OP Sequence

OP: 「それが声優!」 (Sore ga Seiyuu!) by Takahashi Rie, Nagaku Yuki, & Kouno Marika

「アフレコ」 (Afureko)

This is probably the best—and funniest—show you weren’t planning to watch. It’s a seiyuu-specific Shirobako with tons of heartwarming laughs. I highly recommend it.

A Seiyuu’s Life

Here’s the basics: Sore ga Seiyuu (Seiyuu’s Life) is the story of three young seiyuu: Ichinose Futaba (Takahashi Rie), Moesaki Ichigo (Nagaku Yuki), and Kohana Rin (Kouno Marika). It’s a doujin work illustrated by Hayate no Gotoku’s Hata Kenjiro, and set in the Hayate no Gotoku world (Rin’s uniform ought to look familiar to some), but it’s a completely separate story which is written by veteran seiyuu Asano Masumi. Those are its bona fides, but the most important question remains: Is it any good?

Yes! This first episode reminded me of some of the lighter episodes of Shirobako, which I hope is enough to get you watching. It mixes three important elements to create its appeal:

1. Iron-clad Industry Experience

Asano Masumi’s seiyuu industry experience is undeniable. This series has the same initial draw as Shirobako, in that it lets us peer behind the curtain and see how our favorite anime get made. Though, in this case, it’s more concentrated—instead of the whole anime production, it focuses on the seiyuu experience, which encompasses more than just recording an episode. There’s a lot of explanation and exposition in this series, but rather than being tiresome (like the first episode of Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Sen’eku), or tolerable but not especially the draw (like the first episode of Rokka no Yuusha), here the explanation is the draw. Little things like Futaba picking clothing that wouldn’t make noise, greeting everyone individually, and suddenly being asked to voice a bit part prove that Sore ga Seiyuu knows its stuff. While in a fantasy series this might be mildly interesting, here it’s really cool because people actually do all this stuff. It’s like learning how a grain thresher works. It’s fun to learn.

1b. Cameos & References

I have to tell you a funny story. While I was watching this episode, I was talking to one of my friends. He’s not usually an anime watcher, but he did watch Dragon Ball Z as a kid, just like every little boy our age in America did. So when I told him about Dragon Ball Super, he watched the first episode. He asked me about Goku and Gohan’s seiyuu, asking if they were voiced by a woman (having grown up on the dubs) … when who should show up on Sore ga Seiyuu? None other than Masako Nozawa herself!

The brilliance of having their characters record what sounds like a Dragon Ball / Neon Genesis Evangelion expy (trope!) the same week as the first episode of the first Dragon Ball TV series in nearly two decades is beautiful. And having the main characters karaoke the Evangelion OP at the end was great too! I don’t expect this to be much into referential humor, but once or twice an episode would not go amiss.

2. Solid Comedy, Outstanding Reaction Faces

The next ingredient is the comedy. Comedy is the most subjective of arts, but I found it really funny! It’s true slice-of-life comedy, finding humor in the little things, but the biggest element I loved was the reaction faces. Especially Futaba’s. She was great! Sure, they’re definitely over the top, but if they tickle your funny bone, it’s worth it. This is probably the area people are most liable to disagree with me, and if the comedy falls flat for you, not watching would be understandable. I could watch hours of these reactions, though.

3. A Heart-Warming Beginner’s Tale

The third special spice is in the main characters themselves. Explanation of the seiyuu industry without a story wouldn’t be a story—it would be a documentary. Here, the story is a simple one, which is good, because I don’t feel like high drama would fit the necessarily mundane world of trying to succeed in one’s chosen career. This is a beginner’s tale, telling of how Futaba, Ichigo, and Rin proceed through the seiyuu industry. That gives us opportunities for character growth over time. From zero to hero is a tried-and-true plot form because it works.

Special Note: Creator Owned Property

This anime is a little different from, to my knowledge, every other anime ever produced (though correct me if I’m wrong there). Rather than having a publisher like every other anime, the Sore ga Seiyuu! source material is a doujinshi. That means that, rather than handing their work over to some multinational corporation and hoping that don’t screw it up, Asano Masumi and Hata Kenjiro have been involved in every step of this anime, collaborating with Gonzo to make it a reality.

