Without good voice actors many industries would struggle to make a name for themselves. However despite being a major factor in any form of animation, the job of a voice actor is rarely explored. However, Maki Minami, a mangaka best known for her manga Special A, has created a new manga series called Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy which focuses on one girl trying to make it in the voice acting industry. Being a silent medium, does a manga about voice acting work well enough to get off the ground in Volume 1?
Ever since she was helped by the voice actress who handled the voice work for the heroine of Lovely Blazers, a magical girl anime she loved as a child, Hime Kino has always dreamed of becoming a voice actress. She doesn’t want to be just any voice actress either, she wants to be able to be the lead voice of the cute cast of Lovely Blazers eventually, but despite taking the first major step towards her dream, there is one thing holding her back.
After being accepted into the special voice acting program at the prestigious Holly Academy, Hime’s abilities are exposed and it is clear from the beginning that it is going to be an uphill battle for her. You see, whenever Hime tries to be cute, becomes nervous or even tries to act out a character her voice comes out sounding like a gruff old man or an animal making snorting noises. After her first attempt at acting, she earns herself the nickname of “Gorilla Princess” and is placed in a group of stragglers with three other misfits.
This group consists of a girl who cannot speak up, a guy who should be popular but speaks with an accent and has dirty habits, and a tough guy who tries to rough up anyone criticizing him or the rest of the stragglers. Despite being placed in this group however, Hime never lets the constant barriers put in her path get her down. It is quite invigorating to watch as she constantly is told that she simply cannot do something or is typecast into another role and she continues to do her best regardless of what others say.
Through the course of this first volume we are introduced to what will likely remain the main cast and a number of side-characters. There are a number of different personalities at play here but it seems that the main male character will be Senri Kudo, the son of Hime’s idol, will be the main male lead. His introduction in this first volume leads much to be desired as, other than his love of cats, he is little more than a typical tsundere that treats Hime coldly except on a few occasions, leaving him as one of the least interesting characters in this volume.
Thankfully, Hime’s constant determination in the face of adversity makes her a noteworthy main character and her personality helps serve as a strong introduction in volume 1 as we see her begin her path to being a voice actress, meet the numerous faces that will play roles from here on out, and establish a few plotlines that will likely be developed over the course of the next few volumes.
With Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy Volume 1 we have your standard shojo style of character with a number of handsome looking guys surrounding Hime as well as a few female characters added to the mix with plenty of sparkling and bubbly backgrounds here and there. There are a number of details that help set the manga apart however such as the amount of detail put into Hime’s expressions as a number of panels are full page spreads of her face either thanking someone or being determined.
Now one of the key aspects of this manga is trying to convey the way that these voice actors and actresses sound when they are speaking. Thankfully through the use of font choices and dialogue bubble appearance, Viz has managed to properly portray the way that these characters are meant to sound, with Hime’s rough voice and the various capabilities of other students clearly demonstrated thanks to these two nicely handled aspects. It is worth noting that there does seem to be a bit of damage to artwork in a few panels over the course of the volume, as a few text boxes appear to blot out and obstruct the artwork at times.
At the beginning of each chapter there are a few notes from the author, Maki Minami. This is the followed by a small omake strip placed a few pages into each chapter where the author tells us a bit about her life and her work. Closing out the manga there is a bonus short called “Welcome to Mitchy’s Room” which is followed by some translation notes about some terms used at various places in the volume.
Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy Volume 1 serves as a great start to the story as Hime’s infectious positivity and determination helps her push through her limited talent and voice. Not only that, Viz has managed to take a sound based story and successfully introduces it through text form through nice font and box usage. Unfortunately the supporting cast is lacking at the moment and the character that is presented as a male lead is as textbook as they come, somewhat hindering what is otherwise a great start to a manga tackling a rarely covered side of animation.
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