Welcome, all, again. I apologize for my long absence, so let’s get right to it! Our subject series this time is Girlish Number, yet another take on working in the anime industry. We’ve been treated to several such shows recently, from the frenetic Shirobako to the rather cute Seiyu’s Life. And while voice acting was just one of the myriad industry components examined in Shirobako, it defines the stories of both Seiyu’s Life and Girlish Number. Both shows specifically follow the career trajectories of three rookie voice actesses, but what a difference attitude makes!
The main character (I simply cannot conceive of her as an actual protagonist!) of Girlish Number is Chitose Karasuma, an aspiring voice actress with just one year in the industry. Managed by her older brother, himself a veteran voice actor, Chitose has been squeaking along with bit parts. Squeaking along, that is, until her brash attitude and willingness to accompany a questionable producer out on the town land her a juicy lead role in an upcoming anime. But whatever that producer’s original designs were for his clueless arm candy, Chitose’s brother Gojo manages to steer things towards work. And that’s good, because this might be the last work that the headstrong Chitose ever gets!
Oh, she’s loud. And she’s definitely confident. Sadly, however, talent seems to be AWOL. As is a little thing called work ethic. Honestly, it’s enough to make people question how she got the job–not a good situation in a cutthroat industry, especially when one innocent misstep has already potentially branded her as a good-time girl. . .Fortunately, she’s sharing her starring role with two more rookies, Yae Kugayama and Koto Katakura, and two seasoned professionals, Momoka Sono and Kazuha Shibasaki. Koto and Yae are more conscious of their inexperience than is Chitose, and make great effort to improve themselves and their performances. Kazuha, meanwhile, is rather stand-offish towards everyone, but Momoka takes an interest in Chitose and actually comes to like her. Sadly, this only feeds Chitose’s vanity and makes her even more unbearable. . .
Maybe that’s what makes this show work–Chitose is that coworker, that acquaintance. We all recognize her from someone whose company we’ve been forced to endure. And the fact that we’re watching it happen this time–rather than living it–allows us to see humor in the situation. That humor is often tongue-in-cheek, with a number of running gags. As just one example, consider this: in an anime series about making a sub-par anime series with shoddy character design, notice how our show’s characters never seem to change their clothes. Sly, but in-your-face all the same. Older viewers such as myself might compare this show (at least in spirit) to All in the Family (1971-1979), with all its self-indulgent rancor and glorious moments of indignation, self-justification, and insults misinterpreted as compliments. Really, this show even begs to be watched in the same fashion: sitting across the whole couch while swilling a cold beer, laughing and scratching as you please. Oh, yeah, it’s that show, so enjoy!
[Parental note: nothing, the show’s fine. But suggested beer-swilling and random uncouth scratching should probably be closely controlled in the presence of children.]