Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! anime series cover art
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Overview

I’m sure that either you believe Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! (Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! / 映像研には手を出すな! ) was the best anime of winter 2020, or you’ve at least seen someone else claim as much. But I’m not one of those people. I actually had at least six other anime rated higher than it, and I watched 22 anime from that season.

Don’t get me wrong, Eizouken is a pretty good anime. However, throughout this review I’ll try my best to explain why it’s not exactly as good as a lot of people are claiming it to be. And it’s not because of one major issue, but rather the compounding nature of many, very minute, problems.

Before I get into all of that, though, I need to first discuss what this anime is to begin with. Eizouken is an anime series about making anime — something we’ve seen multiple times before (not that this is a bad thing). But that also means we have similar series to compare it to, such as Shirobako, which I personally like more.

What sets Eizouken apart is how it presents itself. It’s not just an anime about creating anime, it’s an anime about the creative process behind anime. Two of our three main characters are creatives, and a large portion of the series is depicted through their perspectives, especially one of them.

So this series isn’t quite as much about making anime as Shirobako is. It’s really just about being creative, and anime happens to be the medium chosen to depict this.

Also, in case you don’t know what the word “eizouken” means, it’s a film research club. The anime club was already taken, so our main characters created the film research club instead.

Characters

The characters were probably the best part of this series, and I don’t think too many people would argue against that regardless of how they feel about the series as a whole. These three main characters are Midori Asakusa, Sayaka Kanamori, and Tsubame Mizusaki.

Asakusa is really the protagonist of the series even though all three girls share the spotlight fairly evenly. She’s the one who initially wanted to create a club with the express purpose of making anime. She’s also the original creator, writer, storyboarder, director, and background artist for all the anime Eizouken produces.

And perhaps most importantly, when we get the “creative scenes,” they’re often from Asakusa’s perspective. So not only do we get to see how the world really is, but we also get to see how Asakusa views the world around her.

Kanamori, Asakusa, and Mizusaki from the anime series Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Kanamori, Asakusa, and Mizusaki

Kanamori (or Kanamoney) is the pragmatic member of Eizouken. While the other two get caught up in their fantasies or are determined to do things the “right” (hard and expensive) way, Kanamori is more concerned with the logistics of creating anime on time and under budget.

She has no real input on the creative process, and instead serves more in a production desk role, keeping everything and everyone on task. Kanamori represents the side of anime creation I find most interesting in series like this.

Mizusaki is the animator and character designer of Eizouken. I also find her to be the least interesting overall. While I liked how she took pride in her work, even to the point of being stubborn, I didn’t like how the other half of her character was a trope. She’s that rich kid who wants to do something her parents don’t approve of.

Some Larger Issues

One of the best parts of the series besides the characters is obviously the inclusion of the creative scenes straight out of Asakusa’s mind. I loved seeing the worlds she came up with during these scenes, and her inventions, such as the dragonfly ship pictured below, were just really enjoyable to watch.

However, one drawback of this is that I found myself thinking that the scenarios she was coming up with randomly would actually make for a better series. I would have rather watched an anime about these same three characters actually exploring these worlds Asakusa came up with.

It was sort of like watching two different anime at the same time. I was invested in the characters and their goal of creating anime, but I also wanted to be more invested in the worlds we were seeing through Asakusa. Normally I’d say it’s good for a series to have me invested and wanting to be more invested, but this time around both sides almost detracted from each other.

Asakusa's dragonfly ship design from the anime series Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken
Asakusa’s dragonfly ship design

A bit of a bigger issue I had with this series was the inclusion of the anime created by Eizouken. I get it, it’s an anime about creating anime, so of course their creations are going to be featured. But I really didn’t care about the anime created by Eizouken.

I was more along for the “adventure” of this series, not the end product. This is something I felt about Shirobako as well, but a much lower percentage of that series was dedicated to showing us the anime which was created within it — which was a good thing.

So when the (spoilers) final episode of Eizouken had a large portion dedicated to just showing us their finished product, it was a huge disappointment. I thought they’d show us maybe a minute of it, not the entire thing. I really can’t think of a worse way to conclude the series than that.

Conclusion

Overall, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is a 6/10 from me. It’s almost a 7, but not quite. And a major reason for why that is is due to the focus on the creations of Eizouken rather than the creative process which really made the series stand out in the first place.

Also, I know I can’t review Eizouken without mentioning the “hit” OP song of the season, Eazy Breezy by chelmico. Yes, it was a good song, but if I’m going to be honest, ID: INVADED actually had better music. Go listen to Other Side by MIYAVI, that’s what a real banger sounds like.

So, how wrong are my opinions of Eizouken? I know this is an anime some people feel very strongly about, so let me know in the comments. But keep in mind that a 6/10 still means I liked this series, so don’t try to act as if I hated it.

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