College student Chitose Karasuma is determined not to do boring things as she enters the adult world. To this end, this bad-mannered beauty barges into a facility that trains would-be voice actors and actresses, somehow landing a job at "Number One Produce," a seiyuu agency managed by her older brother, Gojou. In Chitose's mind, she's poised for greatness, but finds herself at a loss when she continues to only get minor roles. As she clashes with other girls in the agency, including a cunning airhead and a girl with a Kansai accent, Chitose is about to learn that there's more to succeeding in this competitive industry than she imagined.
♪ Rookie seiyuu, availability is first, acting comes in second ♪
Everyone. please meet the cynical sister to Sore ga Seiyuu!, Gi(a)rlish Number!.
Gi(a)rlish Number is another one of those workplace animes like SHIROBAKO or for more precise for this review, Sore ga Seiyuu!, this time it looks at the voice acting, light novel and anime industry through the lens of cynical narcissistic Chitose, in comparison to Sora ga Seiyuu's Futaba Ichinose optimistic ones.
The main group of seiyuu's Chitose Karasuma voiced by Sayaka Senbongi (Koutetsujou no Kabaneri as Mumei, Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku as Claire Kokonoe), Koto Katakura voiced by Yui Ishikawa (Shingeki no Kyojin as Mikasa Ackerman,
Qualidea Code as Canaria Utara, Owari no Seraph as Shigure Yukimi), Yae Kugayama voiced by Kaede Hondo (Handa-kun as Miyoko Kinjou, 91 Days as Luce Lagusa), Kazuha Shibasaki voiced by Saori Oonishi (Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka as Ais Wallenstein, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata as Eriri Spencer Sawamura, Shiougeki no Souma as Hisako Arato) and Momoka Sonou voiced by Eri Suzuki (Amanchu! as Hikari Kohinata, flying witch as Chinatsu Kuramoto, Heavy Object as Milinda Brantini) felt like caricatures as the ACTUAL seiyuu's and their careers, such as Kazuha Shibasaki and Momoka Sonou being some recent veterans into the industry and knows all the pitfalls and perks to the industry (as Eri Suzuki and Saori Oonishi have been in the industry longer just by seeing their voice acting roles) compared to the newbies like Yae and Chitose. Though Chitose's parallel to Sayaka Senbongi a bit with Gi(a)rlish Number actually with Sayaka Senbongi being casted in Koutetsujou no Kabaneri as Mumei (a lead role), similar to her being one of the leads in the in-universe Gi(a)rlish Number plot. Koto Katakura as Yui Ishikawa felt like it was what happened with Yui Ishikawa in Shingeki no Kyojin and her gaining knowledge from the industry from a "hit anime" and that transferred into Yui Ishikawa's character. It's just LA's meta-thoughts about Gi(a)rlish Number and the obvious reasons of LA wondering about the voice acting industry.
Meta-talking aside, LA wants to delve into the characters themselves. Shall we?.
Let's start with Momoka and Kazuha, for the most part they are the sempai's to Yae, Chitose and Koto, they to have some cynicism in the form of their parental issues with being a seiyuu. Momoka and Kazuha have a bit of duality when it comes to their parental issues and becomes a major focus for the both of them. See Momoka's mother is a famous seiyuu and Momoka herself being brought up into the same industry as her, she is effectively put in the shadow of her mother when it comes to Momoka's job as a seiyuu, this contrasts quite well with Kazuha's more resistant parents especially Kazuha's father who dislikes Kazuha being in "fanservicey" acts with her job and wants her to quit, this kind of duality with both Momoka and Kazuha helps develop these characters for the most part and as much as it opens up both Momoka and Kazuha, their personalities are pretty much the same by the end of it. Next is Yae and Koto. Yae doesn't get the best character development with her being a rookie like Koto and Chitose and she effectively becomes the cheerleader to Chitose by her arc and not much else. Koto is the exposition fairy and mild comedic relief and also has the same position as Yae another cheerleader for Chitose. Now with all this Chitose this and that. It's time for Chitose, she is LA's favourite character and pretty much has the last half of the anime to herself along with the shady, don't give a crap Kuzu-P and his name is apt at that. Chitose gains a great deal of character development, all from how she see's the industry, as for her to gain popularity and not caring how she'll do it and quite the narcissistic, cynical behavior to go with it might LA add. Her character development really grows from what would happen if a seiyuu gains popularity but falls from grace quite quickly as the in-universe audience too quickly fades Chitose as a "main lead" from a "shitty anime". Thinking back on it though the circumstances isn't exactly the same, it reminds LA of real life seiyuu's like Yui Kondou to Asami Imai to Mari Nakatsu and hell even Ikumi Hayama who went through something like this fading from popularity after some main leading roles. Really Chitose's development as a rookie seiyuu and her experiences as one isn't all rainbows and easy pickings on the next roles she gets, bringing in the cynicism of the seiyuu industry.
