Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guardian Enzo’s Ten Favorite Seiyuu Performances

Steins Gate - 15 - 27 Natsume Yuujin-chou San - 01 - Large 09 Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai - 14 - Snapshot 05

I’ve been watching Princess Tutu (finally) lately, and marveling at what a great job Katou Nanae did as Ahiru (and wondering why we haven’t heard more from her in anime than we have).  That prompted a Twitter conversation that got me musing on my favorite seiyuu performances of all-time.

Bear in mind, these are favorite performances – I’m not making any objective claims about them being the “best” of all time.  For simplicity’s sake I’ve chosen 10 performances, 5 male and 5 female.  There were some great honorable mention performances by females playing males – Suzukaze Mayo as Kenshin, Ogata Megumi as Shinji Ikari, Morinaga Rika as Makoto/chan – but the ten that made the final cut happened to be same-gender performances.

I’d love to hear some of your favorites in the comments.  As for mine, here they are in no particular order:

Male:

Miyano Mamorou as Okabe Rintarou (Steins;Gate) – A great all-around performance by an actor who had a phenomenal 2011, also starring as Taichi in Chihayafuru.  His Okarin is funny and slightly mad, but also keenly intelligent and much deeper than he first appears.

Ono Kenshou as Komori Tarou (Ghost Hound) – A vastly underrated performance in a vastly underrated series.  Ghost Hound is an actor’s series, and much of it is preoccupied with the mental state of troubled but kind middle-schooler Tarou.  Audience buy-in is largely contingent on feeling empathy for Tarou, and Ono-san delivers with an incredibly likable and human performance.  I’ve never heard a more authentic portrayal of a boy this age in anime.

Miyu Irino as Kitamura Kou (Cross Game) – Talking of actor’s shows, Cross Game is definitely one.  Truthfully, there are several Miyu-Miyu performances that could have made the list – in my view he’s been the best male seiyuu over the last decade – but Kou is his signature role in my view.  As great as the writing is with CG, the highest compliment I can pay Miyu-san is this: I can’t imagine Kou being played by anyone else.

Inoue Kazuhiko as Nyanko-sensei (Natsume Yuujinchou) – Inoue-san is another actor whose magnificent career has spanned many legendary performances.  Natsume is a show that’s full of great seiyuu moments, but Inoue’s Nyanko-sensei is both the heart of the series and its funniest character.  Inoue shows perhaps the greatest range within a single role in anime here – he must convey many sides to this ageless and mysterious ayakashi, and captures them all flawlessly.

Adachi Naoto as Chagum (Seirei no Moribito) – For my money this is the finest child performance in anime history, in the finest TV series in anime history.  Moribito is a true classic by any measure, but the entire series is built on the relationship between Chagum and Balsa, and Adachi-kun (13 at the time of production) perfectly captures Chagum’s nobility and loneliness.


Female:

Horie Yui as Tsukimiya Ayu (Kanon 2006) – Again, Hochan has delivered so many memorable performances that it seems almost impossible to pick just one – yet, it would be criminal not to.  She’s truly at her best (Uguu!) as Ayu – genki, vulnerable, hilarious, irresistible.  I love Kanon and it’s definitely an ensemble, but Hochan’s is the performance that gives the show it’s emotional center.

Andou Mabuki as Balsa (Seirei no Moribito) – The other half of Moribito’s unforgettable duo, Andou-san gives for my money the finest dramatic voice actress performance ever.  She’s not an anime regular – most of the Moribito cast isn’t – and Andou’s performance contains no familiar anime mannerisms of any kind. The emotional scenes between Andou and Adachi-kun in the second half of the series will stay with me forever.

Gotou Yuuko as Kate (Sketchbook ~full color’S~) – This may seem an odd inclusion – a supporting role in a good, not great show that falls nowhere near my all-time favorites list.  But Gotou-san’s performance here is my favorite comedic performance in anime – more laughs per minute of screen time than anybody, and huge laughs at that.  Gotou-san has been fighting serious health issues of late – here’s hoping she makes a full recovery and we get to hear many more brilliant comedic performances.

Tomatsu Haruka as Tsukishima Aoba (Cross Game) – The Yang to Miyu Irino’s Cross Game Yin, Tomatsu-san was magnificent as the difficult to love, wounded Aoba.  In a series full of great writing and acting, Tomatsu is fully up to the task.  Hochan may be my favorite female seiyuu ever, but I’d give the nod to Tomatsu as the best of the last five years – and the one with the greatest range.