As an indie author myself, I think this is incredibly cool! I’ve always respected Japan’s doujinshi culture, because even if it sometimes seems to mainly generate porn, it gives creators (young and old) incredible leeway to tell the stories they want to tell. But usually to make it this big, they have to sell out—and by that I mean sell their rights to a publisher who will all but cut them out of the loop for the adaptation, whether that’s their desire or not. Asano Masumi and Hata Kenjiro managed to leverage their names to get an anime made without all that rigmarole, giving us as closed to their unvarnished view of the adaptation as we’re going to get. Hopefully the only corporate suits that will be involved in this anime will be the ones on the screen, helpfully hinting that Futaba, Ichigo, & Rin will be getting a radio show soon. I can’t wait!

Looking Ahead – Cheer up, Futaba!

Obviously I’m a little hyped on this show, though that’s mainly an outgrowth of most people’s low expectations, and because my abnormally high expectations haven’t been betrayed. This is a solid show so far, easy, fun. I don’t have any current plans to blog it regularly, but I will be watching it, and it will have a slot on the monthly impressions. Until then, enjoy!

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Solid industry knowledge + hilarious reaction faces + a heartwarming beginner’s tale. That’s #soresei’s secret sauce.

Random thoughts:

  • Use the voice of someone with bigger boobs? How… o.O There you go, Ichigo. Do that. I’m sure it will help *shifty eyes*
  • You can tell which ones are the anime characters (instead of cameos) because they’re the one’s with the colorful anime hair.
  • Related: I appreciate that they didn’t try to name all the production people. I know they were more important in Shirobako, and I generally remembered who everyone was, but I never really remembered the names to most of the characters.
  • This guy needs to be punched. What’s the use in putting her down? Discourage an artist, and you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.
  • So far, Futaba’s problem is that’s she’s too much in her own way. But she decided to go for her craziest dream, to make a difficult job search worth it. I like her : )

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: How to save Twitter, The secret to enjoying a long life, Story Review: Mad Max Fury Road, and How to not get butthurt when others insult stories you love.


ED Sequence

ED: 「あなたのお耳にプラグイン!」 (Anata no Omimi ni Plug In!) by Takahashi Rie, Nagaku Yuki, & Kouno Marika


  1. Like many out there, I wasn’t planning on watching this originally. Don’t make that mistake! Watch this! It’s so rewarding when something exceeds your expectations, and Sore ga Seiyuu did just that. Stilts pretty much goes over why it was such a good first episode. Now I’m hyped for more~

  2. Hm. So Nagato Yuki has now infiltrated the seiyuu-verse now…lol

    This was a pretty good first episode. I specifically liked the dubbing and mix related parts in Shirobako, so this show is a nice surprise for me. I wasn’t sure how in-depth they would go, but it seems like they really are showing us a good representation of what it’s like to be a seiyuu.

    It’s really interesting to see how they go about dubbing though. Getting everyone acting together while recording their lines really creates the scene better than recording everyone’s line separately. Of course, it can be a nightmare trying to dig lines from different characters that way, but I feel like this is how Japan tends to have better voice acting than you see in English dubs. A similar method can be seen in the mo-cap sessions for the Uncharted games and The Last of Us. They actually record the on set dialogue from the mo-cap sessions so that the actors and actresses can actually act (and part of it is so the artists can have visual information on how to animate their faces).

  3. Its shirobako (a hidden gem in its season), the seiyuu version!!! Interestingly enough this was listed as moderately low. Talk about WRONG judging of the book basing from its cover. (trailer)

    1. I use your Shirobako reference, in where i see a similar person that fit our MC here:

      (oh no Pictures here on RC of her)

      Well, she reminds me of the Production helper, when they hired for the 2nd Anime they are producing. Yes this “Office Lady” that want to do something productive with her time, and got lost when her Handy run out of Power. Both had nearly the same reason to enter the Anime/Seiyuu industry

      1. LOL, that’s a large part of why I decided to watch this too. When I saw thison the Season Preview I imagined the Gonzo of 2015 as being a zombie studio of sorts. Probably outsources most of the animation to China or something and “assembles” everything in Japan with a bare-bones crew of cheap independent contractors…

      2. That may be so, Zen—and not without precedent; I’m pretty sure Disney did that for many years way back in the day, which is kind of how a lot of anime studios got started—but it’s working! It’s working! MUAHAHAHAHA!

        And no one is as smug as me, Passerby. Unless this crashes and burns. In which case, no one will be more depressed than me.

