Fifteen-year-old Hime Kino is an aspiring voice actress. More than anything, she wants to be like her idol Sakura Aoyama, a famous actress on the hit shojo anime series Lovely Blazers. Shojo voice actresses need to be able to do cute voices, but unfortunately, Hime has a naturally low and gravelly voice. The other students in Holly Academy’s voice acting department cannot understand how she made it into the school, let alone why she only wants to audition for a character archetype that she could never voice. Her biggest adversary happens to be Sakura Aoyama’s son, Senri, who is already doing professional work. Despite this potential setback, Hime is consistently upbeat and optimistic as she works towards her goal, but her mission to become a Lovely Blazer begins to waver as she realizes that she has real talent doing the voices of male characters.
In Japan and the U.S., younger male characters are often voiced by female actresses. Hime proves her worth when she must act as the voice of Prince Charming in a lunchtime radio drama competition against the older students, and again when she pretends to be her friend’s boyfriend in order to scare away a stalker. Hime must decide if it is more important to take only roles that will lead her to become a Lovely Blazer or to embrace the roles she can do well and launch a potentially successful career.
In Japan, voice actors often have the same popularity that television and movie actors have in the U.S. Popular actors and actresses who are known for their roles but who also excel at singing and performing—and being good looking doesn’t hurt—can achieve idol status. While you would probably never see an American graphic novel about a day in the life of an aspiring voice actress, the field’s credibility in Japan, and the number of schools that focus specifically on voice acting, make it the perfect topic for a manga for tweens or younger teens. Many anime fans throughout the world follow the careers of their favorite voice actors, and some—like Hime—may be inspired to become one.
Voice Over! Seiyu Academy is Maki Minami’s second manga series to be published in the U.S., of which four volumes are currently available. The artistic style, the introduction of two possible love interests for Hime, and Hime’s overly enthusiastic personality are all expected elements in a shojo series, but Minami-san executes her story well with good pacing and humorous dialogue, creating a fun and engaging read. While it may not be a realistic portrayal of the way the industry works, teens who are interested in voice acting will still eat this up. Overall, this volume is a solid purchase for any manga collection.
Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy, vol. 1
by Maki Minami
Publisher Age Rating: T