Sexy Voice and Robo – a glimpse inside the obsession
Inside every guy is a cool, suave, man-of-the-world, a veritable James Bond of a man. A man who can rip his shirt off and people won’t shriek in laughter, a man who can leap across spaces between building rooftops 30-stories up without a blink. The geekier and more hopeless the guy, the more the man inside them obsesses them. They just *know* that if one day the world can be saved by a detailed knowledge of Wolverine’s origins, or the differences between Zaku models they will be that savior. But until then, he’ll just keep building those models and reading those comics…and dreaming of the women he might meet on that day.
Sudoh Ichiro is such a man. He wants what the world conspires for him to never have – a normal relationship with a woman. And because he cannot have this thing, he reaches out to what appears to him to be a completely sensible alternative – a phone dating service.
Hayashi Niko is a middle-school student. She is the voice on the other end of that phone, creating the perfect fantasy for the poor onnazuki on the other end. Her bread and butter is talking to those men who just can’t find the hero inside them and need some help to bring him forth. Niko’s skills at mimicking voices and her understanding of human nature puts her in the unique position to turn Sudoh into the hero he longs to be. Except he’s still a yutz – something Niko makes plain by nicknaming him “Robo.” This nickname not only represents his obsession with models, it reflects her ability to manipulate him into doing pretty much anything she wants.
In Sexy Voice and Robo, we watch as time after time the otaku has a chance to be that hero, and as time after time he fails to be anything more than just a sidekick. Why? Why can’t Sudoh find the James Bond that lives within him? Because there is a secret all otaku know, even if it is buried deep in our hearts. Despite the fact that we know the hero lives in there, somewhere, if only we can find him, we also know that even deeper still is a couch potato who obsesses over toys. I mean…really. Let’s get a grip here. If we were Olympic athletes, we wouldn’t be blogging this stuff, or trolling 2chan for pictures, we’d be at the freaking Olympics!
Obsession is not healthy, whether it be for gold medals or for writing prizes, but when our obsessions take the form of fake relationships on the phone and plastic models, you just gotta *know* that a hero is not you.
Of course we all want love, but. If you’re sitting on the sofa putting together *another* gashapon and thinking that you’d like to see a real girl’s underwear, the hero within may never really have a chance to come out.
Sexy Voice and Robo is a life lesson for the obsessed among us. It’s also an incredibly compelling and well-conceived manga written with a little glimpse into the obsessions that make us otaku, and a sense of humor for what makes us us.
This is the lesson of Sexy Voice and Robo – that our obsessions make us weak. They make us predictable…and they make us human.
Erica Friedman reviews Yuri manga, anime and related media at Okazu