Self indulgence usually comes with a price. Alienating a large part of your audience is the minimum someone can expect from creating a piece of art that is about creating a piece of art. Of course, there are times when the work transcends that self indulgence. When the messages run far deeper than just what the show is about on a surface level. Sharobako has all the trappings of a self-indulgent walk though the anime industry from the perspective of people who live and work in the Anime industry. But it goes beyond that and creates a compelling narrative that anyone can enjoy. Yes, there are points in the story that are clearly fan service but the show leaves enough context clues that even uninitiated anime fans can piece together what is happening. While at the same time those who get the references enjoy the work that much more. It’s a delicate balance to maintain, but Sharobako handles it in stride.
The tone of the show is set during the very first scene. Our hero Aoi Miyamori is working late collecting key frames from the animators she has recruited to work on Exodus, which is the first original anime her company Musashino Animation has done in a long time after a recent spotty history of work. As Aoi is sitting in her car at a red light she is listening to a radio show where the hosts are discussing the current state of the Anime industry. The hosts wonder how so many shows are being made every season and conclude that they are indeed in a bubble.