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November 4, 2013

Bento Bako Weekly: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy volume 1

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Written by: Kristin
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voiceover1Title: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy
Author: Maki Minami (S.A.)
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo  Beat)
Volume: Volume 1 (of 12), $9.99
Vintage: 2009 by Hakusensha, October 2013 by Viz Media
Genre: Comedy, school life

Hime Kino has just started high school at the prestigious Holly Academy High School, famous for its arts programs, especially voice acting. Hime’s dream is to become a star in the popular and long running Lovely Blazers anime, just like her idol Sakura Aoyama. To her great delight, next to her in class sits Senri Kudo, Aoyama’s son and a rising star in the voice acting world. Unfortunately, Kudo isn’t exactly the most pleasant guy around, and immediately starts tossing insults Hime’s way. It doesn’t help that when Hime tries to sound cute (a requirement for a Lovely Blazer), she ends up sounding like a gruff old man, earning her the nickname Gorilla Princess. After just one day of basic lessons, Hime is so underwhelming that she is lumped into a group of stragglers, required to stay late and work harder than the other students. She is joined by short tempered Sho Takayanagi (who always sounds like a yakuza), egotistical Mitchel “Mitchy” Zaizen who can’t seem to get rid of his accent (and has a terrible case of nauseating nerves), and extremely soft spoken Tsukino Todoroki. Every Tuesday during lunch, second year students perform a voice drama for the other students. After getting into an argument with some second years, a voice acting battle is set up between Hime’s group and a group of second years, to perform the tale of Snow White. Realizing their voices are all wrong for the roles, Hime and her friends decide to alter their performance for their particular talents. Mitchy, however, falls ill under the pressure, forcing Hime to step in as the Prince. Her voice wows the school, even drawing the attention of Senri, who rushes to the audio room and ends up helping her out in a pinch, leading Hime to realize just how fun voice acting can be. Hime’s performance even draws the attention of Haruka Yamada, a famous producer who wants to give her a role as a male host in a new anime. Sticking to her Lovely Blazer dream, Hime turns the offer down, but after being told by a frustrated Senri that she’ll never be a voice actress, she takes Yamada up on his offer. Unfortunately, the role has already been cast, so Yamada offers her another opportunity as a mob voice. Do well, and he’ll find a real role for her. Fail, and he’ll never consider her again.

Senri is also at this recording, and a very dejected looking Hime reminds him of the cats he so loves. When he tries to give her advice, though, he ends up yelling at her, which, along with viewing Senri’s acting, remarkably fires Hime up for an amazing performance. Yamada deems the performance unacceptable to Hime, but secretly begins to plot another way he can more effectively make use of her skills. This apparent failure doesn’t discourage Hime, even though the entire school makes fun of her, and her teachers give her more homework as punishment for making the school look bad. Hime perseveres, works hard, and goes about her life as normal. Normal includes Tsukino finding herself in some trouble when a jock with a crush on her persistently pursues her despite Tsukino turning him down. Of course Hime rushes to save her friend, but her chosen method lands her in no small amount of trouble when she calls on a favor from school idol Mizuki Haruyama. Somehow things work out, and Hime ends up with a new admirer.

This one is cute enough, I guess, but like Minami’s previous series Special A, it simply tries too hard. Tries too hard to be cute, funny, and silly. These things feel forced, and in the end don’t provide any laughs or generate much interest in the characters. To be honest, if reads like a poor man’s Skip Beat. And I already have a Skip Beat, which is one of my favorite series. I don’t need a series that screams “I’m cute I’m cute look at me!” on every page. Not that it’s terrible. It’s tolerable, and it’s probably a good series for girls in the thirteen-seventeen age range. The heroine has some solid points going for her: she isn’t obsessed with boys, she has a clear goal she wants to obtain and is willing to work hard to accomplish it, she’s stubborn, a hard worker, and takes responsibility for her actions. Unfortunately she is so single minded about her dream that it almost costs her some good opportunities. Almost. Although the opportunity that does remain is currently a mystery. The male character are alright. School idol Senri is surprisingly adorable; the cool, stoic type, but that cool breaks frequently around Hime, whom he views as a cat. Hime’s straggler buddies are fairly archetypal, but do prove amusing. The artwork is simple, without too many details, and an abundance of shoujo sparkles take the place of most backgrounds. The volume is mediocre at best, neither terrible or amazing. There are better series and worse series. This one won’t make you think, but it might make you giggle once or twice.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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