Why do we love anime? That’s a question that probably isn’t easy to answer for most of us. There are so many wonderful aspects of the medium that draw us in – among other things, the animation, story lines, culture, characters, music, and voice acting. Though there are a lot of excellent actors here who voice anime, there’s just something more fully immersive about Japanese seiyuu – not only are they the original embodiment of the characters to which we connect, their very identities are intrinsically wrapped up in their voice acting.
This month on Top 5 + Guest, we’re giving our list of favorite seiyuu. Joining us for this edition is Kuuki, on loan from Organization Anti-Social Geniuses (and thank goodness for her, otherwise this list would be wayyyy too female voice actress heavy). Here’s her bio: I’m Kuuki, 20-something French girl currently living in Japan. I love anime, photography and books. I am too curious and love onsens too much for my own good. I blog about my life over at March Story and ramble about seiyuu every two weeks at the Organization.
And now, onto the lists!
Kuuki’s Top 5 List
- Hiroshi Kamiya
- Hanazawa Kana
- Toshiyuki Toyonaga
- Sho Hayami
- Sakamoto Maaya
Somehow it’s been difficult to rank my favorite seiyuu past the first two. The first two can do anything and voice any type of character from the absolute cute type to the awfully dark and scary one. It’s also not a secret that they’ve been my first male and female bias ever. It’s been a lot harder for the other ones. Toshiyuki Toyonaga is here because he’s also somehow been a constant since I first discovered the world of seiyuu and he’s really talented in other areas (like dancing and singing). Sho Hayami is here because he’s the go-to villain who can sounds so smooth and seductive he doesn’t sound like a villain at all. Remember how well he voiced Aizen in Bleach? It’s exactly what I mean. As for Sakamoto Maaya, should I really explain? She’s another case of a seiyuu that can voice anything, boys included, I discovered here with Ciel from Black Butler and somehow I was blown away and followed her career ever since.The world of seiyuu is a fast changing one but somehow all of these people have seemed to be stuck on my head for at least the past 5 years so I guess it means I really think they’re good?
Kaze’s Top 5 List
- Nana Mizuki
- Saori Hayami
- Chiwa Saitou
- Ari Ozawa
- Sora Amamiya
It was so painful to leave out names as I considered my 5th, but in the end, I chose Sora Amamiya, aka Ten-chan. As a relatively new seiyuu, her popularity exploded in mid 2014 as her personality and unfair levels of cuteness were displayed in amateur radio shows and TV gigs. She still has yet to show impressive ability as seiyuu but she’s really just too cute of a person for me to keep her off my top 5. Like Ten-chan, Ari is new to the industry, but I am all aboard the Ari hype train right now. Everyone is sure to recognize her breakout role as Chiyo-chan from Nozaki-kun. Since then, I have followed her closely and have only gotten to like her more. While she is definitely still a newbie who lacks the variety and skill of a veteran, I have heard promise in her voice, and her personality is one which will no doubt lead her far places in terms of popularity.
Chiwa Saitou is an amazingly talented seiyuu, able to do a wide variety of voices, from quiet and cute to mature and sexy. It is strange to see characters I like, despite being so different, voiced by the same person, but that is of course thanks to her skill as a seiyuu. Unfortunately, she got married and her amount of work and appearances have dropped a lot. Still, I am always happy to see her get new roles. Saori Hayami is a seiyuu who’s been talked about a lot lately, especially with her now famous rant in InouBato. But did you know there was a time she was unable to perform angry lines because she is just way too nice of a person? As a fan of many years, I’m glad to have watched her popularity as a seiyuu but also her own talent grow. A fun fact is that Hayamin actually grew up in a Catholic school. Her standard voice is so incredibly gentle and sweet, making her the next Mamiko Noto, and I look forward to seeing her get even more popular.
