Sunday, September 17, 2017

Anime Review : D-Frag!


“A loud comedy show that is really open to it’s own absurd nature, which is very entertaining”

What is D-Frag! ?

The anime follows Kazama Kenji, a delinquent who does not participate in any club activities and would rather hang out and go home with his delinquent party. However, his life was suddenly altered when he was forced to join a suspicious club called the “Game Creation Club”. 

So, what do I think about it?

When you think of comedy, you think of one thing, which is to laugh, simple and clear. For a comedy show to work, it needs to have one factor, it has to be funny. So, how are you going to make it funny? You make the most absurd setting there is on the anime, and that is what D-Frag! all about, it is absurd and loud, yet it is so funny, to the point that I lost track of how many times I laughed to almost every punchline flung at me while rewatching the show.

For a comedy show to work, it needs to still instill you with that laughing factor despite how many times you have watched it, and D-Frag! certainly makes full use of their absurdity to make all the jokes that I have rewatched numerous time to still remain funny. Sometimes, you have the main cast to be shifted to a random character with the tag of ‘Extras’ accompanying them, sometimes you have the elemental jokes regarding each character elements, but out of everything, the core strength that makes D-Frag! truly is funny is it’s Tsukkomi routine that the main character, Kazama Kenji, does all the time.

A show needs to be funny if it is a comedy show.

Tsukkomi, or retorting another’s stupid antics, is a common trope found in anime series, so common that it has been exhausted in this era. It was hard to find a very good tsukkomi routine, but Kazama Kenji and this anime is certainly the master to this technique. The way Kazama retorts to every single thing that all the people is doing or saying to him is very, very entertaining. And since this anime has an absurd setting, his tsukkomi routine never falls out of place and the way Kazama is retorting to every single thing is just how we, the viewer, casually view this show and just couldn’t help retorting to all this anime gives us, and Kazama is solely our representative for that.

However, the downside of tsukkomi is that not that many people are entertained with tsukkomi routine, and some might even find them annoying. I’ve found several one or two cases where viewers who watched D-Frag! did not find the anime funny at all, and they found this highly-entertaining anime to be boring. Well, to each their own, they say…

The formula is simple, yet it worked so well and is the show's core strength.

Aside from the formula, I mentioned of how the anime’s setting is so absurd that it actually embraced it, yes? It’s own absurd setting is, like I said before, the accompanying core strength of it’s intense tsukkomi routine. There is no way that this anime would have worked if the setting is a regular high-school or the students are all generic and they treat every single thing, even the smallest one, to be bigger than it actually was.

Yes, the students here are not your commonly-seen generic faceless students or those with similar features all over again. Aside from the main character, any side or background character looks out of place in this high-school setting. Some looks very old, some looks very young, and some are certainly from different anime series. Yet, since the setting is absurd, they do not look out of place at all. In fact, they look certainly at home in this absurd anime.

The setting is so absurd that it started a tournament just for a bag.

And I liked how the show treated those said side or background characters. They are given much love just like the main character of the show. Their color, animation, and smoothness are on par with each other, so much that you might mistake a background character for a main character at certain point. Some of them are even given a consistent amount of appearance that one might even recall or know the name of this side character even when several episodes set them apart. Also, they are sometimes subjected to a hilarious one-liner regarding the current situation that they’re currently in.

I spoke about side characters first rather than the main characters… How strange…

The careful animation put on each background character makes it so absurdly hilarious.

As well as their design.

However, they mesh pretty well with the main cast despite their different status.

Anyway, speaking of main characters, I liked how they are highly-entertaining but sometimes treated as just fodder for Kazama’s tsukkomi’s routine. Aside from Kazama, not much of them are given enough backstory or reasoning on why they are the way they are currently. Well, that, if their somehow doctored background story are actually genuine.

Kazama Kenji is the main character and, of course, the central character, of the show. Everything revolves around him and his every single thing that he did will greatly impact the plot or the story that the anime is currently undergoing or going to play out. Such as when Kazama called out another group of delinquent only to ended up being kept hostage, which leads to the club trying to save him, and so on.

