Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume One is a manga by Maki Minami. This volume was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2013. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.
The main character of the series is a high school student named Hime Kino. When she was a little girl, she received help from voice actress Sakura Aoyama, who provided the original voice for a character named Lovely Blazer. Hime’s dream is to become a famous voice actress, so she enrolls in the prestigious Holly Academy High School, which has a voice acting department.
But it turns out Hime has a problem: she has a gruff voice that doesn’t seem to work well for female voice acting roles. In addition, she gets on the bad side of her classmate, Senri Aoyama, who turns out to be Sakura Aoyama’s son. He’s already got professional credits and looks down on the other students as simply competition to crush.
Unfortunately, Hime quickly finds herself in the Voice Acting Department stragglers group alongside Tsukino Todoroki (who speaks too softly), Sho Takayanahi (he can’t read kanji and is short-tempered), and Mitchel Zaizen (who goes by Mitchy, and has an accent as well as being full of himself). One day, the first-year stragglers group has a run-in with the second-years and are challenged to a voice drama challenge; whichever group gets the most votes from the student body wins.
But things start going wrong on the day of the challenge, but the first-year stragglers get some surprising help from Senri. And through her performance in the drama, Hime is “scouted” to be part of a recording session; unfortunately, that doesn’t go well. She also manages to raise the ire of Shuuma Kawai, a professional male idol who attends Holly Academy.
Poor Hime. Not only does she have her voice going against her, but she has to put up Senri and other students putting her down, getting punished for her failure at the voice recording session, not to mention some grief and bullying she has to deal with from Shuuma and his fangirls near the end of Volume One. Fortunately, Hime doesn’t let these obstacles get her down, due to her usually positive attitude. I also found myself chuckling a little bit at Hime’s name; Hime is Japanese for “princess,” while “Kino is German for “movie.” Princess Movie seems like an appropriate name for a female character who wants to get into voice acting!
While this series may be set at a high school and already seems to be laying the foundation for a potential love triangle, this series adds the element of voice acting to help it feel less like a typical high school shojo manga story. There’s also an interesting mix of characters for this series, although I have to admit that several of them feel more like “character types” than actual characters. Hopefully, as this series progresses, development will take place that will help develop the “character type” personalities into more dynamic characters.
Art-wise, there’s a lot of a typical shojo look to the characters and backgrounds, such as cute-looking characters, and sparkly and flowery screentones. However, in order to depict Hime’s rough voice, Minami is having to utilize a look and aesthetic that looks more like it should be a shonen manga that also tends to look rougher than the rest of the volume does. Mixing these two aesthetics helps to give Voice Over! Seiyu Academy a more “unique” look in comparison to its shojo manga contemporaries.
I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure about this series when I read the blurb on the back. But I’m glad I gave it a chance, though, because I discovered that Voice Over! Seiyu Academy has an interesting start for its story. Hopefully Minami is able to follow through on this potential that I see as the series progresses. I’d definitely be interested in reading more of the series in order find out what happens.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.