Animeta!, Vol. 1

By Yaso Hanamura. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Morning Two. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by T. Emerson.

Learning how to be an animator is the name of the game here (the title even reads “Animator” when read out loud), though it’s not quite as bad as the foodie manga that are out these days – there are a few interstitial pages of instructions about pencil type, etc. but for the most part this is meant to entertain. Well, entertain and warn. Our heroine is Miyuki Sanada, a freshly graduated girl who was sort of wandering through life without much of a purpose until she saw a magical girl anime that CHANGED HER LIFE. Now she wants to be an animator, and has decided to try out at the studio that created it. She gets past the first stage, so must have some drawing chops, but she’s woefully unprepared for what lies beyond. And even if she gets hired, it’s just gonna be cleaning and inbetweening, and the wages aren’t enough to live on. Can her love of anime be enough to power past all the reasons to get a better job?

And so the thrust of Animeta! is twofold. On the one hand, you see that this is not a career for those who are really good at drawing and need a career. It’s thankless, the pay isn’t great unless you’re a god-tier animator, and, as Miyuki finds out, everyone seems to be better than her. She’s a pure newbie, so doesn’t even know what cleaning and inbetweening are, and her drawing speed is far too slow for what they need to do. What’s worse, her instructor is of the “I am going to be as blunt and rude to you as possible to see if you quit” school of teaching, though rest assured we do see the heart of gold underneath. Everyone else in the company is wondering why Miyuki was hired at all, but… we the reader know she has that certain something. And yes, it’s something beyond “I really love anime!”.

That’s the thing I liked best about this first volume, which is mostly introductory; it’s got a great balance in Miyuki. Her love of anime may be what keeps her going, along with a few notes from a “mysterious” helper (mysterious to her, we guessed), and I liked her perspective at the end when the crew are looking for mistakes in the animation and she keeps pointing out the things that were really great. But there are also signs that with proper development she could be a real talent. It’s why the director hired her (he saw her quick memory when some change was dropped), and also why the woman teaching her is also intrigued – she may not be very good at inbetweening, but her art shows that she might be better when it comes to key animation – what inbetweeners dream of graduating to.

So Animeta! is a fun workplace manga, and you want to see Miyuki succeed. It’s out digitally at the moment, but a print release is due in the fall. Recommended for those who imagine Noa Izumi from Patlabor as an animator.

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