Girlish Number is a strange show. It tries to show the industry from a very different angle from the one we were used to in similar anime like Shirobako. This is not the overly enthusiastic office where everyone tries their best to produce the best result. This is far from the utopian representation of most anime settings. The actors call on diplomacy to keep their hypocritical relationships, schedules are not just tight but impossible, and creative issues are the concern of the few who really care; the rest are here just for the money.
In my review for the first episode I said that I like how Chitose is not the typical heroine. She is arrogant and full of herself. She keeps on checking her name on the anime’s homepage and acting like a big-shot when the only thing she’s done so far for the show is accept the part. Her attitude is almost the same as the arrogant producer duo that gave her the role in the final scene of the first episode. No wonder that she celebrated with them under the disappointed facepalm of her big brother who is doubling as her agent.
I’m different from you no-names now, you no-name!
The creative process almost comes second to everything that concerns the actual production. In a meeting between the producers and the representatives of the creator of the original work, they argue about the anime straying from the original with its adapted character drawings. The producers just want to get the work done and have a PV ready for the hungry fans. After all, they need to make them spend their money and the first part of the promotion is always the PV and the key visual. The two producers who dance on the same rhythm, often uttering words at the same time, are just a caricature of the money-driven individuals that plague the industry. What is going to make us money? Idols? Check. One girl has to have an accent? Check. Harem is selling? Check. And the way that the producers approach everything with a lack of seriousness is amazingly full of a light-hearted despair – ‘How do they get things done’?
Anime is not just about budget and animation quality. It’s about passion.
Chitose is just a part of this whole parade. The only thing she cares about is how she’ll make it to the top. She is not an anime fan, she doesn’t know the people involved in her profession of choice, her classmates didn’t invite her to a get-together, and she talks to her coworkers with a sense of false modesty. She looks down to everyone but herself.
The absurdness of the industry becomes even more obvious during the PV introduction event. The venue is full of eager fans and the five actresses put on their most favorable faces. This is probably the first time that we see them happy and excited, in contrast to the way they looked while they were backstage. Their fake enthusiasm is alarming but expected. Their reactions and answers follow a formulaic template that we generally see in real events.
Even though the interactions between Momoka and Kazuka were full of comments that further enhanced their rivalry, the end of the episode brought us a rare moment of genuine bonding between the three inexperienced protagonists. Chitose, Yae, and our lovely user of Kansai-Ben, Koto, manage to have an interesting kanpai moment. Cute.
Anime PV: During the event, we saw the PV of the new anime in its entirety. It was awful. There was not a single sound effect or dialogue but the theme (I suppose). The animation was sloppy and it seemed like they used rough sketches for most of the scenes. There was even a not-necessary-unless-your-PV-sucks fan-service scene. And when I saw one of the audience member clenching their fist, I thought that the cast was going to be adorned in tomatoes and various vegetables. But no. The audience loved it. A comment to the state of anime today, perhaps?
Opening and Ending Themes: I generally dislike overly cute pop songs. But the opening and ending themes are so in tune with the animation that are kind of catchy. The opening theme is Bloom and the ending theme is Ima wa Mijikashi Yumemiyo Otome. They are both sang by Girlish Number, a band that shares the same name with the anime. The group’s members are Sayaka Senbongi, Kaede Hondo, Yui Ishikawa, Eri Suzuki, and Saori Onishi, the VAs of the main characters.
Themes & Trivia
VA vs CV: Just an observation that you probably already know of: VA is for Voice Actor and is used in the west. In Japan they use CV for Character Voice.
Kansai-ben: 関西弁 (かんさいべん) is a dialect of the Japanese language that is spoken in slightly different ways in the Kansai region’s major prefectures of Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka. Kansai-ben main characteristics are differences in intonation and more relaxed consonants.
Most creative people who are anime fans would kill (I hope not literally) to be in the industry. Most of them (or should I say of us?) who are not in it have a utopic view that generally consists of hard-working people and passionate creators. While these people certainly exist, Girlish Number reminds us that not everything smells of roses and that at its core is like any other industry out there: money-driven.
Do you agree with that? What do you think of the anime industry? Let me know in the comments below.