Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
Girlish Number took a peculiar turn this week and actually made us sympathize for its main character, Chitose. The industry criticism was still there, but it wasn’t as caustic as in the previous two episodes.
Japanese Title: 邪道な千歳と王道展開
We already knew from the first two episodes that Girlish Number was going to be less serious than Shirobako and more serious than New Game! The creation-making scenes are still there, but the series focuses more on the actors than it does to the production. Still, many scenes were dedicated on the way things work in an anime from the voice-acting perspective: The production committee is usually teared in three different cliques. The one representing the production, the one representing the creative, and the one representing the original author. The creative and the original author are usually on each other’s throats while the production uses its manipulative marketing techniques to make sure that the anime will be released and all goals will be met. The key visual, one of the first official poster-like images we get before an anime’s release, is called by Kuzu of the production as a marketing tool.
The rest of the episode was a harsh reality check for Chitose. The title talks of a corrupted Chitose, but what I saw was a Chitose that deluded herself into believed that she already had the talent she needed to become a top-notch actress. She so desperately wanted to be a star that she fooled herself into one. After a series of not-so-subtle hints and a very harsh scolding from her brother, she realizes the bitter truth: she actually sucks. Her acting is stiff and she sounds the same no matter what line she has. She still shows some resistance, but since the episode was about her transformation from someone who is too full of herself to someone realizing that she needs to work to make her dreams come true, that resistance didn’t last but a couple of scenes. She leaves the false courtesy of the first scene behind her and approaches the sound director for advice. She also invites Monoka out to seek her counselling. I was very surprised with Tomoka. She seems that she genuinely wants to help Chitose, showing a very different face from the arrogant and possibly a little braggy child we’ve seen so far.
Chitose has still a long way to go, but at least she went from an amateur who doesn’t know that she doesn’t know to an aspiring artist that knows that she doesn’t know. And that’s the first step to actually learning.
Courtesy: Chitose is so full of herself in the first scene. She believes that just because she’s playing the main character, the seiyuu of the minor characters should greet her. It’s the other way around though and the greeting goes from the inexperienced to the more experienced. I still found it weird that they had to go through the ritual even though they already knew each other.
Behind the Glass: You never know what happens behind the glass. A failure to understand that what you see and hear is not always the most indicative proof of reality makes Chitose unable to understand her own failures. The sound director and the rest of the production are just doing everything they can to move things forward and their ‘ok, that’ll do’ may very well mean ‘wtf, but we can’t do anything else now. Thanks for making us stay so late because you fail as an actor.’
Talent vs Hard Work: Talent is good and a natural ‘knack’ for something certainly helps, but talent alone is not enough for success. There are countless talented people out there who don’t put the work and fail to create something that can make an impact. Ok, I am maybe taking this a little too far here, but the truth is that talent is not enough. You need dedication and perseverance. And you also need to put a lot of hard work in improving yourself. It’s better to believe that you suck at something and constantly strive to be better at it than to believe that you are so perfect that you don’t need to do anything to improve.
The good thing about this kind of industry-themed series is that anyone with an aspiration to become anything that has to do with the creative process can relate to the characters. The eventual success of such a series will ultimately have to do with how well their struggles will be interpreted, but there is something in these stories of artistic people who want to succeed in a world where their creative juices are treated as ways to make people richer. There is a real clash there, between the creator and the marketer, the producer and the author, the musician and the chart numbers. Girlish number is not that serious, but this underlying theme is there.
Chitose’s transformation was a bit abrupt but it didn’t feel out of place. She was going to realize at some point that she needs to work to succeed, and the third episode was as good as any. Since we haven’t had any serious drama until now, I’m guessing that the waves will crush as Chitose is trying to make her dreams a reality.