Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Voice Over! Seiyu Academy
Hime Kino has dreamt of being a voice actor since she was helped by a costumed actress from her favorite anime, Lovely Blazers. She's now in high school and has successfully been accepted into the special voice acting program at Holly Academy, where many of the students are already polished professionals. The only problem? Hime's got the old man voice down cold, but her cuteness leaves something to be desired. Can she overcome her new nickname of Gorilla Princess and make a splash in the world of dubbing?
Maki Minami makes her second English language appearance with Viz's release of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, known in Japan as Seiyu Ka. Like her previous title Special A, Voice Over follows a girl at an unusual high school, but where S*A looked at the lives of the insanely intelligent, Voice Over takes us inside Holly Academy's special voice acting program where perky high school first year Hime Kino has enrolled with dreams of becoming a magical girl voice actress. Now, manga is a silent medium, so you'd think that a story that revolves around voices would be a difficult thing to pull off, but through fun artistic choices and good use of different fonts, to say nothing of a heroine who really grows on the reader, Minami executes her story with panache.
We are first introduced to Hime as she enters her new school, the prestigious Holly Academy, which offers several specialized tracks to high school students. Ever since she was helped by a cosplaying voice actress from her favorite magical girl show Lovely Blazer (it seems to be something similar to PreCure), Hime has dreamed of vocalizing her way to fame in the show's next incarnation. There's just one major problem – when she gets excited, Hime sounds more like a snorting animal or a creepy old man than a cute and sparkly superheroine. This quickly earns her the nickname of “Gorilla Princess,” but Hime takes it all in stride. Swiftly relegated to the “stragglers” group with a girl who can't speak up, a thug, and a guy with an accent, Hime nonetheless refuses to give up and keeps striving to succeed. And honestly, she's pretty inspiring. Where other heroines might crumple or cry, Hime just keeps moving forward, her can-do attitude undaunted by bullies of both the student and teacher variety, hot guys, or her own shortcomings. Underneath Minami's ultra-shoujo visual, Hime is a very solid character.
Naturally there are several attractive young men who come into the picture within this first volume, but the probable hero is actually the least interesting among them, at least in terms of his interactions with Hime. Senri is the son of Hime's favorite seiyu, the woman who helped her as a child, but he's no fan of his mother. Instead he grumps his way through school, only really showing affection to his multitudes of cats as an aspiring Crazy Cat Gentleman. (I presume that's the male equivalent of Crazy Cat Lady.) He sees Hime as one of his beloved felines, but for the most part is so utterly the textbook tsundere that he simply isn't as fascinating as the two boys who make up the super popular idol duo AQUA. These two don't become main characters until the second half of the book, where the story picks up considerably. Their interactions with Hime, unlike Senri's, show different facets of her determined personality, to say nothing of her skill at outwitting her foes. They also start to give the story a more reverse harem feel, which may or may not stick around. Truly, it feels as if Minami really hits her stride in the last two chapters, so it is difficult to judge precisely where the story is going.
Minami's art is more polished than in her previous series and in places is very typical of a Hana to Yume series. She has some nice touches, such as the actual stars in Hime's eyes and the visuals of what her voice sounds like to others. At times her characters look as if they were drawn by two different people, and there is occasional confusion as to word bubble or panel order, but on the whole, it is visually fine. Viz's translation is mostly good, although for some reason they felt the need to write the sound effect “shove” as “shuv,” which is kind of irritating.
Voice Over is off to a good start with a story that gets increasingly interesting as the book goes on and a heroine who is easy to get behind. With a mix of funny moments and frustrating ones, Maki Minami has created a story with a premise we don't see often and that is for the most part a delight to read.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-
+ Hime is a good heroine, the stragglers gang is quite funny. Nice visuals to convey what the characters hear.
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