“Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! (Japanese: Eizōken ni wa Te o Dasu na!)” is a Japanese TV anime series based on the manga of the same name (serialized in “Monthly Big Comic Spirits” since 2016) by Sumito Ōwara. The 12 episodes were aired on NHK General TV in 2020.
Directed by Masaaki Yuasa. Character design and animation direction by Naoyuki Asano. Music by Oorutaichi. Animation producer is Eunyoung Choi. Animation produced by Science SARU.
The original is a manga about animation production activities by three female high-school students: Midori Asakusa, Sayaka Kanamori, and Tsubame Mizusaki. It won the grand prize in “Bros. Comic Award in 2017”, the manga awards of the Japanese TV magazine “TV Bros.”
The TV anime series is an adaptation of the contents of the original manga’s first three tankōbon (book) volumes. It depicts a success story of the process in which they start club activities for producing anime in high school, and it develops into semi-commercial doujin (self-publishing) activities, interweaving comical elements.
Set in Shibahama, a city with a maze of waterways, in the 2050s. Shibahama High School is located on a reclaimed island by the lake.
A first-year student of the Shibahama High School, Midori Asakusa is a girl who is curious about everything and has a rich imagination. She was highly impressed with an old animation named “Conan of Remnant Island” when she was in the sixth grade of elementary school.
Asakusa has a design for producing anime set in Shibahama High School, which has turned into a complex dungeon because of repeated rebuildings and expansions.
She has wanted to materialize her own imaginary worlds by producing anime, and she has piled up her images and settings on her sketchbooks, but she is unable to take a first step to actually producing anime because she is not sociable.
Asakusa invites her classmate Sayaka Kanamori to go with her to an anime screening by the Anime Research Club of her school, where they encounter Tsubame Mizusaki, their classmate who is famous as a charismatic amateur model.
Mizusaki is a would-be animator. To her, animation is acting performance. She has an eagle eye, and she has wanted to express real and natural movements of things through animation. Asakusa and Mizusaki hit it off with each other instantly.
However, Mizusaki’s father has inhibited her from entering the Anime Club because he and his wife are actors and he wants his daughter to be an actor.
Kanamori is a realist who has a talent for money making. She likes profitable activities, and she has a great ability to negotiate. She thinks that she might be able to use Mizusaki’s celebrity to make money.
Asakusa, Mizusaki and Kanamori organize a new club named “Eizōken: Eizō Kenkyu Dōkōkai” (Film Research Club), and they start producing anime as a team. Asakusa works as a director/designer/art director, and Mizusaki works as an animator. Kanamori assumes the roles of a producer and a production assistant, performing various jobs including external negotiations and promotional activities.
This series depicts the drama of the animation-producing process, in which their imaginary worlds depicted in setting designs and image boards are being materialized as animated works.
Each episode is composed of two parts: a drama part set in the real world and an imaginary part in which they enter into their imagination. The highlight of the series is the innovative expression of the imaginary parts, in which planar images like rough drafts or water-color paintings are reconstructed and changed into three-dimensional animations.
This series is also characterized by that it elaborated each of the short animations produced by Eizouken as an anime within the anime, which was not depicted in detail in the original manga.
The anime within the anime “Conan of Remnant Island” in the first episode was a quotation from the TV anime series “Future Boy Conan” directed by Hayao Miyazaki and aired on NHK General TV in 1978.
The TV anime series “Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!” has been critically acclaimed. In the US, “The New York Times” selected it as one of their “Best TV Shows of 2020” and “Best International Shows of 2020” lists. “The New Yorker” also selected it as one of “the Best TV Shows of 2020”. In the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards, the series won Best Animation and Best Director (Masaaki Yuasa).
In Japan, the series topped the fan ballot for “the Anime of the Year” category of the 2021 Tokyo Anime Awards Festival, and won the Grand Prize for Television Animation in the category. The series also won the animation division’s Grand Prize of the 24th Japan Media Arts Festival.
In addition to the TV anime series, the live-action TV drama series and the live-action film were produced in 2020.
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Short Animations Produced by Eizouken
In the TV anime series, Eizouken produced the following three short animations:
“Hold That Machete Tight!”
Eizouken’s first work. A short animation like a trailer, which was produced for their presentation in the Student Council’s budget deliberation committee.
It depicted a battle between a machete-wielding girl wearing a gas mask and a tankette.
Though Mizusaki stuck to hand-drawn animation at first, Kanamori made her use an auto-inbetweening software to meet the deadline.
This film impressed the audience when it was screened in the budget deliberation committee, and the Student Council approved a budget allocation for Eizouken.
“SHIBA8 vs. Teppōgani”
Eizouken’s second work. A short animation produced as a promotional film at the request of the Robot Research Club.
It depicted a giant robot “SHIBA8”, who fights “Teppōgani”, a fictional giant creature like a tortoise with crab claws, in the underground pit of the school.
Eizouken moved into a fully digital production after this film.
Asakusa drew the storyboard, and Mizusaki handled the action scenes.
The background art was outsourced to the Art Club. The Audio Club member Dōmeki handled the sound. The music was added by using free sound resources.
This film was screened in the school festival. The Robot Club members provided the speaking voices live during the film screening because the dialogue recording couldn’t meet the deadline.
After screening, Eizouken sold the DVDs of the film by subscription.
“Shibahama UFO Wars”
Eizouken’s third work. A short animation produced for selling the DVDs in “Comet-A”, an exhibition and sale of independent production works.
Kanamori negotiated with a local group (Shibahama Commerce and Industry Association) about a project to produce anime set in Shibahama for community building, and she succeeded in making them put money into the production.
Asakusa built the worldview and story of the film after being inspired by rare spots in Shibahama, such as an old hydroelectric power plant site, a clock tower in the ruins, and a submerged area. As a result, it became a film about a war between fortified city Shibahama and aquatic humans who built a civilization on the seafloor.
The voice actors were chosen by audition.
Eizouken asked a person named Part Shouji to provide the music for the film via SNS, but Part Shouji composed only one piano piece, and the piece didn’t match the scenes of the film, especially the final dance scene created by Mizusaki.
Asakusa rearranged the whole film to fit the music, and she drastically altered the ending part right before the deadline of the screening and the DVD production because they had no time to reorder the music before the deadline, and Asakusa was unsure about the ending part.
The DVDs of “Shibahama UFO Wars” sold out in Comet-A.