DVD Review: Girlish Number – The Complete Series

It’s time the enter the mysterious world of anime voice acting as we explore what the colourful anime series Girlish Number has to offer in our latest DVD Review; a series which is being released on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK via MVM Entertainment.

Synopsis:

Chitose Karasuma wants to make it big as a voice actor, but while she looks and sounds adorable, she’s also self-absorbed, inattentive, selfish, and lazy. However, since her manager is also her big brother, she’s still getting bit parts and dreaming of landing the big role that will make her famous.

Unfortunately, karma bites Chitose in the worst way possible when her big chance finally arrives, because the producers who’ve hired her are even more clueless than she is!

Now, she’s trapped in a nightmare production where nothing goes right, the ratings are in the toilet, and swimsuit photos and live stage shows take priority over making quality programming! Can Chitose and her fellow trapped actresses turn things around and save their careers? Or will they all go down with the sinking ship?

Our View:

Girlish Number, otherwise shown on screen as Gir(a)lish Number in the Japanese logo, may look cute and moe with it’s colourful cast of a characters and charming animation style; but it’s actually a rather serious toned series that follows a group of voice actors and their experiences within the voice acting industry in Japan.

For anyone that’s interested in the role of a Japanese voice acting (or Seiyuu’s as they are known) and the development of an anime series then Girlish Number is one worth exploring; and that’s even before you take a look at the story it is trying to tell.

Girlish Number follows the adventure of the [uninterested] aspiring voice actor Chitose Karasuma who after numerous ‘bit’ parts in anime productions finds herself being cast in the Lead Role of an anime adaptation of the light novel known as Millennium Princess x Kowloon Overlord. Casting a ‘newbie’ as the lead role for an anime is mostly unheard of; but the executives in charge of producing this anime have a plan in mind; a plan to make Chitose Karasuma, or someone else within the Production studio ‘One Produce’, a star within the industry.

Regardless, overjoyed with his lead role Chitose Karasuma is thrust into the spotlight of what it means to be a professional voice actor; and it’s not just her that’s got to live up to the expectation of a pro. Other newbies, known as Yae Kugayama and Koto Katakura, are also given lead roles within this series while professional voice actors Momoka Sonō and Kazuha Shibasaki lend their support as additional roles within the anime series.

These five characters are ‘Girlish Number’ and with their voice talents and ‘idol’ personalities lend themselves to the characters and music of the anime Millennium Princess x Kowloon Overlord; a series which doesn’t turn out the way that the production directors had hoped – but that’s a story for another time.

For the most part Girlish Number focuses Chitose Karasuma and in turn her manager, and older brother, Gojō Karasuma, as they attempt to work together to find more suitable roles and develop Chitose’s skills as a voice acting within her lead role. However with Chitose’s self-centered and egotist approach to the role she quickly becomes shadowed in doubt about her own skills.

It’s not just Chitose’s doubts either as in addition to this the series explores both Momoka Sonō and Kazuha Shibasaki personalities and the troubles they are experiencing within the industry. Firstly Momoka Sonō is worried about living up to her mother’s reputation as voice actor while Kazuha Shibasaki is worried about what her parents think of the situation she is currently in.

All three of these ‘independent’ storylines add themselves to the already chaotic storyline that is producting, promoting and budgeting an anime series – and in the case of Millennium Princess x Kowloon Overlord a lot of work is needed – much to the dismay of Chitose and her self-satisfacton type of attitude.  Girlish Number offers a surprising array of events that sees these unfamiliar characters bond together to show what it truly means to be an actor within the industry; and it works exceptionally well – even if it can feel a bit rushed with character development.

Extras:

The bonus features included on this DVD release are the usual inclusions of textless songs as well as a clean promo video for the anime Millennium Princess x Kowloon Overlord; the series which this anime revolves around. As this is an Australian authored product for MVM Entertainment, as opposed to a re-master of Sentai Filmworks release, a selection of trailers for other Madman Entertainment products are also included.

Although this set does feature a mixture of supplementary content they do nothing to further enhance or support the world that these characters work within. Naturally MVM Entertainment, and Madman Entertainment, can only provide bonus materials that have been given but it would have been nice to see behind the scenes content for those that worked ‘on’ Girlish Number. It would make sense; but this is all but wishful thinking on my part.

Of course this set does have one notable disappointment and that is the DVD Menu design. This menu has all of the episodes, and in turn bonus features, listed on the main menu – as such it looks very simplistic and unprofessional; It’s as if this was authored using a simplistic DVD production software. We have seen similar menu presentations before so I can only assume it is the presentation that works best for Madman (or what they have available); either way it’s not something I like – even if it is easy to read and fast to navigate.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time: 2:49:24 (Disc 1), 2:25:12 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 480 (480p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 30 fps

Overall:

What starts off as seemingly a newcomer wanting in on the industry soon spirals into Chitose being in the spot light she has always adored; but unfortunately doesn’t want the expectations of a pro that come along with it. At its core Girlish Number is a look into the world of anime production and voice acting; with each character fighting for survival by taking on the roles that are given to them. Although the focal point of Girlish Number is the over-arcing storyline of developing an anime, on time and in budget, this never seems to cause a concern – most likely due to Kuzu-P (Garbarge) laid back attitude.

Instead the focus of this series lends itself mostly to Chitose Karasuma, who is of course the lead character in both this story and the anime she is working on, as we see her develop as a character from a laid-back-child with no real appreciation of the industry to someone who wants to do the best she can do for everyone that’s involved. It’s not just Chitose either; as both Momoka Sonō and Kazuha Shibasaki, who are classed as professionals, also come of their shells and open up about their issues with the rest of group.

In regards to this DVD release by MVM Entertainment, of which has been authored by Madman Entertainment in Australia, then it is business as usual with a simplistic (almost pathetic) menu design and a consistent NTSC quality DVD that sees both visual and audio (Japanese only with English subtitles) being presented. It doesn’t get any better with the bonus features either as while it does have an “Inside Show Preview” – which is just the Promo Video for the anime within the anime – it’s the same old additions of textless songs and trailers for other Madman Entertainment released titles.

Girlish Number may not grab your attention due to its moe approach to presentation but give it a try and you’ll be surprised by what it has to offer and how things unfold. Of course those uninterested in the workings of the anime world (in terms of Voice Acting at least) may be at a loss as to the entertaining side of this release; but it is a different type of anime and one that I found to be enjoyable. This DVD release meanwhile is ‘as expected’ and delivers everything you could want from a solid DVD experience; albeit with a rather pitful menu design whereby it lists content on a single screen.

Score: review-stars-4

Girlish Number is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray within the UK via MVM Entertainment.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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