Review – Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Making an anime. I’m guessing anyone who has indulged in watching anime for however long they’ve been doing so has at least thought about doing it at some point in their lives. It may look easy on paper, at least to normies, but it is nowhere close to easy. There’s a lot of painstakingly long hours, effort, re-dos, etc. when it comes to drawing both anime and cartoons in general. You look at the boards you did, the general storyline and how it comes together, what scenes can go where, the sound design, the music, the effects and backgrounds, the voice-work, and everything in-between. It’s a long, thought-out journey that, even if there’s more anime coming out now than before, still takes some time to do, even if the show is a long-running anime.

But sometimes, you get a look at the process of how an anime, video game, or other project gets made behind the scenes. Shows like SHIROBAKO and New Game! showed this recently, and now we have a new one from the director of the hit shows Devilman Crybaby and Ping Pong: The Animation, that show his style and visual fun in a show that’s all about making animation from the viewpoint of 3 high school girls. It’s time we go to Eizouken.

There will be spoilers on here, to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

To start off, we meet the first of the girls, Midori Asakusa.

She is a tiny, hyper-active and imaginative gremlin, but her love of anime is pure, as she first saw it in a typhoon alone at home (’cause how else you gonna do it?) and it evolves with her drawing whatever she sees fit in her own world of creativity. Whether it be the town around her, the forest, a dirty old shack, or even a school club full of misfits, if there’s a chance to draw and make something new, Asakusa will do it. Of course, doing so will have her mind wander and go into more imaginative worlds of her own accord.

The next girl we meet is Sayaka Kanamori, the tall, ever-begrudging supervisor (that title she wouldn’t want) of the animation trio.

She doesn’t really like anime. In fact, she doesn’t know how it actually works and how to make it. However, there is one thing she does like: Money, and she sees this as a good investment early on from how Asakusa can make it, ut there is one more to complete the group that is needed to go with them: Tsubame Mizusaki.

She is a rich girl and a talented actress that everyone knows, even having her headshots all around the town on ads, but Mizusaki is no ditzy celeb. She is just as talented as Asakusa when it comes to drawing up animation and has just as big an imagination when it comes to it. Hell, she even goes to the lengths some animators do to get the perfect shot.

The only problem early on is trying to get her to join them as her parents want her to avoid anime. They go to great lengths to stop her, with their own bodyguards trying to make her stop. Eventually it pays off as they get her to join them, form their own anime club in the disguise of a Film Club, and then have to deal with everything else: The student council always on their back, the process of making the anime, the other clubs interfering, the other clubs wanting their help, and at other times, the wild imagination of themselves, which sometimes tend to go overboard.

The 3 of them work like this: Asakusa and Mizusaki are the creative minds of the anime they make, going all out to bring their beautiful worlds to life, while Kanamori is the brains and production means of making their anime a reality through any economical means possible, usually getting into fights to do so. Even if they do have their issues with each other at times, they still have one goal: to get to where they want to be with their own anime, and create a wonderful masterpiece by any means. The 3 are highlighted in all the episodes through their own ways: Asakusa the high energy one who is also very shy, Kanamori being defiant, greedy, and wise, but very smug in her own way, and Mizusaki being the calm and cool type that still knows what she wants and is willing to argue at times to get what she needs. The episodes show how each personality came together to form this trio of skillful girls through their flashback as kids, from what they do around the school to the playful, random nature and all-around seriousness that they exhibit. Nothing showcases it more than the butterfly/tanuki scene.

The animation is a marvel at rendering this world, and their own world, to full effect. While the girls may not be the prettiest anime characters in existence, I think that helps immensely here. Masaaki Yuasa is known for having his characters look a little rough around the edges, and that’s okay. What he does is make the scenes look fluid and come to life, and that’s no different here. The characters pop in the story, and the way they move at times makes them look and feel real. The background and designs of the school they attend have some modern, yet very futuristic designs in the way it’s presented, while being surrounded by a mostly typical Japanese town, but also having some of areas look like an adventure others take in another world (not isekai, mind you. There’s none of that). The one thing that really pops from this is when the girls make the anime and showcase it, giving us all the inner makings of how anime is made, from the storyboards, to the papers needed, to how to make the right sound design, to how the different cameras angles work in an anime. Hell, it will tell anything and everything because basically, the process is as I said: difficult!

