Saturday, February 19, 2011

Anime Review: Animation Runner Kuromi

First heard about this mini series (it's a set of two OVAs) sometime last summer when Anime News Network announced that they had actually licenesed the series and would be streaming it at a later date. So, since I like to support ANN by watching stuff on their video player (even if it isn't my favorite player, the screen is a little small), I checked out the first OVA over the winter break and was surprised at how much I liked it and watched the second one as well, just wish the DVDs for them weren't so expensive*. Ah, and this is a review of both OVAs, since the second one is a direct sequel I didn't see the need for a separate post.

Animation Runner Kuromi
Summary: After being inspired by a tv show (specifically, a squence in a tv show) years ago, Mikiko "Kuromi" Oguro ends up working at the same studio as an animation runner (someone who makes sure that all the key animators are working on schedule and collects all their work to be sent to in-betweeners). Unfortunately, the head of production becomes ill after she meets him and he makes her the new head and she has to rally all the animators and deal with their insecurities if they want to make the deadline for the show!

The Good: This was not only informative about how an anime is produced (to a degree anyway, I've read a few things about the subject before and this show still taught me a few things and this is supposed to be a parody) and managed to be funny. It's easy to sympathize with Kuromi and you can't help but cheer on the rest of the team as they race towards the deadline (did I mention they have only a week to draw the entire episode? I started having flashbacks to end of the year projects in my high school art class).

The Bad: While I did like the second OVA and it did work as a sequel, it was a bit superfluous. The story was wrapped up well in one and having a second installment with an actual villain felt like the (real) animation company was milking a franchise. Also, I didn't like the conflict in the second OVA as much, in the first we had a man vs the world (the animators vs the deadline) conflict but here we have man vs man (the animators vs the new production guy they, and the viewer, don't like). The story felt a little weaker for it and I just didn't enjoy the second OVA as much. No it wasn't a bad story, I just ended up not liking it quite as much because of the change in conflict.

The Art: Fairly basic art and animation (which I found ironic yet suiting considering that the series is about bossing animators around) but it worked. I was bemused at how the art got extra cartoony at parts (like when Kuromi got annoyed at the animators) since that just seemed right for this show, like the show was constantly breaking the fourth wall by being an animated series about animation. It certainly wouldn't have worked as well as a manga or as a live action movie so, while the art is basic, I have no problems with it.

The Music: I didn't notice that much music in this actually. Sound effects yes (which is oddly appropriate) and there was a song they used in the ending credits but it was a slow song that I didn't pay much attention to. So, if the rest of the review hasn't made it clear already, people watching this need to be in for the story and heart of it, not for super cool art and such.

Hmm, am I the only one who thinks that one of the characters here (second row far right) looks a lot like Jones from Gunnerkrigg Court? Totally different personalities but I couldn't help but think it, it's an amusing coincidence at least. And again, this is streaming over on Anime News Network (I don't know what the region restrictions are, it's for everyone in North America at least) so go check it out!

*And by that I mean, each 40 minute OVA has it's own DVD and the first one goes for about $10 and the second for $15. $25 would be a steal for 13 episodes or I might buy a 4 episode DVD for that but not for just two, sorry!