Manga-ka: Youka Nitta
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: November 2006
Synopsis: “A lifelong dream of fame and fortune has been the driving force of Wataru Jouchi’s entire life. Now, after much self-doubt, he’s decided to fulfill his destiny and become a voice actor for anime videos. At first, he is thrilled to discover that his long lost friend, Renji Kazama, is considered a top star in the industry. But Kazama does not seem at all pleased about their unexpected reunion.”
Wataru’s dream is to be a successful voice actor, but to do this he must start from the bottom and work his way up. During an audition, he meets Kazama, an old childhood friend. Not only is he amazed to meet his old friend again, but doubly so that the two are in the same profession. However, Kazama doesn’t think as highly of the reunion and harbours bitterness from their youth.
Sound of My Voice is another look at boys’ love with the backdrop of voice acting, similar to series such as Shout Out Loud! and Hero Heel. Readers will get their romance atop a vague peek at the anime voice acting industry in Japan, putting the characters in positions both emotional and professional stressful. I like stories that have a backbone past the relationship because it makes more interesting, not to mention realistic.
I rather liked Wataru as the story’s lead. He’s hopeful, and generally optimistic, but often falls pry to bouts of self-doubt in a word surrounding by so many professionals with seniority over him. His outgoing, hardworking nature works as contrast to his near polar opposite, Kazama, who takes the stand as boys’ love classic, solemn and cold.
This first (and only English) volume doesn’t tread too much into the boys’ love realm as it instead focuses on building up the characters and their jobs. A past connection between Wataru and Kazama is revealed, one that has defined Kazama for most of his life, while Wataru’s memory for his friend is much less jaded. I liked seeing them evolve as friends-again-first and there were some tender moments between them that, though some a tad sudden, were pretty sweet to read.
The art style will offer no surprises to fans and followers of the manga-ka’s work. The style remains are consistent as ever, with characters fitting all the design moulds that Youka Nitta’s books tend to suffer from. None the less though, it’s still an attractive style with strong-featured men and a good sense of background and panel layout, so aside from a lack of visual diversity through her series (which isn’t of course a bad thing by all accounts), there’s nothing to really nit-pick about.
Unfortunately for those looking to pick up a copy of Sound of My Voice, it’s published in English by BeBeautiful: a manga company crippled into obscurity by the bankruptcy of Biblos. This means that no new copies are currently being printed. However, copies of this book still tend to float around, both in stores and online realtors, so finding a copy shouldn’t prove too difficult right now and I was able to find several copies at base price at a recent convention.
As it stands after one volume, I would purchase volume two if I could. The characters and voice acting backdrop were interesting enough to warrant my curiousity of where the story could take it and I do enjoy Youka Nitta’s art style. Naturally I would recommend it to fans of Youka Nitta’s work but a casual boys’ love reader could find it a fairly engaging read as well.
Review written September 19, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from vendor at Fan Expo 2008