Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, Vol. 1

By Maki Minami. Released in Japan as “Seiyu Ka!” by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz.

Long-time readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the Japanese shoujo magazine Hana to Yume. Sadly, I have been increasingly unable to rave about its style of shoujo recently, as CMX and Tokyopop went under, and Viz has licensed less and less from the title, preferring to concentrate on their own owners’ magazines. This makes me very happy when I see a new series starting up, specially one from an artist I’ve liked before, Maki Minami. Her prior series here was Special A, a romantic comedy with an emphasis on the comedy, which had all of Hakusensha’s usual strong point, as well as all its weak points. The text and art tends to clutter the page (Hakusensha shoujo packs the page, Shueisha shoujo opens it up), the plotting could be insanely frustrating, particularly in terms of how drawn out the romance was, and character’s growth ended as soon as their function in the story was complete. Now we have her new series, which has many of the same types of people we’ve seen before. Can it fix its predecessor’s issues?


Our heroine has the name Hime Kino, which already sounds like a pseudonym. She wants to follow in the footsteps of her inspiration and become a voice actress. There’s just one problem – she has a deep, husky voice, and she wants to sound like a cute girl. Nevertheless, the academy lets her in anyway, and it’s hinted there’s some deeper, behind the scenes reason. The solution, of course, is obvious – she should play sexy pretty bishonen, which female voice artists do in Japan ALL THE TIME. It’s such an obvious solution that we see it happening at the end of the first chapter, where she has to fill in as the prince in a Snow White dramatization. But Hime clearly wants to be cute, and girly, ad adorable. I imagine a large part of this plotline will be showing her how she should really succeed at what she’s best at.

Cute vs. cool is a classic modern shoujo trope. Usually, heroines want to be the former but end up being the latter, and Hime easily fits into that pattern. And naturally, she’s never more attractive than when she’s acting strong and powerful and masculine. This is a reverse harem manga, so we already have the obvious winner (a sullen brunet – sigh – named Senri Kuno), as well as a few obvious runner-ups. We have the traditional one female friend. I’m hoping for a second as time goes on. And, this being Maki Minami, we have a lot of incredibly goofy guys doing dumb things – there is some fun humor here.

There are some issues, of course. I am rather weary of bullying by teachers in Japan being a) accepted by the institution as good for students in the long run, and b) not called out because the student has to get stronger on her own. It *sounds* admirable, but I think teaches an incomplete lesson. Hime is also a bit aggressively clueless, though so far she’s not quite as bad as Hikari from Special A, who set new records for denseness. Lastly, as with a lot of mainstream shoujo, there’s nothing really original here – just a few old cliches given a new paint job. But I’m perfectly happy with that as long as it’s fun. And for the most part, Voice Over! is fun. I’ll be looking forward to Vol. 2.

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  1. Honestly, the scene where Hime crossdresses to come to Tsukino’s rescue made me realllllllly wish that there was a chance this would go the yuri route.

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