Gi(a)rlish Number also jabs in how the current (as LA writes this review) landscape of light novel adaptations anime are been looked at also with the same cynical look at "anyone can write, but not everyone can act, what good are light novel authors if all they do make hack stories that gets made into anime boom" and very quick jabs at the light novel industry as well as the main anime the Gi(a)rlish Number cast are casted in is a light novel anime with abyssal production values due to...well Kuzu-P, on speaking of which.
Kuzu-P voiced by Kazuya Nakai gets something of a simultaneous character development along with Chitose bringing in the parallels to each other but for Kuzu-P on the producer side, his character development fall from grace and slow gains afterwards is nothing but what happens when a producer only cares about money and not the overall product of the anime and he'll drag EVERYONE one else down just to get his ambitions done with.....he does get "better" with the help of Chitose but only "slightly".
Really both Kuzu-P and Chitose reigns in the statement that yes the seiyuu industry is a rather harsh and brutal industry and that even "wasted potential" from a person with horrible personality can still have the potential to do great, cynical but uplifting for those in this brutal industry that we as the audience especially outside Japan, don't get an honest look at this brutal industry.
In terms of diomedea, the anime is full of moe, however LA will bring up this point about the moe and the cynicism "clashing" with each other. The moe in LA's eyes does NOT clash with the cynicism from the characters, if anything the moe helps highlight the fact that it is using moe which is a prevalent style in the anime industry to appeal to the demographic as being "cute and nothing else" to actually utilizing this same style to show that moe is being manipulative and cynical much like how the characters are being portrayed and their own cynical intentions of the "moe anime industry boom", it's not a detriment or clashes as it makes the point of using moe as their own antithesis to point out the cynical nature of the anime and it's own jabs at it's own industry. Ok with that rant out of the way, the moe aesthetics if anything is pleasing to the eye and the character designer QP;flapper with it's bolder, moe and colorful designs made the character designs overall one of the best things about the animation.
Well LA is gonna talk about voice acting in a voice acting anime, well what can LA say but favourite character = favourite seiyuu, it goes to Sayaka Senbongi as LA really loved Chitose's narcissistic and snarky attitude for the most part and used for all the jabbing at the other characters she did, but also given Sayaka range gave her a chance to do DRAMA at the same time. LA will quite honestly say that the voice cast did a 100% really, from Kaede Hondo to Yui Ishikawa, Eri Suzuki and Saori Oonishi and the more gung-ho characters like Kuzu-P's Kazuya Nakai and Namba Shachou voiced by Kenyuu Horiuchi, the CEO of Number One Produce and even Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as...himself???...huh they pulled a Sore ga Seiyuu with that one. Nonetheless, the voice cast is great in Gi(a)rlish Number and to be expected from an anime about voice acting!
Gi(a)rlish Number is another one of Wataru Watari's (Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru., Qualidea Code) original cynical creations and that blatantly shows, but having a cynical look at an industry that is more or less that is under wraps and hardly told to us about in greater detail but shown in a brutally honest yet cynical side of it's industry through the eyes and manifested in Chitose went through is somewhat refreshing take on the "workplace anime". Gi(a)rlish Number with some odd yet cynically encouraging theme of even a horrible person with a horrible personality wants to be in an dog eat dog industry like being a seiyuu can still have the potential to be a great one if one can apply themselves and move with the flow of the brutal and cynical industry they work in instead of being left behind.
