There not been a fat lot this season that has stuck out to me as something that could be described as “required viewing”, but of the shows I have watched so far, this one is by far the one getting the most attention. And deservedly so. There is something uniquely quirky and stylish about Keep Your Hands off Eizouken! right from the word go. And while I wasn’t so hot on it right away, it had done it’s job drawing me in by the time I’d finished its third episode.
This is an anime about making anime. It’s not the first one of those to exist, but rather than focusing on a studio or small group of professionals, this series looks at three high school girls with big imaginations strong enough to bring their passions to life. Well, two of the three at least.
The series focuses on Midori Asakusa; a short, tomboyish girl with a passion for anime and adventure. Her youthful explorations of the pretty amazingly designed city she grew up in (seriously, all of the background designs in this show are fantastic to behold.) lead her to create her own worlds and tools in her mind, which all translate to paper. She is skilled at creating highly intricate location concepts as well as the fantastical machines that could exist within them.
In the first episode, Asakusa meets Tsubame Mizusaki; a model and daughter of two famous actors. While everyone around her expects her to follow in her parent’s footsteps, her real passions lie in animation. Specifically character design, movement and the actual animation process of anime. Between the two, they strike up a friendship right away, deciding to combine their skills and make their own anime no matter what.
Thankfully for the two, whose imaginations and exuberance often get them off track before they can even get started, they are accompanied by Sayaka Kanamori (who looks like the long lost daughter of Shota Aizawa/Eraserhead, with a personality to match). Kanamori isn’t as interested in anime as the other two, but is interested in the financial reward that could potentially come from getting with with these two on the ground floor.
Thankfully, she acts as the level head of the three, actually working out the necessities and funds needed to get their project off the ground, as well as keeping the teachers off their backs when they aren’t 100% honest about the kind club they’re forming in the old warehouse on the waterfront. She seems pretty mercenary about the whole thing, but does seems to care about Asakusa deep down.
There’s a lot going on here. The main driving force of the series is about the girl’s passion for animation, and that comes through powerfully. It’s even strong enough to hijack the scene and insert the characters into the locations and scenes they’re creating, with an art style to match the level progress they’ve made with their current designs. The sound effects in the world they’re creating are all made using the actor’s mouths too, adding to the sense of play and imagination behind it all.
It’s really cool. While at times it feels like the wild fantasies of a day dreaming school kid, at others it really delves into the process and skills needed to produce animation, talking through the little details that amateur viewers wouldn’t even notice, and yet bother these characters enough to make them want to improve all the same.
As the third episode ends, the trio are tasked with creating a three minute animation to present to a student council within 60 days to secure the maximum budget for their club going forward. We arrive at Asakusa’s home and are taken through their entire conceptual meeting for their animation, from the location, to the characters and the events within, shooting down ideas and making changes as they go.
It’s really interesting, but also speaks to the pains real animators must go through when creating these kind of works. Kanamori, who is purely business minded about the project, keeps saying it needs to be flashier and more impressive, while Mizusaki argues the skill it does take to animate realistic, fluid human movement that isn’t over the top. It’s a nice little dynamic which speaks to Mizusaki’s character, but also delves into the pains animators must feel when the work they’re most proud of is often overlooked.
Verdict: I was apprehensive, but now I’m very into this
While I was very impressed with the visual style going on right from the first episode, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to stick with it. However, now that the show has thrown some mild stakes and a goal with a time limit on the characters I find myself additionally invested on top of the quirky style the show has going for it.
While I enjoyed Asteroid in Love for the it’s easy going nature and the wholesomeness of it all, Keep Your Hands off Eizouken! comes at the same sense of following your passions with your friends, but actually gives the characters some stakes and goals that we can build up and see their process. There a real sense of love and care for the craft on display here, something all creators have felt at some point in their careers that childlike exuberance before the whole thing turns into a job.
I like this show a lot, and really want to see where it goes.