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The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio
Episode 5

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 5 of
The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio ?
Community score: 4.0

The end of last week's episode represented the end of the first plotted-out story arc, which means it's time to find out what the next phase of Voice Actor Radio will look like. It turns out the answer is…a whole lot of setup and characters commiserating about what the next phase of the story will look like.

This episode rewinds the plot a bit. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that Yasumi and Yuhi didn't just immediately get back to business as usual—an impromptu tell-all livestream is the sort of thing that can't get swept under the rug in their industry. Yasumi's manager Ringo taking her to apologize to the head of Yuhi's talent agency is rife with fake-outs and subversions that make the audience question how dedicated this series is to the "real world" aspect of idol voice acting. There's one more instance of pointing out the amusing fact that what Yasumi did was, technically, totally pointless. Then the rest of the situation is finding out that the big boss and Ringo orchestrated a little stress session primarily to teach Yasumi a lesson.

Right here, as Voice Actor Radio moves into its second "volume" of story, its approach to showbiz storytelling starts coming off as more fictionalized, friendlier, and more orchestrated. It's a work dramedy where the situations the characters stumble into are conveniently never far from being resolved. This is not to say that Yasumi and Yuhi don't suffer some setbacks in their response to the scandal—in fact, it's the backbone of the new story arc this episode sets up. But there's a sense of brushing things aside as the heroines move forward without worrying about playing up their old personas, alongside some apologia about the exploitative elements of idol work. There's less interest in the commentary aspect, which was the most interesting edge the series had previously.

There is still some edge. Among all the new cast members brought in this episode is Mekuru Yubisaki. What is with all the 'Y' names in this show? Yubisaki seems tailor-made to placate my requests for more outright meanness from this series. She's all-in on the image-based idol voice actress kayfabe, and she's more than happy to take her professional frustrations out on Yasumi for what she sees as endangering it. This is usually where I'd be like, "She's great, I love her, no notes," but Yubisaki doesn't get to do much in this episode except berate Yasumi, then serve as an example that the main heroines will soon be working with. The idea behind Yubisaki is entertaining, especially in how her carefully polished surface might rub up against Yasumi and Yuhi. Thus far, she's just one more element in the outline of this story that the characters read off in this episode.

Speaking of characters rubbing up against each other, seeing Yasumi and Yuhi properly interacting post-relationship reset provides some chemistry. It's funny to see how, gyaru that she is, Yasumi has been harboring some excited desire to do makeup on Yuhi. For her part, Yuhi is excited about getting touchy-feely with Yasumi as this happens. Is this series going to go full yuri with the relationship between the two frenemies? It's akin to the bathtub scene from the third episode but more restrained and characterful. And I suppose it's only fair that girls who like girls get "lucky" fanservice fantasies like this.

It also distracts from the other odd shortcomings of this episode. As I said, there's an air of apologia for the exploitative elements of the "idol" part of being an idol voice actress. Yuhi muses on her dislike for that part of the job while wistfully admitting its necessity in helping her pick up work, as the show deftly avoids the point that maybe professional voice actresses shouldn't have to entertain a shallow fantasy for entitled fans just to be able to do their actual job. It's all wrapped up in Voice Actor Radio, at this point, making it seem like the main thing voice actresses do is go on radio shows and sell personas, with the whole "voice acting" thing being something of a side hustle. Again, this might be a meaningful commentary on the industry if the story wanted to engage with that point, but at least at this juncture, there's no questioning of it.

I'm mostly down on this episode because it felt like Voice Actor Radio had the runway to launch into a fresh new take on itself but spent most of its time recapping, explicating, and planning. There are still fun bits, like the girls' dress-up disguise session (though I question if they're going to need to do that to avoid the paparazzi every time they leave school), plus we get to see them sniping at each other satisfactorily a couple times. There's also a solid gag about Yuhi going off on a fandom rant about mecha anime, while Yasumi just kind of ignores her. Most importantly, we meet Yuhi's manager, Naruse Shuri, a tiny bespectacled woman in a suit who gets asked out for drinks by Yasumi's manager, Ringo (who is also cool). Voice Actor Radio, listen, you have a moral imperative to, at some point, show me this miniature manager downing a big ol' mug of beer. Without that, I would truly have lost hope for this anime living up to its potential.


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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