Animation Runner Kuromi (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
August 6, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“An enjoyable parody of the anime industry, ‘Animation Runner Kuromi’ is an enjoyable OAV featured with a lot of laughs plus a lot of special features to make this OAV definitely worth owning!”
DVD TITLE: Animation Runner Kuromi (aka Anime Seisaku Shinko Kuromi-chan)
DURATION: 40 minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Dolby Digital Stereo, English and Japanese language, Region 1
CATALOG #: USMD 2334
RATED: 16 and Up
COMPANY: US MANGA CORPS
Released back in 2003
DIRECTOR & STORYBOARDS – Daichi Akitaroh
CHARACTER DESIGNER & ANIMATION DIRECTOR – Watanabe Hajime
SCRIPT – Nagatsuki Toh
STAGE DIRECTION – Tamano Harumi
ART DIRECTOR – Shibata Chikako (Studio Kanon)
MUSIC: Masuda Toshio
Oguro Mikiko (Kuromi) – Asoh Kaori/Lisa Ortiz
Shihonmatsu Hamako – Yasuhara Reiko/Suzy Prue
Hozumi Hassaku – Matsumoto Yoshiaki/Wayne Grayson
Tanonaka Mizuho – Ito Eiji/Eric Stuart
Haryu Sheiichiro – Ichijo Kazuya/Dan Green
Fukami Aoi – Okamura Akemi/Angora Deb
Horaguchi Mai – Misawa Mayumi/Rachael Lillis
From Akitaroh Daichi, director of ‘Fruits Basket’, ‘Now and Then, Here and There’ and ‘Jubei-chan the Ninja Girl’
Music by Masuda Toshio (Excel Saga)
THE ULTIMATE BEHIND-THE-SCENES!
Ever wonder what it would be like to work for an animation studio? Kuromi just landed her dream job at the famous Studio Petit, and boy is she in for a rude awakening! The boss is hospitalized moments after she arrives (he gave his life to anime), and suddenly Kuromi is the new head of the ultimate team of slackers! It’s up to her to finish “Time Journeys Episode 2,” or fans everywhere will be let down. Will Kuromi’s love of cartoons clean up this horrible mess…or make an even bigger one?
I bought this DVD immediately when it was released.
Who could pass up an an anime based and parodies the actual anime industry? I’ve heard about these type of parody anime and I recall reading about Mikimoto Haruhiko (“Macross”, “Gunbuster”, etc.) actually creating one but was only given to staff and friends back in the early 90′s but really haven’t seen anything for the many years I have been watching anime.
But there are always stories about the behind-the-scenes of an animation studio and how sometimes the anime that is aired, sometimes gets there within minutes or an hour after finalization. From the crazy tight deadlines and overworked staff, for those of us here in America who will never get to experience or see that kind of work environment of how anime is created and developed, fortunately “Animation Runner Kuromi” is here.
The series is directed by Daichi Akitaro known for his work with “Fruits Basket”, “Now and Then, Here and There” and “Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl” to name a few. The sreenwriter is Nagatsuki Tou and the OAV won “BEST OAV” Award at the Tokyo International Anime Fair.
The series is about a new employee named Oguro Mikiko (which the president of the company automatically names her Kuromi) who was hired to work at the famous animation studio, Studio Petit.
The studio is behind on schedule for “Time Journeys Episode 2″ and with the boss falling ill, he appoints Kuromi as production desk manager and puts her immediately in charge.
Essentially just a newbie in the industry with hardly any experience, Kuromi is put in leadership position and has to motivate a staff that is too lax and literally a bunch of slackers. With the threat of the second episode of “Time Journeys” not being completed, Kuromi is learning that this staff, during deadlines, they make excuses and end their work early. The fact that many of them work at home, makes it a problem for Kuromi.
Because of their way of working, Kuromi feels dejected and has nightmares that the episode will not get to the TV station on time and feels like quitting.
But Kuromi decides to not quit and make immediate changes that will affect the studio and hopefully they will complete the next episode of “Time Journeys”.
The original OAV series was released back in 2001 and drawn in a fun, cute manner. Really interesting how the anime switches from animation to the actually sketches during the series. But all in all, the OAV is colorful and the fact that there are many scenes where there is no animation but character sketches makes this OAV a bit unique.
I watched the OAV series both in English and Japanese and both are well done. There is no true action and if anything, it’s more or less an anime that is full of dialogue. But audio for the voice work and music came clear and found no problems.
Central Park Media/US Manga Corps really delivered on this DVD release by featuring plenty of special features.
Included are interviews with director Daichi Akitaroh and U.S. voice actor Lisa Ortiz, director commentary track, alternate angle storyboards, the animation process – a mini documentary and director’s diary.
For the five minute featurette on the animation process, this features an informative interview with Matt Sheridan on animation, animation staff and how computers have helped the industry.
The interview with Lisa Ortiz clocks around four minutes and Lisa talks about the challenges of doing the voice work of this anime because she had to act while viewing the scenes and a different way for her of doing things. Included is footage during the recording of the English dub voice work featuring Lisa.
As for the interview with Daichi Akitaroh, this one is about five minutes long and was done back at the Big Apple Anime Festival in 2002. Daichi reveals that the characters are based on people he knows and the way they are but a character is not just an example of one person but how several of the negative traits of the characters featured can be a part of an individual. Daichi also goes into how he alleviates some of the nuances faced at an anime studio and more.
But also included is a near 3-minute footage of behind-the-scenes of the creation of this series and I found this to be very cool and glad to see this included on the DVD.
In the DVD-Rom features, an art gallery, script and cast & production credits are included.
I pretty much enjoyed the insight of an anime studio. May it be the parody from the anime OAV or the actual behind-the-scenes footage on the special features.
I’m very glad to see that CPM decided to include so many special features for the DVD release and all in all, it was just a blast to watch, especially if you have interest on what goes behind-the-scenes at an anime studio.
But all in all, this is an OAV that is not meant to be taken seriously, it is not meant to spawn a TV series. It’s just a parody on what goes on at an anime studio and for anime fans to just sit back and enjoy.
It accomplishes what it wants to convey to the viewer. No deep storyline, no major character development. Just an enjoyable and hilarious OAV about woman working her dream job at an anime studio and realizing that it’s all hard work, stressful but is handled in a way that people can watch, understand but laugh at the same time.
I got what I want from it and that’s to learn about the crazy things that go on at an anime studio and the fact that the viewer not only just gets to see a parody of it, but also included in the special features are video footage of people at work. That was great to see!
All in all, I recommend this OAV series for the anime fan who has interest on how an anime series is created.
+ A hilarious parody on what goes behind-the-scenes at an anime studio!
+ Really good voice acting on both the Japanese and English dialogue
+ A lot of special features that are enjoyable and informative
- Not for everyone, especially those who want a deep storyline.
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