Kana Hanazawa as Gokou “Kuroneko” Ruri (Ore no Imouto ga Konanni Kawaii Wake ga Nai) – KanaHana isn’t a chameleon like Tomatsu Haruka, but more of a personality.  Her range is limited but when she gets one in her sweet spot she hits it out of the park – and Kuroneko is her finest role for my tastes.  KanaHana is funny, sexy, snarky and sympathetic all in perfect balance.  This is a very good show rather than a great one, but Oreimo is at its best when Kuroneko is on-screen.


50 comments:

  1. Uguu-chan is on the list but no Sayaka Ohara? Enzo, your taste is terrible.

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    1. Yes, the pinnacle of the logically unassailable argument - "Your taste isn't mine, so it's terrible".

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    2. Objectively, not a fantastic list.

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    3. How can a list of personal favorites be judged on objective terms?

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    4. All your pickings come from a very thin slice of anime history. Have not seen anything prior to the 2000s?

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    5. Sure, and there are plenty of performances from the 20th Century that would have come pretty close (some of them are mentioned in the comments). But five is a pretty tiny list to narrow it down to.

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  2. I actually looked up just what other roles Katou Nanae had done on ANN and it looks like she's done a lot of stuff in other magical girl anime (the kind actually aimed at young girls so a bit outside your normal viewing range), but yeah, she and the seiyuu who did Himari in Penguindrum really need to have more roles, they have such distinct yet really sweet voices.

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    1. I watch my share of mahou shoujo, but even so - by my reckoning that's a dozen (actually less) major performances, and only a couple of featured roles. As great as she is in Princess Tutu, I'm really surprised there aren't more than that - assuming, of course, she's someone who was keen to work frequently (and some seiyuu aren't).

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    2. Oh and I guess you're still enjoying Tutu so far?

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    3. Absolutely. Very interesting visually, love the soundtrack, engaging story and agreeably quirky.

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  3. I'm someone who doesn't pay as much attention to VAs as I probably should but there are still some roles that I consider classics. Miyano Mamoru as Okabe is one of them but I'd also include Sugita Tomokazu as Kyon, Seki Tomokazu as Sagara Sousuke, and Kawasumi Ayako as Noda Megumi (Gyabo!).

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  4. Definitely agree with Miyano Mamoru and Inoue Kazuhiko picks.
    Sketchbook! What an under appreciated show.

    Just out of curiosity, what's your opinion on my favorite seiyuu, Mizuki Nana?

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  5. My personal favorites are Omigawa Chiaki as Hottori in SoreMachi and Honda Mariko as Yuuko in Nichijou

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  6. Just out of curiosity, what's your opinion on my favorite seiyuu, Mizuki Nana?

    She's great - very versatile. The thing is, I had to set an arbitrary number, and by cutting it off at 10 I had to leave off some seiyuu I absolutely love: Sugita Tomokazu, Aoi Yuuki, Unshou Ishizuka, Sakamoto Maaya... The list is basically endless, along with some specific performances I loved too, like the ones I mentioned in the post among others.

    My personal favorites are Omigawa Chiaki as Hottori in SoreMachi and Honda Mariko as Yuuko in Nichijou.

    I gave Chiaki-san my "Best Actress" in 2010 for that performance - really great. She's like HanaKana in that she has a very distinct personality that comes through no matter the role, so she needs to be in her sweet spot. But that's her finest performance as far as I'm concerned (though she was great as Jun in NnA, too).

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  7. Maybe you can make another list in the future to spotlight the rest of your favorites.
    What's your favorite Nana role?

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  8. I never realized Katou Nanae had so few roles but you are right she is excellent as Ahiru.

    I just realized she also played young Shigure in Natsume Yuujinchou so I will have to re-watch that episode again.

    You have some great choices here, I'll add a few more

    Paku Romi as Edward Elric: She still does the best teenage boy voice for me

    Sakurai Takahiro: As the Medicine Seller in Mononoke, he owns that role (he is also great in the above mentioned Princess Tutu).

    Oh and speaking of Maaya Sakamoto her first starring role as Hitomi in Escaflowne is also one of my favorites, both for her lovely singing and voice acting. Hard to imagine she was only 15 then.