      3. @Stilts, so far, reviews and comments in various sites and forum boards has been incredibly positive, mainly on the point that voice acting is pretty much more technical and “secretive” than the making of the animation itself and watchers are interested to know more about the incredible seiyuu’s “ability to give life” to hand drawn characters.

        so the chance of this anime to crash and burn is pretty much well, SLIM. so as to your SMUG, 😀 you can keep it going, AND I AM JOINING YOUR SMUG PARTY. 😛

        — teach me your “I told you so” dance once you are done hahaha ^_^

    1. Ahh, that’s why my Guts was telling me “This Song, you know It!” but my Brain “I am Sorry, but i can not remember it, the Drawer that was used for this, was taken for another things!”

      I find it okay 🙂

  4. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, and the first episode did NOT disappoint! I’m not so familiar with the individual seiyuu involved, but I’ve been reading Hata’s manga forever it seems, and I love his comedy touches. (And how he can troll everyone on command.)

    Should be a great little summer series!

  5. Heh I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the Evangelion opening. Well even if the show won’t be covered, I’m glad to see it got some recognition. Thanks for the time you took Stilts.

  6. If this is set in the same universe as Hayate no Gotoku, here’s hoping for some cameos. I’m definitely following this since I’ve always been fascinated by seiyuu work. This episode showed some interesting things about the job too. I didn’t know that when recording for an episode, the seiyuus would do it continuously where one would say his/her lines, and right after another seiyuu almost immediately takes over the mic. If that’s the case screqing up a line will really cause big delays. It’s a bit different compared to Western style voice acting where the seiyuus have their own individual sessions and they don’t have video accompaniment. I now have more respect for Hayami Saori in Inou-Battle where they say she did Hatoko’s famous rant in just one take.


    That Evangelion song came out of nowhere. Maybe they’re going to have a different song every week since it’s a request corner. Looking forward to seeing what other songs they’re going to put in, not to mention other famous seiyuus might come in.

    1. Wait, the Inou-Battle rant was done in one unrehearsed take!? (You don’t have to confirm it, I just googled it and found plenty of confirmation.)

      I already gave her the Best Seiyuu reward last year, but I didn’t realize she did that all in one take. Wow. She’s good.

      I don’t think screwing up usually causes too many delays. They seem to make them do it all pretty rapid fire, so not a big deal. And I bet if someone is really having trouble (or has become a problem, or isn’t there), they would figure out how to get their recording another time. It is a cool way to do it, though; feels more conducive to acting, to me.

      1. Listening to that rant never fails to impress. Not only did it have to be continuous, but Hayami-san had to deliver that rant with an increasing degree of anger and frustration, and then finish with a loud barrage of “I don’t understand,” while crying her lungs out. I can only imagine she practiced for hours or even days, and during that one recording session for Inou-Battle a lot of jaws dropped while Hayami-san was talking.

        And yeah that’s the term I was looking for. The way that recording session in Sore ga Seiyuu went was pretty rapid fire. I mean the seiyuus had to be ready when their scene was coming up and had to match the timing of the anime footage. I just thought if they recorded anime that continuously they must be on a strict schedule and expect no cause for delays, like blowing your lines. I guess I was reminded by Shirobako where Musashino Animation was really struggling to meet their deadlines. Then again from the looks of this episode, it didn’t seem like they’re experiencing any unexpected crisis that they need to rush things (all the staff were pretty relaxed).

        Also if you mean how the rapid fire style of voice recording is more akin to acting, then yeah I see what you mean there. Since the seiyuus watch a scene that plays continuously while they record, it does feel like they themselves are acting out the scene. The seiyuus can already see how their characters move and act, so they just need to bring them to life with their voice.

      2. here’s more to it based on a posted “rumor” (i brand it as rumor because its too funny to be true) in a japanese BBS (not 4chan jp) last year — TL’d from nihongo:

        it says that after the said take, [hayami-san immediately went out of the WINK2 studio literally crying and continues the rant at okamoto-kun when he went to comfort hayami-san. hayami-san then said to okamoto-kun “i don’t understand why i am crying!” then she laughed.]

      3. @Jeffers – Wow that is interesting, and funny too. And actually I wouldn’t be surprised if it really happened. Hayami-san probably got so immersed in that rant that she still felt she was Hatoko when it was finished. And if it was a just rumor, it’s still pretty funny to know. Who knows, maybe they just exaggerated her running out of the studio.

      4. I very much doubt Hayami-san thought she was Hatoko. When you have a character like that, when they’re inside your head and you connect to them and you’re giving them voice, you don’t forget who you are. Not unless there’s a purpose to it (i.e. you’re still in the scene). You can very much get lost in the feeling, though.

