Time to check out a manga about voice acting. It’s a fairly unique premise to build the series around and works well with your classic rom-com setup. If anything I thought this series really could have been quite a bit longer. I’d have liked to see Hime get to progress more so we could see her in the bigger productions. The series really seems to end just when she has broken out of her shell with the inevitable big time skip. 12 volumes is nothing to sneeze at but something like 16-20 would have been good. All in all, this is a fun series with a satisfying conclusion.
The series focuses around Hime who is a girl that really wants to be a talented voice actress. She attends Seiyu Academy for that one goal but she does have a big weakness. The problem is that her voice…makes her sound like a gorilla. The higher pitch she tries to use, the deeper and rougher the voice comes out. It’s all frustrating for Hime because she has been practicing for so long but has not even come close to her goal. Ultimately she wants to be a “Lovely Blazer” which is what the fighters in a popular anime/music group/vocal group are called. Meeting one in person was what inspired her as a kid.
Still, dreams are only dreams until she can get close. At the school she meets up with the popular boy at school known as Senri. Senri is the opposite as he is extremely talented in any role and is seen as a prodigy. Unfortunately they don’t get off on the right foot so he really dislikes her now. (His fault because he starts off by insulting her) When a play reading for Snow White goes wrong, Hime discovers that she does have exceptional voice acting talent…for male characters. This isn’t exactly her dream though and she wants to keep it a secret. She meets up with a voice coach who makes a deal with her. She has to keep performing as a guy in secret by dressing up as a guy and living a double life. If she can pull this off for a while then he promises to make her a big star as a girl too. Hime’s double life has now begun, but how long can she keep up the act!?
Double lives tend to be fun because it just opens up so many possibilities for story telling. It’s part of what makes superheroes fun as well. Hime has to keep on deceiving everyone as she pulls off her skills to the point where she has to even live at a different place temporarily so nobody knows what’s going on. She has some family issues at home though so this is easy. (Everyone has family issues in this series) Ironically enough, she gets along with Senri really well in her alter ego but the longer she keeps up the secret, the harder it will be to tell him the truth.
So there’s a ton going on here which is part of why I said it could have been longer. For starters, she’s in her boy form so long that “Hime” can vanish for whole volumes. It becomes very rare to see her at all sometimes to the point where you get used to her other design more. Each plot also has its own set of characters. As Hime she hangs out with the dropout group where the voice actors/actresses were just not big enough to be popular. At school they all help each other to be better. As “Shiro” she hangs out with the expert music stars and directors and also meets Mizuki, a guy who ends up liking her and is quite possibly the worst character in the series although I do not think this was intentional by the series.
So lets go through each side here. I would say the Shiro plot was the strongest one since it’s really the meat of the series. Having to assume a whole new identity and keep the bluff going allows for a lot of shenanigans to occur but also shows how versatile Shiro is. She is still able to make friends quickly and everyone respects her work ethic. She is still a newbie to all of this after all but begins to improve very quickly. Even the tough director gives her a pass after a while.
While I don’t like him, Mizuki will also stick up for her. This storyline also allows us to learn more about Senri’s situation which is certainly complicated. You know that this alter ego will have to end at some point but it’s fun for the duration of the series. I think Hime should even have kept that as something to use if she’s ever in a tough spot trying to find roles as herself. Or maybe reveal it by being in a show where she plays both roles but I’m not sure how feasible that would be long-term. The more the years go by the more her Shiro disguise likely wouldn’t work. It’s the kind of thing that mainly works because she’s still a kid, well I guess teenager at this point but still on the younger side.
As mentioned, Mizuki is just a character I didn’t like at all. The guy’s a big star who is really timid after things didn’t work out with the first girl he liked. He tried his best to help her out at every corner but ultimately this caused her to think he was stifling her development and she had an outburst before dashing off. Honestly I wouldn’t say he did anything wrong there and the girl just should have spoken up. Regardless this traumatized Mizuki so with Hime he is really trying to have a balance where he helps out but lets her do her own thing.
So that’s good but then he ends up trying to make some moves on her and this is where he faltered badly. He’s the kind of character who is nice one second and then quite rude the next. You were never rooting for him to win with her at any point. His origin was sad so you want to cut him some slack but he didn’t make the double life any easier on her when he starts up with the drama. At least he gave her the glasses which could help her get into the prince voice easier.
Senri gets a big role in both sides of the plot. While he doesn’t get along with Hime at all, he does form a quick bond with “Shiro”. After all, for him it’s just easier to hang out with another guy since he at least has some experience there. Senri easily has the biggest character arc in the series and it’s one that was handled well. He slowly breaks out of his shell and learns how to live normally. I thought his plot was usually the most engaging so I was always ready to see what was going on with him.
He also has the most tragic backstory of the group. So his mother Sakura is the world’s greatest actress. She didn’t start out that skilled but had a drive like no other. She ultimately had Senri as a kid but had stopped being an ordinary person long ago. So she raised him as if they were in a movie. Every action and moment was according to the characters they played and so she didn’t see him as her son. Senri grew up with this rather twisted view of the world where everyone was faking their actions and playing roles. This led to a lot of friendships being broken and his becoming a loner.