Of course, his most powerful asset is his tsukkomi routine, which I have mentioned numerous time in the story. He reacted to every single thing that other character did with a really, really loud voice that protested everything that the character is doing. He and the other character on the show are all self-aware of Kazama’s daily tsukkomi routine, which other character found it to be either entertaining or his trademark thing to do, and he does this to such great extent that he sometimes exhaust himself and claimed that doing this on a hourly basis could kill him due to the great exhaustion that this act is giving him.

Kazama is very entertaining as he is the core strength of how this show truly works.

There’s also the game creation club, which consists of Shibasaki Roka, Karasuma Chitose, Mizukami Sakura, and Minami Osawa. They all are unique in their character and even has their element represent their personality, though not which all represent them correctly. Roka is flame and dark, which explains her… I don’t know, cute nature? Chitose is represented through Earth element that explains her dominant personality? Osawa is represented through electricity but she is lazy and fell asleep on every given minute? Well, that all were an irony there. Of course, aside from Sakura, whose water element perfectly represented her innocence and playful nature.

Sakura is, by far, my most favourite character of the entire show, as her playful nature is so endearing and her overall appearance is also good enough for me. Her comedic timings are second to none, which has Kazama retorting to her antics over and over again that provides a perfect harmony. However, her comedic timings are not always reliant to Kazama’s tsukkomi, as she sometimes displays a very unique yet humorous antics, such as waiting in a crouching start as she anticipates Kazama’s attempted escape, or coating her hand after she punch someone before saying casually that she doesn’t want to touch them is all comical gold. Truly the best.

All of the member of the game creation club are unique in their own right.

However, Sakura's playful demeanor is what makes me regard her as the best out of all.

There is also a character which the anime truly loves, which is Takao. Takao, after her debut episode, constantly appeared through each and single episode of the show and acts in her own nature of shy yet commanding president of the actual game creation club. Yes, there is two game creation club, and Takao and Roka are the president of the respective club. Takao is, unlike Roka, more entertaining to watch due to her apparent crush towards Kazama and her bold attempts to be close to him, but always ended up failing spectacularly. And yes, her comedic timings are not always reliant on Kazama’s tsukkomi, which is good on her own right.

Takao also boasts a mad figure of gigantic boobs, which is subjected to several dirty, yet hilarious, jokes regarding the said figure, such as how her boobs is big enough it causes a zipper shot, Chitose's 'That' thing that i do not understand at all yet it is so funny thanks to her delivery, and so on. Ever since her debut, her jokes are mostly regarding her boobs, though most of them work since it is delivered so well.

Takao interacts well with Kazama, though she does not needed to be carried by him all the time.

If I speak about the entire character, then the amount of pages needed will be too much, so I am going to speak about several more characters before moving on.

However, if i am to complain about character, then it is one thing, it is too much. So much that its hard for the anime to keep track on each character. Kazama's little sister, for example, is only given one genuine episode that focuses on her before she makes no more appearance in the anime until the OVA, which is a shame to be honest.

Speaking of characters, I also liked of how debuting characters are given a cameo appearance on an episode where they will certainly appear next. It adds to the show’s charm and makes you think that you are perceptive enough to notice them again after noticing them prior to their debut. That’s awesome.

In this scene, Kazama's little sister makes a cameo appearance before her full-fledged debut.

And in here, the two members of the student council make a cameo appearance before their debut.

Music  was okay, as it fits the wacky theme of the show, most of the time. However, I cannot say much as I did not pay too much attention to music, and was paying more attention on the sound effects that were used, which sounded a bit original to me.

Still with sounds, voice acting was great as, like the previously reviewed Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, the anime boasts several stellar name for their main cast and their reccuring characters. The strongest performance was, of course, by Kazama’s VA, Katsuyuki Konishi, who managed to scream all the way from their first recording session to the end. I am not surprised if he has speaking problems after all that screaming. Then, there is the performance of Mizukami Sakura’s VA, Mikako Takahashi, who totally fits her childish and playful personality. The rest were okay, but those two deserves a shout-out to each.

I’ve sampled several episodes in English dub and found them decently entertaining. Not as much as the original japanese but still enjoyable. This is partly because tsukkomi routines are not as good when it is dubbed into another language, and as D-Frag! core strength lies in it’s tsukkomi routines, it made the English dub a bit weaker, as the VA needs to change his wording to fit the language better.
However, now came the bad thing, which is the animation. The animation is not as smooth in certain episodes and was questionable at times. However, the show was greatly carried by it’s tsukkomi power so I think it is okay.

