I laughed when Hashihime titled it “youth movement.” I guess it’s true when most of GJ-bu’s cast members are under 17 years old. But it’s not even the first or the lowest-on-average otaku anime in terms of seiyuu age. There’s this (now-licensed) anime called Sasami: Magical Girls Club where, at the time, all the main voice acting girls were 13 years old. I assume it’s licensed because it is a tangential hinge on the Tenchi Muyo franchise, and it’s probably not a horrible show, I don’t know.
I want to raise this point because what I think is a good job isn’t that GJ-bu is full of young’uns. I think what is good is the profession of the seiyuu idol has seen yet another subtle transformation.
In Magical Girls Club, the series is more like a launch vehicle for a potential teenage idol unit, working with girls already on an idol entertainer track. You can check ANN for details. On the other hand, the girls in GJ-bu are on the seiyuu track, groomed to probably become actual seiyuu-idols.
Seiyuu idols are not a new thing. They’ve been around for maybe a couple decades now, as a genuine career path, at least enough of a path to make a name for yourself; the Shiinas, Hayashibaras of the world. But one Nana Mizuki doesn’t make an industry; she’s just an icon of a larger underpinning of systems and businesses and more importantly, entertainers of varying degrees of success. And honestly, Nana is more about anison than idol. Idol, in my mind, is like Yukarin Tamura and Yui Horie, who are also groomed in the same steps but are nurtured not with the money of a hit success, but a cult-like following. Their businesses are not so different, but I think there’s a reason why I don’t think Nana’s generation will raise another Tokyo-dome caliber seiyuu.
Well, people might take issue with me saying Nana Mizuki is mainstream, and I understand where they’re coming from; it’s like saying AKB0048 is not mainstream. But I think that is making “not mainstream” a meaningless indicator if I have to go the range from, say, Ibuki Kido, to a girl a month older, Juri Takahashi (of AKB48 team A). One is clearly, actually, mainstream enough to be called that. Nana is mainstream enough for Kohaku, so that has to count for something. But if Nana is not mainstream, to satisfy the semantic arguer, then everyone else is waaaaay not-mainstream. Super un-mainstream. Super-super-stream not-mainstream.
But it’s nice to see a deeper integration and talent cultivation for the likes of Kido and Miyamoto. Maybe the debutante Chika Arakawa will build on her possible success here. I mean, think about it. It isn’t that kids did anime voices; some of my today’s favorites include the ever-present Miyuki Sawashiro who started at 13 years old and ex-child performer Maaya Sakamoto who started at 15. It’s distinctly different than, say, Yuuki Aoi’s Murasaki at 15, because that was the case where they hired a kid to play a kid, not so much because they were grooming her career to be whatever the petit-pas that Aoi is trying to do today.
Actually, what is Yuuki Aoi trying to do anyway? I think this is kind of exactly not the thing, say, Yui Ogura is doing. That’s what I’m talking about. But that might be jumping the gun. Maybe we just like kids in our anime playing our animated kids. Is that what the Forever-17 club is trying to do?