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.
This was the first episode of Girlish Number that left its sleepyhead protagonist behind and focused on the two pros, Momoka and Shibasaki. Although Chitose and her grumpiness was sorely missed, our little excursion to rural Japan was a pleasant break.
Japanese Title: ねぼすけ千歳と湯煙旅情
Continuing from the last episode, the focus is still on the young seiyuu pro, Momoka, and the aspiring actress, Shibasaki. They, Kuzu, Towada, and the manager whose name I can’t seem to remember or bother to look, travel to Yamagata to apologize to Shibasaki’s father. The apology plays a second role to the development of the episode, and what we get is a Part 2 of last week’s Parent’s Day.
Shibasaki’s father is awkward, just like his daughter. Momoka doesn’t fail to notice the resemblance and mocks her friend more than once. The father – daughter relationship is one we see in many similar plots – the father doesn’t want to show how much he cares about his daughter, and the daughter can’t see past the mask and rebels. That mask, the face we have or choose to wear is the main theme of this week’s episode. According to Japanese tradition, we all wear three masks; the one we show the world, the one we show to friends and family, and the one we show to no one. The episode doesn’t go that far, but instead focuses on the mask that seiyuu are expected to wear in their everyday work responsibilities. Shibasaki first comments on that after seeing Momoka’s easily interact with complete strangers during their Yamagata sightseeing walk. Shibasaki complains about the fake face she has to put to be part of the industry. She is jealous of Momoka and her upbringing in a family of anime professionals. But at the same time Momoka is envious of the little rural town Shibasaki was brought up in, the relationship she has with her parents, and maybe her nobler career aspirations. It’s only natural to be jealous of what we could have had if only we were someone else. But we are not someone else. We are us, and the realization comes to both Momoka and Shibasaki a few scenes before the episode’s conclusion.
My parents were good too, once upon a time
Momoka who had been avoiding her mother, calls her back to tell her that she is going to turn down the big role she was indirectly offered. Their conversation betrays their relationship: they are at the same time family, rivals, and have a senpai-kohai type of bond. But her mother’s considerate comments elevated the ‘family’ status above the rest. At the same time, Shibasaki learns from her mother that her father was not angry because of her indecent behavior, but because he felt that she was not happy doing things that were not helping her achieve her goals. He was in fact quite proud of her ‘loud voice’. He even kept the Blu-ray copies of the anime to watch later. And he is probably a seiyuu fan. I wonder if he has a secret stash of seiyuu magazines under his bed. Not that I know anyone who does that…
Your parents will always be your parents
But, no matter how we appreciate Chitose not being in the episode, there wouldn’t be a series without her fiery personality making a brief but splendid appearance. Why hasn’t Momoka answered her text? She knows that she read it!
Night Scenes: Scenes like these remind me how much I want to travel around Japan. The rural country is beautiful.
Yamagata Accent: Once upon a time, I wrote an article on the seven major Japanese accents. I am not an expert, and my Japanese suck. Yet, the Yamagata accent, part of the Tohoku ben, sounds distinctly different from the standard Tokyo dialect.
Cat Talk: Shibasaki-chan’s cat talk was incredibly cute, but what was even cuter were the meows of the cats. They sounded exactly like the way I sound when I do cat sounds. They must have been done by the series’s seiyuu.
You are plenty cute without having to pretend
Fan-Service: Fan-service seems like a must in most series nowadays. A few boobs here, a festival scene there, some sexual innuendo and a few teared clothes should do the buy-the-blu-ray trick. When I first saw the bath scene, I was not surprised, but I have to admit I felt a little disappointed. Until I saw Kuzu, and then I just laughed and blamed myself for being weak of faith. For a show that mocks common anime practices, this scene was to be expected.
Anime Criticism: Girlish Number doesn’t hide its scorn for certain otaku industry practices, but it makes sure that it hides its opinion behind mild comments and comedic tidbits. This episode though had a comment that was both harsh and true:
This is just more of the same. Mass-produced junk for the pile
A review is not the place for constructive anime criticism (or is it?) but it’s a fact that the last decade had at least 150 anime series per year. And that’s just the series without the specials or the movies. That’s around 40 per season with the average fan watching around 5-15. It’s inevitable that not all of them would be of great quality. It all comes down to the people involved, the budget included, and the purpose behind the production.
Shinjou: This is the name of Shibasaki’s home town in Yamagata Prefecture. The city is as small as Shibasaki presents it, with an estimated population of 38,000. It became a city in 1946, before that being a transportation hub with four railway lines. Even before that, it was part of the Shinjou domain under the Tokugawa shogunate from 1622-1871.
I can’t say I missed Chitose. Even though her presence still lingered through the texts and the messages and the forgotten omiyage, an episode without the red-haired devil was not that bad, actually. Momoka and Shibasaki desperately needed more screen time, and I am glad that they got it, because I think they are way more interesting than the rest of the cast.
Parents will always be parents, and feel-good anime like Girlish Number make sure to remind us through episodes like this one. Back in Tokyo, the girls will need to face the realities of their profession, and yes, Chitose is going to be there to remind us how annoying a self-centered amateur can get.
Did you like the latest episode of Girlish Number? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to read the rest of our episodic reviews!