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Girlish Number – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「Bloom」 by Girlish Number

「やさぐれ千歳と腐った業界」 (Yasagure Chitose to Kusatta Gyoukai)
“The Apathetic Chitose and the Rotten Industry”

Girlish Number wasn’t even on my watch list, but here it is now, one of my favourite premieres of the season. It doesn’t help that it’s getting a delayed simulcast, as it’s received little attention compared to other less-worthy titles this fall. I decided to give it a go out of sheer curiosity, and I quickly realised this was a very different show from what it appeared. Girlish Number is the bleak, cynical version of SHIROBAKO. It’s an anime about an aspiring seiyuu that shits on light novel adaptations, pokes fun at otaku, and reminds us how messed up this industry is. I never expected to be one of the more thought-provoking shows this season. I almost can’t believe it’s allowed to exist, but I’m grateful it does. Excluding the sequels of my personal favourite shows, this is perhaps the show I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks and months.

Once you dig beneath the surface, it’s easy to see why there’s more than meets the eye here. This is a multimedia project (anime, radio show, light novels, manga) helmed by none other than Watari Wataru, the author of Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Anyone familiar with his storytelling approach knows that’s he’s blunt, goes against the wave of LN tropes, and essentially writes realistic characters trapped in an anime world. I respected the seriousness of the drama in the 2nd season of SNAFU, and after finding out he’s the original creator of this new project, it makes sense why it was so damn good. He’s back to his usual tricks – essentially running around with his middle fingers up at the industry people who craft his works, telling them they’re all shit while also laughing at fans of such products. He’s not doing all this himself, of course, but is using his characters to show the ugly side of the anime/seiyuu/idol industry while taking the premise seriously. You could class this as one of those SHIROBAKO-inspired anime, but this doesn’t have any of the hope or optimism that SHIROBAKO possessed. Where SHIROBAKO said: “Anime can be tough to make but the struggles are always worth it when we’re chasing our dreams!”, Girlish Number says: “Light novel anime are trash. The producers don’t give a shit about talent. The seiyuu don’t really care about their target audience. We’re all just doing it for the money and the fame!

At the centre of all of this industry drama is aspiring seiyuu, Karasuma Chitose (Senbongi Sayaka), a crafty girl who doesn’t care about the inner workings of becoming a seiyuu, yet still seems determined to succeed (just look at this translated mock interview that was posted on the Girlish Number’s website to get a sense of what she really thinks of her work – it’s hilarious). She’s a relative newcomer and provides plenty of cute and snarky faces throughout this premiere, and as expected from Watari, her dialogue is sharp and she seems more like a real-life girl than an anime caricature. Other noteworthy faces are her brother and manager, Karasuma Gojou (Umehara Yuuichirou), who seems like the most grounded and least cynical member of the cast; Sonou Momoka (Suzuki Eri), who looks every part the blonde-haired tsundere type, but her swift maneuverers and new relationship with Chitose paints her as experienced and skilled; and Shibasaki Kazuha (Oonishi Saori) the actress who apparetnly thinks herself above the idol performances she has to attend as part of her contracts, and doesn’t mince her words with her colleagues.

It’s a colourful cast of characters who look way more typical than they actually are, and I’m compelled to stick around to see where this story will go and what tone it will maintain throughout its run. Will it continue to talk shit about every aspect of the industry that it can, or will it send out a more heartfelt message by the end? I’d rather the former, and I think that’s the more likely option with the staff onboard. The thing that initially got me to watch this episode was the character designs that remind me of Classroom Crisis, but it turns out there’s way more to Girlish Number than I, could have imagined. That said, blogging picks are going to be tough this season and there are currently no plans to cover this on a weekly basis. But I’ll be sticking with it to the end and if no one else offers, I’d be keen to do an END post when it concludes.

October 11, 2016 at 8:28 am
38 comments »
  • October 11, 2016 at 8:38 amCroos

    It’s an anime about an aspiring seiyuu that shits on light novel adaptations, pokes fun at otaku, and reminds us how messed up this industry is.

    Ok Stilts I’m shipping to Samu now.

  • October 11, 2016 at 9:06 amArche

    My favorite debut episode this season. Wonderful character designs and the snarkiness of the script just carried the episode. Learning it’s got Oregairu’s author working on it after watching it is a good bonus. That “interview” is fantastic, by the way

  • October 11, 2016 at 9:21 amMagnAvaloN

    One of the first episodes with the strongest impression this season, indeed. One correction btw, the character design wasn’t done by Classroom Crisis’ Hiro Kanzaki, but Sumie Kinoshita (probably known for her job as Dantalian no Shoka’s character designer). The color palette for this show is considerably more colorful though, similar to the one from OreShura.