And lastly, there is almost no plot in this story. Everyday, it’s just how Kazama going to spend the rest of his day in either the clubroom or somewhere else that a character dragged him into, although there were certain parts where Kazama is not on the clubroom and so on, though the last arc regarding the fight between the old student council agains the game creation club was mildly entertaining to say the least, and it ended anti-climaticly to top all of that.

The time Kazama spent in each episode is either with his delinquent party,

Or with the game creation club.

So that’s it, the review of D-Frag! I think this anime has a great potential to be very successful, yet the company behind this great anime does not have much faith in the original source work, I think.  It contains a very absurd setting and a formulaic tsukkomi pattern which blends well together for some reason. The characters were all entertaining, for the main cast, and downright hilarious, for the secondary characters, which I found very amusing.

Be warned that since it contains so much tsukkomi, those who do not like the style of humor should not watch this anime series.  Casual viewers might have mixed response regarding this anime, though if they like comedy, this should not be a problem for him.

Even as formulaic or cliched as it gets, D-Frag! always finds a way to make it less clichéd or formulaic and more entertaining at hand.

The Good: Absurd settings. Plethora of great entertainment. Strong cast.

The Bad: Too reliant on using the tsukkomi routine. 

Highlight Moments: The tournament for the bag. Kazama’s recruitment to the club. When Kazama’s sister appeared

Final Score : 3.5 out of 5. Despite it's tired formula, the anime still goes strong.

As the anime is over, a sequel is not as needed as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun .Both anime have almost similar principle such as utilizing background characters  as possible, to name a few.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Anime Review : Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

What is Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun?

Also known as Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun, The anime follows Chiyo Sakura, a petite high-school girl who falls in love with a fellow high-school students, Nozaki Umetaro. She mustered up her courage to confess, but mistakenly told the man that she is her fan, with the guy handing her his own signature in the process. Unknowingly, this leads to a revelation that Nozaki is a mangaka whose work is famously published in a famous magazine. Now, Chiyo has to help him out while trying to let him know her feelings.

And what do I think about it?

There are several mistakenly known facts about Romantic-comedy anime. First, they supposedly have more comedy than the actual romance, and the love are normally not realized upon by the main couple upon the end of the series. I have come across so many series to see that and sometimes, I was disappointed myself. When you include a romance in a genre, then you would expect to see a lot of romantic interaction between the main character and his/her love interest, whether they are a couple or not. And Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is one of them.

Well, I can’t blame them for it though. Normally, a rom-com routine is where two people, one of them had a crush on the other, interacts with each other a bit awkwardly due to their crush toward each other, and we all love them about it. However, after seeing the Ore Monogatari!!!, my perception towards Rom-Com has changed all-together. This anime might have come out earlier than Ore Monogatari, but I rewatched it just recently, allowing me to look at it with more insight.

Traditionally, a rom-com routine follows a girl/a boy, who has a crush with someone, hopelessly advances to the person in mind, only to either fails hilariously, or had second thoughts hilariously, to our amusement, just like what i said before. And Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun somehow revolutionizes it by creating several things we rarely or never seen before in a rom-com anime, and that worked wonderfully well for me. I normally, but not always, laughed out loud seeing the routine performed by Chiyo and Nozaki since they are so hilariously well-done at times, but when it doesn’t, it felt forced.

The anime follows Chiyo and Nozaki.
And of course, their comedic life with each other.

If there is one thing I absolutely love from the anime, it’s really the comedic routine. I’d say earlier that the anime creates several things we’ve rarely seen right? Well, I always laughed out loud. They are absurd, yet are so damn entertaining. Chiyo and Nozaki struggling in rain, Nozaki’s attempt to surprise Chiyo at school, and of course, the boys spending the night on Nozaki’s apartment, those moments are memorable for me and something I have never seen before. I mean, did you expect the boys to have a girls talk at night on Nozaki’s apartment?

