Girlish number

Girlish number

University student Chitose Karasuma dives into the voice acting industry full of dreams, hope and ambition – but what is the reality that awaits her? Young women with wildly different personalities and backgrounds find themselves friends and competitors at the same time, but may need to join together to find the Dan and fortune they all crave in this entertaining look into the voice acting industry featuring a number of original pop songs.

I am loving these types of anime that give insights into the anime/gaming industries. Through narrative, they show people the process, the people and the quirks – adding a dash of realism to the shiny idealistic career that no doubt many otakus view it as. First we had Shiro Bako, then we had NEW GAME and it would seem that now we have Girlish number to give us an insight into what the voice-acting career is like for newbie seiyuus like Chitose. However, this industry-focused anime sets itself apart from its peers by focusing on the corrupt and negative parts of the industry rather than highlighting the hard work and the satisfaction to be found within it.

Chitose herself is not exactly an endearing main character. She looks down on her fellow colleagues, is jealous and competitive and maintains a lofty demeanour even with her oldest and gentlest friend, Yae. She is always frustrated that all her passion and determination was only leading to mob roles, and this threat to her job security makes her all the more unbearable. It isn’t until a few episodes in that she realises that she isn’t as good as she thinks she is and she tries to pick up tips from her more experienced colleagues Momoka and Kazuha.

To coincide with the Annie’s theme of idol seiyuu, the opening song ‘Bloom’ and the ending credits’ ‘Ima wa Mijikashi Yume Miyu Otome’ are both performed by the five female voice actresses starring in the story.

It was amusing to watch the five would-be seiyuus band together to promote the PV of their new harem show (and wasn’t Chitose infuriated to know that there were four other female leads!). As well as giving us an introduction to new characters, it gives us snapshots of a budding voice actor’s career and decidedly unglamorous it can be at times.

This isn’t an anime that initially comes across as your usual idol-themed show. Instead, it takes a more realistic and no-frills approach to an otherwise hyper-genki, colourful and positive genre. By revealing the real personalities behind the idols, we can see that not all of them are as cute and lively as they may seem to the public.

Chitose soon realises that she has to up her game if she wants to remain on-par with her co-workers and it’s here that her personality progresses from a pompous upstart to someone who really wants to succeed in the industry, and the other characters around her start to change to reflect that. Her voice-over run-throughs with the audio engineers and studio staff also help to showcase the behind-the-scenes elements and the real relationship between producers and seiyuus.

Girlish number may have grabbed my initial interest by its subject matter, but it’s the cocky characters and their fresh attitudes that have me sticking around. The well-timed humour is also a bonus.