Closing Thoughts on Girlish Number – Karasuma Chitose and The Thin Red Line

Oi.

Girlish Number was along with Flip Flappers the most entertaining show in the past season for me. But I already wrote a good deal of what I had to say about the show some weeks back, so for starters let’s have a little review.

While Shirobako showed the sunny side of working life with passionate people striving their best at the thing they love, Girlish Number delves into the flipside, the underbelly of the ignorant, the arrogant, and the incompetent. Much of these qualities are exemplified in its female protagonist Chitose, a young voice actor whose incompetence is only overshadowed by her gigantic ego.

Whether she’s overjoyed by a rush of unwarranted self-importance from a lucky streak or overcome by depression from mostly self-inflicted disasters, she rarely if ever lets go of viewing herself as the flawless protagonist whom the world owes nothing but praise and success.

Only Gojou knows how to whip her into shape.

As I concluded on my previous post, Chitose’s role was to embody the qualities of the anime industry and working life in general that Girlish Number brought out to display. Together with the producer Kuzu she formed the Disaster Duo of incompetence and irresponsibility married with baseless ambition and unshakeable false confidence. The kind of nightmare management combo in any corporate setting. I can hardly think of Kuzu’s resemblance in appearance to Shirobako’s Tarou as purely coincidental.

These two were set loose among a bunch of starry-eyed newbies, hardworking but increasingly burnt out talents driven to doubt their life choices, grizzled beat-up veterans ready for the grave, and seemingly carefree but secretly sharkish managers, on a project of adapting a bottom tier harem LN by an author straddling on the brink of insanity and starvation, to a bottom tier late night meme show. Gojou, Chitose’s down to earth-no bullshit-brother-manager, and Towada, Kuzu’s hardworking and likely to-be alcoholic aide, provided the much-needed straight man act in the freak circus.

Being a LN author is suffering.

The plot was set up for a disaster with a relatively happy ending, and the execution followed through with solid performance aside from some animation blackout in the middle of the run. The characters were distinct and likeable, even the Disaster Duo in their own special way. Girlish Number did a very good job at allocating plot relevance just enough to make even secondary characters concrete without losing focus. Same can be said for the story, which was well paced and didn’t stray far from keeping the spotlight on Chitose. There were some less outstanding moments such as the Okinawa and Yamagata trips, but the salt of the show was the dry and cynical but well-meaning commentary on the industry and its archetypes, and that’s where Girlish Number provided. Personally I wish I could sit down for a beer with Gojou and Towada.

Gojou’s snarky comments were pure gold.

I think the most important observation raised on the show was that garbage personalities like Chitose’s and Kuzu’s do have a place in the working life, as difficult as it may seem. Sometimes the situation just calls for sheer ability of bullshitting and cocky attitude, and nobody does it better than someone who actually believes in their bullshit. Mainly in the sales division. The ending leaves me with a weirdly warm and fuzzy feeling. The ragtag anime production gang went from one disaster to another in the bottom of the barrel in the anime industry. They may have hated it and each other from time to time, but they made it through to fight another day.

Aika velikultia.

Overall verdict: Wish there was more of it. Hell yes archived.

PS. Happy New Year.

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