Love Hina, Saber Marionette J, Ranma ½, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Slayers, Detective Conan, Pokémon, All Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku, Video Girl Ai and Shaman King—do any of these anime sound familiar to you? These popular series all have one thing in common: voice actress and singer, Megumi Hayashibara, played a role in them. Some of the best anime of the past featured her familiar and popular. When I first got into anime years ago, her music and voice would pop up everywhere. I wondered who she was and found out she had lots of great music too! That got me hooked on J-Pop and was one of the catalysts that got me into the genre.
Out of all those I mentioned above though, Slayers is my favorite. Megumi not only voiced the protagonist, Lina Inverse, but she also sung the main theme which I still enjoy to this day. I became a fan of her voice through that anime and have followed her, mainly in music, throughout the years.
Megumi was born in Tokyo, Japan and starting voicing anime characters the late 1980s. She is still taking on voices of characters as of this writing.
The music more than anything is what stuck with me. Listening to the opening songs from the various seasons of Slayers, which were all sung by Megumi as well, intrigued me to dig deeper into her catalogue of songs.
The reason why I enjoy and still listen to these songs is that they are about overcoming obstacles, not giving up, and moving forward. When I was younger, I had a lot of difficulties in dealing with staying positive. I struggled with an unsupportive mother, being a single child, not having a father in my life, and being bullied in school. All the credit though goes to God for helping me through those years, and I am a new creation in Him. Music did play its role, though, and those few minutes of a song would help me push through a rough time—and still do to this day. For example, here are some translated lyrics from the song Give A Reason and Don’t Be Discouraged. I left a video at the end with the opening from Slayers so you can hear it as well.
I’m not afraid of getting hurt!
But I’m not strong any way for that
Simply, by keeping doing anything,
I don’t wanna be regretting myself!
Here we go! go! I’ll keep running
I won’t be stopped by anybody!
I wanna get along… Give a reason
for life …to the me of the future
my excited heart shakes at the unseen tomorrow
I continue on to grab that shining dream
when I got discouraged, I found out people aren’t alone
never give up on myself at all times
even if the chosen path is rough and beaten up
beyond that is that moment we sought for
Don’t Be Discouraged by Megumi Hayashibara
Here’s a list of most of my favorite songs. Most are hard to find so I recommend Youtube: Give a Reason, Infinity, Plenty of Grit, Don’t Be Discouraged, Northern Lights, Revolution, Breeze, Just Be Conscious and Exit > Running.
As mentioned earlier, her voice acting roles have aksi been significant. I’ve already mentioned Lina Inverse, but most notably she played Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop, Jessie from Pokemon and Ranma Saotome from Ranma 1/2. Megumi voiced some of the defining characters of the genre.
She continues to take on roles in anime and is even creating new music. Megumi contributed the intros to the two most recent seasons of Slayers Revolution and Slayers Evolution-R. When interviewed in Seiyū Premium, she mentioned how the industry had changed and voice actors and actresses are coming in and out quickly. She would like to see more managers helping their clients grow to be better actors and see more creativity in the anime that is being released. As fans of anime know, myself including, it’s hard to find a show that is unique and different. Every season, most anime seasons don’t make it past episode 1 for me.
Whether it’s Megumi or another voice actress, let me know who is your favorite and why you like them! What anime or video game did they voice that you enjoyed? The voices behind the entertainment we enjoy are part of the experience, and help shape the experience we are having. If you don’t believe me, just go back and watch some of the first anime dubs from the 90s.