Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Keep Your Hands off Eizouken! follows three high school girls: Midori Asakusa, Tsubame Mizusaki and Sayaka Kanamori, as they work together to create their own anime. They form a club on their high school campus, which they dub “eizouken” (the rough meaning of which is “film association”).
Awkward and spacey but endlessly creative, Asakusa takes on the job of director and also handles background animation. Mizusaki is a part-time model who has to dodge her parents disapproval over her pursuing anime, but she’s a whiz at character animation. And finally, there’s the tough-as-nails, blunt-as hell Kanamori, who doesn’t have much passion for animation itself but has a lot of passion for selling a good product, and she wrangles the two artists and reminds them of the bottom line.
Eizouken! is a vibrant artistic triumph bursting with wonder and ingenuity. I can’t really communicate just how good it is- this is truly a show that speaks to the existence of nerds, creative weirdos and (if you identify with Kanamori), the poor souls who have to deal with how ridiculous creative weirdos can be.
The show finds great visual ways to express the creative and planning process for an enterprise, having the girls literally climb around in the settings and concept art they create, struggle to fly the planes they’ve designed, and so on. By doing this, it transforms what could have been a more standard narrative into a more unpredictable tale that switches between being a a thoughtful meditation on the different aspects of the creative and production process and a rollicking, wacky adventure story.
And it’s all carried by very strong characters. Even their designs are bold and distinct- its very rare to see a main protagonist female character in ANY sort of animation have a constant, unflattering grimace like Kanamori does, but it suits her cynical self perfectly. Eizouken! focuses on female characters, but unusually for anime, and let’s be real, animation in general, it doesn’t sand off any unique edges to make them as ‘generically cute’ as possible. Mizusaki is the closest to a standard conventionally cute design, but that suits the fact she’s a part time model. Thanks to the great animation, the girls also have a wonderful expressiveness that matches their striking designs. The great article The Glorious, Geeky. Goofy Girls of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken goes into this more in depth.
(As the article mentions, the storyboard director of episode 1, Mari Motohashi, said they animated the characters in a consciously gender neutral manner too, saying of the original manga that “she liked the “gender neutral” feel of it. She described Asakusa as like an elementary schooler, Mizusaki as having some girlish aspects still left in her, and Kanamori as like an intellectual yakuza. She said that Kanamori’s pragmatism was refreshing, and felt true to life regarding how the anime industry works, which may be why creative people tend to enjoy the manga. “)
It’s not just the main three! Side characters are distinctive too and unusually diverse for an anime taking place in Japan. The setting itself encompasses this diversity, you see signs in many different languages and so on. The mangaka has stated it was based on her own experiences attending a public school, saying on twitter: “I was attending a public elementary school. There were Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Americans, Iranians, Brazilians, Egyptians and Nigerians. Those are normal. And there were various skin colors, religions, and various names.”
Of course, strong designs and animation need strong writing to match them and Eizouken! provides. All the characters are deeply loveable in their quirkiness and struggles, and they play off each other well. Continue reading “Winter 2020 Anime Overview”