Eizouken! and the Uplifting Magic of Enthusiasm

Every now and then, there comes an anime that leaves you with a fuzzy feeling after you've finished watching it. Whether through stellar animation, brilliant writing or interesting characters, a good anime will leave viewers wanting more. One of those anime is Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! anime about making anime is nothing new, but the way that Eizouken presents itself sets it apart from similar entries in the genre.

By employing enthusiasm while still grounding its premise in reality, Eizouken thrusts its audience into the fantastical world of Asakusa, Mizusaki and Kanamori's imagination. The series goes to great lengths in detailing the anime-making process, such as the struggles of meeting deadlines, conflicts with others in the school and research into the right marketing tactics to promote their work. Directed by the talented Masaki Yuasa, known for his work on Devilman Crybaby and this Summer's Japan Sinks: 2020, Eizouken brightens the mood and sets your imagination alight.

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Asakusa: Diminutive Dreamer and Director

The director of the Eizouken's projects, Asakusa is an avid dreamer. As an artist, she specializes in settings and backgrounds. When the group decides to visit locations in order to get inspiration for a project, Asakusa will lead her friends in imaginative sequences expanding their surroundings into wild fantasies, encouraging Mizusaki and occasionally even Kanamori to chime in with their own ideas.

In these fantasy sequences, most of the sound effects are done with human voices, from the whirring of jets, to the whooshing of propellers. These scenes are done in a watercolor style of animation that has a nostalgic feeling to them, further raising the joy of watching the series. Kanamori might get annoyed at friend's overwhelming enthusiasm, but it's this wild imagination that paves the way for the group's animation success.

Kanamori: Here Comes the KanaMoney

For her part, Kanamori is the group's producer and keeps them on track. Every now and then, Asakusa and Mizusaki will get lost in their own imagination, breaking away from animating and storyboarding to fool around and obsess over random details. It is here that Kanamori steps in and makes sure that actual work gets done. She doesn't share the same imaginative sense of wonder her comrades have, instead maintaining a business-like approach to each project. She negotiates marketing and even uses blackmail to receive financing from the student counsel.

While Kanamori herself remains strict and at times cold, her character does not feel cynical or mean-spirited. In a way, Kanamori is the mother figure of the group, evoking discipline with positive reinforcement. While Kanamori's obsession with making money could make her a one-dimensional character, the way she manages to extract money from even small-talk, as well as the realistic and logical explanations to her actions, make her far more interesting.

Mizusaki: Magic in Motion

Eizouken 7 Mizusaki

A model and socialite, Mizusaki team ups with Asakusa and Kanamori by a chance encounter and becomes the group's animator. Her parents desire for her to be a model, but Mizusaki wants to be an animator. Her talent lies in drawing and analyzing character movement. As a child, her interest stemmed from the method in which her grandmother throws tea from their porch. This fascination with movement would continue during her time in model school, where she learns that proper motion in getting up from a chair: a technique she taught her grandma to use so she could get up without assistance.

Mizusaki's status as a model is used as marketing leverage, in addition to helping with animation. She takes the animations she draws very seriously. In one segment, as the group are starting to cut scenes away, they decide to edit out the final scenes of the characters dancing. Mizusaki ferociously protests this, and after hearing her spiel about how movement can convey emotion, Kanamori decides to use the spare animation to promote the club's work at an expo.

Eizouken! is an Enthusiastic Endeavour

Eizouken is a joyous romp from start to finish. While other anime about making anime will have sections where the protagonists hit a slump and the mood dampens, Eizouken remains upbeat and exciting. All problems the club faces are overcome by logical thinking, creativity and business savvy.

The group's reluctance to give up on their dreams, and most prominently their anime club, gives off a wave of optimism. Watching the girls go about their projects begets a feeling of childlike wonder, and seeing the actual animation that so much sweat and effort went into is a wonderful payoff. When the final episode reaches its end, you cannot help but feel fulfilled and satisfied after witnessing such an enthusiastic series.

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