At number 1 is, as should be a surprise to nobody, Nana Mizuki. Now let me be clear: in terms of solely voice acting talent, Nana is hardly number one. My go-to example of this is how frustrated I was that she got the role of Anshin’in when I felt someone like Maaya Sakamoto would have done a better job. But since we’re talking favorites, Nana doesn’t need to be a Mai Nakahara to win my heart. I could write essays on why Nana is my favorite (wait, I already have) but I will keep it simple: she is a person I admire and am greatly inspired by. Regardless of fame or her career, her love for fans, her determination to persevere in hardship, her humility and honesty, and her drive to always challenge herself are the qualities I love her for, as a person. So what else can I say besides Nana is a goddess among seiyuu.
stardf29’s Top 5 List
- Yui Horie
- Kana Hanazawa
- Kana Asumi
- Saori Hayami
- Mamiko Noto
Calling this a “top 5” list is a bit misleading, as probably what most makes a seiyuu a favorite of mine is a distinctive voice, which arguably goes against the idea of “good” seiyuu having a great vocal range. However, I feel all five of these seiyuu are great at adapting their distinctive voices to fit a large variety of roles and emotions. I’m also definitely a fan of the soft-spoken vocal quality that #5, #4, and #2 are known for.
Mamiko Noto has been a favorite of mine for a while, with Kimi ni Todoke‘s Sawako and Clannad‘s Kotomi being favorites of mine; I also love how she’s lately been playing more “villainous” roles, especially The Eccentric Family‘s Benten. I definitely agree with Kaze’s assessment of Saori Hayami, and her recent roles, especially When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace‘s Hatoko, have made her my newest favorite. Kana Asumi not only has a very distinctive voice and plays in a number of favorite shows of mine, she also voices my favorite character of all time, Yuno from Hidamari Sketch. Kana Hanazawa is another seiyuu who comes up frequently in shows I like. She also has a distinctive soft-spoken voice, but her favorite role of mine is Nadeko from the Monogatari series, especially in the second season where she displays some very different voices…
My favorite seiyuu is Yui Horie, mainly because she’s one of the first seiyuu I’ve been able to recognize across multiple anime, and have thus been the fan of for the longest time. She also has a very distinctive voice and has appeared in a number of shows I like, with some of my favorite roles including Ayu from Kanon, Minori from Toradora!, Tsubasa from the Monogatari series, and my favorite role of hers, Tohru from Fruits Basket. I also love the opening and ending songs she frequently sings for shows she plays a role in. As she’s a bit of an older seiyuu, her roles have gotten somewhat less frequent lately, but she still appears in new shows regularly, and I always look forward to hearing her in shows I watch.
TWWK’s Top 5 List
- Yui Horie
- Marina Inoue
- Mamiko Noto
- Kana Hanazawa
- Houko Kuwashima
I don’t follow any seiyuu closely, but still, in recent years I’ve realized just how much of a fan I am of certain voice actors without even realizing it. When it comes to entertainment, I’m so very character focused – if you can develop characters that really draw me in, I’ll forgive bad plotting, poor animation, and all sorts of other faults. And the way a seiyuu voices a character is paramount for his/her development. All of my selections are seiyuu who’ve captured me with their work time after time.
Once a more prominent voice actress, Houko Kuwashima remains a favorite of mine, a seiyuu who can move between roles very easily. Kana Hanazawa, of course, needs to introduction. She single-handedly kept me involved in series I was on the verge of dropping (Oreimo and Infinite Stratos) and elevates already excellent shows even higher (ex. Steins;gate). Mamiko Noto’s voice is so distinctive, as stardf29 already mentioned, and she has an uncanny ability to create loveably dim characters. Marina Inoue was perhaps the first seiyuu whose voice I particularly noticed with the work she did with Kyoko on Skip Beat; she, too, has such versatility, as can be seen with her voicing the entirely Kana on Minami-Ke. My favorite, though, is Yui Horie. One of Japan’s most beloved seiyuu, she voices so many of my favorite anime characters, including the two at the very top of my list: Ayu Tsukimya (Kanon) and Minori Kushieda (Toradora).
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