    • October 11, 2016 at 9:40 amSamu

      Ah, I see. I wasn’t sure if it was the exact same character designer, but there are some uncanny resemblances between this and Classroom Crisis. That’s the first thing that stood out to me.

      • October 11, 2016 at 9:59 amMagnAvaloN

        The round faces may feel familiar, although the lines and eye details are quite distinct compared to CC’s which had a very generic Hiro Kanzaki feel (like OreImo).

      • October 11, 2016 at 10:17 amMagnAvaloN

        Ah also, the OP for the first episode is titled “Ketsui no Diamond” (credited to “kohaluna”, Momoka & Kazuha’s in-universe unit). “Bloom” will be the series’ actual theme.

  • October 11, 2016 at 9:26 amFabio

    Loved the first episode. :)

  • October 11, 2016 at 9:38 amET

    I fully agree that Chitose doesn’t really fit into any of the stereotypical MC roles like the genki girl or the cutesy ditz,and it’s so refreshing to have such a character as the lead. I’m tempted to call her this season’s Kazuma.

    • October 11, 2016 at 6:28 pmSamu

      Those type of leads are always the best. First we have Kumiko, now Chitose.

  • October 11, 2016 at 9:43 amJeffers

    i like the first episode… where can you find a TROLLING seiyuu? only here in this anime. anyway just like how i followed sore ga seiyuu, i will watch this.. my instinct tells me that there’s some good gem in this anime waiting to be explored.

  • October 11, 2016 at 9:56 amVelvet Scarlantina

    “I’m not saying we should do the idol seiyuu thing, but what if we DID?! How’s that sound?”

    “I’ll be honest with you here, that’s probably worth considering.”

    “Right! I knew you’d see things my way!”

    (…)

    “The title’s pretty much decided, yeah? The details we’ll work on going forward”

    (…)

    “An idol’s gotta be fresh, right?

    (…)

    “Idol? She’ll be doing seiyuu work, though…”

    “Don’t worry about it. As long as she can do events, and is reasonably cute, that’s all you need for an instant idol nowadays!”

    “Yep! Idols: The Next Generation”

    So now we know what transpired when Sunrise conceptualised Love Live

  • October 11, 2016 at 11:19 amHalfDemonInuyasha

    Seeing the girls like this, rather than making them seem unlikable compared to the typical moe blobs we tend to have, it actually adds more charm to them and makes you want to get to know the REAL girls that we’re seeing.

    Also makes you feel strange to think, “Is that how my favorite seiyuu(s) are behind the scenes?” right?

    • October 11, 2016 at 11:30 ammarsh381

      I actually read a few comments about some people not like this show due to the characters not acting like mainstream Moe-blobs and I’m just here laughing going “That’s the point!” It’s like “Oh no! A character isn’t acting like a stereotypical cardboard anime-cut out! Whatever will we do?!!”

      Regardless….holy hell that laugh is contagious. GA HA HA HA HA HAHA!!
      Thank you Samu for writing this because I will admit this show kind of flew under my radar because of the character designs. But I’m sure as hell following this to the very end. Cynical/snarky/self-aware characters have always been my thing.

      • October 11, 2016 at 6:29 pmSamu

        I’m glad my post got your attention! I hadn’t heard much about it before I checked it out either, so hopefully word of mouth can change early expectations of this really good show.

  • October 11, 2016 at 11:34 amomo

    > writes realistic characters trapped in an anime world

    pls.

    I think Wataru is as bad as anyone else he criticizes, and he humbly takes that position in this show (self-deprecation is probably his strongest strength). However I feel like the joke is a lot more poingant if you’re also in on this thing as he is. It would be good to see what the larger anime community thinks of this show if they’re unfamiliar with the seiyuu idol circus.

  • October 11, 2016 at 12:19 pmBirdGang

    So is this our JinTai of the season? Cause cynical biting critical commentary on otaku coming up, ALL i can think of is fucking Mai Nakahara sitting in a corner, speaking in a soft voice shitting on everyone else while quietly ignoring her own flaws.

    If it is -that- kind of cynical, I am so fucking on board.

    • October 11, 2016 at 6:34 pmSamu

      My memory of Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita is foggy, but such a comparison is hardly a bad thing. if it goes in that route, I’ll be happy with that. But what Girlish Number is doing so far is early showing positive signs.

      • October 12, 2016 at 10:40 amBirdGang

        Sounds like my cup of tea then, time to get on board!

