The craft of art has been a topic of discussion in the film medium you could say ever since the film camera was invented, ‘Shirobako’ (2014) being one of the most prevalent examples in the anime community, as well as ‘Adaptation’ (2002) for a more post-modern take on the process. But out of the cases that I have witnessed, I think the most passionate series in this genre would be ‘Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken’. Airing, if you would believe me, around the beginning of last year 2020, based on Sumito Oowara’s manga with a Masaaki Yuasa direction, the series follows a cast of high school girls with a wide set of personalities and genres in the film production club, whose united passion is to make animations. Working as a partial anti-authority story, we see the girls take on different projects that expose their qualities as well as novicities.
Vague spoilers ahead
And if it has not been talked to death already, the most striking element of the series as you are first trying to process everything is no doubt its design. There is an almost unprecedented amount of character to the series, from the character-design to the environment that somehow manages to feel more fantastical than most fantasy series. With Mamoru Kanbe and Nobutake Itou working on some of the storyboards, the amount of personality expressed through the performances of the characters, as well as the framing and other design choices was incredibly fascinating, yet the series has a moderation that keeps a sense of professionality to the project that I appreciated immensely. As the characters get lost in their own fantasy, the production becomes much more barebones, the inking resembling Asakusa’s sketches with a quick watercolor over, which could’ve easily stood out as an excuse to put more time into high priority scenes, but fit with the character of the show so well and add a visual variety that you can’t even blame them for. The character-design is one of the best since the beginning of the decade, with Kanamori being one of the most memorable characters partially because of how well her design fits with her apathetic yet aggressive personality. And doing so under the restriction of them all wearing the same clothing for 90% of the series is even more impressive (shoutout to Little Witch Academia)
And although this element continued to impress further along into the series, I also feel that it gets increasingly narratively compelling as well, which I was not expecting. The chemistry between the cast is charming and their dialogue has a fair amount of notably good moments, especially Kanamori, who if it wasn’t clear enough, is my favorite character in the series, which doesn’t seem to be an unpopular sentiment. This along with some fun antagonistic forces and an effort to round out the series by putting a focus on voice acting as well as the sound design makes for a fun series on its own, with enough character to spare, but what I find most compelling is how well the lead’s adolescence is expressed. If there’s anything to be skeptical about it is the quality of animation two high schoolers with no prior experience are able to produce in a month, yet I think the process of this overshadows the comparably adult impression you get from their shorts.
Despite working as a director, Asakusa is terrible at directing other artists and would rather do all of the work herself, and Mizusaki barely has a sense of time and priority and would rather spend a week on every shot than actually finishing the project. Aside from Kanamori, who ends up having to pull the others by their leach, the group is notably unprofessional. Asakusa and Mizusaki have both never made a project with a tight time schedule and it shows. This element of their characters could be a point of contention to some, but from my perspective, I think this grounds the characters a lot and gives a sense that they don’t know what they’re doing, but that they may not necessarily have to. While a great sense of accomplishment is expressed at the end of every project, it’s always clear that this story isn’t final and that there is room to grow, and that’s kind of sick.
To conclude, Eizouken is a story on adolescent passion with an impressive and unprecedented presentation that oozes character and nostalgia