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  9. I just started rewatching Princess Tutu... what an excellent show.

    There's nothing quite like great classical music put to use as background music.

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  10. It's tough to leave off Paku Romi generally. She's about the best female at voicing teenaged males. I would also add Sakurai Takahiro's role as Azuma in Cross Game - yet another great performance in that great series.

    My favorite Mizuki Nana role? Geez... Well, she was great as Pioneer in Jinrui but that's a small role... Maybe Wrath in FMA, believe it or not - really dark and passionate there. Touma in Minami-ke (another show full of great comic performances) is a great comedic role.

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    1. Rue in Princess Tutu, of course.

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  11. Yay! I'm glad you decided to write one up. I'm surprised you got this posted so quickly actually.

    Okay for me, I honestly haven't really put MUCH thought into it but a few of my favourites has got to be:
    Fukuyama Jun - Lelouch from Code Geass
    Pretty generic choice but I LOVE EVERYTHING HE BRINGS INTO THE ROLE. NIPPON :D!

    Miyano Mamoru - for sooooo many roles, some being Taichi from Chihayafuru and Kida from DRRR

    Honda Mariko - words cannot even for how much i love her as Yukko in Nichijou. Her screaming, being nervous, panting -- everything.

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  12. Agreed with Miyano Mamorou...he had a phenomenal year in 2011 and totally changed my mind on him. I very much liked how he could bring out the two very distinct characters -- Okabe and Taichi.

    I have another seiyuu in mind -- Hirata Hiroaki. He may not be the best, but I really like his work in Tiger and Bunny and Uchū Kyōdai. If there would be an award for seiyuu playing a 30+ man, no doubt that he would have my vote.

    ~Ronbb

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    1. @grey - are you Sheryl from Twitter by any chance?

      Anon - so hard to leave Hirata Hiroaki off - his Kotestsu was very close to that top five, and Mutta wouldn't be far behind. Not that versatile but when he's in his zone, he's awesome. No one can play the likable everyman like he can. I love Fujiwara Keiji too, but Hiroaki-san would have made a very interesting Leorio.

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  13. I'm surprised that Kamiya Hiroshi is not on your list.

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  14. Ah... I'll have to dig up most of the seiyuu names XD
    Let's start anyway :).

    Female Seiyuu

    Reiko Tajima as Oscar in Rose(s) of Versailles. I grew up with - phenomenal - Italian dub (Cinzia De Carolis is among the very best and distrinctive Italian dubbing voices both in colour and expression... she's mostly a non-anime regular btw) but once I checked the Japanese original some years ago via English fansubs I was pleasantly surprised as well. Cinzia's voice is a bit 'smokey' and emphasizes the character's tortured strength more (she's magnificent in the angsty, angry and heroic moments), while Oscar's original voice is closer to the manga version in a way... Reiko Tajima enhances her character's frailty and the chinks in the heroine's armour.
    Oscar is a rose of many petals. Both VAs here did a great job with this character and as such my fav shifts from one to the other according to the moment.

    Romi Paku as Edwars Elric. I really enjoyed her performance in FMA (both series), but I'm weak to her voice in general even in series I don't otherwise like much ( Kurozuka).

    Andou Mabuki as Balsa. For basically your same reasons. And also because in anime terms she's a worthy and updated descendant of Oscar in some ways :p.

    Yuuki Aoi as Kuhouin Murasaki in Kurenai (the TV series). While her voice per se might have sounded a tad too mature for a child, I ended up completely buying it thanks to the range of emotions her voice and animation combined conveyed. Murasaki as a character was both a naive sheltered child and an old soul in a way, tempered by her education and her sorrow since her infancy.


    Yoshitani Ayako as Urabe Mikoto in Nazo no Kanojo X. I think I commented about how natural and layered and convincing she sounded already under your episodes post. And again her voice has that certain something... sexy flavour to it without
    seemingly even trying.

    Hisakawa Aya as Nakajima Youko (The Twelve Kingdoms). Her character does a fantastic 180° change during the course of the series, her voice keeps up just so well. Also... another strong-willed woman. Hmmm, I sense a pattern. Another performance
    of hers who's dear to my heart is Sailor Mercury.
    Ack, this is the 6th name already. Sorry. EDIT: well... might as well add Endou Aya's Sheryl Nome and Sanpei Yuuko (Renton) as further bonus (bonuses?).


