There’s no rest for the wicked in Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! episode 9 as Midori, Kanamori, Tsubame, and Doumeki put their heads together to decide what their next project is going to be, just days after making a splash at their school festival. What they decide upon will be decisively bigger than the last, as well as help circumvent some of the exploitative obstacles that lie in their way of making any sort of profit. We even get a look into Kanamori’s backstory, finding out at least some of the reasons why she is the way she is. All in all, there’s plenty to discuss and explore.
In terms of adaptation, this episode diverges yet again from the original manga by Sumito Oowara. While it doesn’t have nearly as much anime-original content as last week’s episode, it more than makes up for this in terms of structure, flipping around the order of many scenes and completely reworking the narrative of the original manga. There are also several impressive visual devices and techniques employed by Science SARU in the animation department, which makes this episode almost as good to look at as it does to understand.
Eizouken Episode 9 and the Problems of Adaptation
One of the main problems that the Eizouken anime, and episode 9 in particular, was bound to come up against was the issue of Doumeki. The sound-obsessed audiophile was introduced much earlier on in the anime, episode 6 to be precise, but now that the anime has reached the point at which in the manga she was initially introduced – chapter 17 – a fork in the road is presented to Science SARU and Masaaki Yuasa. Either they try and rework the material so that it fits in with the altered narrative of the anime, or discard it altogether.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given their track record, the studio took the latter route. Eizouken episode 9 starts out with the beginning of chapter 17 – completely skipping over chapter 16, it should be noted – before cutting to the main thrust of chapter 20 (Kanamori’s backstory) and finishing off with chapter 21 (the start of the club’s new project).
Even so, what this simple adaptational rundown doesn’t emphasize is the sheer amount of anime-original content and story elements that are introduced in this episode. For example, the scene that leads into Kanamori’s backstory – the one where the main trio are walking along the river – is entirely anime-original, and what’s more is that their destination (the ramen shop in the underground mall) is a complete fabrication by Science SARU.
While this is not as drastic of a change as the others, it is also worth noting that we get a much better idea of our characters’ overall aim of this arc – participating in the Comet A doujinshi market – much earlier on, which sets a clear narrative goal for our characters. In the manga, it is not until a tense scene with the student council that this development is revealed.
If all of this hopping and skipping about was needed in order to make Doumeki’s introduction work in the broader context of the anime’s narrative, then so be it. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate to see so much good content from the original manga being skipped over. The events of chapter 19, for example, tell us the story of how Kanamori and Midori first became friends, and chapter 18 is a wholesome adventure featuring Doumeki that would go a long way in cementing her presence within the wider team. Even if it is possible that these chapters will be adapted at a later date, in the meantime, I can’t help but feel just a little bit disappointed.
The New Project
Moving back to the content of Eizouken episode 9 itself, it must be said that – omissions or not – there is plenty contained within that is more than enough to soothe my anxieties. Barely days after their last project brought chaos to the school festival and convinced Tsubame’s parents to let her continue with animation, the club is back at it again with a new project – and this time, it’s a big one.
What is meant by this is that the club’s latest short film will take as its setting the entire town of Shimbashi, as opposed to the smaller and more inconsequential settings of the past two shorts, and be sold and promoted on a wider stage, the doujinshi fair known as ‘Comet A.’
Looking at the overall narrative structure of the series, this feels fairly natural. The club started from humble beginnings, barely able to put something together and constantly coming under attacks from threats that threatened their very existence. Yet, through hard work and dedication, they were able to convince the campus authorities and went on to make an even bigger splash in their latest work alongside the robot club. Moving from the confines of the campus into something bigger, both in terms of setting and scope, seems like the logical next step.
This progression is something that Midori herself hints at when she reflects on her own role as a director, the fruits of which will be discussed later on, so this shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise
Yet, as ever, things are always easier said than done. Although all of the club members agree to set this new short in Shimbashi and receive money from the local government in kind, what kind of short this will end up being is another issue entirely.
The end portion of Eizouken episode 9 sees Kanamori trying to resolve this, battling as ever against the idiosyncrasies of both Midori and Tsubame. This conflict, it should be noted, also takes place in an incredibly engaging way, with the characters literally inhabiting the space of their short and the various changes and directives that they suggest having an effect before our very eyes. It’s yet another example of how the anime adaptation makes the perils of anime production so much more engaging than through simple dialogue, and it had me transfixed the entire time.
