The first series I finished this year, Girlish Number covered an industry I have a ton of passion for: voice acting. Somehow as the year has ticked on, this has been lost in the shuffle, and it carries a serious case for my personal favorite anime of the year. Playing passenger to the roller coaster of a disastrous anime project, the show managed to balance the multitude of personalities and interests the various characters had with phenomenal writing in a way that I’ve never seen in a series as short as it was. No one better showcases the smart writing for the characters than Chitose, whose energy could only be matched by her hubris. While she is certainly a grown brat, there is a lot more how Girlish Number portrays her than that one element. This is true for the entire cast (minor characters included!), as everyone feels incredibly deliberate and developed. In Chitose’s case, there is a slow boiling character development that only gets better as the plot elaborately plays out like something from a movie made by the Coen brothers. Even in a scenario where no one else was a focus in the series, the relationships she builds, burns, and re-establishes make the entire series worth it off of that merit alone.
What’s more than how the characters are multifaceted is how their individual changes and experiences are woven into the madness going on. Everything points towards the anime project the cast is involved in cratering in a messy fashion as the episodes continue on. Throughout botched publicity moves and failed deadlines, we’re taken to fascinating places such as discovering Chitose’s manager and brother Gojō had previous massive success as a voice actor, however he abruptly quit the job. In another case, one of the main voice actresses involved with the fictitious anime project, Kazuha Shibasaki, heads home in the middle of the mess of things to visit her parents. The show does a fantastic job of making the viewer very invested in hearing about these characters and seeing how their experiences affect those closest to them- in the former example, the calm consistent chiding from Gojō towards her sister feels deeper in retrospect to his own career and in the latter case, we get a compelling family drama between Kazuha and her father that ends in such a heartwarming fashion.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway I had from the ridiculously endearing series was how in both small and giant ways, everyone faces a moment in the series where they have to be humbled. It can be as small as calling a parent, taking on the responsibility they really should have in the first place, or (in the most drastic of examples) having to face the facts that they really aren’t that talented and that they need to put in the work to earn the place they were so disillusioned into believing they belonged in. Whereis a show like Shirobako was more about the actual industry and crunch, things definitely are more character driven here with the voice acting industry only being used as a vehicle to deliver said character drama. Maybe it is because it was packed into a busy season right at the tail end of last year, but this is a series that has a special place to me already thanks to how well crafted it is. The biggest thing that would marry me to it? A fantastic dub.
As a quick aside, I wanted to write about a few of my favorite anime I watched this year but haven’t gotten around to due to my work and moving. We’ll be all over the place, but most of the articles coming out in the coming weeks will be from late 2016 and throughout 2017. There won’t be a list of the series I watched this season because after the Spring, it was a really small amount. What you see me write about is just about what I saw. Anyways, I’ll have more news as the New Year approaches. Cheers!