(This is a part of the series of posts, 12 Days of Christmas, done in my own way.)
Aside from the anisongs, plot, and animation, we viewers are also interested in our own sets of characters. But think about it. Without a solid display of voice acting, we wouldn’t be interested nor attached to these characters. It’s thanks to the professional output of seiyuu that anime are really a lot of fun to watch! The following is my personal list of favorite performances from different seiyuu in different shows. I won’t call them the ‘best’, but they are certainly amusing and should have taken a great deal of talent, inspiration, and effort… or overall just being natural!
MangaAshisu, No Game No Life – Matsuoka Yoshitsugu as Aito Yuuki, Sora
The first time I heard Matsuoka’s voice acting was probably around SAO era, which got me questioning, “Does he have clogged nose or something?” First impressions usually last until the end, but his role in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo did a complete 180 degree turn on my impression of him and his voice acting skills. It was a pleasant surprise that someone who voiced a bland character could also sound so entertaining with his best tsukkomi role.
It seemed like he wasn’t just about to run out of bullets this year with his roles as Sora and Aito Yuuki from NGNL and Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to. As Sora, Matsuoka’s voice ranges from a wimpy Onii-san, to normal and geeky, and to deep and manly. The variation in the exaggerated character acting is also one of the reasons NGNL was an entertaining show. On the other hand, one might question Matsuoka’s sexuality with his ability to act his character acting like a cute but shy high school girl. I wonder if he was ever embarrassed to say those lines out loud during the recording sessions. Hmmm. No wonder he’s the rising star now.
Noragami – Kamiya Hiroshi as Yato
Yato from one of this year’s hit series, Noragami, is a refreshing break from the usual cool, deep characters portrayed by the famous Kamiya. In this series, we also got to see his character being bullied and made fun of (in a sense, yes) by the rest of the cast. This just shows how professional the man is when it comes to putting life and color to his roles.
Sabagebu! – Ookubo Rumi as Kasugano Urara
Seriously? The person behind Tsumiki from Acchi Kocchi and Saki from Isshuukan Friends was also the voice for Urara?! How can someone who sounds so timid and earnest can also turn out to be a masochistic mess of violent a twin-tails?
Check out the video above which I specifically chose from Sabagebu! as the best example and summary of Ookubo’s delightful performance! Notice how her voice neatly and smoothly transitions from deep and harsh to sweet but insane.
Amaburi – Uchiyama Kouki as Kanie Seiya
I got to compliment this dude for making Raku (Nisekoi) an ever more annoying and bland harem lead. But in all seriousness, Uchiyama’s voice quality, as well as how his voice often comes as confident and self-important, did justice to his role as Kanie Seiya from Amagi Brilliant Park. However, what made Amaburi a real display of his ability to act was episode 8, when Seiya fell sick and the park mascots took turns in disguising as him (Sento> Macaron> Tiramie> Moffle) with the aid of a Kanie suit. Uchiyama was still the voice actor (wise choice) and the episode was a hilarious chaos of failed attempts to keep the school unsuspecting of Seiya’s absence.
Hunter x Hunter (2011) – Han Megumi as Gon Freecss
To be fair, HxH voice acting is several levels above average. Even the lesser known voice actors have produced their own output that are by no means inferior to the rest of the cast. When we look at voice acting this way, the length and excellent writing of the series have helped all these seiyuu to grow and improve in their profession.
Han Megumi is just one of those who have improved a lot throughout the series. There was initially a backlash towards the totally new cast of the 2011 version of HxH, and Han Megumi, being the voice actress of the main protagonist, was one of the targets of harsh criticisms. I admit that I didn’t like her voice back when the series just began, found it too girly, and strongly preferred the previous voice actress, Takeuchi Junko (also known for Naruto Uzumaki) who faultlessly portrayed the playful and free nature of the character. Of course, that didn’t last long as Han eventually showed her ability to appropriately convey Gon‘s emotions even as early as the Hunter Exam, from when the gears of character development have turned.
Interestingly, I think I prefer her now as the seiyuu for Gon.
Inou Battle – Hayami Saori as Kushikawa Hatoko
I originally didn’t watch the anime when it started, but when this scene from episode 7 shook anime communities I just couldn’t ignore it. Without knowing the seiyuu or anything from the anime, I was literally surprised (shocked even) to hear Hayami’s voice. Apparently she did this scene in one take. This didn’t only give me goosebumps, but also got me to watching the show, only to be disappointed to how everything turned out after this.
