I grew up with and came to love various subcultures including anime. I'm always trying to deepen my knowledge as a freelance writer and hope to convey the appeal of anime to many people.
You may remember Shirobako, the anime that described how an anime is made. The series followed a production studio as it tried to tackle all the obstacles that come with creating a title and having it ready for broadcast.
In 2011, Seiyuu’s Life, written by voice actress Masumi Asano, took the industry magnifying glass and pointed it on the voice actors. Girlish Number took it a step further and criticized the industry by taking a look at its darker side.
’Girlish Number’ Special Event on the 9th April!
Venue: EX THEATER ROPPONGI
Cast: Sayaka Senbongi, Kaede Hondo, Yui Ishikawa, Eri Suzuki, Saori Oonishi et.al.
Don’t miss an application form for the ticket which comes with the 1st volume of BD&DVD♪#Girlis Number pic.twitter.com/gfphMojSn3
— Girlish Number (@gn_staff) 2016October 14
Girlish Number is adapted from a light novel written by Wataru Watari (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU).
Watari knows the industry inside out. He is not only a popular novelist, but he has worked as a staff member for an anime production company. He often appears in anime events with other voice actors, in contrast to the light novelist in his novel who hasn’t found his place in the anime industry yet.
‘My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU’ light novels full 11 volumes and TV anime series BD/DVD volume 1 are both on sale! A special bonus, a brand new Watari’s novel ‘a’ series comes with only the first edition of BD/DVD! pic.twitter.com/VKnxvy3fS7
— Watari Wataru (@watariwataru) 2015年Jun 25
Both Shirobako and Seiyu’s Life avoided showing the negative side of people. Almost everyone was working hard towards completing their goal, and if they didn’t, there was a good reason for it. Even the most hated character would have a change of heart and by the end of the series would help the group to create the anime.
The characters of Girlish Number, however, are far from that ideal representation of the perfect employee. You just have to take a look at the main character, Chitose Karasuma:
・She doesn’t try hard
・She is only concerned with the results
・She always wants to be No.1
・She is lazy and avoids anything that bothers her
・She always blames the others
I bet we all know one or two people like her. Wouldn’t you say that this is closer to the truth than the average anime character we see in most shows? How can a person like Chitose become a voice actor?
It’ll be the final episode next airing!! Wish you all ‘It’s in the bag! Gahaha!’♪
☆Please be aware that it will be on air from 2.38 am on TBS on December 22!
— Girlish Number (@gn_staff) 2016December 15
Girlish Number deals with difficult topics which were avoided in Shirobako. Casting is not always done in completely meritocratic ways, at least not when it comes to talent and voice acting skills. Girlish Number deals with that and with various other topics that have been recently featured in radio shows featuring voice actors.
Even though the criticism was evident in the anime, Watari was still hesitant to expose all the dark secrets of the industry. We shouldn’t forget that this is an anime created by an anime production company and Watari is still an employee. He can’t share everything he knows on face value, and that’s why he gives the hints and expects the viewers to read between the lines. This is a very Japanese things to do and perhaps it’s difficult to understand outside of Japan.
Meanwhile, he brutally butchers light novels, which are mass-produced and forgotten quickly. Perhaps he’s got the understanding of his peers.
The broadcasting of TV anime series ‘Girlish Number’ Epsode 4 has finished. Thanks for watching♪♪
It’ll be on air again on Sun TV on The 28th Friday and Tulip TV/BS-TBS on 29th Saturday. Stay tune!#Girlish Number pic.twitter.com/stuSjGHlNP
— Girlish Number (@gn_staff) 2016年10月27日
In Episode 6 ‘Chitose on the Beach and a Blocked Budget’, Chitose and four other girls have to dress themselves in swimming suits for a fan-service bonuses of the BD and DVD (discs) versions of the anime they are voice acting for. Kazuha Shibasaki, the serious voice actor that seems to have a problem the industry as much as the author has, doesn’t want to expose her flesh for the fans. Voice actors aren’t gravure models or idols, but lately they have been pressured by companies so that they can affect the sales. Discs are the main source of profit for anime titles, and since the majority of viewers are male, companies are using the voice actors to fan-service their way to the charts. Only a few really talented voice actors were able to avoid this recent trend.
’Itadaki ☆ high tension’ has been released today! In stock at many Anime shops and CD shops ♪ Get hold of yours on the way home and get high tension☆
Watch the video⇒https://t.co/mEKUiOuXSZ
— Girlish Number (@gn_staff) 2016年12月14日
The attitude towards anime is different between the five main characters and the newcomer, Nanami Sakuragaoka. There are those who don’t take it seriously and believe that playing a character in an anime that’s failing doesn’t require any extra effort. Others want to tackle every role they get with sincerity and hard work. Some try even harder because they are old and this might be their last chance to hit it big.
In the real world and in any industry, it’s unlikely that every single person in the company is trying their best. Watari’s intention might be to depict this reality in the voice actor industry.
I understand that there are many anime that share similar plots, such as ‘when I peeped a red haired beauty that was changing her clothes, she became furious and challenged me to a duel. She used the magic of fire and was actually a princess. There was a sudden break in…’. It’s natural that many actors are confused between the different roles they take.
Tonight from 23.30 simulcast first 4 episodes back to back online on Niko Nama 【https://t.co/BhbVuSrj11】
☆Revise characters before the simulcast⑦☆
Serious and proud voice actor, Kazuha Shibazaki (cv. Saori Oonishi), Successful and hates roles in light novel adaptations and auxiliary jobs #Girlish Number pic.twitter.com/8BFibQGChk
— Girlish Number (@gn_staff) 2016November 2
Every industry has its secrets. We all have read sensational headlines about these secrets when they are exposed and it would be naive for otaku to believe that our industry is without its problems. I didn’t really expect this anime to reveal all the dark secrets of the anime and voice actor industry. That’s impossible. But it tried to raise awareness, and maybe make us think of what we are watching and how it is made.
Whether the anime will become a huge hit selling loads of its disks with Chisato’s famous laughter ‘It’s in the bag! Gahaha!’, or ends up as another mass-produced failure, we have to wait and see. Until then, you can read the reviews of all the episodes in our Fall 2016 episodic anime list. Thanasis is almost as critical as the author.
— Girlish Number (@gn_staff) 2016November 25