Some time ago, I was dipping my toes back into the anime pool. Lightly stepping in, buying a My Hero Academia manga and asking friends for a few recommendations as I had been out of the game for some years. There had been some anime that had charmed me in the interim but I really had not paid attention outside of Evangelion movies to really check out anything going on in Japan. I was talking about it with my Dad, who is a big nerd and keeps up with anime, and he recommended Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken.
Keep Your Hands of Eizouken stars three young high school girls striving against various obstacles to create anime. The show starts off by introducing us to Midori Asakusa as a young child, moving to a new city with very eclectic architecture and layout. This new environment filled with possibility gets young Asakusa electrified and immediately drawing every piece of the new city around as she comes home from exploring. Filling up notebooks with her sketches of the town, the show brings us into her fruitful imagination. Asakusa imagines exploring the town and all of its interlocking functions in nominally crude art but connected together in a complex way. The town itself lives and breathes as Asakusa charmingly fills in the world with her own sound effects as she explores it.
This sets the tone for what is nearly the centerpiece of every episode, a look into the imagination. A musical cue starts and we get taken to worlds marked by different animation styles than “the real world,” using a different visual language to communicate what could be rather than what is. These sections brim with excitement and care, taking what is and turning it into a completely different world feel imbued with this sort of reckless energy of “shit, this will look cool as hell.”
We quickly reach the current timeline where we meet up with Sayaka Kanamori, a lanky and terse compatriot of Asakusa where they go to watch a showing at the anime club. It’s here where the show got my attention, using the in-show anime to explain the various ways anime bend reality and at the same time ground themselves. You see her explain the use of visual language to communicate to viewers and while I suppose some may find this ‘look at the man behind the curtain’ a bit spoiling, I only found it fascinating as it’s how I enjoy interacting with any art. How it tells its outside of the actual text of whatever it is, be it a show, a song, a movie.
While in the middle of the showing, we see another student sneak in and immediately introducing her to Asakusa and Kanamori, and then promptly stealing Asakusa’s hat. She runs off and is being chased by two men in suits and sunglasses. Kanamori immediately recognizes her as a fashion model and drags Asakusa to find out more. We find out that Tsubame Mizusaki, indeed a young fashion model. She loves anime and dreams of making it but her parents, famous actors themselves, are forcing her into a career as a model and actress. Kanamori seeing the passion of the two girls before her suggests the three of them create a club themselves to create their own anime as Kanamori senses a profit to be had. From here, the girls form their own club and begin the journey towards creating their own work under the moniker of the Eizouken (or simply, ‘film club.’)
Keep Your Hands of Eizouken displays the same passion that the girls have for the art form, constantly seeking to take the viewers to new worlds. The vitality and care put into the work and that of the girls themselves made me yearn for when I was drawing more, writing more, playing an instrument, or just creating in general. It invites the viewer to analyze their own surroundings and see what could be there. Eizouken’s exuberance is an enticement to participate in art itself.
You can watch Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken for free on Crunchyroll