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The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio
Episode 12

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 12 of
The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio ?
Community score: 4.2

Well, that's a wrap for the season on Illusionary Mecha Soldier Phantom. It was an intense ride to get here, but witnessing Shirayuri's final stand in all its passionately acted glory practically makes the whole part worth it. That's an incredible climax that mecha anime fans will talk about for years to come.

Oh and the season finale of The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio was okay too, I guess.

I don't know that I was expecting much out of dealing with Yasumi's acting struggles at the end here, given the sheer amount of hemming and hawing over the past few episodes. The most proper feedback viewers had ever seen her get came from Ringo way back, telling Yasumi to stop trying so hard. While I enjoyed the anime's relaxed approach to characterization, resting on its laurels is less of a good idea when trying to drum up drama involving someone's efforts and abilities. So Yasumi at last works herself up to her turning point of asking Yuhi for help, theoretically intertwining the bond even further between the duo and giving her the edge she needs.

It turns out that Yuhi's advice for voice acting is the same as it is for prison: simply assert yourself as strongly as possible against the biggest, most imposing others in the yard—er, recording studio. It is…a slightly more dramatized take on the "Act harder!" advice that seems to be all that Yasumi has previously gotten, and it's still not the most convincing material that Voice Actor Radio has utilized. By this point it all gives off the air of the original material being written by someone with an enjoyment and appreciation for the performance of voice acting, but little understanding or inclination to learn about the actual craft. That robs the series of more technical or granular aspects that could have been applied to distinguish it.

Fortunately, the actual voice actresses on hand understand the assignment of voice acting. However the advice got her there, Yasumi's climactic performance as Shirayuri, pulling it off in a single (re)take comes off strong. Seeing the recording in this behind-the-scenes context properly works to sell the appreciation for voice acting that this series is technically built around. It's a big, dramatic moment from a mecha anime that's technically bereft of context but which a genre-aware audience will know all too well. It's presented with no music or sound effects and only the barest early animation boards and the whole scene is still carried enduringly by the voice actresses playing off each other—with just a dash of allegory from their real-life situation spicing it up. It's faith in the medium and the appeal of this show's whole concept that it would have been nice to see it have through its entire run.

It's a swell centerpiece of this finale that just about gets it over. Yasumi's narration about the impact of the episode sets up the possibility of future story arcs, even as the resolution remains that the best acting advice she could get really was "try harder." If this whole exercise were approached from an adoring fan perspective, that would explain the lack of technical craft knowledge and the off-putting focus on fan feelings powering two-thirds of the show. As with the other stronger episodes, this last entry is a window into a version of the series that I might have found more compelling, to say nothing of being better arranged to work within the anime's basic production values. Maybe it really would have always been better just as a radio show.

Nearly the entire second half of the episode is set around that coupled focus of that in-universe radio show and the sweet-and-sour relationship between Yasumi and Yuhi that's been this series' raison d'etre. I'm not sure what level of irony we're on that an anime that sold itself on obvious yuri bait ends with Yasumi calling out obvious yuri bait. It's the sort of thing that might make me wonder if Voice Actor Radio ever intended to go anywhere near that element (Yuhi's continuous complimenting of Yasumi's bust aside), but I don't know that I need to worry about finding out. There are a few more gestures at future characters set up in this extended coda, but it still feels like a perfectly acceptable place to leave the story off: Yasumi and Yuhi spitefully compliment each other through clenched teeth as they kick each other's shins under the table. The anime's good at that, and it's good at deploying the voice acting, but man could it have been so much better had it been able to utilize anything else it had going on.


The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

The many sides of Chris include reviewing anime, playing rhythm games, and treating himself to too many Transformers toys. You can find him posting about all of these and more over on his Twitter, or occasionally going more in-depth on his blog.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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