        She was upset at Okamoto-kun (who voiced Andou) for Hatako’s sake, not her own. Those two things explain why she purportedly was laughing and confused—she was lost in the feeling, but knew she was getting upset over what was happening to a fictional character that was not her.

        Either way, flippin’ impressive. Hayami-san saikyou!

      5. That makes sense. I was thinking of method acting so I thought Hayami-san might have gotten too in character. Then again I’m sure if there was a time a voice actor got too into character.

  7. Is it possible for a gaijin to become a seiyuu for anime?
    I’m sure they could use a seiyuu that speaks perfect English instead of the usual butcherers of the language.
    Seriously, every time a American/British character speaks broken English, it gets super cringeworthy.

    1. Seriously, they need someone that sounds tough, strong, and dominating for the male characters, instead of the usual effeminate japanese boys that try to sound tough and angry but only come across as whining emo’s.

    2. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha is famous for using fluent speakers for its Intelligent Devices (Ex: Donna Burke, an Aussie, voices Raising Heart). There have been a few other examples as well.

      If a foreigner were looking to go in and take Japanese-speaking roles, though? I know Sarah Emi Birdcutt, who is half-Australian and half-Japanese, has gotten some serious hate, even though she’s totally fluent and was born in Japan. If a pale, blond, foreign-ass motherfucker like me walked in and tried to get jobs voicing characters speaking Japanese, I doubt it would matter if I was the most fluent sonofagun in the world, and had a certificate from Jesus that I was the best voice actor who ever lived. Alas, I would expect them to get marginalized faster than a black woman in Hollywood.

      Doesn’t mean it’s not possible, though. Of course it’s possible. Just not likely. If they need a manly male character, they just call Wakamoto Norio, Nakata Jouji, or Sugita Tomokazu. So at least there are options.

      1. I suddenly remembered an episode of Ika Musume (I think it was season 2) where Cindy Campbell was supposed to teach Eiko English, and when Cindy was speaking in English it was really fluent. The one who did Cindy’s English voice is someone named Ema Kokubun and this was her only credited role. I’m not sure if she’s a foreigner or native Japanese, but if she is Japanese her English was good.

    3. in first Place, their English speaking VA’s, is directed on the Home market. With other Words, there is no use if the VA speak to perfect English, if the Target Audience not understand it. So to much Perfect intention is overload. Or an English VA with “heavy” Nippon dialect

      If they want better English Seiyuu’s then i think they want to bring it out outside Japan

      This is my opinion

      1. True. A better example is Kiniro Mosaic, where the English is admirably well done (Tanaka Manami (Alice), Touyama Nao (Karen), and other characters who were expected to speak English all apparently took a lot of extra lessons, so they could do so well), but still clearly spoken by Japanese people acting like they’re English, rather than actual native English speakers. That’s fine, though, to me—they tried, and did pretty good (Tanaka Manami better than Touyama Nao, admittedly…), and that counts for a lot.

        But that’s from a native English speaker’s point of view. From most Japanese viewers? It was probably authentic enough English that they needed the subtitles to understand what was being said. It served its purpose, so it was good enough. Only a rare few shows will take the extra step to get it really right.

      2. Well, in the end it is also a “Money” Budget think. Is the English Pro VA to be the Main Caste? Do the Viewers know him? Do we risk to bring in a totally Newbie or trust we more some veteran Seiyuu’s with good English tongue?

        So under the Light, it is also the Money that pull the strings

      3. If you want a Shirobako reverence:

        When they where to find the VA’s for their 2nd Anime, the discussion with the Producer and Editor in the room. That’s a good Base. Sometimes it is experience, exceptions of the Fans and luck

  8. Good for the Show (and to give them encourage) they build in some Veteran Seiyuu’s. To give them tips and such. But remember these veteran sensei can only show them the Doors, walking through they must go alone. No Veterans holding their hands…

  9. I wish they’d stop selling these shows on cute girls as the supposed main draw, because if not for this review, I’d have passed on this based on the promo material that looked like some typical all cute, no substance shit that’s in serious oversupply these days.

  10. This is very good. Heck, Hata can literally quit Hayate no Gotoku and just start this as his new series if he felt like it. (DONT, I’m just saying, but DONT quit Hayate just yet)

    I felt like I was watching bakuman with more moe female main cast or something


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