29 Dec 2012

Anime of 2012: Seiyuu (part 1)

Last year I started taking notice of the voice talents behind the characters, primarily because of K-ON! and various seiyuu radio programs. This year I started listening to a lot more seiyuu radio online and familiarizing myself with a lot more voices. This first post list my favourite female seiyuu this year.

Mimori Suzuko (Sherlock from Milky Holmes)

The girl with the big bright smile has been gaining fans this past year after her role as Sherlock in Milky Holmes. She's just naturally cheerful and is able to go with the flow very well, as evident in her appearance in Danny Choo's Culture Japan.

Iguchi Yuka (Tsukihi from Nisemonogatari, Tsugumi Ruri from Hayate no Gotoku, Furuya Mero from Sankarea)

After winning the Best Personality for her radio work last year, I think she's slowly gaining traction as a seiyuu as well. Her trademark loli voice is perhaps most apparent in Hayate no Gotoku.

Sawashiro Miyuki (Kanbaru Suruga from Nisemonogatari, Inaba Himeko from Kokoro Connect, Mine Fujiko from Lupid the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna)

She's quite a serious voice actress and has a somewhat unique voice that is quite easy to pick out (at least for me). This year's performances showcase her range quite well. From Mine Fujiko's mature and seductively sexy voice to Kanbaru's... more manly sexy voice, it doesn't deviate too much from her default style (i.e. similar to Inaba), but the slight changes she makes is enough to be appropriate for her different roles.

Hanazawa Kana (Sengoku Nadeko from Nisemonogatari, Kurihara Chiaki from Mouretsu Pirates, Akizuki Maria from Shinsekai Yori, Ooshima Chizuru from Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)

Loli, kuroneko, elegent confidence, and shyness. These 4 voices goes to show how versatile she can be, and how nobody will ever tire of her kuroneko voice. Love her new haircut!

Tomatsu Haruka (Takatsuki Ichika from AnoNatsu, Mizutani Shizuku from Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Yuuki Asuna from Sword Art Online)

This member of Sphere entered my radar after I heard her in Tonari. She's no slouch when it comes to voice work and has been doing a wide range of voices for some time now. These 3 roles alone show her amazing versatility that makes it unrecognisable to the untrained ear. Enjoy watching her and Yahagi Sayuri on Hanazawa Kana's Christmas radio programme.

Ishihara Kaori (Kyouno Madoka from Rinne no Lagrange, Tanigawa Kanna from Ano Natsu de Matteru, Tsuruma Konoe from NakaImo, Aladdin from Magi)

This girl deserves to win Best Debut this year! Tanigawa Kanna has a somewhat shaky voice (in retrospect, somewhat similar to Omigawa Chiaki?) that perfectly complements her shy character. That scene in AnoNatsu episode 9 instantly sold me on her character and her voice. Konoe was perhaps less unique but she pulled it off with lots of professionalism. Her role as Aladdin (a young boy) further expands her repertoire. Along with her lead role in Rinne no Langrange, Ishihara Kaori is a strong contender for the top spot and has a bright future ahead of her.

Ogura Yui (Hanbei from Oda Nobuna, Kanda Yuuko from Sakurasou)

Loli Yui will always sound like loli Yui, but her role in Sakurasou as the over-possessive imouto wow-ed me with how much her acting has improved. Please note that I'm a huge YuiKaori fanatic (evidence).

Kayano Ai (Kinoshita Kaori from AnoNatsu, Ibara Mayaka from Hyouka, Tachibana Mei from Sukitte ii na yo)

Her soft, gentle voice soothes the soul. Here's a voice that I like purely because of how nice it sounds. But of course, she's also very professional in her various works. Menma in last year's AnoHana was quite different from her work this year, from the pining Kaori, to the shy Tachibana Mei, and the assertive (and a little bit tsundere) Mayaka.

Hidaka Rina (Rinon from AnoNatsu, Sagara Mei from NakaImo, Silica from Sword Art Online, Ririchiyo from Inu X Boku SS)

This ever-smiling girl is slowly gaining more big roles and hopefully gets more work next year. While not a lot of work this year, all her roles were memorable and well-played.

Asumi Kana (Nyaruko from Haiyore Nyaruko-san)

She has her fans, but I would like to highlight her role as Nyaruko. That character is hyperactive and super cheerful, which Asumin manages to convey very well. Very impressive.

Satou Satomi (Chitanda Eru from Hyouka)

A lot of people (me included) liked her role as Chitanda Eru in Hyouka. I know some friends who have said that she is their favourite character of the year. So props to Satomi for doing a great job with this moe voice!

Nakahara Mai ("Watashi" from Jinrui wa Suita Shimashita, Takamura Yui from Muv-Luv)

I think she did a great job as the nameless main character of Jinrui wa Suita Shimashita. That was definitely a difficult role to plan, balancing deadpan humour with lovability and solitude.

Taketatsu Ayana (Kunitachi Rinka from NakaImo, Kirigaya Suguha/Lyfa from Sword Art Online, Mirakurun from Yuru Yuri)

Awesome year for Taketatsu Ayana as you can see her mature and become really good at voice acting. Critics about the write her off as just another moe character should see her work in NakaImo and (most impressively) in Sword Art Online.

Sakura Ayane (Kannagi Miyabi from NakaImo)

Personally, she didn't have many roles that I particularly liked this year, but her radio work on NakaImo, Ojikan, and Radio Cross got me following her closely.

Ookubo Rumi (Miniwa Tsumiki from Acchi Kocchi, Yoshikawa Chinatsu from Yuru Yuri)

Her Chinatsu voice was so similar to Taketatsu Ayana that I had to check the credits to confirm. She wasn't trying to imitate ayachi's voice on purpose, it's just that the character calls for it (you'll get the joke if you have at least seen the first episode of Yuru Yuri). Tsumiki on the other hand was really something else. Fell in love with it the first time I heard it.

Fukuen Misato (Inochiyo from Oda Nobuna) and Kaneda Tomoko (Goemon from Oda Nobuna)

Just wanted to highlight these 2 in the roles of Inochiyo and Goemon, the 2 cutest sengoku warriors ever.

Yuuki Aoi (Eba Kurako from Hyouka, Tachibana Hibiki from Symphogear, Ringo-chan from Danshi Koukousei)

Aocchan didn't really stand out this year, but her role as Tachibana Hibiki probably had a big impact on her career. She has now started to release music, working closely with some interesting people, including DECO*27 of niconico and Vocaloid fame. I would say her music is interesting and varied, kind of experimental. And I still maintain that she is probably one of the most talented seiyuu in the industry. Over the course of researching for this blog post, I came across some videos of 9 or 10 year old Aoi-chan on a TV show called Appare Sanma Dai Sensei. Even at such a young age she was well-spoken, delivering her words clearly, and very assertive and talkative. Some of the things she says is downright hilarious, not just in a childishly cute way, but with smart jokes and somewhat adult humour. One comment on the nico video that pops up a lot: 天才. And I agree with them. Embedding the video below.

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