Original Run: January 6, 2020 - March 23, 2020 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Sumito Oowara
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken. Reader discretion is advised.***
From as far back as she can remember, Midori Asakusa (voiced by Sairi Itou) has loved animation. Her admiration for the medium goes well beyond an appreciation of artwork. She is a student of how visual storytellers convey meaning through camera shots, movement, designs, setting, and music. If there is one thing Midori wants to do, it’s to be a filmmaker. The problem is, she is a bit shy.
Therefore, Midori has always needed a boost in confidence from her friends Sayaka Kanamori and Tsubame Mizusaki (voiced respectively by Mutsumi Tamura and Misato Matsuoka). When together, these three become an unstoppable force of animation brilliance, and their passion is only fueled when they form their school’s newest club, the Eizouken.
Continually searching for ways to improve their craft, Midori, Sayaka, and Tsubame are ready to show the world what they can create.
No sarcasm. No exaggeration. Full honesty. Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken was absolutely, unquestionably, incredibly phenomenal. I know I said Somali and the Forest Spirit was the standard-bearer for 2020 no less than a post ago, but believe me, I was not expecting this; or, at the very least, not this soon.
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken was about passionate people doing what they loved most, and in this case, that love was for creating animation. It went much further than thinking up story ideas and being able to draw well. No, this show took us through the complexities and rigorous displace that goes into producing even an amateur project.
This series was also a gentle little reminder for me to keep things in perspective.
I don’t say this nearly enough, but we must recognize the sheer amount of work that goes into any animation, let alone a full-length anime series. This post is a review, and I do consider myself to be a reviewer. Accordingly, I have the (comparatively) easy task of viewing what other people have done and writing my thoughts on what I see. An inherent part of that does involve expressing criticism, and, from time to time, I have been rather harsh.
Admittedly, I sometimes feel conflicted because I know I cannot even begin to understand the full scope of what it means to animate. The truth is, I critique because I want to, in some way, help those who can do so, craft better narrative.
That said, shoddy craftsmanship is still shoddy craftsmanship regardless of how much effort goes into it. That is why we should rally around shows such as Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken that not only figure out how to bring all the pieces come together, those pieces come together in a way that is both excellent and fun.
To start this review, we have to talk about the most noticeable aspect of this show, its animation. On the lower end of what can be said, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken’s visuals were fluid, swift, and, well, highly animated. On the higher end of that spectrum, this series was f@#$ing beautiful.
Now, I am not going to claim Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken was the best animated show I’ve yet seen from 2020. Don’t get me wrong; it was, but as of this post, I haven’t seen that many. Therefore, to give this series that kind of credit, at this point, wouldn’t mean a whole lot. What I will say is that this series is one of the best animated I’ve seen in a good long while.
After the visuals, lets quickly focus on the characters, who were utterly fantastic. The trio of the titular Eizouken, Midori Asakusa, Sayaka Kanamori, and Tsubame Mizusaki, was the second-best part of this show. These three worked wonderfully together, and yet, each can be described as the standalone star of this series. They all could hold the spotlight and steal every scene they were in, which was impressive seeing how they were usually together. From performing a one-person show to effortless tag-teaming with one another, they turned whatever was going on into something much more enjoyable.
Midori was the visionary, Sayaka was the realist, and Tsubame was the energy source. Together they were a complete engine, and their combined efforts were fully alive throughout their creative process. It was clear that each of them wanted to turn in the best product possible, and they all had a role to play in that endeavor. They gave everything they had.
And like I said, these three were only the second-best part. The actual best part of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken was about why Midori, Sayaka, and Tsubame made their films. They made them because they wanted to make them. Animation was their passion.
This series established a full range of complications that goes into bringing still drawings to life. The final cut the girls showed off was the result of compromises and clever problem-solving. Their real vision never made it on to the screen, and when you think about it, that just makes sense. They didn’t have the resources, funding, or time to do everything they wanted to do. And of course, this frustrated them to no end, having to tone back their aspirations. Despite that, though, they never resorted to putting in a half-assed effort. Thus, their results were still incredible.
But what got to me the most was during the screenings. When everyone else was marveling at what the trio had done, there was only one group poking holes, and that was the Eizouken themselves. They were storytellers, and although they were always proud of what they did, they were never satisfied. As they saw it, they could have done more.
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken was the story about the process of making stories, and I certainly hope this will not prove to be a standalone season.
Not counting this sentence, this section will not exceed 100 words.
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken’s weakest aspect was when it was its transitions into new story arcs. Whenever the Eizouken took a new job, it wasn’t always clear what the end goals of their clients were. Granted, as the narrative progressed, it became clearer what was going on. During these initial moments, this series relied on the personalities of its main characters. Although that was a strategy that worked, this is still a case of a broken clock being right twice a day. This series managed to pull this off, but it was something that shouldn’t be encouraged.
Yes, please, and thank you. This series was great. If we get a few more shows like this out of 2020, then I think this year will end up being alright. In the anime world, that is. I can’t really promise the same with what’s happening in the real world.
Getting back to the point: This series was phenomenal in so many different areas. The animation was beautiful, the characters were a lot of fun, and the story exceedingly well-told and meaningful. Oh, and by the way, this show was all those good things right from the very beginning.
Without question, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.