There are lots of visual gags in anime. Some are funny! Some are not. But few are this biting about the anime industry itself.
Here, you can see frames from a recent episode of Shirobako, an anime about, well, making an anime. Shirobako gives an inside look at how anime is made. The most recent episode reuses art from the first episode. Even bits of the conversation is recycled!
In anime, shows that reuse animation or dialogue do that because they're short staffed, trying to save a buck, or both. Shirobako isn't simply doing that, but instead, the show is making a biting commentary on the state of the industry: How things don't change, how studios save money, and general stagnation.
Here, have a look at stills from website Yaraon:
Some images are slightly different.
Or barely different.
Or exactly the same.
The scene in the first episode shows them getting together after the premiere of the studio's first anime. The 21st episode shows them getting together after the premiere of their second episode.
Because these seems are so similar, what's different becomes even more noticeable, whether it's different beverages or employees who seem to have left the studio.
This episode is done so knowingly and so cleverly, indirectly commenting on a technique studios have used over the years by directly doing it. Smart stuff.
Richard Eisenbeis contributed to this report.