So last week’s cliffhanger is revealed to be a fake out, which is what I’d usually categorise as cheating. I suppose, though, that after the heaviness we’ve just had it’s good to switch into something lighter and softer. Indeed, all of our trio do relatively well this episode, though notably not in any anime roles. This week is about all the non-anime stuff seiyuu have to lend their professional voices to. We’ve seen our seiyuu do commercials or provide narration before, but now we get in-depth into some jobs that take no less, if not more, work than the average anime part.
Do kids still need bedtime stories these days?
A good narrator makes or breaks an audiobook, because that’s really all they are. I used to think that the traditional art of storytelling—as you would hear on radio, or by a campfire—was dying, but with the advent of portable audio devices (your iPod, is what I’m saying) that can store countless narrated books, there seems to be a demand for something of its like again. I have great respect for any in this field, being able to convey the same experience as reading a book for oneself by balancing the voice of the narrator and the voice of the characters.
Ichigo doesn’t seem to be narrating fiction, though, so what she has to do is to strike a balance between a neutral voice and a bored one. From the way it looks, her job is some form of endurance contest. She’s supposed to get through all that text in one day? That’s impressive. I can totally understand if she suffered from temporary dyslexia now and then, or got lost in the text. I suppose it’s better than having to read something incredibly uninteresting though. Imagine having to go through a thousand pages of the history of golf course landscaping or something and having to pretend you’re interested. That’s a circle of seiyuu hell, I’m sure.
Every role Futaba gets dies
I wonder if the Japanese have the same kind of dubs vs subs debate that seem to be the perennial favourite of more ‘serious’ anime crowds in the West (my guess: Japanese nerds are still nerds). Perhaps watching Japanese seiyuu dub some weird cross-genre American movie adds a new perspective to that discussion. Of note is the performance of this week’s cameo, Koyama Rikiya, the beefcake of the voice industry; you would most likely recognise him as Kiritsugu from Fate/Zero (the request corner song has nothing to do with that, though; it’s Eternal Blaze from Nanoha A’s). Last week we talked about professionalism, and here we have an example of a veteran who strives to go above and beyond even when just translating a performance (he even redubs the kissing sounds. How necessary is that, really?). When Futaba puts his example into practice, she does seem to be the better actor for it. Though, it’s always seemed to me that Futaba’s problem was overenthusiasm, but it seems like she’s found a good balance now (not enough to eliminate her self-consciousness, but she’d lose a lot of her dopey charm if it did).
So Futaba’s growth is finally starting to bear fruit, which is quite heartening to watch. In particular, she’s able mix chummily with her seniors now, so perhaps she’s approaching the point where she can call herself a full fledged seiyuu. One of the hazards of being accepted as an industry insider though: spoilers. Having the things you love ruined seems to be the workplace hazard of producing the things you love.
A method in the madness of acting
As for Rin, the lesson she learns is the art of saying lines that completely lack context. Fully voicing games is, I think, a fairly new phenomenon, and it must certainly be the strangest medium to try to give character to. Voicing every mundane observation, voicing all the menu options, voicing the tutorials, are not things any traditional school of acting prepares you for. Having to talk about game mechanics while in character, breaking the fourth wall while trying to maintain its illusion—that’s downright surreal stuff.
Since Rin did come from theatre, the more important lesson is about method acting, or to put less flatteringly, the art of getting punched in the gut so you know how to act like you got punched in the gut. Really, there’s no glamour in it. Since Rin can know no trouble, though, her friends are willing to take the indignity on her behalf. Well, if she can make imaginary assaults work for her, then that’s good! But you know what they say: pain builds character.
So this was a mostly feel-good episode, and was quite enjoyable in its ownway. Halfway through the season, it’s appropriate that we have see some kind of turning point in the growth of our protagonists, especially after the Act 1 climax of last episode. It’s likely just going to be an intermission though before they go into Act 2, where they will have to face a new set of obstacles leading to an even bigger tension spike before the finale. It’s good, tried-and-true pacing, and I’ve so far been quite comfortable with it.
I’ve been ribbing Rin a bit for continuing to be unassailably angelic, and in truth that’s not necessarily a big mark against her. She’s still a perfectly likeable lead, but without a real conflict she’ll end up as the least interesting one. There are some hints that this will not always remain the case, though, perhaps with some trouble involving school. Even if it’s just a mundane work/study balance issue, it’ll still be something. I look forward to seeing if anything comes from that direction.