Seiyu’s Life! – Anime Review
Synopsis: She might be unsure of herself, but Futaba Ichinose is ready to make it as a professional seiyu. She meets Ichigo Moesaki, an actress who won’t stop until she’s an idol. These two rookies are joined by Rin Kohana, already a seasoned professional who made her debut when she was 5, who hopes to have a normal middle school life while working as a professional seiyu. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Seiyu’s Life is essentially the Shirobako of voice acting. For those unfamiliar with Shirobako, both shows are about the lives and careers of girls trying to succeed in different aspects of the anime production business. While Shirobako offered a wide array of girls involved in animation, production, voice acting, script writing, etc, Seiyu’s Life, as the name suggests, focuses solely on the voice acting aspect of the industry. We have three leading ladies, Futaba, Ichigo, and Rin, each with a different personality and backstory as they come together in their quest to become successful voice actors. The show uses its three leads well, helping us get a glimpse of not only the trials and tribulations of voice acting, but the methods and procedures involved in dubbing anime and other vocal industries. Besides being informative, Seiyu also showcases the changes in the girls’ personality and lives as their career progresses. Thus, making for a nice balance of informative and emotional. For anime fans, the show bundles in an unexpected and lovely surprise. It features actual popular voice actors such as Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice actress for Goku of Dragon ball, cast as themselves. So, be sure to have fun and see if you can spot your favourite VAs each episode.
Tom: While the difficulties of breaking into such a harsh industry are much like you’d expect, it’s the little details Seiyu offers that are truly interesting. What is it like working during the recording? What are agencies like? What other jobs do VA’s get roped into besides anime? Those are just some of the details Seiyu’s Life includes as it follows our three girls and their journey up the popularity ladder. It’s not nearly as insightful as Shirobako, however, eventually running through most of its relevant commentary within the first half of the run. Unsurprising as Seiyu’s Life is far more laser focused on this one particular aspect of the greater industry. But the highlight of Seiyuu comes down to its three, well crafted main characters. Each girl is so well rounded as a character, avoiding coming off as walking, talking tropes, that its easy to root and cheer for them episode to episode.
Linny: While Seiyu’s Life has its endearing and educational moments, it definitely has its shortcomings. Compared to Shirobako, it doesn’t go into as much detail about the dubbing process, and a lot of times, the focus is more on the girls’ emotional turmoil over failing at an audition and their tension over trying to better themselves. It also skims over a lot, with some events feeling random or outright forced. For example, the girls go from having just a single sentence or two in an entire anime, to hosting their own radio show, and then onto debuting as idols. While this lets the viewers experience the various aspects and different forms of VA occupations, it also feels like each profession is glazed over and rushed. My biggest gripe though, is the fact that despite rushing, the show still manages to feel slow. It’s not that I’m expecting epic battles or showdowns, but I feel like Seiyu’s Life doesn’t balance its material well in the long run.
Tom: I think the trouble is Seiyu’s Life becomes a bit too obsessed with the pop idol plot line, putting the vast majority of the voice acting on the back burner. More over, the pop idol plot just isn’t meaty enough with the drama, nor is it what we signed up for with a showed called “The life of a voice actor” or, literally translated: “This is a voice actor!” I know voice actresses in Japan often slide over into idol status, but we abandon so much of the voice acting story it hardly feels like a part of the show anymore. Where Seiyu’s Life is strong, however, is its character drama. It does such a great job of evolving all three girls, particularly Futaba, over its thirteen episode run. While she doesn’t really get anywhere career wise, she grows as a person and that’s a big part of the appeal, watching each girl grow into themselves and their burgeoning careers. Unfortunately the ending isn’t terribly satisfying. It’s unmemorable, and comes off like a lame attempt at bucking for a second season, one it never received.
Linny: The show’s main focus is really on the girl’s professional progress and experience, so it feels disappointing when the show ends with the girls back to the daily grind of auditioning. Maybe Seiyu’s Life was trying to portray that instant success doesn’t necessarily happen but it made the progression of the main story feel stunted and incomplete. And while we have been praising the show for being sweet and informational, the truth is that it really doesn’t hold much appeal unless you’re specifically curious about the voice acting business. At best, this show will feel like an average experience, neither terrible nor excellent. If you’re interested in VA cameos, mixed with sprinkles of information , and tons of daily life and emotional roller coasters, this show is worth looking into.
Tom: The trouble stems from its narrow look at Voice Acting, focusing solely on one single aspect of the industry hurt its ability to remain interesting and informative. The character drama and development is great, but it can’t hold up a show that struggles to keep its developments interesting. Ultimately I think Seiyu’s Life is something most anime fans can skip over, save for the die hards who’d like to know a little more behind the scenes about their favorite industry, with some likable leads to follow.
Seiyu’s Life is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.