Behind the Characters – Day 10: Favourite Seiyuu

While there are quite a few talents in voice acting I consider among my favourites I’d love to mention besides ones from anime, the use of the word “seiyuu” for this challenge (meaning “voice actor”) will be decidedly interpreted as only Japanese voice actors that use their talents in the anime industry. 

This is mostly for the purpose of me trying to keep a theme going here, and I don’t want to extend outside of it by including other influences such as english dubbed performances. Also I may have gotten a little carried away with this one, so expect a lot more names listed than previous entries for this challenge.

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Hōchū Ōtsuka

Most notably well-known for his role as Jiraiya in Naruto, and while that is a great performance and I have a fond nostalgia for his work there, I personally preferred his work as Haruya Shiki from Durarara!!, where he speaks with authority, intelligence, and understanding when it comes to dealing with the people of Ikebukuro.

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I’d also like to highlight another great voice acting performance from the same show, Yamaguchi Kappei as Akabayashi Mizuki, who I find unfamiliar outside of this work, but his talent to maintain an air of intimidation even when he’s being charming and friendly is a highly commendable performance worth noting.

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Inoue Kazuhiko

Speaking of Naruto, here we have the voice acting talent behind the cool and lovably awesome Hatake Kakashi. My early anime years worshipped this man’s voice, and despite my exhausted departure from the series, I do maintain a strong fondness and appreciation for both the character and the voice behind him. He absolutely nails it speaking as cool, wise and lazy, often all at once. Really great stuff. So, I’d like to thank Inoue Kazuhiko for making my childhood and adolescence feel awesome in that area at least.

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Koyama Rikiya

Here lies the striking talent behind the focused, determined, and James Bond-esque tragic character of Emiya Kiritsugu from Fate/Zero. Koyama Rikiya enhances the pathos of the character with this sharp edged nuance teetering between stonehearted altruism and deep melancholy. I cannot stress just how cool his gravelly voice is here. He also voices Yamato from Naruto Shippuden, Yukihira Jouichirou from Shokugeki no Souma, and the Deep Sea King from One Punch Man.

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Seki Tomokazu

Known for his roles as Gilgamesh from Fate/Zero, Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!, and Shinya Kogami from Psycho-Pass. All really great performances. He’s certainly not typecast as a typical personality, considering how different Gilgamesh and Kogami are in virtually every way, but specifically in terms of voice acting he appears able to play both cool-headed, serious characters and arrogant, selfish, larger than life characters. I thoroughly enjoyed his performances as these characters, and really appreciate his ability to really bring them to life.

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Shimono Hiro

All I know him for is Keima Katsuragi from The World God Only Knows, and really that’s all I need to know him for. I consider him among my favourite characters and by proxy, I’d like to think I can consider Shimono Hiro among my favourite voices in anime. Maybe I’m being biased toward the character, but the voice is a big part of what makes Keima’s personality really shine in the show, and Shimono Hiro does a fantastic job playing up his detached, self-obsessed behaviour and balancing being cold and distant with being someone romantically pursuing people. He makes it look easy, which is to say it is anything but.

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Sugita Tomokazu

You might remember him as Karasuma Tadaomi from Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, Sakata Gintoki from Gintama, and Kyon from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I’m impressed Sugita can operate as such a strict and distant character like Tadaomi, when he’s made a name for himself acting as a character who lacks in willingness, Kyon, as well as the hilariously lazy and snarky Gintoki. They seem like such polar opposites, which is something deserving of praise, given his surprisingly very good performance as the former, and exceptionally notable performances as both the latters.

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Fukuyama Jun

Gave such entertaining performances as Kishitani Shinra from Durarara!! and Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass. Eccentricity is his name. Delivering charismatic performances is his game. He generates so much charm into otherwise morally questionable characters that it sounds like he’s enjoying himself a lot laughing his epic maniacal laugh. And you can’t blame him when it’s just as enjoyable for us.

