Depicting the “Person Inside”: Anime about Seiyuus

The summer season of 2015 came with the most curious phenomenon: not one, but two televised anime concerning the profession of voice actors. Granted, there have been characters in other media that are introduced as seiyuus, but none so far have tackled the business of actually being one. Here I will describe the currently airing Sore ga Seiyuu as well as Suzakinishi the Animation which has its origins in the business and culture surrounding the people lending their voices to the characters that animate every game and anime.

sorega

Sore ga Seiyuu is a 4-koma webnovel/doujinshi by the doujin circle Hajimemashite., composed of the artist Hata Kenjirou and writer Asano Masumi(あさのますみ). The anime adaptation is produced by GONZO, with Yokote Michico doing the script composition. Hata is well known as the mangaka for Weekly Shonen Sunday’s Hayate the Combat Butler. Asano Masumi(浅野真澄) is a veteran voice actor who also writes children’s stories and song lyrics as あさのますみ.

Asano Masumi (center)

Asano Masumi (center)

The comic and anime revolves around the lives of novices Ichinose Futaba, Moesaki Ichigo, and Kohana Rin as they progress through their careers. Each episode is basically a lecture on the kinds of jobs seiyuu receive as well its particulars.  Everything from a basic recording session to promotional events is detailed in a short and precise way. Certain events are also based on Asano’s own personal experiences.

seiyuu idol princess Tamura Yukari, 17 years old

seiyuu idol princess Tamura Yukari, 17 years old

Its most notable feature is that it has actual seiyuus appear and voice as themselves, leaving our protagonists star-struck and showing the viewers a comparison between the positions of the veterans and the newbies.

ほーっ、ホアアーッ!! ホアーッ!!

ほーっ、ホアアーッ!! ホアーッ!!

Suzakinishi the Animation is the adaptation of the popular radio series Suzakinishi, hosted by Suzaki Aya and Nishi Asuka.  As an adaptation of a radio show it is possibly the first of its kind. The anime itself is five minutes long, with each episode based on a topic or conversation brought up in the radio series. The characters are Suzaki Aya and Nishi Asuka, voiced by themselves. It plays fast and loose, changing the ages of the two personalities to high schoolers and placing them in the situations and gags from the radio show.

Nishi Asuka and Suzaki Aya

Nishi Asuka and Suzaki Aya

With one show about seiyuu, their industry, and the work they do, and the other based on actual seiyuus and their personalities, the topic of voice actors may seem to have grown considerably large enough to have this form of attention drawn to them. But it is true that seiyuus and the fan culture surrounding them were already popular even ten years ago, with CD and concert ticket sales selling strongly for the major talents as well as the time-honored practice within the anime and game industries of making referential jokes based on a particular actor’s previous roles. So what could possibly be the catalyst for the production of the two series just mentioned?

shirobako may have very well been the first anime to do seiyuu cameos in the 2d flesh

shirobako may have very well been the first anime to do seiyuu cameos in the 2d flesh

The first answer that comes to mind would be the anime SHIROBAKO, a series well regarded as if not the first, then the best ones about the entire animation production process. It just so happens to share a script composer with Sore ga Seiyuu. As an anime about anime large parts of it is about seiyuus, with one of the five main characters representing its field.

suffering

suffering

Its success (already high amount of viewers on TV and online, consistently strong sales of DVDs and Blurays) may have influenced the decision to adapt a web manga/doujinshi, not a traditional medium for such projects (according to Asano herself, the convenience store chain Lawson stepped in early on to sponsor the series). This may also be why Yokote was brought in, as her documentary approach to SHIROBAKO can also be found in Sore ga Seiyuu. Both series have been commented on by other seiyuu as being something they can identify and sympathize with.

