If you follow my work regularly you’ll already know I have a soft spot for tales of the anime industry (fictional or otherwise!). Getting a look behind-the-scenes for one of my favourite mediums is a wonderful experience, but it’s also rare. Stories like Shirobako and Anime Supremacy! don’t come around all that often. With that in mind, today we have a real treat as we take a look at the first volume of Animeta! – a new series focused on the anime industry.
Our story follows 19-year-old Miyuki Sanada, who spent her middle and early high-school years believing she’d work towards getting a comfortable civil servant job in the future. However, that all changed when she came across the magical girl anime Pannacotta. This series changes her life forever as Miyuki falls in love with anime and begins to dream of becoming an animator.
Despite having not attended an art school or having any background in art, Miyuki applies to the renowned animation studio N2 Factory, who are looking for new animators. Somehow she makes it through the gruelling practical exam and interview stages, although her work is so poor that no one believes she can do the job – no one, that is, except for director Kujo of studio 7. Although studio 7 is known only for taking on freelancers, Kujo offers Miyuki a job believing in her passion and underlying talent.
Fast forward six months and Miyuki is joining N2 for her first day as an animator. With studio 7 not having any on-site animators, our protagonist is placed in the care of studio 2’s Ms. Fuji, who she’ll train under for a month. With no experience behind her, Miyuki is in for a tough time – especially when Fuji is going to go anything but easy on her. Guts, determination and talent are the only things that will see her through, but even then – working in anime is hard. Is our hero really ready for the path ahead? Whatever the case, her journey is going to be unforgettable.
Animeta! has been created by Yaso Manamura, who is a former animator herself (and working under a pen name for this work). This gives Animeta! real credibility and means that not only can it prove an interesting fictional story, it provides us with a lot of information about how anime is created. This first volume is filled to the brim with interesting facts, and in between chapters there are even flow charts to show us the order of work. It’s fascinating stuff and worth a read just for that alone.
Even if you’re not interested in the anime industry as a whole there’s still a lot to be said for how powerful Miyuki’s journey is. Joining N2 is not easy and she faces nothing but criticism and disappointment every single day, but she loves animation. When originally leaving her interview for the job, she was asked by director Kujo if she’d bet her life on anime – to which she replied that she’d give up anything to pursue her dream. Her enthusiasm for anime is contagious and you’ll be rooting for her almost immediately.
The hardships she faces are realistic and relatable, too. I understand the feeling of being passionate about your work but facing a brick wall, not knowing what to do to improve and get better, but also being unwilling to even consider giving up your dreams. This volume cut deep for me on a personal level and I’d be surprised if it didn’t hit home for most readers in one way or another.
Where artwork is concerned this volume is a real delight. Characters are well detailed and expressive, especially through their eyes. Miyuki’s love for animation shines through thanks to well drawn scenes of her expressing her feelings. Perhaps most importantly, mangaka Manamura is also good at drawing badly when necessary to show why Miyuki’s work isn’t good enough and then having another character draw it better. It’s not overly cutesy artwork, opting for an attractive but real feeling. It’s quite similar to a series like Complex Age in tone.
Animeta! volume 1 comes to the West thanks to J-Novel Club, who are currently releasing the series digitally with a print release beginning in October. Translation has been handled by T. Emerson and reads smoothly, with plenty of translation notes for animation terms readers are unlikely to be familiar with.
Overall, Animeta! offers a fascinating look at what it means to be an animator. With an enthusiastic main character, it’s easy to get sucked into the passion of the story and invested in what promises to be a journey like no other. Highly recommended.