It’s easy to see how he doesn’t know how to connect with anyone in the present. It’s not like you pick up social skills automatically. How you’re raised plays a big role there and so he was completely broken since he was raised in a way where he didn’t know what was an emotion and what was the role. In the present it makes for an interesting character trait since he really can’t tell if he is in a role or not. That’s definitely a high level of trauma.
So while Sakura’s skills are very good, this hurts her as a character quite a bit. You like to think that she would have been able to raise Senri a little better than she did but he never ended up becoming her top priority. She would always choose work first and of course work is important but Senri’s life was very nearly ruined as a young age. Without Shiro he would have only grown worse.
Shuuma is Mizuki’s friend and he wasn’t very good right from the start. He jumps right towards bullying Shiro from the start to drive him away from Mizuki. It’s the kind of petty tactic that you can’t really come back from. So while this was short lived, it’s not like he had any great moments after this to improve his character further. Fujimori is another character from the agency plot and he’s much better. The guy is rivals with Mizuki but doesn’t randomly go after Shiro to make himself feel better.
In fact, he quickly learns that teamwork is good and is very supportive the whole time. He does end up getting caught in the romance crossfire between the other characters so they’ll randomly attack him but the guy meant well. He’s a rather minor character overall but he was always entertaining.
That’s about all of the characters from the Shiro plot. Before going over to Hime’s story, just a quick reminder that Hime = Shiro. Shiro is just the cover for Hime when she has to work as a guy for a while and using the separate terms in the review is an easy way to keep the two plots separate. For the most part the storylines and characters don’t interact nearly as much as you would expect. There is some overlap like how Senri is at school and in the business but for the most part he’s more of an exception.
Hime and Shiro have the same personality so there’s no sense in talking about the character twice. Hime is a solid main character. She may not be particularly talented at the start but she doesn’t let this get her down and just keeps at it until she can be the best. We actually do get to see a lot of chapters where Hime is training and practicing various steps. I would say it’s very rare that we see this level of training so the author really did a good job in showing just how much drive she had. If any character deserved to get good then it was her.
This is also what helped Haruka to be a likable character. So in the Hime plot, he has given her the mission to pretend to be a guy for a while to get her networking experience, connections, and basically because that’s the only kind of voice she can use at the moment. He acts tough on the outside but he really does this to help her out. So when she gets bullied or talked down to, he always has her back. There was one scene in particular where they go to Hime’s house because they needed permission from her mother for something.
In the scene Hime’s mother keeps talking about her other daughter and dissing Hime the whole time. Haruka was quick to take Hime’s defense and publicly support her there. I thought it was a really pivotal moment and you always want to have an ally like that. When Hime gets sick, Haruka helps make sure she gets peace and quiet. He ends up feeling like the parental figure that Hime never had.
While Hime’s mother looks bad the whole time, none of the blame can be put on Hime’s younger sister Akane. Akane is still just a kid and while she is super talented and successful, she is never mean about it. I get the feeling she’d like to be closer to Hime but it just isn’t possible in this toxic household. Between Hime and Senri’s mothers, the series certainly has a lot of broken households where the characters weren’t raised well. At least you’re glad that Akane was able to have a successful life so far.
Then you have Hime’s friends at school who are all in the delinquent/lower class because they struggle with one form of voicework or another. First is Tsukino and her issue is that her voice is just really low. It’s hard for her to use her voice more since she got bullied for it a whole lot. Part of Hime’s role in this group is to get everyone past their fears though and gradually Tsukino gets past hers. I wouldn’t say she gets a lot of moments in the series but everyone got something to do and this was a nice enough plot.
In general I just liked how close knit the group was and how they would all have each other’s backs during the tough times. Shou is the tough punk of the group and basically isn’t doing well because he can seem like a bit of a delinquent. This comes in handy though because he doesn’t let anyone mess with them. Additionally he’s able to be friends with Ume who had a tough time being with others. Ume could be a little stuck up at times and with her talent for writing scripts, she wouldn’t take the voice actors/actresses into account. Gradually she is able to fix this.
That really wraps up both sides of the adventures here. The cast is fairly large here and they’re all balanced well. It does go back to what I was saying about the series being a little short though. With all of these characters I really think it could have been really good to have just had a few more volumes. It feels like there is still so much to do when the series ends. We didn’t really get to see everyone’s reactions to finding out about Hime, her journey into being more successful, etc. You just have to try your best to fit in the pieces when the time skip jumps in.
The artwork here is good. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the stronger Shojo titles that I’ve read in that area but the writing is able to hold it up. You’ll be blasting through each volume because it just ends up being a real page turner. The humor works well enough and balances out the more serious moments here. I suppose the romance wasn’t bad. Any scene with Mizuki in it was always annoying but the rest wasn’t super dramatic nor was it usually the focus so that helped. This way the title got to be more about the various friendships with the characters and how they all help each other to succeed. An academy where you train to be a professional should be a place like that where you can count on others to have your back.
Overall, Voice Over is a series that I would certainly recommend. It’s a fairly unique premise and it’s always fun to see the inner workings of how the voices go. Changing up your voice and doing a lot of roles always seems like something that would be difficult to do. Naturally it’s best when people just like your default voice so you can keep using that but I want to say that most won’t be so lucky. You’ll need to be able to play many different roles. So if you’re up for a light hearted adventure then this is a fun one to check out. Where else will you get a fun comedy with the main character living two lives right?