Thanasis is a writer, editor, and professional geek. He usually writes about what he thinks he knows about the struggles of studying languages, surviving as a creative soul, and socializing as an extroverted introvert.
Ending Credits for the seiyuu anime Girlish Number. The title, indicative of the mood, sets the premise not for a sequel (even though I can’t really exclude the possibility) but for the rest of Chitose’s life as a voice actor.
Japanese Title: 烏丸千歳と……
In a recent MANGA.TOKYO article we wrote about the dark side of the seiyuu industry. We only approached the matter superficially and mainly focused on how the anime handles the critique and why it criticized the industry in the first place. This final episode approached the issue as it always had: with a gentle touch and a few comedic scenes. It doesn’t explicitly accuse, but it implies enough for the clever viewer to make his own assumptions.
With that in mind, the episode played to its strengths. It gave enough screen time to almost every major character and closed the circle of the story. It started with a reminder that Chitose is not the same person. After an amazing Episode 11, our lovely red-haired protagonist went from irritating brat to self-aware voice actor. She knows that her actions have consequences not only to herself, but also to the people around her, her colleagues and friends. She knows that she is nobody, a speck in the sandstorm of Japanese voice actors, but that doesn’t mean that she is allowed not to try her best. Quite the contrary, the harder she works the best are her chances to act better roles. But she also knows that fame and fortune are not the purpose, but instead a byproduct of hard work, even though her cheer with the rest of the girls in this episode is ‘Let’s make some money, while taking it easy.’ Instead, I felt like the theme of the episode, and possibly of the series, could be summarized in the phrase, ‘Do what you can in the best way you can. You are not unique. But what you create is.’ The meaning of these words was felt not only by the girls, but also from the quite-crazy author, even if a few scenes later he went from enlightened to crazy once again.
We were also reminded that we are human and that we are bothered by similar staff. Shibasaki and Momoka were amateurs themselves once. They reminisce on those days and their first heroine role when they were ‘being spoken about behind your back, only having the most shallow of conversations. All alone despite the other people in the room.’ We must never forget that we are all people with the same emotions. Kindness goes a long way.
This new version of Chitose is evident in her new mantra, ‘Shitty rookie, nobody special, nobody at all.’ You may find it disheartening, but in my eyes it feels liberating. Releasing yourself from the expectation of the fans, of your colleagues, of the world, makes you focus to what is truly important: the work. Or having fun. Or doing the best you can. Chitose probably said it better that me:
For my own sake, I’m going to give it all I have
I don’t want to dwell on the technical details. I never had and I will probably never will. I find myself struggle with them even in the more general series reviews. I’m going to end this recap saying that the creators of the show for their own sake, they gave it all they had and gave us a sweet show with incredible dialogues and seiyuu who were proud to play other seiyuu and that for me was enough.
Low Event Fees: Sometimes, a low fee is ok if you are doing what you love with people you like and you know that you’ll eventually have fun. I want to stress the word sometimes because when low pay becomes the norm then we are talking about exploitation. If I were the girls, I would have probably done the same: accept the low pay and keep hanging out with my friends, but only if there is a good reason to do so. Professionals need to be paid for their work.
Girls Acting: I think it was the first time we saw the girls act all together. Part metaphor for their camaraderie and part closure for the in-anime anime, their acting was indeed great. They have come a long way in just 12 episodes.
Signed Script: The signed script had the actual name of the anime written on it, Girlish Number.
Train Stuffing: I’m sure you’ve heard the stories: Trains in Tokyo are so crowded that there are station staff pushing the people inside. It’s true. The staff responsible for pushing are called ‘pushers’ (押し屋 ) and their work is to push people onto the train at a railway station during the morning and evening rush hours. They were first employed at Shinjuku Station, one of the busiest station in Tokyo. Their earlier name was ‘passenger arrangement staff’ (旅客整理係) and it was staffed by students who worked part-time. Now the pushers are either members of the station or contract workers. The term pusher – oshiya comes from the verb osu (押す) which means ‘push’ and the suffix ya which means ‘line of work.’
Now, as a European male and an introvert, I find it very uncomfortable to stuff myself inside such a train. All the pushing and the lack of personal space makes me scream internally. But for those of you who dare to ride them, know that pushing in Japan is not consider impolite if you adhere to certain rules:
Blu-Ray Bonus: In Japan, every animate and gaming store has its own version of the official disks bundled with a unique bonus to attract customers. You can check this MANGA.TOKYO article on the stores that will sell Shuumatsu no Izetta to see the different bonuses. The best western equivalent is the special edition consoles and games that game stores are selling to attract customers. For instance, in the UK, the game chain store GAME is selling a unique version of the PS4 with Final Fantasy XV decals and bundled with the game and an art book.
Fees: As viewers we are not expected to think about the economic relations between the different companies that make our anime a reality. Girlish Number tried to approach a few of them, and in this last episode we saw that the production company usually pays event participation fees to the actors.
During the very last segment, the girls are sitting for the first time in the same bar that Kuzu, the president, and the rest of the staff are frequenting. They make some harsh comments about the source material (it was shit) the animation (it was shit) until Yae praises the music and the cast as the only light that shone bright in the darkness of this production. Katakura replies:
The standard compliment when there’s nothing to compliment
But the last episode of Girlish Number had many things to compliment on. Great acting, interesting dialogues, and spot-on music. I’m not keen on noticing animation mistakes, but since nothing in particular bothered me much, I have to assume it was good enough, especially for a final episode.
Chitose took us for a ride in the seiyuu industry even in this last episode. I appreciated the fact that the anime stayed true to its theme until the very last moment, and I for one wouldn’t mind having a second season if the author and production company have something new to offer that might even be a little harsher in the critique side. Nevertheless, the episode was light and funny, with enough comments to provide the necessary closure.
Did you like the final episode of Girlish Number? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to check our Winter 2017 episodic reviews and check the Fall 2016 section for our cumulative reviews on all the series we covered in this season.