Girlish Number – Preview
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.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Girlish Number is an unusual show this season as it presents a cynical and raw look at the voice acting side of the anime industry. We see a lot of the first episode through the eyes of our newbie VA, Chitose Karasuma who is a tad naive but gradually learning the ins and outs of the industry and how it all works on not just a professional level but a social one. We get to watch not just her, but others in the industry casually discuss or practice some of the more unorthodox aspects of the industry, like learning how to avoid exchanging contact information with someone you find unappealing, or young and pretty female voice actors manipulated and used to make a quick buck in the idol scene.
Tom: Girlish Number feels, perhaps, more honest a look into the voice acting and subsequent idol business, or maybe even an outright criticism of it. Characters aren’t all enamored with the industry; happy just to be a part of the whole production, but rather put out by fan conventions, feeling like they’ve stepped past the bounds of what their job should require. These characters don’t worship the industry we all enjoy the output of, but rather put up with its demanding and more pop culture exploitative aspects. Girlish Number does, however, have a few aspects that are more perhaps geared towards the audience’s fantasies. Chitose experiences quick and sudden success as she finds herself going from nobody to star by the end of the episode. But even so, this component of Girlish is overshadowed by Girlish Number’s desire to remind us of the pecking order within the industry. Who the stars are, unsavory opinions of writers, producers, and how the whole thing can feel like people simply ‘gloming’ onto others for stardom. It paints the anime industry in the less whimsical, lovely, and fantastic light the fandom generally views it all as, and more akin to the unsavory truth of Hollywood.
Linny: There’s a bunch of interpersonal and work drama, along with daily backbiting and scheming. From less than enamored and jaded senior voice actors, unhappy with being forced to do extra promotional work beyond their actual profession, to co-workers being super sweet to each other while thinking somewhat vicious thoughts the entire time. The latter is something that is a common issue and experience but it feels refreshing and admirable to see it being employed and displayed so freely in an anime filled with cute female characters as others like it generally tend to have the girls be nothing but sugar and spice and everything nice to each other.
Tom: Chitose herself seems very real and honest. She’s someone who was clearly enamored initially with the industry, but has found it’s not all its cracked up to, a lot of the inner workings less glamorous, less enviable than you’d assume. She’s got an attitude to her, and while she can be indeed a bit rude, or childish, she’s a hugely understandable character, and the honesty of her dialogue makes her all the more appealing. Sonou and Shibasaki, the two successful Voice Actresses’ that Chitose has had the fortune of working under, both show two more realistic personalities within the industry. Shibasaki is fed up with the more extraneous tasks and events she has to attend, feeling that Voice Actresses’ job is to perform and not be paraded around for the fans. Sonou is someone who’s managed to work with the flow and hide her less amiable attitude by being the kind of buttery adorable expected of women within the industry. The characters all feel jaded, and while that’s almost certainly not the reality of the industry, it feels a hell of a lot more honest than some of our other animated ‘peeks’ into the industry of late.
Linny: Girlish Number is definitely THE show for those of you jaded or bored by all the cheerful portrayals and want a more realistic and jaded show involving real life elements. Like Tom has already mentioned, Chitose feels very realistic and human, especially watching her frustration and jealousy in the form of rude inner thoughts we’ve all had at one point or the other. Even Momoka Sonou, the most amicable and seemingly friendly member of the cast, is shown to be hiding a sly nature that has figured out exactly how to work through the industry and the people in it. Though she seems to befriend Chitose at the end of the first episode, it is yet to be known what her true intentions are and how she might react now that Chitose has been offered her very own staring role. All this could make for some interesting backstabbing and drama as the show continues.
Tom: Girlish Number is an original property and a solid watch for anyone curious about the inner workings of the anime industry. Girlish Number, despite it’s adorable character designs, isn’t anything like fluffier slice of life anime peering into our favorite Japanese industries like New Game! or Sore Ga Seiyuu! Instead Girlish Number forgoes the adorable moe, the idolization of the industry, and creates characters who feel real and honest, like actual people who have to live in the industry day in and out far past when the glamor and hype have died away. Girlish Number has the possibility to be a true Shirobako for voice acting and idols. For anyone who loved Shirobako for its industry honesty, detail, and insight, Girlish Number is definitely worth a try.
Linny: Do NOT pick up Girlish Number hoping for a moe-tastic look at the voice acting industry. Almost everyone in the cast so far has displayed attitude or appears outright jaded. While it isn’t a depressing show, it isn’t a happy one either. There are definitely some comedic one liners and moments that will make you chuckle but Girlish Number’s greatest strength is how human its characters feel. They behave in ways that the viewers can understand or identify with and makes for a good way to experience the less than ideal side of the anime and voice acting industry. If you’re ready for an honest and even painful look into all that, Girlish Number seems poised to be one of the best.