(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