2020’s Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, in addition to being a smart commentary on the Japanese animation industry as a whole, provides an excellent (albeit fictional) case study of a classic business dynamic.
They say in business, to run an effective team, you need three people: A hipster, a hacker, and a hustler.
The concept was introduced by Rei Inamoto, the Chief Technology Officer of digital agency AKQA, and it recommends that the leadership of businesses just starting out consist of three people, each with a different domain and a different type of personality.
The Hipster: Tsubame Mizusaki
Mizusaki has a keen sense of character movement, informed by her training in theater. Of the animators in Eizouken, her expertise is people. She’s not quite as technical or intricate as Asakusa, but she has a passion for capturing human motion and emotion in her animations.
The hipster archetype is characterized by excellent aesthetic taste, an eye for style, and a creative vision. They tend to be on the cutting-edge of trends and are often involved in roles tasked with increasing the business’s appeal to potential customers. By their nature, they might exist in a separate social stratum from the hacker or the hustler, but they recognize their value to the team.
Left to their own devices, their ideas might end up technically or financially unfeasible. The hacker exists to regulate the hipster’s creativity to what can actually be done, and the hustler exists to balance the hipster’s value with the company’s resources.
The Hacker: Midori Asakusa
Asakusa has a keen eye for technical detail and an appreciation for minutiae that others might overlook, and she can really get going when she hits her stride. On the creative team behind Eizouken, she leans more toward machines and environments. Her sense of intricacy, however, would cause her to stagnate were it not for the rest of the club.
The hacker archetype is the operational wizard. While perhaps lacking in people skills or management ability, they’re exceptional at the most technical parts of the business and have the know-how to keep all of the essential back-end elements running.
Left to their own devices, the hacker would spend all their time perfecting everything. What results would be over-time, over-budget, and wouldn’t appeal to customers. The hipster exists to interpret the hacker’s brainchild in a way customers can understand. The hustler exists to give the hacker a limit, whether time or resources.
The Hustler: Sayaka Kanamori
Kanamori has no patience for your excuses, doesn’t want to hear your non-sequitur ideas, and knows full well that you can claim you did it for the art only after your work has made enough money for you to survive. She’s the business mind behind Eizouken. She knows what’s necessary to keep the club running. The club owes part of its success to the wheeling and dealing Kanamori does behind the scenes to secure resources.
The hustler is the business expert. They take responsibility for securing and managing resources. Where the hipster’s domain is in appealing to customers, the hustler’s domain is in appealing to other businesses. They come from the world of finance and management, and gain their knowledge of the actual subject matter from the hipster and the hacker.
Without the hipster and hacker, the hustler has nothing to sell and is useless.
Eizouken couldn’t operate without all three members. Without Mizusaki, Asakusa and Kanamori could make intricate and technical anime, but it would lack soul and humanity. Without Asakusa, Mizusaki and Kanamori could make gorgeous character animation, but no worlds for it to take place in. Without Kanamori, Mizusaki and Asakusa couldn’t make any animation at all because they’d run out of resources.
It’s a triangle. The strongest shape. Each corner supports the other two corners and vice-versa. And the relationship between the corners creates bonds that resist external pressure while keeping the structure standing.
Eizouken succeeds not because of one person in it, but because of all of them.