Barakamon – Hara Suzuko as Kotoishi Naru
We’ve already gotten used to children (or young versions of the characters) in TV anime often being portrayed by voice actresses, while theatrical anime are more open to giving the roles to real Japanese children. Barakamon was overall a refreshing show because of its wise choice with the dubbing of its midget characters. The most note-worthy among them was obviously Naru, the mischievously honest village tomboyish kid who brings brightness and cheerfulness to the series. Mandom.
Many of us have been initially impressed by the realistic childish voice acting, like it must not have been the work of an adult seiyuu! And our speculations were met–it was actually a child voice actress, Hara Suzuko, who lent her voice for the adorable Naru and put all the previous children roles to shame! This fact is totally Mandom-worthy.
Other performances worth mentioning…
but I’m too lazy at this point to give even a short explanation to each:
- Inou Battle, Nozaki-kun – Okamoto Nobuhiko as Andou Jurai, Mikoshiba Mikoto
- NagiAsu – Hanae Natsuki as Sakishima Hikari
- Haikyuu!! – Ishikawa Kaito as Kageyama Tobio
- Terror in Resonance – Saito Souma as Twelve
Japanese voice actors are the best. I think they perfected the art of it. Although I’m noticing that some of the younger seiyuu are sounding more and more similar.
Yep. Japanese voice actors the best! Though I also have to commend Western voice actors in animated movie, like Disney/Pixar ones. 🙂
Uhuh, that’s right. But once you watch more roles from these young generation seiyuu, you can actually distinguish them more. IMO, they’ve got the voice qualities that I’m looking for in seiyuu because I’m kinda looking for voices different from the veterans’. They still need to polish their acting, though.
You’re right. Most of the Disney/Pixar movie voice actors are great, too, because they have this “Broadway Theatre” voices about them that makes them dynamic.
Hmmm. . .Well, yes, there are the notable young seiyuu that you can easily distinguish just by their voices, but I still prefer the veterans who I think have more unique voices.
But recently, the veterans are getting fewer and fewer main roles. Well, not all of them, but still…
You’re right. Oh well. That’s just how it goes in any industry, I think. It just means that you’ll get fewer roles once you’ve reached the peak of your popularity.
It’s also that the younger ones’ promotional activities are much more given attention to. You know, to keep things ‘new’ and ‘fresh’. Remember Japan being fervent consumers products from idols and the like.
That, too. Oh, well. I think most industries right now are like that. I remember a comment from seiyuu Kamiya Hiroshi from his radio show before that seiyuu(s) used to be an incognito career where one depends on the quality of a voice than on the face, but now, it seems that seiyuu(s) are becoming more and more like gravure idols with their faces plastered everywhere.
When do you think that being a seiyuu started becoming something like an idol career?
I think more or less around the same time that “idols” became a huge thing. You?
I’m not really that familiar with the workings in entertainment industry, but your answer sounds possible so I agree with it. I guess that would be as early as late 1980s?
Hmmm. Maybe a little later? In the 90’s, maybe some. But I think it became more predominant during the 2000s.
Oh yeah, probably around NGE era. Hayashibara Megumi was quite the star, and even until today.
You’re right, but I think she’s not the only one. I also think that seiyuu broadening their career range to that of singers/musicians is one of the reasons why they’re becoming more and more “idol-like”. If they’re just seiyuu, I think that the release & promotion of the anime is enough, but if they’re also singers, they need their own system of self-promotion.
Woah. I can’t agree more. 🙂
Admittedly, I haven’t been checking out seiyuu stuffs in a long while-I’m more familiar with the older generation of seiyuu-Kamiya Hiroshi, Sugita Tomokazu, Rie Kugimiya, Rie Kugimiya and.. Rie Kugimiya.. xD Though, I had recently took a liking to Imai Asami as well (Kuuuurrrrriiiisssstiiiinaaaaaa).
I watched that Inou scene again, but now that when I think about it, yeah, that scene must be hard to work on. even more so if the seiyuu’s able to do it in one take.
This post might have made me look like an up-to-date seiyuu fan, but I’m not. ^^ I only wrote about who were the most noticeable, and that’s it. It’s also true for me that I’m more familiar with the older generations of seiyuu.
I wonder what kind of prep Hayamin did for that scene. I mean, she really sounded emotional at the right timing.