Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!: Inspiration

Naruto Chapter 79 will always remain a vivid memory as the chapter that would get me hooked on manga. My memory is fuzzy on whether I was already watching the anime by that point or not, but what I do remember is reading Chapter 79 (and 80) over and over again, taking in all of its best panels, story beats and emotional moments. The iconic clash of techniques Neji and Hinata throw at each other forever remaining one of my favorite action panels in Naruto.

I’m sure almost everyone who has dived into some part of otaku fandom has had a similar experience before. An experience that had impacted you in such a profound way that at that time it was all you could think about, and to this day remains in the back of your mind. Whether it was commuting out of town on a hunt for the “lost season of Sailor Moon” or joining an anime club in hopes to get your hands on some VHS tapes of new anime to watch, these experiences remain burned in our minds as precious memories that have impacted our lives in more ways than one. For many of us, they kickstarted our journey into otaku fandom. In episode 1 of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, we get to experience this special moment with Midori Asakusa as she watches in amazement at what anime is able to do.

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The scene starts with Midori’s mom having to leave the house for a bit, leaving Midori by herself to watch some anime until she gets back. Flicking through an anime streaming website, Midori finally settles on watching Future Boy Conan, before settling down in her blanket with a bowl of snacks at the ready. It doesn’t take long before she becomes completely entranced, staring wide-eyed at the monitor across the room as the spectacle unfolds. Slowly she makes her way closer to the monitor, allowing the gentle glow of the screen completely engulf her as she is taken on a fantastic adventure. It’s an inspiring moment for both Midori and the viewer, as you share the feeling of amazement that is rushing over her.

Whereas Naruto chapter 79 lead me to the world of blogging and forum posting as ways to interact with manga and anime fandom, Future Boy Conan leads Midori to become interested in creating her own concept art and designs. Anime has clearly resonated with Midori’s vivid imagination and adventurous spirit, as she hopes to join the anime club in order to gather the help of equally passionate fans and bring her fantastical worlds to life in the medium that helped inspire them.

Midori’s surroundings also play an important role in inspiring her worlds and creations. Her school is a complex web of buildings built on top of the water, sprawling in every which way. There didn’t seem to be much thought put into its layout or design as new buildings were built on top of old creating a cluttered, maze like structure. Each shot of the campus is filled with detail to the point where there is almost no empty space. Even lateral space is filled with tall walls and layered structures. It’s the perfect setting to inspire an adventurer like Midori Asakusa into creating interesting and beautiful worlds.

In the later half of the episode Midori is finally able to share her passion with someone else, as she and Tsubame Mizusaki share their work with each other in their “secret hideout” (a.k.a: an out of the way laundromat). Midori’s concept and background design goes hand-in-hand with Tsubame’s character art, so it doesn’t take long for the duo to begin working together to create something new. It’s a scene filled with excitement as they combine character art with backgrounds, before diving into fleshing out the concept of a ship Tsubame had started. It’s here that we learn how anime had inspired Midori, as she announces “The greatest world I can imagine, I draw to bring that world to life, so concepts is what it’s all about!”.

The scene that follows is all about showing us that inspiration first hand as we step into “the greatest world”. As discussed by kVin on his post “KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF EIZOUKEN! 01 – PRODUCTION NOTES”, the watercolor aesthetic really lends itself to creating the feel that we are witnessing Midori’s image boards come to life and taking a look at pure imagination. It’s a great climax to an episode that not only explores the types of things that animation enthusiasts can appreciate (such as references of favorite animators, in depth discussion and breakdowns of iconic scenes, and understanding and appreciating all aspects of animation production), but also expresses the moments of inspiration that have lead us to love anime in the first place. By showcasing these moments of Midori’s life, we can reflect on the moments in our own life that have lead us to our love of anime today. I have no doubt that the series will continue to explore these moments of inspiration, and I can’t wait to see where they take us.

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