Girlish Number

Title:Girlish Number
gi(a)rlish number
ガーリッシュ ナンバー
Overall:Rent
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Diomedea
SENBONGI Sayaka
Chitose Karasuma has been in the voice actress business for about a year, and has become thoroughly disillusioned with it. She gets little work and little respect, and is convinced that there's something fundamentally wrong with the VA trade. Until, that is, by a fantastic stroke of luck (or is it negligence?) she is suddenly given the primary role in a new anime.

12 episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent Stretch [series:3274#628]
(All episodes watched):

The character designs of Girlish Number reminded me of shows with fluffy, air-headed characters, but fortunately that wasn't the case here. The usual approach that most anime take to idols or VAs is that while the work will be hard, the rewards will be fantastic and completely worth the trouble. What this show seems to have going for it is a touch of dark comedy, and in general a skeptical, sarcastic response to that attitude. While not a bitch, Karasuma has a believably imperfect personality that one can relate to. It has been her somewhat selfish experience that the VA trade is a mess, largely because it hasn't given her everything she wants ASAP (even though she isn't all that great at her work). But she's not completely wrong, as we see when a high level producer and his yes-men decide who should get the lead part in a new anime. VAs in general (but especially the most successful ones) seem to have a good deal of bitterness to them and are not entirely the nice girls that we are usually led to believe. It seemed to me that this was just the sort of anime about VAs that we need, and it looked like fun. It's what happens that largely makes us laugh, rather than jokes the characters tell. Episode one does little more than set up the basic premise, and there was no telling where the story would go from here, but at this point I was already enthusiastic about Girlish Number.

This is a slightly dark comedy because it makes parts of the anime business look like jokes themselves (which is probably accurate). This is no doubt the stuff that goes on behind the scenes of those countless shows which you drop after watching just one episode of. Most shows about VAs show them as good girls who work hard and succeed in an industry that is perfectly respectable even if sometimes a bit odd. here, things are turned upside down somewhat; Karasuma thinks she's much better than she really is, and the people managing the anime she works in are negligent and careless. Her brother/manager has a much more firm grip on reality than she does. It's unclear where the story is going; we have little idea what the climax of the series (if there is one) will involve. No particular problem which Karasuma must solve has crystalized, just her generally mediocre skills, and she doesn't seem to be making much of an effort to improve. In most, if not all, anime about a VA, she'd vow gambare! and double down to become the absolute best, but not here. Instead Karasuma just drifts through the world of a laughably careless and incompetent anime studio. For example, at one point the producer basically gets tired of an important project and just hands it off to his inexperienced assistant. There are really no villains, just fairly realistic characters. For all these reasons, this was my single favorite show of the season.

The story gets more emotional and less comic as it progresses. It dawns on Karasuma that she hasn't been doing a very good job as a VA, and she becomes depressed and anxious about where her career is going. A newcomer is doing a much better job than she is, and that does not bode well for her prospects. The shift from comedy to drama seems to be professional and skillful, and it seems to work. What can Chitose do to turn things around? We want to know. Girlish Number ends in what seemed an odd manner to me. While I wasn't disappointed, there seemed to be no real climax, just life goes on. Something feels missing; is a second season in the works? But if so, I would gladly watch it.

Last updated Sunday, March 05 2017. Created Saturday, November 05 2016.

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