Photo Courtesy of myanimelist.net
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!: A story about the art and the artists
April 14, 2020
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! isn’t the first anime about making an anime, but it is absolutely in a league of its own.
Simply put, Eizouken! is a love letter to animation and exhibition of the creative process. It captures the occupational struggles of animation, encompasses all of what it means to be a creator, and serves as an imaginative wonderland sandbox for the artists behind the show to give form to the reason they chose this industry. Eizouken! is unique, heartful, genuine, and most importantly, the opening song “Easy Breezy” by chelmico is an absolute banger.
The story follows three high school girls: adventurous and nerdy Asakusa, convivial and detail-oriented Mizusaki, and deadpan managerial genius Kanamori. These three are embodiments of the director, animator, and producer respectively, and each has her own story to tell about what she enjoys about creation, what her relationship with it is, and why she continues to create despite the bumps along the way.
Director Asakusa fell in love with science fiction in fantasy: how even the most fantastical of worlds must have a solid foundation in reason. She specializes in worldbuilding, using designs for weapons, buildings, vehicles, environments, and geography to reflect the history and vastness of a world created entirely in her head.
Animator Mizusaki is a rising star in the modelling and acting industries, and has to fight her parents to convince them that animation is a real job. She believes that beauty is found in motion, claiming that animation draws attention to detail in a way live action does not. As the animator, she painstakingly draws every tiny movement, so even the smallest detail included must be deliberate and have an intent.
Producer Kanamori is a genius when it comes to dealing with people, and knows the value of personal connection. Armed with a love of money and a rock solid attitude, she pulls the team along with an iron fist, reigning in Asakusa and Mizusaki’s wild and runaway creative genius into something with substance.
The three of them work as a team to produce animated shorts, fighting against restrictions imposed on them by their school, time, circumstance, and money. Eizouken! has the sketchy, movement-oriented animation and character designs of Mob Psycho 100 and a Studio Ghibli inspired environment and setting, but it is much more than the sum of its parts. Though it lacks the amount of exciting plot twists common in most modern animes, the narrative of Eizouken! relies instead on the process of production to tell its story, all while inserting references and details that give it a distinct, artistic charm.
As an artist myself, my favorite part of Eizouken! was seeing the way the events experienced by the characters were incorporated into their final animated projects. Nearly once per episode, the three girls walk through the town and create stories based on the environments and people they encounter. The art slowly fades into a scribbly, watercolor style and sound effects are replaced with sounds made with the characters’ voices as they build a story around them. During the scene where the three girls reveal their animated project, callbacks to these adventures around town are incorporated into the animation through visual cues, plot, and sound effects.
Eizouken! asks the audience to both enjoy the creation that is given to them, and appreciate the feats of monetary, creative, and laborial genius that it takes to create it.
For artists and long time fans of anime, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is extremely rewarding. From the graphite smudges on the backs of Mizusaki’s hands to the famous “bike slide” from Akira, Eizouken! is full of small details and homages that show the artists’ hands at work and give the series its distinct artistic appeal.