VOICE OVER! SEIYU ACADEMY follows the journey of Hime, a first-year high school student who has been accepted to Holly Academy High School, a performing arts school specializing in voice acting. She’s there to follow her dream of becoming a voice actor for the anime Magic Warriors: Lovely Blazers, inspired by Lovely Blazers voice actor Sakura Aoyama whom she met during childhood – except the voice actors of Lovely Blazers have cute voices, and Hime’s voice is gravelly like an old man!
Volume One of VOICE OVER! introduces readers to protagonist Hime, whose name means “princess,” who despite wishing to be a voice actor in a cute shoujo anime has a voice more like a bearded old man than an anime princess. In the first chapter, she enters Holly Academy only to be placed in the “stragglers” group with three other students struggling to achieve their dreams: the soft-voiced and barely audible Tsukino, yankee Sho who can’t read kanji, and weak-under-pressure Mitchel. Though bound together by their difficulties, the four almost immediately become close friends and take care of one another in light of how they’re treated by other students.
Though topically similar to other idol manga, such as Skip Beat!, VOICE OVER! is different thus far because, unlike many other shoujo manga, the heroine’s primary motivation isn’t romantic in nature. Hime has wanted to become a voice actor since she met Sakura Aoyama as a small child, and she is motivated only by the dream of following in the footsteps of her role model.
However, that’s not to say there are no romantic aspects of the series. In Volume 1, there are hints of future romance between Hime and at least two different male characters (I won’t spoil that here!) while one subplot shows Tsukino handling an admirer she’s not interested in dating. Yet that subplot is handled very well: Tsukino’s admirer is depicted as an athlete who is “overbearing,” in Hime’s words, and who continues pursuing Tsukino even after she says she isn’t interested. Unlike other shoujo manga, this is pretty explicitly acknowledged to be creepy and troublesome, and the two girls work together to find a way to get him to leave Tsukino alone.
In terms of art, there’s nothing particular about the style of mangaka Maki Minami that stands out in particular. VOICE OVER! is Minami’s second manga to be published in English by VIZ Media, and the art of VOICE OVER! is very similar to that of SA: SPECIAL A, her previous series. Though I wouldn’t say it’s bad or sub-par in any way – and some of the facial expressions Minami illustrates are just hilarious – the art is what can be expected in a shoujo manga of any type.
VOICE OVER! is an interesting slice-of-life story about a heroine struggling to achieve her dreams and also struggling to accept herself and her talents as they are. While definitely more suitable for a younger crowd, it’s a light story that’s all-ages friendly and an example of a manga with a heroine who stands up for herself and pursues her dreams – not because of a boy, but because it’s her own goal.
Art: 3.5 out of 5 stars Story: 4.5 out of 5 stars Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Feliza Casano is the founder and editor in chief of Girls in Capes and writes for all sections of the web magazine. Follow her on Twitter @FelizaCasano.