Character Focus: Chitose Karasuma

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR GIRLISH NUMBER (ANIME)

Hello everyone, back with another recent(ish) character that I really thought I should write about. Girlish Number turned out to be one of my favorite shows of 2016 for a myriad of reasons, chief among them being that my sense of humor is actually pretty dark at times so a cynical show like this (from the same author of OreGairu, no less) was up my alley in a pretty big way. And Chitose was a major contributor to that. I realize that it was playing up the cynicism to a severe degree, but that’s what made it so entertaining and I think that even in the steeped cynicism of the show, Chitose came out on top (We won! A HA HA HA HA HA)
girlish-number-ep6-vox-artes-4

So first off, as with so many other of the characters I write about, I completely love Chitose’s design. I totally missed out on getting an egg shirt at Comiket 91 and that’s about the only thing I was disappointed I didn’t grab. Plus, she certainly got a lot of love in the face game department. I actually really like that she was designed to be cute and in turn that was kind of vital to how the show portrayed her as a voice actress (and how the writer(s) portrayed the director of the “idol VA” industry). She was cute, and was confident, so she was put on to a large project because she was marketable. She had no qualms about doing things like the beach trip or any of the live performances.

Chitose certainly knew she was cute too. She flaunted it and at the beginning of the show she thought that was all she needed. Her personality may have been a tough pill to swallow for some but for me it was perfect – far too often we get characters that are perceived as egotistical or selfish but it turns out that they are actually really nice or just misunderstood. Not for Chitose. While “rotten” may be too strong of a word to describe her, “selfish”, “a brat”, and “rude as hell” tend to come to mind.

She and her brother constantly send playful slaps at each other (although “I’ll kill you” is a pretty intense one), she uses Yae essentially as a verbal punching bag (even though Yae works harder than her at the beginning), and Nanami’s fawning over her combined with Kuzu-P’s terrible producing reinforces her ego, at least for a while. Chitose thinks she’s got it made and doesn’t realize what most voice actresses have to go through to even land a supporting role – she’s just upset that she isn’t constantly getting lead roles.

And I like that because it’s consistent and because I felt as though her progress was genuine. We see her over 12 episodes slowly, SLOWLY come to realize that she’s not hot shit. Just because she got a lead role in a show that flopped doesn’t mean she’s at the top of the industry. Just because she has fans and other VAs aspire to her doesn’t make her a good voice actress. It takes so much poking and prodding from those around her (a majority coming from her brother Gojou) combined with the comments she received and several wake up calls (Nanami getting her solo debut would be the biggest one) for her to finally see the light.

In addition to all of that, the change was more gradual than instant. She slowly starts to realize that she needs help in order to improve her voice work – she sees Yae and Koto getting other roles while she’s stuck with one. Towards the start of the show she doesn’t practice her lines, she lazes around at home, she does no rehearsal for events, and thinks that Gojou is solely responsible for her getting roles even though he continuously tells her that she needs to get better in order to land better roles.

And the end of the show – presented in a pretty cynical way, again, mind you – we see Chitose admit that she’s nothing special. She notes that any newbie in the industry could take her place and that they would probably do just as good a job as she did if not better. But she accepts that instead of moping around about it – an episode or two before the end she is gloomy and depressed at the revelation that she might not be the greatest thing since sliced bread. She even considers stopping the whole VA work several times because her previous perceptions about it have come crashing down completely.

In conclusion, it was extremely satisfying / refreshing to see a character like Chitose. And I don’t mean it was satisfying seeing her getting beat down by the realities of the situation around her – it was nice to see a character that was selfish and bratty go through development that seemed REAL. All the events in the show (besides other characters’ side stories) seemed to have a direct impact on Chitose and taught her about what is needed to make it through an industry like voice acting. With the way she was going, she would’ve never been able to support herself (as noted by the first episode which notes her measly pay) and wouldn’t have ever appreciated the hard work others were putting in.

She wasn’t a great person even under the surface but she was able to change bit by bit while the series progressed until she finally came to terms with it all and was able to reconcile her personality with the fact that she had to keep working hard in order to succeed. By the end she had become another voice actress aspiring to be great by realizing that she wasn’t the greatest from the get go. Here’s to hoping for more characters in the future who are as selfish as (and as cute as!) Chitose.

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