Manga Review: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Vol. #01

For hard core manga and anime fans, the voice acting world has the same kind of glamor and mystique as Hollywood. So it’s no surprise that the world of Maki Minami’s manga Voice Over! Seiyu Academy portrays it as such.

Back Cover Blurb

Hime Kino’s dream is to one day do voice acting like her hero Sakura Aoyama from the Lovely Blazer anime, and getting accepted to the prestigious Holly Academy’s voice actor department is the first step in the right direction! But Hime’s gruff voice has earned her the scorn of teachers and students alike. Hime will not let that stand unchallenged. She’ll show everyone that she is too a voice acting princess, whether they like it or not!!

The Review

Considering the number of manga titles available about mangaka, idols, and actors, it’s not surprising that one about anime voice actors has hit the market. These types of stories seem to fall into two camps: those rooted in reality like Bakuman and those that are pretty much fantasy like Skip Beat!. Voice Over! Seiyu Academy falls firmly in the fantasy camp.

That fantasy feel is due in large part to the setting, Holly Academy. It has an exclusive voice acting department (only 25 students per class), students who are idols, and industry professionals frequenting its halls. The other reason for its fantasy feel is the main character, Hime Kino. Her dream is to become a leading voice actor for the popular anime Lovely Blazers, which requires a cute voice. Unfortunately, her vocalization skills aren’t just bad, they’re downright dismal. Throughout Volume 1, she gets compared to a broken radio, an old man, an old woman, and animal grunts, and she earns the unfortunate but appropriate nickname Gorilla Princess. Yet she remains a Holly Academy student, and by the end of the volume, she manages to get scouted, get called in for an anime part, attract the interest of a famous idol, and catch the attention of the son of her favorite voice actor.

As a main character, Hime falls into the category of determined, super-positive idiot. Not only does she have no control over her voice, she’s dumb, clumsy, and so-so in the looks department. Minami-sensei attempts to present Hime as an underdog heroine we can root for, but I can’t get myself to cheer for her. She has a lack of self-awareness reminiscent of the truly horrible singers who think they actually have a chance at American Idol. The other thing is Hime actually has a hidden ability, but it’s completely inconsistent. She can’t control it, but it conveniently surfaces when she’s really in a pinch. As such, her successes aren’t due to diligent effort or a normal kind of talent, and  that comes across as a cheap way of getting “super amateur” to rub shoulders with the best of the best.

Hime aside, the supporting cast does make this manga somewhat entertaining. Some of the best laughs come from the motley crew who make up the Stragglers group: a delinquent who can barely read; a soft-spoken girl with a penchant for hexing; and a half-Japanese, half-French figurine pervert who cracks under pressure. Other characters are more stereotyped. The idol duo Aqua is a borderline BL pair, and Senri Kudo, who’s the likeliest candidate for Hime’s romantic interest, is a mostly cold but occasionally considerate tsundere type.

By the way, this is a manga about voice acting so sound is critical to the plot, but readers obviously can’t hear what characters are hearing. To convey sound impressions, the manga uses different types of fonts, the spoken and facial reactions of listeners, and visual images depicting the bizarre voice types coming out of Hime’s mouth.

In Summary

If you’re looking for a title that delves into the realities of the voice acting world the way Bakuman did for manga making, keep looking. Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy is not it. Minami-sensei attempts to create an inspiring underdog heroine, but Hime’s personality is closer to the annoyingly bad singers that try out for American Idol. But if you like high school manga where an ordinary girl can do anything, even break into the highly competitive world of entertainment, give Voice Over! Seiyu Academy a try.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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