Girlish Number takes us to the beach. But of course, this is no laughing matter when our voice actresses need to sell their “personal” side; making this a very expectable entry.
Why the beach, one may ask? The answer is simple – in order to use up the budget, Kuzu-P wants to film a bonus video for the Blu-ray release. He does know how to promote the girls: by showing them in mizugi, just enjoying life, creating a (false) sense of intimacy with the viewer. The tactical – or rather, cynical – aspect is well represented by the mixed reactions: while Chitose is enthusiastic about showing off her cuteness, Shibasaki negotiates the kind of swimsuit she’s ready to wear. At the end, one is happy with the result, while the other calls her face “horrible”. You either roll with the industry’s practices (perhaps one needs a little naivety), or keep your convictions close to yourself. Girlish Number shows that once again, almost with a certain repetitiveness at this point.
They then have fun together; drink, have a pillow fight… it’s a much-needed moment of relaxation and innocence before the industry calls them back.
The episode introduces a new issue related to Momoka. She has an offer to appear in a movie… in which her mother is set to perform. No one is pushing her, but she gives very mixed signals. The issue is probably related to business matters detorting her relationship with her mother. In fact, if one observes her clear tiredness over a man asking for her autograph “so he can have the daughter’s as well”, it’s possible to imagine a struggle to become renowned for who she is rather than “this famous actress’ daughter”. Amid all this, one truth emerges: having successful parents in the same area as oneself is not always a blessing.
Then we have our newcomers passing auditions that last one second (proving they’re still stuck with minor roles), with Chitose failing but enjoying the closing celebrations of her first main role’s anime anyway. There’s the speeches no one cares about, the little lotteries that only give a very tame kind of excitement: in the end, it’s all about seating with your colleagues at the back of the room to quietly enjoy free food and drinks. This is what the whole cast does… to the point of excess: Shibasaki has to be carried home by Chitose who gets told “she has plenty of replacements” by Yae of all people.
And what do we end on? The bar, as usual, where Kuzu-P tells Towada that he’ll be the one in charge of this fiasco of an anime’s second season. Only getting better, right?
And so ends the sixth episode. Once again, the show explores the seiyuu business in its many aspects, now with the less-than-commendable reasoning behind tokuten and issues of recognition. But, through the latter as well as hints at issues between Shibasaki and her mother (she also has a family-related discussion with Koto), and of course Chitose’s ever-present character flaws, we also witness the growing predominance of character-based problems.
At the center of this composite landscape is a consistent tone of “serious humor”: a skeptical look at things that never forgets to touch on serious subjects. Thoroughly amusing reaction faces dance together with shots which linger on meaningful objects or distant looks. But while this typically Watari atmosphere brings everything together, creating a series that feels tightly knit despite its disparate aspects, the issue of “depth” starts materializing. While, six episodes in, the conclusion is positive, one starts feeling that the show must go beyond all this if it is to succeed. So far we have a lot of elements which have all been very successfully introduced: but the show has yet to use them in any sort of more profound exploration. Even the ever-present mockery of the characters’ trade remains relatively light, being more of a gentle parody of some members’ character with sprinkles of greater issues. Whether it provides a more cutting critique of the industry or decides to focus on each character’s issues in the precise context of the seiyuu business (a likelier option), it must move forward with greater urgency and ambition. And Chitose’s future as her first major role ends may just be the needed opportunity. Hopefully the show delivers on the excitement it has successfully built so far.
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