Created By: Wataru Watari
Directed By: Shóta Ihata
Episode Count: 12
Certification: 12 (BBFC)
Format: DVD, Blu-Ray
Licensed By: MVM Entertainment
‘Girlish Number’ follows the lives of five female voice actors, each at different stages of their careers as they all work together on a new anime series – Millennium Princess x Kowloon Overlord. With newcomer Chitose Karasuma surprisingly handpicked by the company’s executives to play the lead role in their new up-coming anime, the challenges begin to pile up as production takes a turn for the worse. What will happen to the show, will it air on time or will it bring about a swift end to the start of Chitose’s career? Also, just how do you record an anime anyway?
‘Girlish Number’ is more of a ‘slice of life’ anime, as the story follows a cast of voice actors as they begin working on a new light novel anime adaptation. We are first introduced to the lively Chitose, who has only been working as a voice actor for the past year and has only gotten roles as ‘bit characters’ thus far. She is a girl full of confidence and positivity, but her personality is far less desirable. With a bit of an ego, Chitose prefers to blame the ‘industry’ for her lack of roles and for everybody overlooking her ‘amazing voice acting talent’. When she gets the opportunity to play her first lead role – by sheer luck, her confidence goes into overdrive as she starts imitating the professionals around her instead of focussing on her performances, etiquette and drive to improve. Although Chitose is the main character, she is also joined by four other voice actresses on the show. With two professional voice actresses by her side in Momoka Sonó and Kazuha Shibasaki, who each deal with surviving in the Industry and dealing with their own personal dilemmas. We also have two other voice actresses in Yae Kugayama and Koto Katakura, who are both trying to make a name for themselves in the industry, with Koto working the longest out of them all. Both girls are honest, hard working actors that love their jobs and have a passion for it. Unlike Chitose, they know where they stand on the career scale and how to interact and show respect to their peers.
This series is ultimately about what it is like to work in the anime industry in Japan, from a voice actors point of view. From starting at the bottom, joining an agency and continuously auditioning for roles. In this show though, due to all the female cast having that cute ‘moe’ look, they were also put together as a group and performed just like Idols would on stage, singing songs from the anime they are working on. I don’t know how normal this is in Japan, but I do recall the cast of K-On and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya doing the same several years back. In this show, the Company Executives use the actresses good looks and cute personas to create a larger fanbase and they tend to focus more on the live shows and fan meets, than the actual production quality of the anime. This series is unique as the story is portraying an inside look into a voice actor’s experience getting and working on a lead role – to the pressure for the production team to meet deadlines and promote their new work on tight budgets.
So throughout the show, each character goes through their own obstacles. Chitose begins to question her talent, learns to deal with negative feedback online and finds out that she will not be the ‘star of the show’ forever as a new talented actress emerges and gets the spotlight. Yae tenderly crosses the boundaries of social etiquette and gains some new friends in her fellow castmates. She’s a shy girl who can also give some harsh truths when needed. Koto has been voice acting for several years now and this anime they are working on, is her biggest gig thus far. Although she is a hardworking individual, she also has her doubts on if she will stay in the industry. Momoka, daughter of a famous Actress and Director, wants to forge her own path with her career but also seeks some more guidance about it from her parents, without having to ask them. Kazuha, perhaps one of the eldest in the group, wishes to work on a serious anime project and also struggles with the pressure to return home to her parents. All of these girls have their own problems happening and whilst working on the show together, they each help one another in some way. The most interesting back story though has to be Chitose’s manager and older brother Gojó, who once had a voice acting career himself but quit soon after a big role. We also have several humorous interactions between the staff, including the director, producer, managers and the unfortunate assistant producer Towada who has to deal with picking up the slack from his reckless boss Kuzu.
This anime has a number of funny moments, but I don’t think there is enough to say it’s a comedy. This show is far more of the ‘slice of life’ genre and instead focuses on telling the individual stories of each character as they each overcome some personal struggles. The biggest one for Chitose, is her attitude towards life and progressing her career. She faces a real turning point towards the end of their second season of ‘Millennium Princess x Kowloon Overlord’, as she witnesses each one of her castmates getting new job offers and her older brother/manager is assigned to a new talent at the company. It’s not too often we get an anime that actually portrays what it is to produce and record a show. This one seems to take it more seriously as we get a sneak peek inside what could be considered the Japanese Voice Acting Industry and an Anime Production Company.
‘Girlish Number’ originally began as a serial novel by Wataru Watari back in 2016. The same author behind My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected. The three volumes of the ‘Girlish Number’ serial novel were never translated into English, and neither was the three volume manga series of the same name that was also released back in 2016. That year was a big hit for the franchise as not only were the books released, but the anime debuted that October, produced by Diomedéa studio. This studio has been around for the past 15 years and has also produced Squid Girl, Campione!, Problem Children Are Coming From Another World, Aren’t They?, Riddle Story of Devil and Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
Bonus Features Include:
- Textless Opening
- Textless Closing
- Inside Show Preview
‘Girlish Number’ is the perfect anime to watch for those that are interested in how anime’s are created from a production point of view, as well as how they are recorded and promoted. I wouldn’t recommend this as a comedy focussed anime, but it is an interesting show nonetheless if you want to get a peek behind the curtain.