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Girlish Number is another of a number of recent anime titles that attempt to believably explore an element of the anime industry, in this case work as a seiyuu. Whereas titles like Shirobako and Seiyu's Life paint a more optimistic mood of the developments of their lead characters within the anime industry, Girlish Number opts for a more realistic look at things in its focus on our main lead and struggling seiyuu, Chitose. While a struggling seiyuu in the same vain as Seiyu's Life's Futaba, Chitose sports a more cynical outlook on her present situation as she is struggling to get a breakthrough role and while putting on the public persona of a highly confident and energetic person, her private persona is not so appealing as her brother/ manager often has to put up with. In addition, Chitose also has to face the limitations of her talents in voice acting when she struggles with a main role that she is able to land for an anime production, has to put up with the high pressures that the industry put on seiyuu like herself with looks and talent, and has to deal with harsh criticisms from fans of the anime she is cast in. Outside of Chitose's struggles, the series also believably looks into the not so appealing aspects of anime production as meddling from production management, a source material's creator having little to no say in the production of their work, production delays, milking marketing gimmicks, and not making a faithful adaptation of the source material are common issues that can come up with anime production and this is an occurrence with the anime that Chitose stars in. |
Outside of the realistic lens it paints on the anime industry, Girlish Number also takes the time to get into the heads of its major characters to see how the realities of the industry effect them. With Chitose, the series delves into her cynical outlook on her situation and how it affects her relationship with her manager/ brother, who had his own past successes within the industry. Chitose's co-stars also get their focus with each being at different stages of life with some having difficulties with their families due to focusing on their seiyuu careers and seeing the anime production they are involved with as either a major stepping stone for their careers in the anime industry or a "make it or break it" opportunity.
Overall, Girlish Number offers a rather solid and realistic focus on the anime industry by exploring the less glamorous elements of working in production and being a seiyuu. If you have enjoyed titles like Shirobako that offer a grounded focus on elements of the anime industry, you are likely to get as much enjoyment out of seeing Girlish Number.
Last updated Monday, July 17 2017. Created Monday, July 17 2017.
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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.