I can’t remember the last time I watched a series that was as consistently excellent as Shirobako. I’ve not been let down by any episode – they’re all terrific. But this week, we might have gotten something a little better, a little more special. There’s some Shirobako-style fanservice in episode 19, in the image of a young Marukawa, Sugie, and Ookura; the return of Yano; and new relationship dynamics, like that between Yano and Hiraoka.
More significantly, we finally get a breakthrough moment for our main character, Miyamori. Though honestly, I was a little confused, as I wasn’t sure what the series was trying to tell us about career fulfillment for Miyamori. Is it that if you go full steam ahead, you’ll find your dream? Or is it that the dream is in the here and now? Or maybe it’s that if you find something you love, like how Miyamori feels about anime because of her connections to it, you’ll learn to love it?
For someone like me, who’s already established in a career, another lesson was most striking: when things are difficult, and you don’t know the way – in the big picture or in the small – there is a reason, and as you make wise decisions, there is a good end in sight, even if you don’t know what that good end is.
I’m reminded of the story of Joseph, which begins as a family melodrama gone totally wrong. Jacob spoils his son, who has become haughty and, frankly, a bit annoying. The seeds of hate toward Joseph are planted in his brothers, who decide to murder him, though they instead have a bit of mercy and only sell him into slavery. And then things go from bad to worse, as Joseph is wrongly jailed and toils away in prison. Ultimately, of course, God raises Joseph up so that he not only does restores his family relationships, but also saves the entire kingdom of Egypt from famine.
For Miyamori, her struggles have long been that she doesn’t know what she wants to do in life. There’s reasonable confidence that she should be in anime, both because of the promise to her friends and because of the nostalgic, dream-building connections from her youth. But Miyamori doesn’t know what path she should take, and when a series of major problems happen in the production of The Third Aerial Girls Aerial Squad, all these bigger issues erupt and she is forced to deal with them.
Thankfully, in this time of crisis, Miyamori is taken under the wing of Marukawa, who tells her the story of the creation of an iconic scene in Miyamori’s treasured series from youth, Mountain Hedgehog Andes Chucky. Some of the old-timers, then newbies, stood up and did what was right, even in the face of immense pressure, and because of that they created an iconic scene that had a powerful effect on so many. It’s a good lesson to tell, and a good piece of advice to use, that we should do what’s right even when it’s difficult.
In our lives, we’re often confronted with difficulties and may be at a lost as to which way to go. Christians may go to God asking for wisdom, but peace may not always come. But as we learn from God, He gives us the freedom to make our choices; in fact, he wants us to be wise, to be like Him. But all the while, He guides the flow of history and the flow of our lives. So as we submit to God and make wise decisions, with humility and as Miyamori does, in counsel, we can trust in this – there’s something in store for us for our own good, even if that way is clouded to us now. We can take heart, for God has plans for our future – and there’s no better place to be, blinded or not, than in His hands.