Hearing Vertical had licensed a title called Anime Supremacy!, said to be about three women working in the anime industry, did get my attention; a few thoughts of "it might strike a fine balance of comforting familiarity with, yet fresh differences from, Shirobako" came to mind. It wasn't until I was taking a copy off the shelf in the bookstore, though, that I seemed to really realise, or at least remember, it wasn't a one-shot manga but a translated novel. That did for a few moments have me wondering about all the times I've thought translated-from-Japanese prose not quite sparkling as I've plugged through it; as in other cases, however, the premise was appealing enough I was willing to take a chance.

Most of the novel is organized into three sections, each from the perspective of one of the three main female characters (producer Kayako Arishina, director Hitomi Saito, and animator Kazuna Namisawa) as they work on two different anime series competing to sell the most discs during one three-month season. (I admit it got my attention the simple method of determining "supremacy" I've seen English-language fans focusing on cropped up in the novel; I'd sort of come to hope things could be a bit subtler over in Japan.) As I worked my way through the travails of the characters (Kayako's problem at firstseemed to resolve itself without her having to solve it herself), I did get to wondering what the precise audience the novel had been targeted to was. Had it had some anime-style illustrations, I'd have called it a "light novel" and supposed it meant for dedicated fans; the cover illustrations and the section heading drawings didn't look like that, though, and I did get to wondering about the hypothetical and fabled people in Japan somewhere between "dedicated fans" and "those who steer a safe distance clear of any anime that might demand dedication." The descriptions of the two series did seem "idealized, audience-broadening works"; on the other hand, another series mentioned in passing was said to have its sizeable cast of youthful female characters "slashed" with each other in naughty fanworks, which is familiar in its own way. With that as a side note, though, I did get to thinking there was room to interpret some of the interactions in the novel as blossoming into workplace romance. Perhaps I could answer my questions with a bit of looking; at the same time, though, I did wind up interested in the story.