As for love life, I’m probably the worst counsel for advice, but will say not to let it get you down. There many people out there and soon or later, you will come across the “that” person, so enjoy the search. Being in relationship has made me abit more motivated, yet it can also can have the adverse effect too in some ways. Haven’t truly experienced any of the adverse stuff..yet, lol.


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