  • October 11, 2016 at 1:50 pmWorldwidedepp

    Is this some kind of Prison School revenge 2nd try?

  • October 11, 2016 at 2:16 pmChairs

    It’s snarky for the sake of being snarky, encapsulated within so many layers of irony that it’s just distasteful. A Watari classic.

    This is no critique of the industry nor is it a snide yet critical love letter like Shirobako was and to a lesser extent Sore ga Seiyuu was. Under all the shallow insights into the industry and little jabs of self-fellatory depreciation for oneself, it’s more of another cute girls show with the gimmick that it’s populated by completely self-entitled cunts acting like total bitches to each other.

    And that sounds completely glorious. It’s a satirical comedy and hopefully people don’t take any of the shit said here, which while it may be laden with half-truths since that what satire is, to heart and promptly apply that to the industry as a whole. Realize that Watari himself is a trashy light novel writer as well.

    Hopefully it doesn’t have too much drama in it because going by Yahari’s melodramatic mess, that doesn’t bode well for the future of this show.

    • October 11, 2016 at 6:30 pmSamu

      There’s likely to be drama in order to create tension, that much is a given. Whether it will be romantic or interpersonal we don’t know. I don’t expect any love triangles any time soon, or much seriousness until later on. For now we’re likely to get introduced to plenty of seiyuu and whether they all think the industry as as messed up as Chitose and company believe.

      • October 11, 2016 at 6:50 pmChairs

        As long as the drama is work-related, I’ll be a happy camper. Hell. They could even put in some pillow business in there if they were ballsy enough as long as it wasn’t hamfisted.

        Though I doubt it’d go as far as to delve into the treacherous lines of seiyuu scandals, JAVs, or even yakuza antics unless the show enters the realms of gag satire. Probably just Chitose trying to handle being a main character’s voice actor and maybe butting heads with a few of her fellow co-workers.

  • October 11, 2016 at 4:26 pmstarss

    This’d be great for use as gifs in threads and online conversations about animation politics.

  • October 11, 2016 at 4:47 pmCroos

  • October 11, 2016 at 5:39 pmSetsuna

    Kumiko vs chitose the snarky girl championships

  • October 11, 2016 at 7:11 pmHarua

    • October 12, 2016 at 3:50 pmJon Oscar

      Haha, first thing that came to mind, thanks to the clocwork motif in the logo.

    • October 13, 2016 at 2:19 amKazakiri

      Kind of reminds me of Asuna for some reason…

  • October 11, 2016 at 10:41 pmJuan

    I walked into this expecting another run of the mill moe show which is entertaining but won’t leave an impression. I walked out of it wanting more and quickly sending this to the top of the “Will Watch” list for the season.

  • October 11, 2016 at 11:31 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    Sounds like a show i SHOULD be watching……….but will i?

  • October 11, 2016 at 11:36 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    BTW- serious question. ANYBODY know of a live action japan made movie that Shows the nitty gritty of this industry???? seiyuu’s and mangakas and the reality and seedy-ness “if any” about the whole thing?? a comedy maybe?

    Anyone please?

  • October 12, 2016 at 12:36 amanon

    Chitose is Watashi of our generation.

  • October 13, 2016 at 6:14 amlegwkio

    Man, the SHIROBAKO comp is kinda lofty… Hope it lives up to its inspiration.

    • October 13, 2016 at 7:18 amSamu

      Well, it shares its subject matter but I think the approach and level of cynicism is off the charts compared to SHIROBAKO. They’re bound to be very different tonally.

  • October 13, 2016 at 6:46 amname required

    better than expected

  • October 13, 2016 at 8:09 amwhat

    What, no mention of the Japanese pronunciation based pun that spells out the tone?
    Gi(a)rlish Number = Gaarisshu Nanbaa = Girlish Number = Garish Number

    • October 14, 2016 at 9:14 pmDorian S.

      Wait? They are being GAR?

      Oh well, damn, I’m watching now.

  • October 15, 2016 at 2:15 amChromeNova

    Aha, this opening episode was probably one of the funniest, in a snarky and very cynical kind of way. My thought throughout the whole episode was “everyone is such an ass”, leave it to Watari to write up a story like this. Still, I hope that series doesn’t overdo the whole “industry is shady as hell” angle, and actually has a few characters that actually like what they do and aren’t assholes, otherwise it would get exhausting and even somewhat depressing. It’d be nice if some of the characters become slightly less jaded and more enthusiastic about their job, but still retain their personality.

    Also that ending was great, I love how Chitose doesn’t hesitate to board the S.S bullshit once she discovers her main heroine role and starts becoming super pumped up.