Girls Beyond the Wasteland
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Girls Beyond the Wasteland ?
With the script finally done, it's time for Yuka to stop being a dead weight and get on with the voice acting. They usher her into the booth for her first experience acting in a professional capacity. She chokes at first, but eventually churns out something decent. However, new problems soon arise. It turns out that Yuka's been sensitive about not having anything to do on the project so far. The gig has also brought out self-esteem issues related to her acting. This has turned her into a perfectionist about her performance, potentially sabotaging their ability to finish the game on time. When this happens, the team needs to reconsider whether she'll be able to star in their game. But in the end, they manage to reassure her, and Yuka is able to do her job properly. Meanwhile, her feelings for Bunty are still simmering beneath the surface.
I've compared this show unfavorably to Shirobako many times in the past, but this is the episode where the comparison really hurts. Girls Beyond the Wasteland had previously managed to carve something of a niche for itself as an anime about the process of creating a visual novel specifically. This conceit helps when they're talking about issues somewhat idiosyncratic to game-making, but voice acting is depicted much more often in anime. While it's executed more competently than some of the previous material (I'll never get over that fishing episode), there are just too many better depictions of the voice-acting process for me to compare this to. Koe de Oshigoto!, Shirobako, even Bakuman (a manga about manga-making) had a voice-acting component. It's more worn material, so even through this was a decent showing for Girls Beyond the Wasteland, the show still just recalls better things I could have been watching.
The silver lining is that there are, once again, a few well-observed moments in the otherwise dull experience. My favorite was the attention given to Kai for his work as a general production assistant. That's an important but oft-overlooked job and it's nice to see it given its due. It might've been a good subject for an episodic plot. Maybe Kai feels overlooked and the rest of the team needs to reassure him? But there still might be time for that. Another good part was the reason behind Yuka's performance anxiety. As a child, her parents discouraged her from her ambitions as an actress. That didn't stop her – she's the star of her high school productions – but it's given her issues when she decides to step up into a more professional capacity. That's relatable! That sort of negative feedback can hit hard and manifest in unpredictable ways. She first became friends with Buntarou and Kai when they reassured her ambitions. Now her friends make up a solid, loving support network. At its best, Girls Beyond the Wasteland feels like a genuine depiction of a person's experiences as a burgeoning creative. I don't think that this overwhelms the show's copious other flaws (it's still dull, unfunny, and visually challenged), but there is a spark of creative expression there.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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