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The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio
Episode 6

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 6 of
The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio ?
Community score: 3.7

The idea of the artifice involved in being idol voice actresses has been the most consistently effective side of Voice Actor Radio. Yasumi and Yuhi "expose" devoted fans to the concept of manufactured performer personas, which is the central issue causing their careers' uphill battle. It's called out quickly and angrily by guest star Yubisaki at the beginning of this week's episode. How the show's writing feels about that is still cagey after the apology it gave last week. For my part, I'll admit that the fictionalized fan complex with this setting is stupid. Even if you enjoy the fantasy necessitating that these girls act as facilitators of worshippable idealism, you have to be cognizant to recognize the fantasy that it is. Everyone knows pro wrestling is fake, but you enjoy the show as a show with that in mind.

I want to give Voice Actor Radio the benefit of the doubt on where it might come down on that subject since, as I said, it's the part holding my interest the most. When it's using its characters and their propensity for explaining things to muse on those intricacies, it winds up in some provoking places. Partway through this episode, Asaka brings up the point that even though the actresses act with their "real" personalities, they still necessarily require "acting" and emphasizing that personality. She uses the phrase "acting like someone who's you but not quite" to lead into how stressful that could feel, and dang if that isn't a summation of so many aspects of socialization and the human condition. I should expect a character representing a fellow, extremely relatable writer to come up with something so salient.

I don't know that I need Voice Actor Radio to be 100% existential navel-gazing, but dang if it doesn't need something else besides those philosophical breakthroughs as it goes through all its other motions. Seeing more of Yubisaki after last week and hearing her sharply snipe at Yasumi is entertaining if you're into this kind of energy the way I am. But then the anime does that annoying thing it regularly does, where it skips over Yubisaki's actual participation in the show and then has Yasumi describe how contrastingly cordial her performance was. Come on, Voice Actor Radio, that's your entire gimmick! Is it a purposefully distracting omission meant to highlight the sheer degree to which Yubisaki siloes her acting facade and her true personality? This story has some clever points, but the anime's presentation has never been nearly that clever, so I'm not inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

As well, arbiter of artifice though she seems to be, Yubisaki disappears from this episode's plot after that segment so the show can awkwardly pivot to some more conjured-up contrivances to lurch itself forward. Yasumi and Yuhi needing to deal with weird fans threatening to approach them makes sense with the setup so far—they did effectively dox themselves and need to regularly leave school in disguises to avoid the paparazzi. The earlier harping about the issues with fan perception might even indicate that dealing with that corner of the fallout would be central to this next arc. But no, as of now, it's mainly a convenient threat for Yuhi's mom to pressure her to quit voice acting. Yasumi, naturally, gets immediately drafted into these shenanigans.

Now, I could argue that it's stupid of Yuhi's mother to think that just having her quit would prevent any worrying weirdos from coming after her. If anything, it would just make things worse. But I can give the writing enough credit to understand that her mom doesn't care about that point and is just using this as a smokescreen to make her daughter leave a profession she disapproves of. That doesn't prevent the characters from needing to deal with it by way of a fantastical wager to keep overzealous fans off of them after posting their exact location, but that's neither here nor there. Maybe that interaction will elaborate on Voice Actor Radio's position on fandom more effectively. Maybe Yubisaki will come back and be involved appreciably. Maybe this anime will suddenly manifest more solid production values and stop deploying so many awkward fading scene transitions. Theoretically, anything is possible.

I understand that Voice Actor Radio is primarily a story, not an analytical essay, and things must happen to progress it. But it feels like the show has gotten pretty far from its blunt, entrenched analysis of the industry and its economy of personality by this point. The "acting as yourself" bit keeps me hanging on, and there's more delving into that before the end of this episode, with Yasumi's mom acknowledging her personal, undissuadable desire to continue voice acting. I can appreciate the way both girls love the craft so much that they're willing to put up with this showbiz bullshit to get to do it. And we get to see them doing some voice acting this episode, so hey, they didn't forget about that element. But I hope the melodramatic mechanical construction the story has built the next phase of its plot on top of allows it to do a little more with its driving themes than it has so far. Given how it blithely skips over much of itself, my faith isn't high.


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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