Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! continues to impress. The past two episodes have continued our heroes’ quest to make a robot anime for the Robotics Club, but the most recent episode–the seventh–adds an interesting dimension to this.

The story here actually starts in a fairly lengthy prologue. We here learn a bit about Tsubame’s past. This is great, given that she’s easily the hitherto-least-explored character. More than just that, it’s the tale of how a young girl fell in love not just with animation but with motion itself. In the earliest part of this prologue, we watch Tsubame observe her grandmother tossing out some old tea. Fascinated with the motion, she tries to replicate it and isn’t able to. This continues; an acting class sees her get more interested in the mechanics of how people stand up and walk than anything her instructor is actually trying to impart. This part in particular is essentially a showcase of simple walk-cycles. All the more impressive in just how simple they are–they don’t exceed more than a few motions each.

Mechanica

The middle of the three chunks that compose this episode is somewhat ironically less about animation and more about anime. A distinction the show explicitly draws later on, and one worth ruminating on. This middle third sees the Eizouken doing or supervising much of the anime-related work that involves little to no actual animation at all. In one scene, they’re supervising an early draft of the voice acting.

Also: this guy returns.

In another, they arrange sound effects, having commandeered the remnants of the SFX Club in episode 6. In a third, Midori has the unenviable job of having to correct a bunch of mistakes that one of the two background artists they’ve drafted from the Art Club makes.

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The show actually manages to take both forks in the road here fairly well. As unpleasant as Midori finds being in the director’s chair, she needs to do it, and it does ultimately work out. At the same time, in the episode’s third chunk, we’re lead to sympathize with the much more technical and animation-focused Tsubame. That’s important, as her perspective is one many people (especially those who are not themselves artists) will be the one most folks are less understanding of. Even speaking personally, as an only very intermittent sakuga nerd, I appreciate the balance of perspective.

Bath House Rock

Our girls end up hanging out in a bathhouse while waiting out a torrential downpour. We get a great Tsubame moment where she asks Sayaka to repeatedly toss water at Midori so she can observe the motion. More importantly though, we hear a very telling little slice of her home life.

That’s rough.

We’re also told that her parents are pretty lenient other than the ‘no anime’ thing. Tsubame wanting to be involved in all this thus makes a kind of roundabout sense. She can do basically anything she wants, other than the one thing she really wants to. Taken this way, her entire involvement with the Eizouken is basically a personal form of teenage rebellion.

Also there’s a short little dream sequence where Midori imagines herself boating around a swamp. It has little to do with the rest of the episode, but when has that ever stopped Eizouken?
White Smoke

The episode’s final sequence sees Tsubame arguing her passion for animation. The gist is that Sayaka, as the producer, is asked to review a cut. She thinks it’s fine, but Tsubame wants to add more detail. This minor disagreement leads into a shortform defense of animation in the most general sense. Using the example of a rocket, Tsubame argues that it is often the motion, not something’s actual traits, that are the most interesting (and just the coolest) parts of it. 

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This being Eizouken, the entire sequence is animated and serves as a conceptual tutorial on how to animate a rocket takeoff. Ironically, so much attention is paid to the rocket that the character animation actually suffers a bit. That’s notable rarity in the series. It happening here is some mixture of mildly unfortunate and just kind of funny.

In the end, she says that ultimately her passion is not anime but animation. Explicitly drawing the distinction mentioned earlier. This is a distinction that exists just as much in real life; among fans, critics, and of course, the artists themselves. Eizouken bringing it up is just another fascinating way the show interacts with its own medium.

Credit where it’s due, though, this entire conversation was presumably in the original manga. It’s as much Sumito Oowara‘s writing that carries this scene as the billowing clouds of white rocket exhaust. Interestingly, bolstering the show’s own point. Passions can run a million different ways–recall that even Sayaka’s money-first mentality has never actually been portrayed negatively. If there’s anything to be extracted from this week’s Eizouken, it’s that the show is just too well-written to stick to the easy, well-trodden narrative. Not when there’s a more complex, interesting one to explore. 

 

 

Jane Auman
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