「芝浜UFO大戦!」 (Shibahama UFO Taisen!)
“Shibahama UFO Wars!”
The finale for Eizouken wraps up production on the “Shibahama UFO Wars” anime that the club has been working on recently. But much like how many final episodes end, there’s always a longing feeling to have gotten a little more from the last episode of the season.
Part of me had hoped that there would have been backup music that their source gave them, but the tonally-imbalanced music had ended up defining how the final product came out. At the last minute, a good chunk of the anime had been scrapped to fit with the music they received. Because of this, the short was difficult to decipher without understanding the steps that the Eizouken took to make it.
In a way, it’s imperfections were shaped by the idea that the somber piano music had to emphasize the harsher realities of wartime. That, in spite of our best efforts to strive for peace and stability, a number of internal and external influences function to ensure that conflict will always re-emerge.
It does lend to Asakusa’s declaration that they have room for improvement, but it is still impressive nonetheless for what they have been able to accomplish. Not counting how impressive their first two anime were, they were able to get a relatively finished product out to Comiket where they were able to distribute a tribute to Shibahama as their own anime using the help of Mizusaki’s fame, social media, and the support of their surrounding donors.
Although I did expect a lot from the UFO short, it was a wonderful finale to see how their anime was able to allow their imagination to spread across their town in the form of all of the buildings that sprouted up from the DVD players of their viewers. The way Asakusa watching the anime she helped create mirrored the very first instance where anime influenced her as a child was a poignant way to complete her journey as the camera zooms out to show us the value in the contributions that the Eizouken had brought to their world with the love letters they made to all of their inspirations.
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! makes a strong argument for being not only the best anime of the season but one of the best anime of 2020. If anything, it’s already one of my favorite shows as a fun and imaginative take on the creative process it takes to make anime.
As with a majority of Yuasa Masaaki’s directorial efforts, the animation is simplistic, fluid, and has a ton of personality going for it. Oowara Sumito’s unique character designs and expressive background art complement this style tremendously as the lines between reality and fantasy blur with one another to paint a vision of what Asakusa and Mizusaki see in the world around them.
It also can’t be understated to say how wonderful the music was in capturing the experience of brainstorming and bringing your imagination to life through your creative endeavors. Oorutaichi’s music in the anime helped bring out the expressive, rebellious atmosphere that made it such a playful series. It provides a level of atmosphere that feels the most reminiscent of some of the late 90’s/early 00’s youth culture material that I grew up admiring like FLCL and Jet Set Radio.
Much of the drive and spirit of the anime is in its characters, and Eizouken had a heck of a cast to work with. Asakusa being the brainchild of most of the club’s anime and a gremlin of many faces made it delightful and fascinating to follow her into her otherworldly fantasies. Mizusaki was an inspiring character as well with how she fought tooth-and-nail to chase her passions and saw the Eizouken as the perfect outlet for expressing her adoration for motion and animation.
The biggest stand-out character of the anime, however, was Kanamori. I’ve spent so many episodes kicking myself for initially writing her off when her unscrupulous, outrageous, and ingenious methods of making money and securing resources made her the perfect producer for the Eizouken’s creations. While Asakusa and Mizusaki capture the exhilarating experience of making your dreams a reality, Kanamori is the necessary force that both keeps them in line and keeps others from getting in the way of their visions.
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! is a whimsical love letter to animation as a creative and collaborative process amongst those who have an undying passion for their craft. Its attitude has a lofty, “reach-for-the-stars” kind of veneer that is idealistic, but ultimately the right kind of mindset to defy any and all expectations.
It feels a little painful that we won’t be able to revisit this anime next week since it’s all over, but there is a ton of potential for the Eizouken to return. With a little more material left to go through, it’ll be fascinating to see how they end up intersecting with the Student Council, what new anime shorts they’ll come up with now that their Comiket appearance gave them more presence, and how their futures are impacted by the animation they create. But until then, stay Easy and stay Breezy.