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Kamiya Hiroshi

Best performances given as Levi from Shingeki no Kyojin, Orihara Izaya from Durarara!!, and Araragi Koyomi from Bakemonogatari. Hard to think the stoic and serious Levi is voiced by the same person who breathed such a memorable performance into the lovable asshole Orihara Izaya, and also the same person to assume the persona of one perverted but altruistic Araragi Koyomi. Got to applaud Kamiya Hiroshi for his astounding range.

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Miyano Mamoru

Probably best known for his roles as Kida Masaomi from Durarara!!, Yagami Light from Death Note and Suoh Tamaki from Ouran Highschool Host Club. Really entertaining to hear his voice go from someone as comically serious as Light to the likes of the dramatically flamboyant Tamaki. Both are egotistical and amusing in different ways.

Sawashiro Miyuki

Allow me to introduce you to the voice behind: Iwasawa Masami from Angel Beats!, Takanashi Yomi from Black Rock Shooter (OVA), Sturluson Celty from Durarara!!, Hatsuse Izuna from No Game No Life, Bishamon from Noragami, Karanomori Shion from Psycho-Pass, and Kanbaru Suruga from Bakemonogatari. That’s a lot of awesome performances. I loved her as Iwasawa so much that I cried. Not sure if I’d feel the same way now, but damn her voice was a huge appeal for liking the character. She’s able to speak with both an incredibly believable voice of maturity (Karanomori) and delicious level of playfulness (Kanbaru). Her tone and range alone are worthy of praise.

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Amamiya Sora

Such roles include: Akame from Akame ga Kill!, Aqua from Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, Miia from Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou, and Kirishima Touka from Tokyo Ghoul. It’s such a heart wrenching feeling for one of your favourite voice actor’s works to be shows you dislike or outright hate. I don’t hate any of the works Amamiya Sora has been involved with, or at least not out of the ones mentioned above, but I have fallen out of likeness with a few of them. I mean Amamiya Sora’s performances in Akame ga Kill and Tokyo Ghoul are what I consider the best parts of both shows, and I don’t care for either one. In fact, I might actually actively dislike them, which goes to show how strong of an impression her performances as the respective characters made on me.

Hayami Saori

Hear her adorably soft voice as Ogasawara Haruka from Hibike! Euphonium, Ikaros from Sora no Otoshimono, Haqua du Lot Herminium from The World God Only Knows, Yukinoshita Yukino from Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru., Fubuki from One Punch Man, and Ononoki Yotsugi from Monogatari Series: Second Season. Wonderful and cute. I wish I could say more.

Saito Chiwa

The voice acting talent behind such great characters as Homura Akemi from Madoka Magica and Hitagi Senjougahara from Bakemonogatari. Voices very decisive and commanding characters with awesome straightforwardness. I’m especially fond of her performance as Senjougahara for being so distinctive and memorable. Though it is hard to forget a character to strikes such an iconic pose and formally professes love in English over Japanese.

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Toyosaki Aki (Hirasawa Yui), Sato Satomi (Tainaka Ritsu), Hikasa Yoko (Akiyama Mio), Kotobuki Minako (Kotobuki Tsumugi), Sanada Asami (Yamanaka Sawako), Taketatsu Ayana (Nakano Azusa), Yonezawa Madoka (Hirasawa Ui), and Fujitou Chika (Manabe Nodoka) all from K-On!

Bunching together all the phenomenal talent behind the voice acting in K-On together, because there’s few other roles I know them from, and K-On’s voice acting is so on point I can hardly contain myself whenever I hear the characters speak.

Apart from voicing the lazy, friendly, and enthusiastic nuances of the loveable layabout Hirasawa Yui, Toyosaki Aki has also lended her talent to the hilarious performance of Yunyun from Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2.

The only other role I liked Sato Satomi’s performance in was as Eru Chitanda from Hyouka, but even then, I don’t feel like she’ll ever top her high-quality playful geniality as Tainaka Ritsu.