First of all I want to say that I consider this anime not only to be the best of this season (fall 2016) but also to be one of the best I've ever seen! If you like a feel good show about funny characters trying to make it in the world of voice acting than this anime is definitely for you!
Story 10 / 10
The story itself starts out with Chitose who, with the help of her brother / manager, is making her big deput as one of the main characters of a new anime. She's awful at first, but gradually gets better by learning
from her fellow actors / friends.
What struck me as odd when taking a look at the genres after finishing this amazing anime is that the only genre included is "slice of life". The great thing about this anime is not just the interaction between the characters but also the amazing jokes and the drama (that will definitely surprise you since it starts out very mellow and fun).
As I said before this show is a feel good show and one of the best out there! Normally when I watch the last episode of an anime I feel bad since it's over (or relieved when it was awful), but when I watched the last episode of Girlish Number I sat there with a smile on my face, looking back at an incredibly wonderful experience!
The plot itself was amazing but slow moving at times which I'm sure could bother some of you (one of the few flaws this anime had). This is unfortunate as I think that the writers could have spend some of the screen time on more interesting things...
Characters 10 / 10
The characters are AMAZING! Although Chitose was the main character, I felt a connection with every single one of them, especially Kuzu-san, who to me will always be a very memorable character. In fact, I could watch this whole anime again just for Kuzu alone! What I mean by this is that every character was very interesting: I'm sure that for every character, major and minor, a whole new anime could be created, that's how good the character development of this show is. Every character gets enough screen time to make them interesting and at the end of the show they all seem to have made great progress, which leaves you with a very satisfying feeling.
Art 10 / 10
Now this is of course very personal, but when I think of amazing art I think of Girlish Number. It's really colorful, the character design is amazing and the backgrounds were beautiful! Since art is incredibly subjective I'll keep it short: when I think of anime art, this is what I want to see.
Sound 8 / 10
I like the OP theme so much that I'm listening to it right now while I'm typing this! The ED theme is awesome, and the OST of the show is great too. Giving the soundtrack a 10 would be an exaggeration since I can name a few other anime that have a better soundtrack then Girlish Number, but nonetheless the great OP theme and the nice OST still deserve an 8 out of 10.
Enjoyment 10 / 10
If you couldn't guess this score you weren't paying attention while reading this XD
I REALLY enjoyed Girlish Number and loved every minute of it! I will never forget this wonderful anime and to be honest, since I'm finishing up all the anime of this season (fall 2016) I think I'll rewatch this one before Winter 2017 starts to experience these great characters once more!
Overall 10 / 10
For anyone who likes slice of life this is a no-brainer: watch this great anime because I'm sure it'll leave a smile on your face just like it did with me. For the people out there who have little experience with the slice of life genre or aren't really a fan I still recommend this one to you guys. Why? Because this show could change your view on the slice of life genre completely with it's funny cast of characters, beautiful art and great soundtrack!
Overall I rate this anime a 10 out of 10. And as the OP theme song starts playing again I want to thank you guys for reading my review! I hope Girlish Number will leave a smile on your face after you watch the last episode, just like it did with me.
Gi(a)rlish Number is certainly not the anime you think it is. Its sickeningly ideal group photo as the flagship header of the title would lead most seasonal anime consumers to think that the title is nothing other than another skin-deep value-less moe title that does nothing other than behave incessantly saccharine throughout its entire cour. Girlish Number couldn’t be farther from that reality, definitely not with Wataru Watari’s writing credits.
While Watari procrastinates indefinitely on releasing that highly anticipated yet elusive Volume 12 of OreGairu, he’s been keeping himself busy with other works such as Qualidea Code and this season’s Girlish Number. Typically when established writers
deviate from their staple series and comfortable genres there tends to be a noticeable dip in quality; but is that the case with Girlish Number? Does this title fail to reach the heights Wataru’s other titles do? The answer is simple: no.
