Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy
声優かっ! (Seiyuu Ka!)
Shoujo – Romance, comedy, drama, gender bender
12 Volumes (complete)
When she was young, Hime met a voice actor and now dreams of following in her idol’s footsteps. There’s only one thing standing in Hime’s way: her horrible voice acting! She’s managed to be accepting into a high school specializing in voice acting, but her classmates — including her idol’s son — all think she has no talent.
The biggest problem with Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy is that it is being pulled into too many directions in the early volumes. If you don’t mind some aspects being tossed aside, then you might enjoy this series more than I did.
In many ways, perhaps the problem really isn’t with the manga; it’s just a story that would be better told through other mediums. There’s no doubt it’s hard to present a story that hinges on audio in a purely visual form. This is doubly so in Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy since a high-school girl is known for sounding like an old man, gorilla, or dead clown (among other descriptions). So unlike most manga where I can easily “hear” the voices, I had major difficulty in trying to mentally cast Hime.
However, while an anime may seem like a better form for this story, I actually think this series seems more like an otome game in the early volumes. No, it’s not a reverse harem, but there are just too many points early in the story that easily could have easily changed who the male love interest is supposed to be. Of course, first there is Hime’s role model’s son (Senri). She also hangs around with school friends in the first couple chapters, two males. Then there’s AQUA, a boy idol duo made up of Mizuki and Shuuma. Plus the manager, Yamada, is male. With very few changes, any one of these guys could have usurped Senri’s position as main male lead. But since this series isn’t a reverse harem, the other guys basically get their moments and then just kind of hang around. Again, this seems more like an otome game where the romanceable leads get a couple of basic scenes in the general route before the player is locked into a route. Only one of the other guys express a romantic interest in Hime, but this series could have very easily been aspiring actress x manager or a love triangle between Hime and an idol duo. The manager, for instance, is the first to see Hime’s home life, and Shuma is a pretty typical tsundere.
The overall story, despite seemingly like it would focus on Hime’s struggles to break into show business, actually is more about the two main characters (three if you count Mizuki) dealing with their emotional issues. This is not a psychological manga, so Hime’s and Senri’s problems are not nearly as horrifying as some other manga leads. (Not that I am making light of their issues.) Regardless, despite Hime being the heroine, we get quite a few scenes from Mizuki’s and Senri’s point-of-views. Hime sometimes acts as narrator for the guy’s sequences by saying, “But I didn’t know that was happening”, which is kind of silly unless the whole series was told as a flashback. Yeah, we get it, you’re not around, so you wouldn’t know. In the mix of Hime and her companions growing as humans, there’s a romance blooming in the midst of disguises and omelet rice. Well, by “romance”, it’s basically just crushes and feelings.
I also felt like Hime’s friends were woefully underused. They only seemed to exist so that Maki could put them in as needed. Some of her friends never explain their reasons for beoming voice actors. Not all of her friends enter the voice acting field, but it’s never explained why they entered their chosen fields. Even with Hime herself we don’t get to see her actual debut. The series just kind of…ends. We are give some resolution, but when you actually analyze it, there’s still so much more that should have been told. Again, I put some of the blame on the early volumes. Why waste pages on one girl trying to find her prince if you are never going to resolve the issue? Perhaps the story should have either just focused on school life or pro life, because it just doesn’t do a good job covering both.
As for the characters themselves, Hime is pretty strong without being an annoyingly positive optimist. Senri acts like a jerk but is secretly a cat-lover. Shuuma is Mizuki’s fanboy, and Mizuki is just learning how to experience “fun”. While Hime’s voices provide much of the comedy, I can’t neglect the comically sadistic Yamada. As for her school friends, really only a couple of girls get some development; the guy friends just basically exist to push a couple of minor scenes along. If you don’t like Hime, Senri, or Mizuki by the end of volume 1, then you might as well give up then. Overall, though, I hope at least Hime beat Senri in the “best character” polls in Japan (but my personal favorite is Mizuki).
The character designs are strangely inconsistent at times. This series does undergo a bit of an art shift, but it’s not excessively long nor is the author a newbie. Hime’s eyes, for example, are round, but they are drawn in an almond shape sometimes. (I don’t just mean in distance or comedic shots.) It almost looks like assistants drew the main characters at times. Even eye and hair colors on the covers vary for the same character. Meanwhile, the actual overall art style is quite cheerful. Lots of whitespace and light shading keeps readers’ moods light even in the more dramatic portions of the story. It’s a bit unclear how much time passes in the story, but it isn’t that hard to make educational guesses. It’s just too bad the characters aren’t always drawn consistently…
As is standard with Viz Media, no honorifics are used. Despite “seiyu” being in the subtitle, the word is never used in the actual manga. A few Japanese words like “takoyaki” are kept with translator’s notes at the end of the book. Otherwise, this is a standard release from them.
Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy is probably a series more for younger readers. There’s not much objectionable content, and they’re more likely to not notice the loose ends and focus instead on the fluffy ending and romance. I do feel like the middle volumes are the strongest; the beginning is just too busy wasting time with world-building while the ending is just lackluster.
Viz Media published the author’s Special A manga and just started Komomo Confiserie.