Girlish Number – Mid Season Review
Note: Due to injury, Linny will be taking a diminished roll through the Mid Season reviews. She will return for the full reviews at the end of the season.
Original Air Dates: October 12th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Chitose Karasuma, a University Student, dives into the voice acting industry, filled with hope, dreams, ambition– but is quickly hit with reality. As she struggles to make her way, garnering only a small role in a new anime series, Chitose stumbles into the other wildly varying personalities and backgrounds of cast and crew, both friends and competitors. However, her life changes when a producer, looking to capitalize on exploiting the anime fandom, decides to use Chitose as a new break out idol sensation to sell a brand new anime adaptation of a popular running Light Novel series.
Mid Season (6 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: People loved Shirobako for the industry insight it afforded, painting a clearer picture of the struggles the creative side of the industry must deal with to deliver the anime both you and I enjoy week to week. But one criticism was its overly optimistic atmosphere. Sure, characters struggled against grueling conditions, but there was no strong sense of the more monitary interests behind the medium, the drive to squeeze fans dry of their dollars and less so in creating something meaningful and enjoyable for consumption. Girlish Number addresses that by presenting a look through a wildly different lens at the creation of the medium we so enjoy.
Chitose is the best character through which to view this more cynical world. For one, she feels real, a girl enticed by the glamor and stardom afforded voice actors and actresses in Japan. She’s someone who has a huge ego with little justification and feels like an honest portrayal of some of the less savory characters present within any artistic industry. But she’s likable. She’s confident, and buckles down when she finally realizes that perhaps she isn’t all she’s cracked up to be. She’s got a snarky bite to her internal dialogue and represents a dose of reality for anyone watching this industry through stary eyed innocence.
Plenty of other characters round out this more cynical look into the anime industry. We meet a mix of voice talent, from Koto, a more standard voice actress prepared to work hard and strive for her dreams. Yae, a more even natured newbie, less self obsessed and more interested in making sure she doesn’t step over her own two feet. There’s also a few experienced individuals, Momoka and Kazuha, who represent wildly different viewpoints into the VA industry: Momoka is someone who found fame through her already talented family, and Kazuha who rose to stardom despite her origins and has become increasingly dissatisfied with the direction of the industry.
Rounding the series off are the less star focused roles, Gojou, Chitose’s brother and talent manager, Kuzu, the shifty producer who’s more interested in “winning” than producing quality content. It’s through these additional characters that Girlish Number both enhances and balances its cynical look at the industry by providing counter points. Not everyone is purely interested in producing cash grabs, but many are forced to work alongside and through that very mindset.
It’s because of these characters portrayal that Girlish Number’s presentation feels so honest and real, delving into the more seedy, less attractive aspects of anime production. Their protrayal may indeed be more cynical than real, but the characters sell us on that idea, doing well to aid in Girlish Number’s less than favorable presentation.
There’s a few places where that portrayal crosses a line and betrays Girlish Number’s perhaps biased origins. Girlish Number is actually based upon a new Light Novel series that just released this past March (while it was originally announced as an original production), and by proxy is essentially written by a Light Novel Author. The series continually harps on how poorly the industry treats Light Novel authors and adaptations, allowing much of its cast to throw the author present within the series under a bus, commenting that they’re mere leeches looking to hang onto an industry they have no talent to be a part of. It’s unclear how much of this is simply self-depricating humor, or perhaps a tainted look into his own personal experiences.
The truth of the industry probably lays somewhere in the middle between Shirobako’s interpretation and Girlish Number’s. But for anyone who found Shirobako’s interpretation a tad bland, more focused on the mechinical ins and outs than outright personal drama, know that Girlish Number is oozing with the later. Girlish Number is less interested in the technical troubles and more so in depicting the conflicting personalities and more financial oriented interests of the industry. It paints a grimmer picture, but a fun one for anyone who enjoys more cynical, grey takes on the underbelly of the creative industry.