REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (ALL 12 EPISODES) / DIRECTOR: MASAAKI YUASA / PRODUCER: EUNYOUNG CHOI / STARRING: SAIRI ITO, MUTSUMI TAMURA, MISATO MATSUOKA, YUMIRI HANAMORI, KAZUHIKO INOUE / WHERE TO WATCH: CRUNCHYROLL
Anime - a wonderful medium that brings people from all walks of life together. Three High-School girls come together in a bid to realise their dream - to create anime. However, along the way, they encounter many obstacles but find a way to move forward by using the unbeatable creativity of their imagination and willpower in Masaaki Yuasa and Science SARU's masterful adaptation of Sumito Ōwara's manga, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
The story follows the adventures of Asakusa, an inspired girl who wants to create wonderfully realised anime worlds, Mizusaki, a girl who is forced into modelling and acting by her parents but really wants to become a character artist in anime, and Kanamori, a wheeling-dealing, money-savvy girl who sees huge business potential in her peer's dreams (she is also Best Girl - and we won't have anyone argue with us).
From the opening scene in the first episode and throughout the course of the twelve-episode series, you truly become invested in their journey, passion and imagination. In the first episode alone, Asakusa's realisation that someone created the stunning animation that she is watching transports her to a world of innovation and creativity - and you as an audience member is whisked along for the ride with the character's insight and vision brought to life in gorgeous dream-like worlds topped off with human-formed sound effects for that extra layer of inventiveness.
As the series progresses and the trio of talented aspiring animators' journey encounters obstacles, we learn of their unrivalled passion and dedication to the project resulting in some of the most heart-warming and tear-inducing dramatic scenes that we have ever seen in this medium. The episodes that especially tap into each girls' tragic, yet personality defining upbringing, seriously had us hooked and utterly invested. Top all of these wonderful things off with arguably the best anime opening song in living memory and you have a winning combination on your hands.
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! isn't just your standard anime about girls wanting to make a show - it's a love letter to this incredible form of entertainment and the trials and tribulations that not only amateurs face, but experienced individuals as well. It's a journey - one that inspires, one that engages and one that shows off the true potential of this art form. Eizouken! is a triumph, a masterpiece - it's funny, sad, heartwarming and beautiful - and is quintessential viewing for new and old anime fans alike. Absolute perfection.