However, this is also the problem for the anime. It focuses too much on comedy, so much that I almost mistaken the anime for a traditional comedy anime as opposed to it’s genre of Rom-Com. Sure, Chiyo is making sure her feelings for Nozaki known to almost anyone and proclaims that he loves Nozaki to all but the guy, but sometimes it felt forced and out of place. Also, characters other than the two I just mentioned did not even get their fair share of rom-com moments, just a handful of moments.

While the comedic routine were great most of the time...
The romantic scenes is significantly lower in sum than the comedy.

Speaking of characters though, they are fleshed out really well and their colorful personality really adds to the series. Let’s start with Chiyo and Nozaki. Chiyo and Nozaki, as the main characters of the story, is developed really well as the series progressed. Chiyo’s antics is also funny, and there is just something about her polkadot ribbons, which makes her so memorable. Even Nozaki agreed with me on the last episode. And Nozaki is a great with his poker-faced antic to be honest, and he, albeit did not say it, might have fallen for Chiyo due to their repeated interaction and Nozaki’s eventual opening up towards Chiyo. However, I just hoped that by the end of the series, their love were realized.

Next, we have the most entertaining character of the series, even surpassing Chiyo and Nozaki. The person in question is Seo Yuzuki, Chiyo’s classmate. Everything that she does just screams comedy to me, as I always laughed and smiled whenever I see the episode is going to focus on Seo in one of the part. She is positioned as a yankee, rule-breaking girl who does what she pleases and Nozaki proclaimed that she is a “Kuuki-Yomenai”, or a person who can’t really read the situation and this antics truly what makes her so memorable and entertaining. And her introduction episode can’t be done much better than what is already presented.

Next, there is Mikoshiba, Nozaki’s friend and a fellow assistant. Maybe his trope is a bit clichéd, that of a pretty boy who loves to hit on girls randomly. However, what makes him so entertaining and not clichéd is that he blushes and is embarrassed to what he said, so much that he even regret saying the things he actually said. At one point, his quotes even makes the normally-staunch Chiyo blushes, and he too in the process, leading up to a very awkward yet hilarious moment. Of course, since he is so lovable, Nozaki just had to put him in his manga and position him as the main heroine of his manga.
Oh, Nozaki met both Seo and Mikoshiba when he is hunting for character ideas.

Seo stood as the most entertaining character for me.
So is Mikoshiba.

Other than those four… There’s Wakamatsu who is rather weak and submissive towards Seo, but tries so hard to beat her yet always fail miserably at it. Wakamatsu was mildly entertaining, but cannot be compared to the previous four I just mentioned.

Then, there’s Kashima and Hori. The two characters that I am not fond of. First, Kashima is a girl who is masculine in appearance and acts like a playboy, as she hits every girl she came in contact with, and always succeeds at doing so. First of all, I don’t really like masculine-looking girls that much. And second of all, her antics somehow irked me the wrong way. Then, there is Hori, the only third-year character in the show. What makes him memorable is his short stature and his violent tendency towards Kashima. Sure, Kashima looks like a guy, but there’s a limit of how freely you can act in front of the girl. They both seemingly had feelings for each other, but their antics made me feel that it doesn’t really matter.

Still with characters, this can be seen as a reverse-harem story for me. Why? The only female who is feminine enough to be called a girl are only Chiyo, Yukari, and Mamiko. Seo, at times, acts like a guy, and Kashima is a full blown guy wearing a skirt, and even Hori mistook him for one. Just a trivial statement though.

Much like other romantic-comedy anime, the plot moves very slow and of course, surely thanks to the advancement in relationship between Chiyo and Nozaki. There’s not much I can say for the plots though, as it is fairly non-existent other than moving very slow. It is not a problem though, as other romantic-comedy anime has this kind of problem as well. 

After that, we have settings. The settings are bland to be honest, limited only to Nozaki’s apartment, the school, and several places only appearing once or twice. However, the background was drawn wonderfully well and was great too, so I am okay with it. And there’s the music. The music is upbeat most of the time, fitting the series’ absurd moments at times and I love it.

The plot moves fairly slow, to be honest.
Most of the time, the setting are Nozaki's apartment, which is too generic for me.