One thing to note is that the anime, which is a full length, one cour broadcast attempts to elaborate on the concepts that the original manga is content to leave in the typical 4-koma pattern. Naturally this means a complete adjustment to the form. In the anime the focus is on actual characterization and development over observations and punchlines – the result is drastically different from the web manga.  While the first doujinshi was sold in 2011 the strategy used in the anime virtually makes it SHIROBAKO with seiyuu. Futaba, Ichigo, and Rin represent different “types” of seiyuu the same way the leads in SHIROBAKO represent five different components to anime production. Our main character, Futaba, is introduced talking with her stuffed doll, which will be used as the exact same exposition device as Miyamori’s dolls did.

something deeply disturbing is happening beneath the surface, i just know it

Sore ga Seiyuu! - 01 something deeply disturbing is happening beneath the surface, i just know it

With Suzakinishi the Animation the reason for an adaptation could be in the fact that it is currently one of the most consistent weekly radio programs in terms of listeners each episode as well as both personalities already having several major roles under their belt. As to the actual content… that’s probably left unsaid.

A fact that Suzakinishi will exploit with glee

A fact that Suzakinishi will exploit with glee

I would be hard pressed to call this a “trend” rather than a sort of coincidence that put these two shows in the same season. But it does put the metaphorical spotlight on the people who work, day by day, through their voices within the characters they play. I think the attention’s deserved.

 

GUilty Gear Xrd

Before anything else it is a tradition in the Guilty Circuit to prove their pedigree in the series. In my case I played Reload in an arcade. I used Anji and Venom. That was a long time ago and I did that once or twice before the cabinet disappeared..  A lot of hours were spent in story mode for AC Plus for the PS2. I liked Zappa. Hes cool. Raoh is cool, and strong. I even made a combo video, which should be enough to prove my veteranness. I was banned on Dustloop once. Anyway when Xrd was announced everyone was excited and a year later they got excited again when they could buy it. I was one of those people.  After playing through it and collecting my thoughts I thought it would be cool to write down my concerns and problems with the game so here goes:

1.  Models

The models are nice looking and all but unfortunately for ps3-owning me I am not fully equipped to appreciate it. Nonetheless there is a glaring flaw I’ve found in the models or perhaps the character design in general.  GG characters have some sort of featured text to them in their design like Sol’s FREE or Ky’s HOPE. These always left a strong impression thanks to the guy that draws the portraits. However with the 3d models they have now they have the space needed to plaster them clearly. The problem is that they look like they dont fit. Is it the shading? The coloring? Anyway they look pasted on like car stickers and that sorta sucks. Also people didn’t like Millia’s new design but they’re crazy.

2. YRCs

Did you know they are supposed to be pronounced as “Yerks”? The folks at Arc really love their made up language. Anyway theres a lot of heat over burst oses so my suggestion is to replace this worn out mechanic and bring FRCs “Fercs” back. Just a thought. The blue effect was way cooler looking too.

3. PRCs

Not too many people brought up much steam over this but I think its a problem because I dont want to get any accidental prcs when i try to yrc os

4. Danger Time

This system left players scratching their heads. Just the way its triggered with clashes left me with memories of KOF12. Mortal Kounters are awesome though so leave clashes on their own and make Instant Kill Activation cause danger time instead. Can you imagine that? Too good.

5. Blitz Shield

Or should I say… Slashbacks??? Enough said.

6. This game needs a Turbo option

7. Netplay – the bars still have no relation to any measurement in reality. One day someone will figure out what they really mean. Only then will we have XrdCaster.

8. Elphelt

So glad I got the code for her because I can actually win with her. Also her personality is different between story mode and the battles somehow. plotholes much?

9. Advanced tricks like throw os and jump install are now fully acknowledged and thats kinda interesting but hard to do

10. Throws are strong. Are you looking at this capcom

If you take Sirlin as the head and Mike Z as the tail of Xrd opinions then this could be comparable to the edge…. somethings are bad but also there some good things too. Thats how it works.

In conclusion this game may have strange stuff but maybe it’ll all work out in the end? In the meantime I’ll be grinding for ranks.