This is it. The greatest world.
There is bound to be a lot of praise in the anime community (on social media, larger review sites, YouTube, and even tiny little blogs like this one) for Masaaki Yuasa and Science Saru’s adaptation of Keep Your Hands of Eizouken! Their love of animation as a vehicle for their and our imaginations is abundantly clear in every frame. In my own corner of anime Twitter, I saw a variety of sakuga fans sharing the above image — Eizouken protagonist Midori Asakusa watching Future Boy Conan with rapt attention as her voice over muses that this was the moment she realized that people made the anime she watched — with their personal realizations of anime creators and own similar epiphanies. For lack of a better description, Eizouken is a sakuga anime about sakuga. It’s love of animation as a medium and vehicle for our imaginations is apparent in every frame.
Young Midori’s reimagining of her own apartment complex struck me more than the above scene. It’s a more simplistic drawing, and lacks the detail of her later concept art, but is a pure expression of a child’s imagination — something that stuck with me as a viewer throughout the episode and well after I was finished watching.
When I was in elementary school, my friends and I created our own worlds, scribbling them down on scraps of paper like Midori. My friend D and I had an entire stable of horses that would follow us to school every morning and be waiting for us every afternoon to walk us home. Another friend and I dug up pieces of pottery and marbles from my backyard and hoarded them, later running a museum with these all-important artifacts for our parents. Yet another friend’s house was cursed with the big toe of a giant, and we would run screaming through her house, up and down the stairs all the way from the attic to the basement trying to avoid being crushed.
These slowly evaporated as we went into junior high school and later high school. I continued drawing, but creating concepts was never my forté. In fact, as much as I identified with Midori as a character — especially her rampant imagination — I’m much more like Tsubame Mizusaki in practice. I focus much more on life drawing, people, and characters in my art than I do extensive backgrounds or concept art.
There are so many small details in Eizouken that resonated with me as an artist despite the fact that I don’t consider myself a sakuga person (or at all qualified to comment on individual animators regularly). It gets the imagination part right. It gets the progression over time as an artist right — Midori evolves from the scribbles initially presented to rich visual worlds. And it gets that artists themselves are focus on different things. By combining Tsubame’s characters with Midori’s art we get a full product and a love letter to animation itself.
Recommended Reading: Sakuga Blog will likely cover the series in full, and I highly recommend their detailed accounts of the creators behind this show.