The girls of the Motion Picture Research Club are in thick of it this week as they try to finish up their first short film in time for the student council’s budget approval meeting. Tensions are, however, running high and more than a few sparks fly. Nevertheless, they eventually manage to pull through and wow their nonplussed audience, in no small part thanks to Midori’s effective decisions as director of the project. In short, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! episode 4 is part-production drama, part-character drama with a fantastic finale.
In terms of adaptation, this episode follows chapters 6 and 7 of the original manga by Sumito Oowara but makes several additions along the way. This is mainly due to the fact that the series already used some of the chapters’ material for its opening episode, but these additions also do wonders in showcasing the complexities of anime production and the effectiveness of the club’s finished product. In a word, Science SARU is continuing on their good streak.
In the Thick of It
The first part of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken episode 4 is largely consumed by how the main trio makes and completes their first short film, named ‘Hold That Machete Tight!’ in a clever reference to the title of the series itself. But such a task isn’t going to go off without a hitch, as the girls start to realize that they may have bitten off more than they can chew, and the changes that they need to make to the production process in order to make it on time might require a slight against some of their creativity philosophies. Safe to say, it’s not a happy time.
What’s most impressive about this part of the episode is the sheer number of timesaving techniques it shows off. It’s worth noting that while some of these are mentioned in chapter 6 of the original manga, a lot of them have been created by Science SARU for their anime adaptation. In the first place, this is to shore up the episode’s runtime – the studio already used the first part of chapter 6 in episode one – but also does wonders for the series’ educational quality. Seeing them in motion, in turn, makes them a lot easier to understand than how they were presented in manga format.
Eizouken episode 4 also has some interesting character work in a way we’ve not seen before: conflict. By now, the dynamic of the main trio has been cemented – Kanamori the level-headed, Midori the scatterbrained, and Tsubame the passionate – and has, up until this point, been played more for laughs than anything else. But this episode shows how each of the characters’ differing personalities can come into conflict with each other. Kanamori’s blunt realism comes up against Tsubame’s idealized conception of anime when it becomes clear that the project will not be ready in time, while Midori is caught in the middle, trying to mediate between the two sides.
The trio do, eventually, manage to pull through when Midori devises a way for them to minimize the amount of work through timesaving techniques, which Tsubame agrees to as long as she can focus on drawing the most important cuts by hand. After a tough all-nighter (a classic in any production drama), the project is finished just in time and the club ascends to the stage to present their work to the student body and, most crucially, attempt to win the favor of the student council.
In the Limelight
Immediately, it becomes clear that the student council isn’t too pleased with the Eizouken. After reading a laundry list of complaints in a lively setting that reminds me of the visual language of Night is Short, Walk On Girl, another Masaaki Yuasa work (especially the scene with the protagonist’s inner sexual dialogue), it’s up to the trio to defend their work and secure their continued future.
The first counterattack comes in the form of two excellent pieces of character dialogue. Kanamori’s deft dismissal of the student council’s complaints and pressuring of the school faculty is a wonder to behold, terrifying in its efficiency and perfectly delivered by Mutsumi Tamura. Midori’s rant against the student council is also great, her slip into aggressive regional dialect brilliantly conveyed by Sairi Itou and standing as a testament as to why she is such a great character – it’s only when backed into a corner that her passion shines through, but when it does, it’s hard to ignore. Let Eizouken episode 4 stand as a testament to that.
After this, we move onto what is perhaps the most exciting part of Eizouken episode 4 for both the viewer and the characters: seeing the club’s finished short film. Firstly, it’s incredible that the animators over at Science SARU have been able to capture the scrappy feeling of animation in the short film so well, and it’s satisfying to make the see some of the timesaving techniques showcased in the previous part of the episode in action. One part that particularly stood out to me was the shot of the machete girl diving towards the camera, which looks uncannily smooth in comparison with the rest of the shot – evidence that the trio used the automatic in-betweening software in the end.
The effect of this on the viewer is sure to be profound, even to someone like myself who has already read the original manga. Seeing the trio’s animation in, well, animation is a special feeling that goes above and beyond what the medium of manga can do with still images. This special feeling is also something which extends to the characters; as the short plays, wind bellows and buffets the audience in a visual representation of how they are being drawn in, with one audience member even imagining that one of the tank’s ejected shells is right by his side.
All of these superfluous elements have been entirely created and inserted into the scene by Science SARU, and while it is an effective way of getting across to the audience the fact that the film was well-received, I can’t help but think that it’s a little too direct. In my opinion, the short should speak for itself – but, then again, the extra effort in the adaptation process is much appreciated.
Eizouken episode 4 ends on a high note, with the club’s funding approved and the girls finally back on good terms with each other, eagerly chatting about where they could improve and make their next work even better. In this sense, the episode starts at our characters’ lowest low and ends on their highest high, beginning with creative frustration and ending with creative fulfillment. And for a creator, is there no better climax?
Next week, we’ll be moving into the Robot Club arc, which is perhaps my favorite of the whole manga thus far. Let’s hope that Science SARU manages to keep up the pace and overall quality in the coming weeks.
You can watch Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! episode 4 via Crunchyroll.