However, the core strength of this animation lies in how beautifully-animated and handled this series is by Doga Kobo. As a matter of fact, this might have been the series that puts Doga Kobo on the map and places them as one of the top studios in Japan. It was very beautiful to see the character moves and works, as well as the carefully-handled the animation was as there was no faulty at them. I normally see a faulty in animations, such as how static their movement was and how lower the quality of it at times, but I don’t see it from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. And it was all thanks to Doga Kobo.

Voiceworks are excellent in my opinion, as it is star-studded with several well-known voice actors. 
However, the best work of the series really has to go to Ari Ozawa and her stellar performance as Chiyo. As this was one of her first-ever lead role she ever get, she thrives on the role and as a result, her popularity has shoots up as well. Her voice truly fits Chiyo’s upbeat personality and the way she voiced her absurd moments is also entertaining as well. Then, we have Yuuichi Nakamura as Nozaki. Nakamura’s listless voice truly fits the poker-faced Nozaki and his stature as a man who is younger than he looks. The rest were okay, but Miyuki Sawashiro’s performance as Seo is also good, in my opinion.

The anime was handled by care with the staff of Doga Kobo, which is to my liking.

All in all, it was a great show, an excellent show made for perfection. It was carefully handled by Doga Kobo, who knows the potential of this anime, but was too bad that there is not sequel announced yet as of the writing of this review. The characters of the anime were lovable and entertaining, and the comedic routing were marvelously done and I absolutely loved the series. The problem of rom-com is still visible on the anime and of course, somehow it almost lost it’s identity as a rom-com and tends to go overboard with the comedic routine.

There is also insight of making manga being made into light by the anime, and there was several well-known things, such as how pushy the editor is, how deadline is killing the mangaka, and how several real-life situations factor to creating a manga. That was well-done to be honest. And the manga bit was entertaining too.

Really reccomendable to everyone, even the casual viewers, due to how tame and easy-to-understand the series is, and how entertaining it is to everyone. It’s hard to turn down invitation to watch this anime to be honest.

The good : Great theme. Comedic routine are well-done. Characters are fleshed out really well. Colorful character design and beautiful animations. Provides several insight of how manga is handled when it is published on a famous magazine. .

The bad : Too short for an awesome series. Falls hopelessly towards comedy anime instead of a romantic-comedy anime. Several character antics are annoying.

Highlight moments : Chiyo and Nozaki’s moment left and right.

Final score : 4 out of 5. Too short to be honest. Direly needs a sequel in order to fulfill it’s potential.

It was indeed a great anime, though a sequel is really needed.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Notice of Return

I have finally returned from my dreaded time of doing my college work away from home and is currently back at home.

However, while i am back, i cannot update the blog as immediately. Expect a new blog post to be posted next monday.

Thank you for visiting the blog now, and when i am away.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Notice of Absence

Hi everyone.

Unfortunately, due to a college assignment, which had me stay in a countryside for a full month to do some college work at that place, i will not be able to post an update to this blog for up to a month. And with no access to internet or anime in that place, that means i will be isolated from those two things for a full month and as a result, will not be able to have any topics on my mind to write an article of, whether it is a review or a discussion, or an insight.

I'm terribly sorry for this inconvenience, but i will be able to post an article again until after the first week of september. Thanks.

Feel free to either scroll down or check the archives on the right side of my blog to check out my past articles if you haven't already read them, as i think i've made enough content to justify my absence.

Personal note : I am so not awaiting this trip to countryside and wished that i am right now on a hyper sleep and when i woke up, it's all september and everything is already over.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Voice Acting insight : Japan and the West

Voice acting is the one of the most integral part of an anime, most of the time. There are several instances of anime without voice acting at all, such as Studio Ghibli’s The Red Turtle, but in most cases, voice actings are the aspect that an anime could not take away from. Without it, there would be no voiced dialogue, character’s voice and even character songs. 

Prominently, seiyuu [Japanese term for Voice Actor] are now treated like a celebrity in Japan and sometimes, makes much more frequent appearances to an events, appears in certain radio, and even form a band of their own. With that, it is fairly easy to conclude that voice acting in japan is highly regarded,  to either the anime industry, or video gaming industry. And there are even some cases of people watching an particular title just to hear his or her favourite seiyuu's voice.