The first attractive feature of Girlish Number definitely is the cynicism of the characters. The only reason I picked this title up is because of a familiar author, and within five minutes of the first episode, Wataru’s cynical character writing stuck out like a sore thumb, and it was amazing. Every single character in this show is despicable. Petty, jaded, distrustful, two-faced… there aren’t enough descriptors out there to perfectly paint how morally disgusting these characters are, and I find myself hooked. This title is filled with those stupidly beautiful yet equally stupid group of teenage girls peppered in every high school that say “wow girl, you look hot as hell today!” only to think to themselves “I can’t believe this bitch wore that today! What a slut!”
As amusing as that comparison is, it should paint a good picture as for the type of characters there are in Girlish Number. On paper, they are not likeable characters; they’re everything we’re raised not to be like. Yet, because in the real world nobody is as idealistically perfect as they’d like to be, the brutal (and maybe even excessive) honesty of these characters is refreshing and, by extension, likeable.
Though don’t be fooled into thinking this show is some sort of one-trick wonder, with only the cynicism of the characters to justify my score of 7; no, there is far more to it. In fact, the whole cynicism appeal to the show is exploited and frankly dried up by the third to fourth episodes. More than the excessive honesty of the characters, Girlish Number is a show about growth. Growth of character. It’s a huge part of the show, almost everyone in the cast is clearly stagnant at a point in their lives—or rather, careers—and Watari explores the ball and chain that holds them back, as well as what they do to sever them.
The show is set in the Seiyuu industry, a facet of the anime-production industry that while is popularized by the number of idols within it, the specifics of it still remain blurry. And Girlish Number explores that in great depth as well, exposing the disdain held by Seiyuu against Light Novel authors (otherwise known as “people who don’t have the talent to sing, draw or dance trying to cling to the industry”); exposing that nobody cares about the ED song and all the glory is in the OP song; exposing the cutthroat competition to stay active in the voice acting industry, and far more subtleties that are engaging to learn about. It’s also worth mentioning the finesse in which Girlish Number exposes these things, there is no explicit, talking-to-the-viewer breaking the fourth wall exposition nonsense (looking at you Yuri on Ice), nor is there that one dumb character who has to get everything explained to them as a form of exposition. The exposition is nested within the dialogue of the characters and Wataru trusts the audience will be smart enough to pick up on these things.
Furthermore and finally, Girlish Number does a great job of capturing and exploring all the nuances that come when working in any workplace environment. Professionalism, imitation, flattery, achievement, satisfaction, and a lot more concepts are all also explored. Characters who do not take their job seriously, characters who do not work hard and slack off, characters who socially engineer their way into friend circles, characters who find enrichment in their duties—these are all people who you could find, and probably have found, in any working environment. It goes without saying of course, but the occupational hazards that come with being a voice actress/actor are also revealed through the show’s runtime.
The visuals are superb. Vibrant, memorable colours that couldn’t be more appropriate. The sickeningly optimistic colour palette juxtaposes exceptionally well with the inherent cynicism and diluted melancholy present at any given moment.
Girlish Number is perfect for viewers who seek something a little different; it’s not extravagantly unique, but it’s unique enough to be always engaging. The pessimism of the characters is charming, the exploration of an unknown industry absorbing, the nuances of a workplace relatable, and the growth of character heartfelt. It’s a pleasant show, one that highlights Wataru’s character writing and versatility, and one that sheds some long overdue light on a concept and industry that’s so interesting it’ll make you question why something like this wasn’t already made before.
When it comes to anime that give us an 'inside look' into the anime and manga industry, most of them often times give us a very rose-tinted look into how the medium is made rather than the deep dark truth of the arduous, almost slave-like work that goes into making a single anime. So instead of talking about artists or writers like so many other anime do, Gi(a)rlish Number focuses on the one very important aspect that hasn't really cropped up in this bloom of insider anime. Seiyuu.