As mentioned at the beginning, this portion of the episode also gives Midori a moment to shine. The scene where she tries to describe what kind of sound effect she wants Doumeki to implement is entertaining enough with its lively animation, but Eizouken episode 9 also gives us some emotional content as an off-hand comment spurs Midori into self-reflection. Thanks to Doumeki, she realizes that animation is nothing more than a “performance,” and that what she’s been after this whole time is the most convincing way to perform the ideas that are in her head – hence why she’s always so obsessed with detail and setting.
Philosophical connotations aside, what this essentially signals is the end of Midori’s character arc that began in the last arc, as she struggled to explain her vision to the members of the Art Club. Now that she’s better understood her own approach, however, it seems like this won’t be as big of a problem going forward.
On a final note, the beginning section of Eizouken episode 9 should be credited for its swift, concise and guttural explanation of the oftentimes exploitative nature of anime production. As Kanamori explained, even though the club put in “enough labor to earn 1.8 million yen,” they only received around 20,000 yen. This is because of the cut that the student council took for doing business on campus, which functions as a perfect allegory for the committee system. Furthermore, this also skillfully highlights the problems of surplus labor value, which I’m sure nobody expected out of a show like this. That just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Incidentally, this leads quite nicely into the other major portion of Eizouken episode 9: a dive into Kanamori’s backstory to answer the question of how she became the person she is today, all of which takes place around the middle of the episode.
On the one hand, offering Kanamori an opportunity to explain her backstory seems only fair given that both Tsubame and Midori have had this opportunity in the past. Yet, I hope I’m not alone in saying that uncovering Kanamori’s backstory is a far more exciting prospect than the others, given that she is probably the most unique character of the bunch. Obsession with money and keen business senses aren’t exactly the most typical traits for a high-school girl, so finding out how this came to be is an exciting prospect, to say the least.
As a flashback to Kanamori’s past reveals, this is partly due to her experiences as a child. She made some pocket change by helping out at a local convenience store, which revealed and nurtured her inner business sense, but it seems to me that the reasons run far deeper than simple personality; the convenience store that she helped out at as a child ended up shutting down because of bad management, and the same thing is happening to the high street of Shimbashi in general. As the trio note while walking along the river, shuttered shops are now a normal part of the scenery following the installation of the monorail and perhaps by polishing her business acumen, Kanamori hopes to avoid the kind of mistakes that she witnessed in the past.
Although Eizouken isn’t exactly a show rife with political or societal messages, Eizouken episode 9 appears to be an exception. The kind of shuttered high street that Shimbashi now is has become practically ubiquitous ever since the advent of the supermarket and convenience store in many towns across Japan, and there’s even a word for it: shattā dōri (lit: ‘shutter street’). Can one savvy local businessperson, such as Kanamori, stand up to this? Probably not, but at least she’s willing to try.
Finally, we should touch on some of the visual elements of this middle portion of Eizouken episode 9. Kanamori’s flashback is represented entirely in the sketchy art style that has been a feature of the show since the very start, which perfectly demonstrates the childish worldview of the infant Kanamori as well as the subjective nature of the event as memory.
The team over at Science SARU do, however, take this one step further this time around. Perhaps recognizing the fact that we’ve become accustomed to the show’s idiosyncrasies by this point, the camera moves around in the sketchy scenes, bringing 3D movement to a 2D space. This is a feat of production that must be properly recognized because it makes the whole sequence a whole lot more exciting to look at.
Eizouken Episode 9: Adaptation, Exploitation, and Explanation
All in all, Eizouken episode 9 was a very interesting episode. Perhaps one of the most interesting of the bunch. Starting out with a transformative approach to adaptation, it moved on to cover some very interesting ideas around the theme of exploitation while also laying the groundwork for the club’s next short. It also gave us some answers as to how arguably the most interesting member of the cast became the way she is. With all this in mind, you can tell that neither Science SARU nor director Masaaki Yuasa are planning to drop the ball any time soon.
Nevertheless, there were elements to this episode that had me a little worried. Skipping over so much content from the original manga, even if it might be covered later on, is enough to cause some anxiety – especially when this content might be exactly what the show needs, to a certain extent. Furthermore, just from a personal point of view, the way that Eizouken episode 9 so brazenly sets up this next arc as the final one from both a narrative and thematic point of view – completing Midori’s character arc, positioning their goal as the logical next step – makes me quite sad. It feels like just yesterday that the first episode aired and I was so blown away. Can you blame me if I don’t want to see it go away anytime soon?
At least I have the original manga to keep me company.
You can watch Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! episode 9 via Crunchyroll.