What is it about?: AiRBLUE is a brand new voice actor office with no track record or experience, making it the perfect place for aspiring voice actors to come and polish their skills to go from amatuer to professional. However, passion isn’t enough, nor is simply wanting to achieve your dreams: at the end of the day, someone’s going to fail the audition. Question is… who will pass, and who will fail?
Episode 1, “The Beginning of the Beginning” starts in medias res, which is one of my favorite ways to kick off premieres. Only, of course, the medias res isn’t the show: it’s a (Castle in the Sky-esque meets Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water-esque) anime within an anime about young girls–in this case, primarily high schoolers and potentially, some very early college students–aiming to land their first role as professional voice actors.
And that’s really what Cue! Is about at its base: voice acting, specifically for anime. It’s a peek into a world that few folks really get to dive into, all through the lens of fiction and a touch of actuality. But of course, that’s an oversimplification because really, this series is about young girls trying to become voice actors in their own right, which sets up the show solidly enough from jump, with a lot of promise for growth in the coming weeks.
Cue! looks pretty darn good: it’s got a very late-2010’s style to it, so while not necessarily remarkable, it still looks slick, with enough stylization to be mostly memorable. The voice acting is good too, which I mean… that would have been tragic if an anime about voice acting had bad voice acting. However, what’s most surprising is that this show features a lot of relatively new voice actresses, including up-and-comers Komine Ami, Uchiyama Yurina, and Sato Mai, to name a few. It’s nice because it adds a layer of authenticity.
The sound design and BGM aren’t too bad either; the music largely blends into the show, being neither obtrusive or notable. “Generic” feels like a bad term to use here: I’ll just say that nothing stuck out to me, though if the OP is emblematic of later episodes, I expect we might get some insert songs since many voice actors in Japan also do double duty with character songs. It’s way too early to tell, though I’m ever optimistic.
I’ll be honest: Cue! is precisely the kind of series I love to get invested in. It’s giving me Maesetsu! vibes, but like… more enjoyable from jump and with better production. It’s also giving me a bit of Selection Project and Idoly Pride with its “girls all sharing same space while trying to achieve their dream” elements, which is kind of YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) depending on how compelling that element is to you. For me, it means that I can expect a lot of girls being friends with girls and maybe, even the amatuer voice actresses living in a dormitory situation as they hone their skills.
Also, this show is immediately yuri-bait which… something something these kinds of shows do this a lot. Will it be gay? No. Could it be gay? Probably still no. It’s just something to know that may be irritating if you’re not used to idol-esque series (in this case, voice actresses with the potential to dip their toes into music to a minor degree) hand-waving feminine affection off as “gals just being pals”.
That all combines into a solid episode that’s exactly what it is. It’s not breaking the mold, nor is it dynamic; and honestly, that’s kind of what I like. I’m not looking for high stakes during the third year of the pandemic: I’m here for good vibes and cute series, and that’s genuinely what Cue! is all about.
Ultimately, Cue! is a very, very, very low-stakes series with a lot of colorful, likable teens just giving it their ding-dang all. It’s slice-of-life sweetness topped with a dollop of underdog, promising easily resolved conflicts on the path to voice actor stardom. There’s not really much more to say other than that because it’s blissfully simplistic, though that’s not to say it’s poorly executed. This is one of the strongest premieres thus far, at least at the time of this article. Bonus: it’s looking at voice acting, which has me optimistic that maybe, we’ll get a bit of the curtain pulled back on the actual process of becoming a seiyuu in Japan.
Come for the voice acting, stay for the lightheartedness of a bunch of good female characters striving to achieve their dream. I know that this is 100% on my watchlist because I need a happy-go-lucky show to get deeply invested in, especially since there’s some idol elements, and you know how that makes me feel. I think if you’re looking for some very light fair after a meaty autumnal season, then add this to your Winter 2022 watchlist. Something tells me it’ll be special anyways.