I mentioned the storyboards, because this show loves to show storyboards and drawings before the actual anime is presented. It’s a real treat as that is what Asakusa and Mizusaki do, detailing it in the roughest of sketches, to proceeding into action, which gives the audience a feel of what goes on making any animation. It can be a beginning cut…

…To a more detailed cut that includes footnotes…

…To the girls interacting in said drawings of their imagination…

…even if it leads to abject failure.

In short, the animation throughout is amazing, even if it looks a little blocky and blob-y at times. Yuasa instead has the world come alive and makes the girls and everyone else’s actions and movements look fluid, especially with stuff on here like the Robot Club chase at the school and the tanuki dance. Hell, one of the best scenes was the flashback of Mizusaki’s grandma throwing the tea that’s not only enlightened by Mizusaki herself, but that something so simple proves it can showcase how this series can take anything and make it a fantastic moment.

Another thing that carries this show is the phenomenal voice work, which is actually amazing when you find out that Asakusa and Mizusaki are played by first-timers. Asakusa is voiced by Sairi Ito who, when looking her up, has done mainly live-action roles, and she is also a dancer. Her only other voice work I found? A part in the Japanese dub of The Secret Life of Pets 2. Then there’s Misato Matsuoka, the voice of Mizusaki, who is an assistant professor in a Japanese university. No joke. The fact that these two can bring so much energy to these two characters in this show, when they did basically no voice work beforehand, is astounding, but we don’t have all first timers here. Kanamori is voiced by Mutsumi Tamura, who is known for voicing the title character in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (and having roles in Darling In The FranXX, Cells at Work!, Made in Abyss and Shippuden) and is wonderful as the greedy tall one. All their roles as the trio make this show amazing, as the chemistry between them feels like they haven’t missed a beat and been doing this for years. Other roles on here include Doumeki, the Audio Club member who basically becomes a 4th member to them near the end, voiced by Yumiri Hanamori (Nadeshiko on Yuru Camp), Kazuhito Inoue (Kakashi on the Naruto series), voicing their care-free advisor of the club, and even one of the Robot Club members voiced by Yuki Ono (Josuke on JoJo: DiU and Louis on Beastars.) The show has a bunch of talent that makes this work.

Okay, I know some of you have been waiting for this moment to come, as this is what got a lot of people into this show in the first place: The Opening.

If you haven’t seen it, and I don’t know how you haven’t if you are around the anime community, it has spawned countless memes and fanart of not only these characters, but from other shows as well (for example, Ed, Edd, n Eddy, which the girls get compared to alot. Which, I can see, since Kanamori is basically a fusion of the 3 Ed Boys, in my opinion.) It’s basically the most memed OP since Blend-S’s OP dominated everything a couple years back. Unless you count the Tokyo Ghoul OP that popped up recently, but that’s something totally different. For me, even though I do like it, and the full version is very fun, it’s not the best OP I heard this year (Sorry, that goes to Interspecies Reviewers’s YMCA/In The Navy-like bop for me. I can hear the boos already.) If anything, I do like the Eizouken ED by Kami-sama, Boku wa Kizuite shimatta, or KamiBoku, more than the OP. Plus, the ED feels like a little of the show that highlights all the little intricacies that happen on there with its animation, and it isn’t just the music from these two that are a delight. The music throughout the show is a wonderful listen,  as Oorutaichi does a fantastic job making me enjoy it through the whole series, be it the little upbeat jive that sounds when the girls are working, to an OST that sounds almost like it came from FLCL. The music on here, like everything else, gets a high grade from me.

In short, what can I say that hasn’t been positive about this show? The characters are all a delight, the storyline and how it plays out is well told and gives a lot of character to them (I didn’t even get to Kanamori’s backstory of how she became who she is, or even Mizusaki and her parents and how they finally see eye-to-eye with her), the animation is wonderful, the voice-acting is top notch, the music, even if meme-worthy, is damn good, and there’s just so much I can easily say about this Eizouken that makes it so wonderful, that I can’t because I want to make this not 4000+ words. It may only be the end of the winter season, but this is certainly an Anime of the Year candidate with how it plays out. Masaaki Yuasa turned this show into a work of art (yes, pun intended) that anyone who wants to work in animation needs to check out. This is one of those shows that will get all-out praise from me. Sure, the girls may think this isn’t a near perfect show, as they will want to find whatever went wrong and fix it up nicely.

But for my argument, I think it’s fine as it is. Hell, I believe it’s one of those shows that really doesn’t need another season because this season was THAT good. One of my highest scores for anything I given, as this show was an all-around showcase of how to do, and make, anime brilliantly.

My grade for Eizouken: 9.5/10


Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is made by Studio SARU. It is licensed by Cruncyroll

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