Beyond voicing the delicate, endearing and easily embarrassed Akiyama Mio, Hikasa Yoko has also done pretty awesome work as Gremory Rias from Highschool DxD and Kou Yagami from New Game!.

Unfortunately for Kotobuki Minako there’s no other role I remember any stand-out performance from her, besides the rich naivité she delivers with Kotobuki Tsumugi. Which is a shame, as I’d like to see her be allowed to play to her strengths more often than be handed roles and not given a chance to truly shine. This could really be said for all the remarkable talent in K-On, though K-On itself is probably a strong exception in this regard, so maybe I’m just spoiled and asking for too much out of both her and the industry.

Though I really liked Taketatsu Ayana’s performances as the stoic badass Toujou Koneko from Highschool DxD and as the cheerful and easily flustered Takahara Ayumi from The World God Only Knows, it was her role as Nakano Azusa that really set her apart as something more than her voice. I don’t really know how to describe it, besides her talent here making the character feel more life-like than any of her other performances.

Again, out of the shows I’ve experienced thus far, the ones Sanada Asami has worked on other than Yamanaka Sawako aren’t anything particularly outstanding or memorable to me. But I do very much enjoy her performance here as she does an incredible job capturing the all the facets of the character, going from her gentle ‘teacher’ demeanour to lazy and irresponsible ‘teacher’ to mischievous and wild ‘teacher. Great performance all-around.

Outside of capturing Hirasawa Ui’s adorable concern and altruism for her sister unbelievably well, Yonezawa Madoka also voices Sara Satou from Shirobako. Would love to hear her in more roles like these.

Fujitou Chika has only done one other role outside of her excellent work as the smart and down-to-earth Manabe Nodoka, and I hope her breakout role in K-On helps pave the way to more opportunities and great performances down the line.

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Aya Hirano

Say hello to the seiyuu behind the iconic characters (relative to the anime community) Suzumiya Haruhi and Izumi Konata. The meta-narrative that ensues in Lucky Star from playing these two characters is something special that can best be described as the experience Konata had witnessing it within the show, unable to express it in words.

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Good job!

Sakamoto Maaya

So many great roles. Hard to believe one person can voice all these amazing characters, and do it so gosh darn well. Fujioka Haruhi from Ouran Highschool Host Club, Kusanagi Motoko from Ghost in the Shell, Oshino Shinobu from Kizumonogatari, and Ryougi Shiki from Kara no Kyoukai. My mind is reeling from the extraordinary level of talent. Seriously. HOW!?

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Kana Hanazawa

I bet nobody is shocked that Kana Hanazawa ended up on this list. She’s on virtually everyone’s list. She’s practically the voice actor equivalent to Spike Spiegel on practically everyone’s list of cool anime characters will end up on most people’s list. Tachibana Kanade from Angel Beats!, Gokou Ruri from Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, Futaba Aoi from Asobi ni Iku yo!, Kuroi Mato from Black Rock Shooter (OVA), Shiina Mayuri from Steins; Gate, Sonohara Anri from Durarara!!, and Tsunemori Akane from Psycho-Pass. With a portfolio like this, it’s no wonder she’s awarded so much praise and esteem. And rightly so, her credit is well-deserved. No argument from me.

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I really wish I had more to say about seiyuu, but commenting on voice acting is something I feel is out of my depth. That said, I do have a few honourable mentions to close off on: Nakai Kazuya as Roronoa Zoro from One Piece, Tanaka Mayumi as Monkey D. Luffy, Takeuchi Junko as Uzumaki Naruto from Naruto and Gon Freecss from Hunter x Hunter, and Imai Asami as the only role I know her from and absolutely adore her as, Makise Kurisu from Steins; Gate.

Tldr; Lots of great voice acting talent in anime. Ridiculously hard to pick a favourite. This challenge is hard.

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~ Ace

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