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.