Animation Runner Kuromi

Japanese Title: Animation Seisaku Shinkou Kuromi-chan
Also Known As: Kuromi
Genre: Comedy
Format: 1 OVA
Allegiance: Yumeta Company
Director: Daichi Akitarou
Vintage: 2001
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Meet Oguro Mikiko (20 years old), a recent graduate of an animation school who is eagerly anticipating her first day of work at Studio Petit. However, the moment she walks in the door, Oppama, the production manager, greets her, gives her a quick tour, dubs her Kuromi-chan, hands her the timetable and critical information for the second episode of “Time Journeys,” and is carted off to the hospital by an ambulance with a stomach ulcer. The bewildered Kuromi is now left to deal with the stoic line director Shihonmatsu, the laid back staging manager Hassaku, and a team of key animators that are as diverse as Canada, but all share one common trait: an utter lack of useful productivity. Can Kuromi finish “Tai Ja 2” on time, or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Field Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen 
Overall 8.50
(not an average)

You know, Akitarou Daichi is fast becoming my favourite director. The man has mastered insanity in Kodomo no Omocha, made the mundane exciting in Fruits Basket, and harnessed raw emotion in Now and Then, Here and There. Now Daichi has entered into the realm of satire with a work perhaps not on the same pedestal as the aforementioned three titles, but that is witty, charming, and offers a realistic self-depreciating view on a world that most American fans view with beer goggles.

The premise of Animation Runner Kuromi is very simple, and there really isn’t that much of a plot. After all, it’s just about work and its slow days, bad days, really bad days, and busy days… oh fine, and the occasional good day. What makes Animation Runner Kuromi exciting is the cast of coworkers our heroine is saddled with, from the gargantuan otaku Haryu to the amusing pessimist Horaguchi, yes, even the Android 18-clone Shihonmatsu. Kuromi herself isn’t exactly Belldandy-bland either, and her journey from a wide-eyed rookie to animation professional is definitely a treat to watch.

Naturally, a show about making animation wouldn’t have poor animation itself, especially when it’s so short. Animation Runner Kuromi sports a variety of well-drawn art styles, and skillfully uses colour to illustrate changes in mood, particularly in regards to the lead character. The animation is slick and accurate, and the attention to detail is remarkable, ranging from flying car parts to Haryu’s room decorations. The music has only three or four noticeable tracks, but the ending theme is surprisingly good. Finally, the voice acting is excellent. Asou Kaori does a wonderful job as Kuromi, and Yasuhara Reiko (NTHT) is stellar as Shihonmatsu with her strong low voice.

Animation Runner Kuromi is not only hilarious; it also gives its audience insight into the realities of the Japanese animation industry. Far from the glamorous job that many may envision, animation is low paying, hectic, and requires a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and particularly, toil. Yet, as Daichi implies through Kuromi, it can also be a lot of fun if the individuals have the right attitude. If you’re really up for that kind of lifestyle, then go for it, and give us more stuff to enjoy, and review.