However, the same could not be said to the voice acting in the west, particularly USA, where anime are normally shipped to and dubbed at. Back in the era of 2000, dubbed anime are far more frequent and usually, they have a prominent voice actors playing out in an anime title, and they even dubbed certain songs to the west. 

Nowadays, it is not the case. Not many well-known voice actors are taking part on dubbing the anime in the west. Take for example Troy Baker. Before his ascension to the top of the voice-acting industry in the west on the video-game branch, he notably dubbed the voices of several anime characters such as Yamato from Naruto, Schneizel from Code Geass, and even Kanji Tatsumi from Persona 4 the Animation, whom he had to cut short due to his newfound allegiance to the video-game industry, and to date or as of right now when i wrote this article, Kanji Tatsumi was still the last anime character he gave his voice to. 
 Even Steven Blum, whom the anime world known perhaps as David Lucas, used to voice several well-known anime character such as Spike Siegel from Cowboy Bebop, Black Wargreymon from Digimon Adventures, and GTO’s own Eikichi Onizuka. Blum stated that he found himself on the anime industry from a career path that does not normally entangle together and was brought in only to voice creatures before filling in full-time as a full-fledged voice actor. Nowadays, he can be found giving his voice to several video games and western animation, especially adaptations of western comics. Despite that, he maintained his love for anime through the past few years.

Troy Baker is one of the most notable example of a voice actor who has abandoned the anime industry.
Also, Steven Blum is also one of the voice actors who has not yet had any roles in the anime.
Why is this happening? Well, everyone in Japan knows how anime is getting more and more stale each passing year in Japan and as a result, it is affecting the western market and total dip in the interest of anime, resulting in less revenue gained from anime-dubbing. Additionally, the rise of video-gaming cinematic and storytelling, as well as the profit it is gaining causes voice actors to jump ship from anime to video game in order to gain more paychecks. We cannot blame them, as people needs to earn a living in order to support themselves or their family. This is different in Japan though, as voice acting in Japan tends to net the seiyuu more money, given their extra appearances aside from just lending their voice such as making event appearances, singing, and even radio.

Don't get me wrong though, i am happy that voice actors who have choosen video games more than anime are now succesfull. Why wouldn't anyone be happy when their favourite person becomes even better? However, i do feel bad that i get to hear them less from something i love. And hearing them  saying that they still love anime to this day also puts a smile to my face.

And this resulted in the younger, and not that much well-known voice actor to take the reins in the industry of anime-dubbing in the west.  Even those who take part in play was called for to do dubbing for anime, as the voice of Taihei Doma from Himouto Umaru-chan was dubbed by Adam Noble, a stage actor from Houston Texas, though I must say he has done a very great work on Taihei. Those who were already a veteran to the voice acting industry tend to become a director as opposed to just voice acting, such as the case of Lex Lang, who takes the rein of ADR and voice director on special occasions.  Even Steven Blum did several ADR jobs occasionally.

Taihei's voice was given by a stage actor, though he's done a great job.
Veteran voice actors tend to become director on a dubbed anime as well.

There are several documentaries that delve to this industry. The one that I watch is The Adventures of Voice Acting made by Bang Zoom Entertainment in 2008. The documentary detailed on how several voice actors on why they took the path of voice acting and how it was initially their passion. The notable examples I learned from the documentary was the case of Stephanie Sheh and Crispin Freeman. Stephanie Sheh debuted on the anime I’m Gonna be an Angel and was excited to give her voice to the character and did not expect to get paid for doing the voicework as she thought it was her dream to be one and did not want money initially, especially was when the sum was great. Crispin Freeman was also interesting, as he was initially not that interested in becoming a voice actor before finally auditioning to be one. The documentary was really good and I recommend those who want to know how voice acting is done in the west, as well as several cases of voice actors should really check this piece out.

I mentioned earlier that money was one of the problem that makes voice acting not that popular in the west. The western voice actor sometimes enjoyed remaining unknown to the public mass, unlike the one found in Japan. In Japan, voice actors are more exposed to things such as event appearances, singing, and even photoshoot and as a result, they have to take care of their appearance [Note how seiyuu these days are good-looking]. In the west however, this is not the case, as voice actors are normally not that good-looking and dresses casually to go to work and did not really enjoy a public appearance.

