Animation Runner Kuromi
How seriously self-referential can you get? An anime about the making of anime, and the weird sort of people who would take up such an exotic hobby. Fortunately, unlike the anime they're working on in the anime, this anime also happens to be a bit of fun.
Almost immediately you begin to feel for Kuromi. A young, energetic, woman who's just graduated from anime college into her first real job. The producer gives her a tour of the offices, which are empty because most people have either quit, work from home or have nutty hours. And while she's coming to terms with this he collapses from a medley of stress related illnesses. Which in the opinion of the owner is sort of impressive, because he didn't the think the guy would hold together long enough to pass this doomed project onto his replacement. Clearly it's going to be a long day.
The synopsis isn't really that important though. The main thing is the fact that it is an anime about making anime. And not some glorified process, or even a particularly organised process, but a vision of low budget chaos with a bunch of somewhat exotic people. I've no idea how accurate a representation this show presents, but it has a ring of truth about it. It's certainly a comedy, but there's always the feeling that the creator has some elements of reality he wants to express.
The best thing about the show is that it works through the people involved. Each character is partly an archetype for some personality type, some component in the anime food-chain, but they also give a rich sense of depth about them. Which is pretty impressive considering the short amount of time available and the number of people and events that the story contains. There are some lovely touches of character warmth, of subtle meaning, of honest anger, that give the show a lot of `heart'. Even the massively overweight otaku, and you knew there had to be one, is treated (somewhat) sympathetically. You also can't help but be drawn in by Kuromi herself.
The show is also quite well paced and balanced in other ways. Once again somewhat impressive given the short running time. There are moments of peace, moments of reflection, of communication, and sections of full on chaos. It moves swiftly from scene to scene, linking them well, and keeping you more than entertained. And each scene has an element of surreal comedy wrapped around a core of believability. It's really quite skilled and fun, from start to the quite satisfying conclusion.
Is there a negative? Well, yes, there is. The first element is that the production of anime, in all honesty, is not humanities noblest and highest dream. There's only so much that it can mean or represent. And the author seems happy with this, not a huge tale of the struggling artist but a small and light tale of mostly normal people trying to get a complex and under-funded job done. All of which is amplified by the feeling that the author is not taking it entirely seriously, as if he's just having a bit of fun himself. It's almost as if it was meant to be an in-joke, mostly amusing to a couple of people in the industry or perhaps even the people represented here. As such, while it's fun and not without meaning, it's ultimately fairly lightweight.
This shows up in the animation quality as well. It is quite decent, but lacks complexity and flash...it's at the right level to tell the story and little more. The character artwork is really very simple, although writing, dialogue and solid voice acting makes it have more character than one would expect. Finally there's quite a lot of over the top visual humor, including the very clear fingerprint of Akitaroh Daichi, which is entertaining but is sometimes so playful that it makes the show feel even lighter and more comedic. Yet at the same time not really hilarious enough to stand on its own.
In essence if you want to watch something skilled, amusing, rich in character and not without a bit of meaning then this is a safe bet. On the other hand if you wanted something momentous, something you would watch 100 times or even a huge serve of Daichi brand mayhem then you may want to watch before you buy.
None of my regular sources have a review of this title. I've got no idea about how common the title is either.