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’s subtle approach on how our vocation sometimes fails to help us discover ourselves, but instead succeeds in subverting us further from that sense of self, created a heavy emotional atmosphere that was reinforced by the, once again, amazing writing and voice acting.
This is my recap of Episode 10 of Girlish Number.
Japanese Title: 闇堕ち千歳と失意のクズ
Matsuoka is probably the manager that Chitose both needs and deserves. There is a certain word in anime terminology that expresses the undying spirit that the protagonists of sports anime have burning in their soul, and Matsuoka is the living embodiment of every sports anime protagonist that came before him. Well, he is not an actual protagonist, nor is he playing in a sports anime, but everything from his attire to the scenes he appeared referenced something from a sports anime, or in my western eyes, a sports movie. He wears sportive clothes, complete with a bandana and a ponytail. All his metaphors are sports-related and all his preaches have something to do with ‘effort’ and ‘hard work’. He is too verbose and too loud, like every good coach (in this case manager) should be. And he expects from Chitose to be as loud and as hard-working. How can one not be overwhelmed by his passion that’s translated in tennis spikes, track-n-field jumps, and a la Karate-Kid and Fist of the North Star sun background silhouettes? When Matsuoka asks Chitose what she thinks she lacks, Chitose, beings cheeky as always, blames the agency for not being serious in selling her. But Matsuoka, or as he likes to be called, Matsu, blames her lack of effort and hard work. The message may come wrapped in comedy, but in the course of the episode, Chitose will take a hard hit in the gut that resulted from that lack of effort and hard work.
The ball always comes suddenly
Sub-manager Matsuoka is not the only person that’s going to play a role in Chitose’s semi-awakening. Nanami Sakuragaoka, the rookie that joined the fictional anime’s cast during the second season, indirectly pushes Chitose to that direction. In an eye-opening scene, the owner of the agency, that happy-go-lucky fool that used to always drink with Kuzu, that cheerful old man that saw the best in every girl and took them by the hand to a journey of fame, the same boss that in the last episode took Chitose’s brother away, finally shows why he is the boss and not some random employee. ‘It’s all business,’ he scolds Gojou when he asks what’s in store for Chitose. ‘If they don’t have prospects then you have to cut them off,’ continues as he reminds the young former seiyuu that being a manager is not similar to being a friend or a parent. Nanami Sakuragaoka is the next Cinderella story that the agency will try to promote, because this world is full of wannabe Cinderellas. Every girl is a potential superstar that’s going to take the industry by storm. And, of course, fill the agency’s bank account with warm bank notes. The episode employs the unknown bartender to calm the storm with a cute scene, but the aftertaste of the realization that this is an industry and the industry’s prime goal is to make money is still bitter.
Gojou finds it difficult to give Chitose a good wake-up call. I don’t know if his own failures are holding him back, but his current indirect approach is not helping. Not that his direct approach helped… Yet, his presence and his past are going to help Chitose more than he ever realized. During an Xmas event, Nanami steals the spotlight from Chitose. Or so she thinks, because if we want to be completely frank, Chitose never had it. A misheard conversation between members of the staff makes Chitose assume that the agency has prepared a live-show birthday surprise for her. We know that this is the case and that’s the moment where the viewers know that this scene is going to end in disappointment. After Nanami’s CD Debut announcement, Chitose feels anger, jealousy, maybe even resentment. And then, resembling a true boxing match, Chitose suffers one psychological hit after the other. Her ‘friends’ hold a surprise party in her dressing room for her birthday. They have a cake and a present and they are all happy and merry and Chitose feels happy and merry as well but she couldn’t possibly… And then come the fans, ‘She’s always so cold’ they admit when she answers their calls. ‘This is the time we change idol’ and as simple as that they become from Chitose-fans to Nanami-fans. What is the driving force between a fan’s adoration? No matter what drives them, the only thing certain is that their love is not unconditional and certainly not lasting.
And just like that, Chitose comes to question her whole existence:
What am I, even?
Doubt. Snow. Moon. Maybe it’s time for Chitose to face the darkness and fight her way to the dawn.
Kuzu: I just realized that I didn’t mention Kuzu at all during the plot recap. Sweet Kuzu. In just a couple of episodes he went from trash Kuzu to sweet Kuzu, just because the writers gave us the necessary backstory we needed. Sweet Kuzu just wanted to feel wanted. He just needed to feel needed. The scene where he talks to Tokawa was so heartwarming that I watched it twice.
After-credits scene: How many times have I told my readers that they should stay for the after-credits scenes? Countless! How many times do I fail to follow my own advice? Countless! I had to go back to the episode and watch the final moments in which Chitose listens to one of her brother’s past recordings. Great scene that added a bit more to Chitose’s road to maturing.
No-Name Recording: In the voice-acting industry, a no-name role refers to the VA jobs that have to do with characters who are not part of the main cast. The random policeman, a guard at the tower, the cute grandma that offers unwanted advice, or in our case in this episode, a random fan or a woman who just happens to stumble upon you while walking.
Adaptations: Most anime series are adaptations from manga, light novels, and video games. Original anime are rare because their sales can’t pay for their production cost. That’s why anime are usually considered part of a title’s promotion. If they are successful enough, they might even get a second (or more) cour.
Christmas Events: Most shows hold Christmas events that range from live concert shows to talk events with members of the cast and the staff. If you are confident in your Japanese, they are many places online that legally stream Japanese television channels, so keep an eye on the official pages of your favorite series for any news on festive shows and events. MANGA.TOKYO regularly reports on such events, so don’t forget to bookmark our homepage!
Fame: The little private party that Chitose’s friends held in the dressing room was a direct contrast to events of the Live Show. Some might argue that the following can exist at the same time, but when one has to choose, what’s more important? The adoration of one’s fans or the love of one’s family and friends?
My lack of voice acting experience makes it hard for me to judge the level of difficulty involved in acting your own profession, but damn this show has some amazing voice acting. Every sentence is acted deliberately and with EFFORT (thanks Matsuoka-san.) I could easily picture Girlish Number as a live-action TV drama. Actually, I wonder if there is a Japanese drama about the anime industry. If you know of any, please leave a comment below!
Matsuoka is a wise sub-manager and we could all benefit from following his advice. I feel that a happy ending is in store for us in Girlish Number, and I can’t wait to see how this cour is going to be concluded.
Did you like the episode? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic reviews!