Days in the Life

Animation Magazine - - Anime -

Ide­liv­ers a peek into the lives and dra­mas of a trio of young Ja­panese women who as­pire to ca­reers as voice ac­tresses. By Charles Solomon.

t’s not sur­pris­ing that the slice-of-life shojo com­edy Seiyu’s Life (2015) of­fers in­sights into the world of voice act­ing in Ja­pan: the orig­i­nal manga was writ­ten by the ac­com­plished voice ac­tress Ma­sumi Asano. The ba­sic set-up feels al­most like a 1930s Warner Bros. mu­si­cal: Three young friends set out to launch their ca­reers as voice ac­tresses.

At the cen­ter of the story is Futaba Ichi­nose (Rie Taka­hashi), the most in­se­cure mem­ber of the trio. She’s a bit of a fan­girl and fre­quently suf­fers from bouts of stage fright and self­doubt. She lives in a tiny apart­ment with her plush dog, Korori-chan, who of­fers her ad­vice and oc­ca­sion­ally serves as a nar­ra­tor, ex­plain­ing things to the au­di­ence.

Futaba’s friend Ichigo Moe­saki (Yuki Na­gaku) likes to de­scribe her­self as a princess from the Planet Straw­berry ( ichigo means straw­berry in Ja­panese). She’s the most vol­u­ble and as­sertive mem­ber of the trio, but she some­times gets car­ried away with the straw­berry per­sona shtick. Al­though she’s only 15 and still a stu­dent in mid­dle school, Rin Ko­hana (Marika Kono) is the calmest and most pro­fes­sional mem­ber of the group. Be­cause she was ex­tremely shy as a child, her par­ents en­rolled her in a chil­dren’s the­ater work­shop. Over the years, she grad­u­ally ac­quired poise and con­fi­dence.

Af­ter be­ing ac­cepted by a tal­ent agency, the three girls some­times work to­gether. Some­times they com­pete, and Futaba has to learn to deal with dis­ap­point­ment and jeal­ousy when Rin gets a part she had hoped to land. Their as­sign­ments in­volve everything from voic­ing an­i­mated char­ac­ters to dub­bing for­eign films to nar­rat­ing TV spe­cials. They learn how to take di­rec­tion and how to time a line to fit the al­lot­ted sec­onds. The se­ries they work on are of­ten spoofs, like Bud­dha Fighter Bod­hisattvon and Week­end Pas­try Chef.

Futaba, Ichigo and Rin all have high-pitched voices that may strike Western au­di­ences as squeaky or shrill. To Ja­panese lis­ten­ers, that tonal range is cute and ap­peal­ing. The young women who greet cus­tomers in depart­ment stores are trained to pitch their voices higher, to pro­duce a more adorable “wel­come.”

To pro­mote the young ac­tresses, the tal­ent agency has them form a “unit,” one of the in­nu­mer­able girl groups cre­ated for the rav­en­ous Ja­panese pop in­dus­try. Futaba, Ichigo and Rin aren’t nat­u­ral mu­si­cians. Like the guys in Sho­nen Hol­ly­wood (or The Mon­kees), they’re given songs and taught to dance and sing. They re­hearse their sig­na­ture catch­phrases and ges­tures. They en­joy a mod­est suc­cess as The Ear­phones, a real-life group made up of the ac­tresses in the vo­cal cast.

A Clear Heirar­chy The se­quences of the girls at work of­fer a rare be­hind-the-scenes look at the Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try. Korori-chan ex­plains the ter­mi­nol­ogy and the eti­quette: As the new­est mem­ber of the cast of a se­ries, Futaba is ex­pected to greet the other ac­tors first. When they ar­rive, ev­ery­one says they’re look­ing for­ward to work­ing to­gether. When they fin­ish, they com­pli­ment each other on their hard work.

The char­ac­ters in­vari­ably stress their ded­i­ca­tion to do­ing their very best, try­ing their hard­est, giv­ing it everything they’ve got. Al­though trans­lated var­i­ous ways, their state­ments all re­late to the verb gan­baru, which ba­si­cally means to work un­til a task is com­pleted, re­gard­less of the ob­sta­cles. It’s a very im­por­tant con­cept in Ja­panese cul­ture that can be ap­plied with equal sin­cer­ity to study­ing for a col­lege en­trance exam, pitch­ing a base­ball game, act­ing a part, or re­build­ing an earth­quake-rav­aged city.

Al­though the premise of Seiyu’s Life may feel like an old Busby Berke­ley mu­si­cal, the film­mak­ers wisely avoid giv­ing any of the three young women the kind of in­stant star­dom Ruby Keeler’s char­ac­ters at­tained. By the end of the se­ries, they’ve gained some ex­pe­ri­ence and a mea­sure of suc­cess, but they’re still mi­nor fig­ures in the high-pow­ered world of Ja­panese me­dia. The lim­its of their achieve­ments keep the show grounded, in con­trast to frothy fan­tasies like Fancy Lala. Futaba, Ichigo and Rin may be ded­i­cated and even tal­ented, but they and the au­di­ence know star­dom is a long way off. [

ed by Cloud Guy; “The Po­tion for Stop-Mo­tion,” a be­hind-the-scenes tu­to­rial on Poppy’s scrap­book; “Cre­at­ing Troll Magic,” with pro­duc­tion de­signer Ken­dal Cronkhite-Shaindlin; “Troll 2 Troll” Poppy vs. Branch de­bate; “In­side the Bunker,” a look at Branch’s hidey-hole; and deleted scenes.

BD and Dig­i­tal cus­tomers can pump up the Troll jam with in­ter­ac­tive fun in “Party Mode.” RSVP, ASAP.

[Re­lease date: Feb. 7] movie Teen Ti­tans: The Ju­das Con­tract (also on DVD), “The Story of Swamp Thing” fea­turette, “Did You Know?: Con­stan­tine Ori­gin / Color of Magic / Black Orchid / Dead­man Cast­ing,” 2016 NY Comic Con Panel; sneak peeks at Jus­tice League: Gods and Mon­sters and Jus­tice League: Doom; and two Bat­man: The Brave and the Bold episodes from the DC Vault. And you can’t go wrong with the BD Deluxe Gift Set ($39.99), which in­cludes an ex­clu­sive Con­stan­tine fig­ure.

[Re­lease date: Feb. 7] ing house­hold names in the worst way.

The voice cast is filled out by comic roy­alty: Han­ni­bal Buress, Riki Lind­home, Kate Micucci, Laraine New­man and Paul Scheer. The script was writ­ten by creep-mas­ter Andrew Kevin Walker ( The Wolf­man, Sleepy Hol­low, Se7en), and Tit­mouse han­dled the an­i­ma­tion. This is one of those movies that even if you like it, you might not like your­self for it.

[Re­lease date: Feb. 7] Spe­cial with Kurt Loder, the 1994-1996 “Butt-Bowls,” MTV 20th An­niver­sary Spe­cial, Frog Base­ball (the short that started it all, orig­i­nal and un­cut), 2011 Comic-Con panel fea­tur­ing Judge and mod­er­ated by Johnny Knoxville, pro­mos, mon­tages and more.

Em­brace your in­ner couch potato, dudes.

[Re­lease date: Feb. 14]

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.