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  15. Male Seiyuu

    Mamoru Miyano as... it's tough but I'd say Tamaki from Ouran Host Club of all his many roles just out of my sheer shameless fondness of The Prince X,D. Oh him smooth yet lovable goof him. So deadly serious in not being serious for the sake of his friend ad family. Troubled past? childhood traumas? Love Pains? He copes by going the Sunshine Knightly Casanova way and being the generous caring friend. A man playing the worldly smooth gentleman but still very much unaware and naive about his own romantic feelings and related pursuit of the one lady he's in love with (oh the irony). Many other bishounen in his situation could have gone the dark and brooding path instead. It was a refreshing aural and character-type experience in this regard. And it was hilarious listening when it wasn't endearing. Miyano arguably has given us more nuanced performances and more realistic characters than Tamaki (Okarin and Taichi in particular), but my jaded heart leaps to sunshine boy and his unbelievable lack of a single mean bone.

    Irino Miyu as Tsubaki Akira in Natsu no Kanojo X. Again, he just sounded so natural and believable for his character. In terms of performance both Nazo no Kanojo and Kurenai are the series that struck me the most in recent memory in terms of overall voice performance along with Moribito. And Tsuritama XD. Talking about Irino, he was so good in the aforementioned series as well. Hmmm, it might be a tie between Tsubaki and Haru after all.

    Hirata Hiroaki as Kotetsu/Tiger (Tiger & Bunny) and Mutta (Space Bros). Such human and relatable characters they are, in no little measure thanks to this voice. I'm afraid I can't make it justice with my words. Also because I haven't slept for 24 hours, pardon my increasing mind fuzziness.


    Adachi Naoto as Chagum (Seirei no Moribito). For your same reasons.


    Nakata Jouji as Monte-Cristo (Gankoutsuou). I could wax poetic on how fitting for the role his voice is. Instead I'll keep it short by saying: I heard, I listened, veni. Ave Nakata, moritura te salutat (but it's the sweetest agony really. Chocolate for the ears, Montecristo is thy name). Byronic hero type - the kind in most contemporary renditions/adaptations I tend to either hate or not care much about - and Nakata made it work. Classy, expressive, enticing. Chapeau.


    Bonus:
    Taro Shigaki as André (Rose of Versailles) - and Massimo Rossi in the Italian dub - . Similarly to what I wrote above about Oscar, I could appreciate the Japanese voices only after decades of being used to the dubbed version. But boy, aren't they both good and memorable.

    Yusa Kouji as Lunatic (Tiger & Bunny)/Vincent Law (Ergo Proxy). Dual characters and a voice that could suitably convey the refined, the dangerous, the powerful and the meek. And of course the borderline insane XD.

    Seki Tomokazu as van Fanel (Escaflowne)/Sagara Sousuke (FMP)/Shi Ryuuki (Saiunkoku Monogatari).

    Fukuyama Jun as Panda and Sakurai Takahiro as Shirokuma (Shirokuma Cafè)/Fakir(Princess Tutu)/Yuudai (Tokyo Marble Chocolate).

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    1. Many of those were among my final cuts. No question I would have picked Nakata Jouji for Gankoutsuou and Hiroaka for T & B if I'd gone ten deep. And with Miyu Irino, Tsuritama and MGX would definitely be in my top tier of his many great performances. I also seriously considered Kurenai, especially for Aoi Yuuki (I think she was only 14 or so at the time).

      Yusa Kouji is in "Kingdom" this season, actually, and faring rather well.

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    2. Thou shall not tempt me with Kingdom Dan sir. I'm at my measly limit of series per week already. I'm reading though ;).

      Kurenai (the regular TV series only, forget the rest) is one of those flawed series I'm really, really fond of.
      Aoi Yuki was the highlight (double achievement if she was that young at the time), but it was also a very good ensemble performance.
      Besides voice work the bond between Shinkuru and Murasaki is imho one of the sweetest, non-sexualized child-older person anime relationships ever portrayed in anime. It also inspired me one of my longest anime Italian reviews ever, ahah. All that social subtext and those lovely daily life details. And the clever use of Hina dolls. Ah <3. Who cares for oddly weaponized bones and superfast wound healing incongruencies compared to all this? :p.
      ----
      Nyanko-sensei is definitely among my favourites as well... but I was already struggling to keep the list short :).

