Japanese animated tv series (2020). Original title Eizōken ni wa Te o Dasu na!. Based on the Manga by Sumito Ōwara. Science SARU. Directed by Masaaki Yuasa. Written by Yūichirō Kido and Masaaki Yuasa. Voice cast include Sairi Itō, Misato Matsuoka and Mutsumi Tamura. Twelve 25-minute episodes. Colour.
When she was a child, Midori Asakusa's (Itō) family moved into an apartment in the town of Shibahama; though the district is a maze of concrete, for her it is an exotic landscape waiting to be explored and drawn. A few years later – now short, passionate and socially anxious – she drags her lanky, lugubrious, business-minded friend, Sayaka Kanamori (Tamura), to their school's Anime Club; here they run into Tsubame Mizusaki (Matsuoka). Mizusaki wants to be an animator, but her parents insist on her becoming an actor, forbidding her from joining the Club. Kanamori sees the way round this – they form a film studies (or Eizouken) club, letting everyone assume this means live action works, but actually create anime. Asakusa is fascinated by the concepts and worldbuilding of sf anime, and the techniques the artists use to convey their vision; Mizusaki is more concerned with character and movement; Kanamori does the business and organization, with blackmail always an option: though she is cynical it is clear she wants to help her friends succeed.
They receive funding from the Student Council after making a brief animation of a swordswoman battling a tank on a low-Gravity planet. Then the School's Robot Club commissions a film, so Asakusa comes up with the tale of a giant Mecha defending its city from a Crabtle (a giant crab/turtle), explaining that "Underwater, it can create cavitation by closing its claws, which results in sonoluminescence, the plasma from which reaches a temperature of 5,000 degrees kelvin and a pressure of 1,000 millibars ... it's an ability taken from pistol shrimps, which live in the Atlantic … since it's 507.3 times the size its abilities increase proportionately." (see Biology; Infodump; Monsters; Under the Sea). The film disarms Mizusaki's parents, who recognize their daughter's touch in its more subtle moments.
With Kanamori negotiating funding from the town's Chamber of Commerce, their third film is The Shibahama-UFO Battle: the UFOs design is a remodelled "Adamski saucer" (see George Adamski). When Kanamori complains that the town's energy guns (see Rays; Weapons) do not fire a visible beam, Asakusa points out that that would not be scientifically accurate. Despite a last-minute hiccup with the soundtrack, the film is a success.
The series is set in a 2051 (see Near Future) not too different from present-day Japan, though more racially diverse (see Race in SF). Asakusa's SF concepts are shown as fantasy sequences, often as a tour in an imaginary Flying vehicle. An attempt to cover the hole in the roof of the Film Club's near-derelict building is portrayed as the repair of a manned Space Station that goes awry. Asakusa has a strong Hard SF mindset, wanting her ideas to be scientifically plausible: initially she tries to get rid of the giant mecha from the Robot Club's commission, because giant robots are totally impractical: but eventually concedes this does not mean dreams should be dismissed, and confesses: "I wanna travel to the fringes of space! I cry in the bath every night about how big the universe is!"
Though Mizusaki is a likable character, it is the eccentric Kanamori and – in particular – Asakusa who stand out. A humorous slice of life story about sf animation and the creative process (with the school clubs system used to Satirize the anime industry), this joyful, lovingly animated show is one of the finest recent anime series.
A disappointing live-action film (with an accompanying Television mini-series) was also released in 2020. [SP]