Story: Our story begins with Karasuma Chitose, a very exuberant and confident rookie seiyuu
who finds great pride in her ability and skills. Wanting to be a strive and become a very popular and very recognized voice actress, she one day is given a heroine role for a harem series known as KuuSure, thus boosting her ego and starts paving the way for her eventual success as a seiyuu. Or does it?
On the outside, Gi(a)rlish Number looks like a flowery look into the anime and manga industry given its cheerful and colorful artstyle, the main plot point being a rookie getting her big break, and the joyful and pleasant OST. But as they say, looks can be deceiving. In truth, Gi(a)rlish Number shows us the pitfalls and struggles of climbing to the top of the Seiyuu world, further emphasized by what happens when anime is poorly produced. These struggles encompass the entire span of the series's runtime and become its main plot points, which is all well and good. But there's one thing that this show suffers from. Subplots.
Mostly focusing on other Seiyuus aside from Chitose and various members of the side cast like the producer, Kuzu, and the author of Kuusure, these subplots mixed into the show produce results that could be argued as lost potential. For a show that tried to create an overarching deconstruction story about a rookie seiyuu and the kind of business the anime industry is, I'm not really quite sure why they decided to try and shove in more stories about other members of its cast. A couple of them worked out, like the ones involving other seiyuus, but the rest were half-assed and incomplete. The show builds up quite a bit of backstory for a variety of cast members, but never pulls them through enough to feel complete or fulfilling. Which honestly is a shame, since a few of them were honestly worth exploring.
Ignoring the middle area of the series where the subplot plague begins, the main story is arguably one of the series's best points for one reason. Character development. Because the show focuses so hard on Chitose and her transition from a rookie to a 'main role' seiyuu, a lot of the runtime is devoted to her change in attitude and her eventual blossom into what can be summarized as a step forward in the right direction.
Gi(a)rlish Number is a tricky little thing. While looking pleasant and jovial on the outside, the show hits the head on the nail to some hard truths and a reality that many people have to face. It's not a completely happy anime, and it doesn't have a happy end, which is something that a lot of insider industry anime don't really show that happens more often than not. Its got a plethora of unfinished subplots, but putting that aside, Gi(a)rlish Number ended up becoming a surprisingly good show that personally, I'm glad to have seen.
+ Great main plot
+ Good character development
+ Good touch of reality (compared to other inside industry anime)
- Too many subplots
Characters: Characters in Gi(a)rlish have a weird love them/hate them vibe about them where you support them in their endeavors in one scene, then possibly hate them in the next.
The biggest contributor to that notion is one of the biggest problems and benefactors of the series, our egg shirt queen, Karasuma Chitose. (Like seriously, that egg shirt though. She has a bunch of those things. What is your wardrobe, Chitose?) I said earlier she was exuberant and confident, right? Let's see what other adjectives can describe her. Narcissistic, overconfident, two-faced, selfish, and stagnant. Did I miss any? No? Ok. While seemingly cute on the outside, Chitose is in fact, an asshole. Her poisonous demeanor consistently plagues the series as the episodes roll by, and her laid-back attitude towards anything work related is so nonchalant that it often clashes with the progression of the story as other characters work to push the project forward while Chitose lies on the couch sifting through forum posts that praise her. But honestly, I think that's why her character works so well with this series. She tells the tale of "Getting what you deserve" and spends the latter half getting meaningful progression in the right direction. She's not special, and the show knows that, ultimately creating a main character whose dream unfortunately have to be shot down and be grounded by reality. Her story feels very real, and that's why personally, I find Chitose to be such a great character.
As for the rest of her Seiyuu co-stars...not so much. There's Kazuha and Momoka, the popular veteran seiyuus who have a subplot devoted to each of them, Koto, who's the veteran who clawed her way to become popular, and Yae, who's just...sort of the moe blob character, actually. Due to the majority of the character development being so focused on Chitose, the rest of the characters ironically have to fight for scraps (even though they're in a much better position in the show) if they want to tell their story or have any kind of personal struggles. As characters, they did their part, and I don't really have any complaints about what they did in the series, but there is a huge gap when compared to what Chitose got.