An article mentioned how connections are important in landing a role.

And how rigorous it is to be a seiyuu these days.
Voice acting in Japan tends to put a voice actor, sometimes a rookie, who landed a main role in an anime, to a limelight and lifted them to stardom.  While this may be good, one anime opened the eyes of some to the light about how voice acting industry is done in Japan. Girlish Number, anime that aired last year, explained how a rookie might be given a main role in just one anime before they fade away into nothingness. Perhaps this is because their voice are bland? Or they’re just not that special? Or what? While this seemed unreal, this has happened in real life. Aimi Tanaka, the voice of Umaru Doma from Himouto Umaru-chan did not enjoy the same success she had when she voiced Umaru, even though she won the best newcomer award for her performance as Umaru. Perhaps the sequel to the Himouto Umaru-chan might be what she need to return back to the top, but I am not placing my bets.

Aside from Aimi Tanaka, there is also Kanako Kondou, the voice of Noel Vermillion and the Murakumo units from the BlazBlue series. Aside from her work as Noel Vermillion, there is no other notable role for her to put on her resume and many have thought that she might be one of the cases of ‘pet project’ made by Arc System Works to lift her to stardom, which failed. Her work in the BlazBlue universe is so diverse that aside from giving her voice to Noel, she starred in BlazBlue radio with Tomokazu Sugita [Ragna the Bloodedge] and Asami Imai [Tsubaki Yayoi], performed several songs as Noel, and even finally landed a main character role in the anime, in the form of BlazBlue : Alter Memory again as Noel Vermillion.

Umaru's seiyuu, Aimi Tanaka, still hasn't reached the same heights when she performed  as Umaru.
Different case in Noel's seiyuu, Kanako Kondou, who was seemingly pushed.
While those two are simple example, those two proven how right Girlish Number were and how tight is the competition on the voice-acting industry in Japan, as opposed to the much more comfortable roles voice actings are in the west.

Anime News Network also made an article of how newcomers found it hard these days to make breakthrough, due to the fact that appearances now matter in the industry and connections play a much larger part in landing big role. As a result, up and coming seiyuu tends to lend their voice to the smartphone games. 

Megumi Hayashibara also commented on how modern anime have hurt voice actings as well due to their unoriginality and clichéd demeanors. 

The number of voice acting schools in Japan also highlighted how important it is and how it is possible to build a career for being a seiyuu. However, enrolling in a voice acting schools is not a sure-fire way of building a career as one. Hard work, connections, and passion, as well as appearance is just several factors needed to break through in the japanese voice acting industry.

This was the case of Daisuke Ono. He was voicing a no-name lines left and right from 2000 to 2005 before finally landing  a big, albeit supporting, role in the form of Koizumi Itsuki. From there on, his career has taken a step up after he made live concert of Suzumiya Haruhi and singing character song, still as Koizumi Itsuki. And the next big thing he landed was his most famous role, Sebastian Michaelis from Black Butler and right now, he is regarded as one of the most popular voice actors in Japan. Daisuke Ono proves how hard work and perserverance can make him be regarded as one of the best. From something small, eventually reaching the top. 

Ono's rise from rags to riches is also well-known.

All in all, the voice actings in the Japan and the west are different through several factors. While voice acting in japanese continues to be big, the downfall of anime might drag them down as well, and causes voice acting to be much more demanding and rigorous in the process. The same could not be said to the western voice acting, which puts more focus on video game industry aside from the anime. The amount of money gained from dubbing anime in the west and being a seiyuu in japan is absolutely different and it is better to say that giving voice to video game much more profitable than dubbing anime these days.

I enjoyed writing this article as I found myself to like voice actors, whether it is English or Japanese actors. The insights that I gained are from my experiences of watching several anime and reading some articles regarding to this, as well as watching the aforementioned Adventures in Voice Acting. Steven Blum remains my favourite English-dub voice actor and Tomokazu Sugita is my favourite seiyuu. Tomokazu Sugita was blessed as he was given a big supporting role in his debut, and showcase his skill.

Voice acting is fun, but there's more layer to it than an onion it seems.