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The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio
Episode 7

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 7 of
The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio ?
Community score: 3.8

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I'm someone who's just never been wired to invest in parasocial relationships. It means I tend not to be bothered by feeling like I'm "owed" anything by artists and creators. But that also means stories specifically extolling and exploring that relationship can require extra legwork for me to get invested in. That can be annoying since you know me; I love metatext! Works featuring performers in a medium exploring in-universe performances in that medium should be a delicious layer cake of concepts for me to dig into. But then people in a series like Voice Actor Radio start going on about how they felt personally "betrayed" to find out that these voice actors were indeed acting, and my eyes roll back so hard that my contacts fly off.

Credit to Voice Actor Radio, it seems like it's attempting to meet crotchety cynics like me halfway using the presentation of these fictionalized concerns. Okay, "presentation" may seem odd to praise for a series with production values so mid; it might as well be an actual radio show, but still. See, the main voice of those fan concerns in this week's episode turns out to be none other than Yubisaki, who, it turns out, isn't quite as much of a one-note stick-in-the-mud as she'd previously seemed. Her "disguise" in her appearance at Yuhi and Yasumi's meet-and-greet is utterly transparent, so it's good the show doesn't tease out the twist too long so it can get straight to its two leads grilling their surprise secret fan.

As far as a treatment for Yubisaki as a character herself, this is pretty fun! The layers of voice acting from the cast of Voice Actor Radio have necessarily been its most consistent saving grace, and Nao Tōyama proves herself alongside the leads with aplomb. Her shift from sharp-tongued hater to inelegantly wailing weirdo is a delight, and that helps punch up the story context it's carrying. Yubisaki, like all the eponymous voice actors in this anime, has many sides to her, and in her case, she siloes these sides of her personality in a pretty extreme example of work/life balance. The idea that acting as an extra-professional hardass is the only way she can prevent her seiyuu otaku self from leaking out around people who are ostensibly her peers is a funny spin. And as much as I enjoyed Yubisaki being mean, I can see the appeal in this complexity, blunt as it is.

It lends an extra layer to Yubisaki's callouts of Yasumi and Yuhi abandoning their previous personas since she was a fan of them and a participant in that idol structure's artifice. That's neat as far as adding instant depth to a character and getting to listen to Yubisaki's nerd self make some unhinged noises. But it also necessarily leads to a discussion of the relationships between fans and the fabricated sides of their favorite performers. Yubisaki's articulated issues are at least grounded a bit more in reality, or as much reality as a multi-layered metatext like this can hold up—she understood that the old characters of Yasumi and Yuhi were, in fact, characters. She just rather enjoyed them and is sad that the emergence of their more "authentic" selves means she won't get to hear those old performances again. It's akin to when your favorite wrestler changes up their gimmick or a VTuber you love switches agencies and character models.

I am decidedly less on board with the grievances of the rank-and-file fans who emerge as Yasumi and Yuhi undergo their career-wagering challenge in the last part of the episode. Here, supporters and naysayers' accusations of the duo "deceiving" their fans are played up as a dramatic division. It's backed by Yasumi's concerns in the earlier scene that she hadn't considered the fans' wants regarding the recent persona and career shifts. The fact is, I'm personally in the camp that creators do not "owe" anything to those who partake of their art. People can like and continue enjoying works or not, and if a creator wants to court that audience, that's on them, but artists should never feel obligated to appease any subset of their so-called fans. Creation should be directly transactional, not beholden to hostile demands. So, to hear some of these in-series fans opine their conflict as if they were truly unable to discern that a voice actress was not, in fact, the same as the voice they put on and the lines they performed? Frankly, that makes these people come off as stupid. Sorry.

The whole exercise does still manage to lend some tension to the crowd-walking scene; jank animation be damned. The exercise of forgiving fans and preventing the angry ones from interfering is about how I expected this to go since it was proposed last week. Yubisaki coming to the final rescue was a good way to bring things full circle. I should've known they wouldn't just forget about her. Plus, the joke about people finding a loophole in the bet by just "talking to themselves" was the kind of stupid cleverness I appreciate. It's a technicality, but it still works in terms of Yasumi and Yuhi proving themselves and their point about their fans. I'm even kind of down with the ultimate resolution of the duo throwing an extra bit into their radio show where they role-play their old personas to benefit fans like Yubisaki since it acknowledges the character of it all. Despite my complaints about the broader sides of the actor/fan parasocial complex in this episode and the unevenness of setting this little storyline up in the previous episode, this entry brings things up a bit.

Rating:

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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