Remember Shirobako, a show about ‘how anime is made’? Remember how retards, probably like yourself, believed it to be anything remotely accurate even at least halfway being true? Well, it’s not, Shirobako is a tasteless cash-in on otaku and a blatant attempt at propaganda to get more employees into the business (as many people are unhappy with their positions, they need replacements often for lower rungs) both in the writing and in the godawful attempt at pretending every production studio is fully staffed with busty slutty women and girls in goth-loli outfits all of these of course looking really fucking good and everyone wildly running around excitedly trying their best to finish the episode that airs in…10 minutes. Nearly everything in the show is wildly inaccurate to actual anime production – much more than just “it’s not full of cute girls in gothic lolita outfits”, which is a real shame as it was a great concept originally. How do I know it’s so inaccurate? Because I’ve followed the ins and outs of the industry and production of shows for almost 20 years now. Why bring all this up? Because, Sore ga Seiyuu is the complete opposite.
While this deals only with one large aspect of anime and game production, it’s actually very accurate in its depiction of the career path. I’ve bitched about Shirobako enough times in the past and so I won’t waste more time in this review doing it – but it needed to be said. If you have an actual interest in the production of anime this might not be on that specific job, but it’ll show you one of the aspects in a pretty realistic light. I mean there are ‘anime’ things about it like the girls having strange colored hair and not looking ugly as possible, but they do look plain and also dress plainly because the job requires it and such.
Not only does it cover working on anime though, the show surprisingly does a great job showcasing essentially EVERY JOB a seiyuu in Japan could end up working on as well as reminding you of the fact that most seiyuu DO try working every one of those jobs and even a side job because the pay just isn’t that great unless you’re in the very small percentage that has nonstop roles lined up…even then, that stops eventually once you hit a certain peak or age, then you’re screwed and back to working at Lawson’s part time so you can afford to pay your bills.
We start off with anime and video games, then move into radio, drama cds, audio books, dubbing over foreign films, doing commercial and news-segment voice over, idol-seiyuu, and even the various events any number of these jobs comes with. With a few exceptions almost all of these get at least one full episode focusing on them and how that job is unique compared to the others. The only thing they don’t really cover is working on eroge or hentai, as these days that’s luckily not a prerequisite for working in the industry as it once essentially was. Not only do we get all that, we even get a whole episode (and various bits throughout the series) about the job of a seiyuu manager.
The best part of it is how it’s shown to us, not only the accuracy but in the overall presentation. The main cast, including that manager, are all new to this (one has had some experience, but nothing big) so the show can explain things without feeling awkward about it. At the same time it also provides a way for you to really care about these seiyuu and want them to succeed – not just due to them being likable characters, but because the actual seiyuu who voiced them are ALSO new seiyuu in real life. On the opposite end of that, almost every episode introduces us to a real world professional seiyuu who shows up in anime form working alongside one of our characters. It was interesting and always fun to see someone you’re familiar with (most of them are very well known), let alone see their cute semi-accurate anime form and, presumably, see how they are as people.
While I do love the accuracy to the job in terms of what you’ll be doing, how it’s done, who you work with, how you prepare, and so on – the thing I love most about what the show does is probably the fact that the show felt very neutral about it all. It never tries painting the job in some glowing light, actually it does the opposite and makes it look like thankless work that you’re constantly stuck doing menial unrelated shit for just to get any job at all, and even then only getting them rarely. Having to live wondering if you have enough cash to pay the electric bill or for groceries and sometimes not being able to afford basic things like that even if you’re a fairly known seiyuu let alone a newbie. Having to go in to work to just stand there until closing so people recognize you and learn your name. Of course also just dealing with a lot of shit while working multiple part time jobs on the side and having to act happy and friendly at all times. The risk of sickness and the massive impact that can have on your ability to do your job, even if it means getting a risky invasive surgery. Knowing that at any point in time you could end up with simply no more work.
It’s a career first and foremost, it’s not a magical happy fun job – but at the same time the show makes it clear that because of how demanding, low paying, and sporadic the job is you have to really love the field to work in it which reminds you that pretty much all seiyuu truly do love their jobs. It was a very cheesy line, but the entire theme of the show was stated pretty well by one of the side characters to the lead, and I’m paraphrasing but basically “Being a seiyuu is not a dream job, the dream is what we work to give to the audience”. Essentially saying the job blows but if you love it and care about it and want to give something to others then it’s definitely worth the hardship and effort, but that the hardship and effort are definitely there and will not go away.
It doesn’t try to make things look bleak, nor does it try to make them look positive and encourage you to work in the industry. It just shows you what it promised before – the life of a typical seiyuu as well as some peaks into various sub-cultures within the job (such as idol-seiyuu). It’s got the ups, the downs, the good and the bad, and the overlying message of “do not do this if you don’t have your heart in it”. While seiyuu may be treated like celebrities by otaku, in the end the job doesn’t pay or provide any real benefits.
Aside that, how is the show as a piece of entertainment? Great! It’s very charming, fun, and feels humble about everything it does. The three seiyuu and manager have great chemistry and are all very lovable characters, and side characters either have a lot of charm or…well, are real people so of course that’s always cool. Though I didn’t mention earlier, they got a bit cheap with this and did end up re-using some of the real seiyuu and having those same people reappear in another episode as the guest star. It’s not a big issue but I really was hoping we’d get a new person each week. On top of that the story is believable – not only thanks to its accuracy, nor only because of the seiyuu (the real ones for the characters) being new as well, but because this is a story written by a woman who essentially lived this life herself. It feels not only accurate, but authentic, and that really adds to the appeal.
Another small thing I enjoyed a lot was the ED which was either slightly or vastly different each ep and it’s presented as being the radio show the girls host. I really liked how we’d get a request corner each time with another clip from a popular anime OP, as well as how the lyrics would change each episode for the actual ED song. It was really great the times they’d take the lyrics and turn them into a thank you to the managers or showing appreciation for the entire staff and how much work goes into making an anime.
Overall, Sore ga Seiyuu is an exceptionally interesting and overall very fun and enjoyable show with a cast that’s easy to really like and a unique topic. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this sort of work or just the ‘behind the scenes’ goings-on in anime. Though keep in mind Japan has a very specific and unique way of doing voice over work compared to the rest of the world – so don’t use it as an idea of how it’d be working as a VA anywhere else. However, even if you aren’t all that interested in that stuff this is still a fun show about three girls trying their best in an interesting business with new tasks each day, some light drama and character development, and a lot of fun.
I also learned what “walla” is, which was fun because it’s a cute word for a cute thing.