Shoshimin: How to Become Ordinary Episode 1: Sheep Costume



Staff List

Toshiya Oono
Mamoru Kanbe
Episode Direction:
Yayoi Takano

Chief Animation Direction:
Mayu Gushiken
Animation Direction:
Naho Kozono, Shoushi Ishikawa, Mayu Gushiken
3D Layout Supervision:
Hiroki Itai

Key Animation:
Yayoi Takano, Shoushi Ishikawa, Hiroki Nishijima, Rie Maehara, Hisae Ikezu, Nanami Tanaka, Hiroshi Sasaki, Tomoki Kouda, Naho Kozono, Miyata Kanchi, Takurou Naka, Gin-san, A-NIN, Michiko Takahashi, Hiroshi Oikawa, Yuusuke Adachi

…Did they do it again? If you’ve been following some of the more obscure or less recognized series of last year, you might remember Undead Murder Farce, an amazing psychological mystery anime produced by Lapin Track and directed by Mamoru Hatakeyama. It was one of the best anime of last year, with excellent direction, and good overall production quality, and it gave us the psychological anime vibes we’ve been missing lately. Lapin Track seems to want to continue the streak with Shoshimin: How to Become Ordinary, this time helmed by Mamoru Kanbe, whom many likely know from The Promised Neverland. He seems to be drawing a lot of his direction chops from another anime he’s directed, The Perfect Insider, in a much more refined and cinematic way than we’ve ever seen.

In The Perfect Insider, while it also had a significant cinematic feel and the same subtle psychological style, Kanbe likes to imbue his work. It simply didn’t feel as cohesive in many technical aspects, like the CG looking a bit off in some scenes. The lighting works well for the most part but can work against it at times by making some scenes duller than intended. This anime seems to have resolved all of those issues, featuring great CG environments, amazing lighting, and stunning visuals that are meshed together to create a pictorial experience and one of his best works yet.

While the title of the series is about becoming ordinary, to start our episode, the scenario we’ve been presented with is… quite ordinary. Kobato and Osanai, our two protagonists, wanted to get sweets (more so on Osanai’s part). Kobato suddenly gets called by his friend, Dojima, to help a girl look for her purse. It was a fairly ordinary scenario with a fairly simple solution. It was quite ordinary. The real mystery of it all is our two protagonists themselves. Presented off the bat without any real introduction, all we know about them is that they’re two close friends seemingly who struggle with feeling like they are normal for whatever reason. They want to make a giant leap towards becoming ordinary and seem to have promised this goal to each other sometime in the past. We know essentially nothing about them, yet we can feel the gap they leave any time they’re on screen with anyone other than themselves.

I don’t think this series will have any supernatural elements or anything of the sort, but the way some things are displayed between the two can feel quite surreal at times, especially the conversation they had about wanting to be ordinary. Something that my friend and fellow writer on this site, Piro, pointed out to me was the numerous usage of static shots throughout the episode, which is very true. The camera never seems to move along with them; they are simply followed by static shots after static shots. This persists throughout the episode but is especially noticeable in their conversation together. The cuts within that conversation can be quite sharp with no real lead-in between many of the cuts. It’s a restrictive form of boarding that shows that our main leads don’t truly feel normal or even truly free. It shows them being out of sync with everybody else. They’re quite stagnant. The only time one of them really moves is when Kobato acts out as the suspect in his head.

You can perhaps describe the introduction as being a bit quiet. There’s not a lot of meaningful dialogue that occurs aside from the mid-talk between Kobato and Osanai, which is quite vague in itself. The visuals do a great job of supporting this style. It has a great art style; the characters are very appealing, the eyes are unique, and the way they are colored almost mystifies our main characters. The same goes for the rim lighting used for window scenes or just to outline our characters; it seems to highlight them as people who are either looking at the light (ordinary) people from the other side or being highlighted as something unusual and mystical themselves, even though nothing truly out of the ordinary has happened yet. It excels at trying to sell you a vibe without letting the cat out of the bag. I feel many animes nowadays fail at these types of shows by undermining the audience’s intelligence. They provide too much, making things too obvious. The subtle direction style of this show is quite charming and refreshing.

To sum it up, it was a beautiful experience. It was somewhat laid-back, yet there’s a sense of wanting to know more about our two leads and what’s exactly going on with them. The anime felt like the start of a movie thanks to its cinematic style of framing, and the genuine quality of the work in terms of animation. Some people might think of the Sakuga-type shots we’ve seen in other anime when I say it has good animation, which it could classify as, of course, but it’s not the expressive, fast-moving movement some of you might be expecting. Much like the rest of the series, there’s a great sense of subtlety to everything. This anime is likely to be one of my favorites this season. If you enjoyed last year’s Undead Murder Farce, you’ll probably appreciate this as well, particularly if you prefer shows that value subtlety and a soft, understated delivery that never reveals too much.

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