Karasuma Gojou, Chitose's older brother, is the one member in the side cast that I really wish got more than what he received. Acting as Chitose's manager for the majority of the series, Gojou is introduced very early on with being a Seiyuu who eventually quit and switched over to a managerial position. And they don't tell us why. It's a little detail that bothered me so much throughout watching the series because the show makes a commendable effort to make it sound and seem important without giving much detail as to why there was this sudden switch.
The rest of the supporting cast involves the variety of characters who make up the 'corporate' part of the series. Now this is the section of the cast that I personally really, really hate. Adding another depth of reality to the overall span of this anime, these characters, particularly Kuzu, give us the inside look to the dark side of anime production, where the business of making money becomes a lot more important than fan reception or dedication to the craft. This predominantly exists in the first half of the series, but is still pretty sprinkled in throughout. Their actions speak for their personalities, and begrudgingly, I have to admit is well done despite how loathsome these characters truly were. (I also feel bad for that author. Getting shat on through no fault of his own.)
+ Chitose (She may be a bitch, but goddamn was she well made)
+ Good side characters that contribute to the scope of the series
- Lacking character traits for the majority of the cast
- Subpar subplots hurt characters
Art: Produced by Diomedia, the art for Gi(a)rlish Number is very colorful, crystal-like, and bright. (And reminds me very much of a P.A. works show) Boasting a bright, moe-like art style, the art if both fluid and pleasing to look at, which really contrasts the true nature of the show's content. The characters are nicely designed, the backgrounds are well drawn, and the overall quality is so good that I really have no complaints about the show's aesthetics at all. (Except that one in-series PV that they made for Kuusure, though I'm sure they intentionally made it look like shite.)
+ Great art
Sound: Adding to the illusion of a bright and happy anime is the show's OST, which I must say, has some pretty dark lyrics when you translate them. Both the OP and ED are cheerful, bright, and happy which are pretty good songs to listen to with a bit of catchiness to them. Which is nice. Something memorable is always good.
But I have to give Senbongi Sayaka special commendation. She did a good job voicing Chitose, both encapsulating the shitty voice acting that her character does in the series and the dynamic and egotistical nature that would make you want to punch her in the face because of how awful of a person Chitose is. She's also a rookie with a track record similar to that of her character (which I hope was intentional), and given how well she portrayed Chitose, I hope to see her more in the future.
Personal Enjoyment: Gi(a)rlish Number is a weird anime for me. It's one of those shows I both loved and hated watching, yet still anticipated the next episode for because I wanted to know what was happening next. Personally, I see this show as "The one arc in Shirobako they never did", as Gi(a)rlish Number is about Seiyuus, the one character in Shirobako that they never really touched on. Combined with the scarily realistic nature of the show, Gi(a)rlish Number became that one show that I latched onto, and one of those pleasant surprises (or unpleasant in some cases) that I never thought I would obsess over.
Did I enjoy this anime?
Again, I don't know what to say. Admittedly, with all of the praise I've been singing about this show, it really has become a show that I've come to like. I suppose aside from the obvious aesthetics, the main story and Chitose herself really became parts of the series that I really liked simply because of how grounded in reality her situation really is.
What didn't I like about this anime?
Aside from the obvious asshole characters (yes, even Chitose herself), there really isn't much that I actually hate. Sure the writing hurt to watch at times, but that was mostly because it was stuff that could actually happen.
Would I recommend this anime?
If you're looking for something really out of the ordinary that's also really good, or you're a fan of inside industry anime like Shirobako or Bakuman, then I'd say Gi(a)rlish Number is right up your alley. Just fair warning though. It's not a happy story, almost nothing for our main character goes right, and Chitose can get REALLY annoying REALLY fast. But trust me, if you can get past her initial hubris, you're in for a really unexpected dark horse of a show that had way more than it seemed like it had to offer.
What better way to show how the anime industry works than through anime? Shows about the anime and video game industries are gaining popularity, and feature everything from voice acting to hentai game creation. Hold onto your hats, things are about to get meta over here.