The trains of Shirobako

So, what’s with it with Shirobako and trains, anyhow? Train references keep cropping up at the most unusual times. If they had brand names, I’d say it was product placement, but these don’t. It’s as if director Mizushima wants to create a drinking game or something, or maybe because he thought it up while riding on a train.

It starts in Episode 1, where the first shot you get after the beginning of Exodus, the anime-within-the-anime, is of a train, possibly a track maintenance train, pulling into a station. It’s not mentioned in any way, and the next shots are of the various Musashino Animation people with Exodus playing in the background.

Just doing a little maintenance. Nothing to see here.

Just doing a little track maintenance.
Nothing to see here.

Jumping ahead to Episode 10, we have college student Imai Midori, soon to be known as Diesel San, researching a question about trains for Miyamori Aoi

Jane's Book of Trains

Jane’s Book of Trains

She tells her that the only diesel train running on the line is a track maintenance train. If it was a reference to the train in Episode 1, then that was the only shot of what was going on in Exodus.

ShirobakoEp10TrackMaintenance

Next, Miyamori Aoi heads to Sawara Studio to deliver a musical instrument, and gets roped into providing all sorts of sound effects.

Give me a monster roar that's just a little sexy

Give me a monster roar that’s just a little sexy

The sound editor mixes in a train sound to Miyamori’s gaaow give it a little ballast, or something.

Nothing says feminine ferocity like a train

Nothing says feminine ferocity like a train

Finally, in the last episode delivery montage in Episode 24, we have Okitsu Yuka driving past a train on her way to her destination

Welcome to Japan Rail

You may be fast, but we are cute

Whether it’s a product placement, or a JR homage,

Welcome aboard Japan Rail

Welcome aboard Japan Rail

…or maybe somebody’s daughter, it’s a fun and unexpected aspect of my favorite anime.

UPDATE: Nope, it’s a real train mascot

Kotoba Nagisa, of the Kamikochi Line

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