      In a way I'm glad I'm familiar with so many vintage anime via dubbing alone. Picking favourites would have been even harder for me XD. On the other hand, I have my tiny but mighty squad of Italian dub idols XD.
      I wonder if that could be material for another editorial of yours down the road. Among the few AE dubs I sampled the first FMA anime series is probably the one dub that I really enjoyed and that gripped me emotionally. FMA got lucky in both languages it seems :).

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  16. Nice, you always keep your site lively with these posts that break away from the traditional episode 'reviews'. Keep em up~

    As for favourite performances, I'll have to go with the characters' names, since I've never been so interested in learning the seiyuu's names (it took me a good while to figure out what seiyuu was, at first).

    -Males-

    Okabe Rintarou - Steins;Gate. Hands down, this guy deserves some serious kudos for everything he brings to his characters.

    Tiger - Tiger&Bunny. This seiyuu finally gave a fresh new voice to an anime character, who ironically was also a refreshing new anime MC by itself.

    Viral - Gurren Lagann. Ack, I just like the way he sounds. His voice is so distinctive...Whenever I hear him in another anime, I instantly recognize his voice. Some take that as a bad thing, though. But his voice is special.

    Rider - Fate/Zero. Oh man, this guy nailed it. So powerful.

    -Females-

    Haruko - FLCL. Oh man, best anime female voice ever. No wonder GAINAX created the whole Haruko's looks and attitude based on this seiyuu (though I don't think she had done much seiyuu work up till then), since she is so unique.

    Mayuri - Steins;Gate. Only seiyuu that managed to melt me with her cuteness, ever.

    Inori - Ano Natsu de Matteru. She also nailed every dialogue.


    ...There's a big difference in numbers between males and females, but I dunno, females usually sound so similar to me. That's why I only chose those who sounded differently (as I did with the males). But then again, I guess that's the obvious reason.

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    1. Haha, I guess there isn't really a big difference in numbers now. At first it was like 4 vs 2, until female worthy seiyuus started popping in my head...And damn! So many empty lines make this look so long.

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    2. Epic fail; meant Kanna instead of Inori (???)...

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    3. Again, some great choices that barely missed. Hiyama Nobuyuki as Viral was very hard to leave out (the best performance in a very strong cast). Ohtsuka Akio great as Rider. Shintani Mayumi as Haruko from FLCL (another show that didn't use big names in the cast) was definitely in my second five. Mizuki Jun was also terrific as Naota.

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    4. Yeah, Japan definetly has some talented people in the voice-acting department!

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  17. I would also suggest KanaHana as Chiaki-chan from Mouretsu Pirates. The series was pretty interesting, but whenever she shows up, everyone's cheering and has a great day.

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  18. Personally for me
    Marina Inoue playing the main lead as Skip Beat. She impresses whatever the role she gets, but here she really shows her versatility in acting.

    Hisako Kanemoto absolutely nailed the role of Ika Musume. I'm kinda surprised nobody really said anything about it.

    Kana Ueda as Petopeto San. I was absolutely charmed by that role. Her voice I guess lacks versatility but I still love her voice.

    Daisuke Namikawa playing the main lead wimpy but introspective samurai in house of five leaves.

    Shintaro Asanuma playing Watashi in Youjo Han Shinwa Taikei. Nothing needs to be said.

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    1. Hisako as Ika would have been in my next tier definitely. I thought about Kana Ueda for Peteopetosan too - adore that show.

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  19. +50 for Nyanko-sensei and Ghost Hound! I've never talked to someone who has seen the latter before. ;_;

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    1. Ghost Hound was pretty good ;D, but as often happens with shows where Masamune Shirow is involved I have to pause and ponder a lot to process things in my non native-English brain. It was the sound effects that impressed me even more than the voices though. They still give me shivers.

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    2. Yeah, best sound design of any show I've ever seen, period. I love it pretty much unreservedly, but that sound really is astonishing.

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  20. My personal favourite i Sugita Tomokazu as Gintoki in Gintama. Thanks to that I think he is the first VA that I instantly recognise when hearing his voice :D

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  21. Great selection you have over there Enzo and Irino Miyu is certainly one of the best male seiyuus out there. A new face that I'll be keeping an eye on is Ishihara Kaori who has been awesome as Madoka in Rinne no Lagrange and Kanna in Ano Natsu de Matteru.

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  22. Irino Miyu nails nearly every role he gets. Though, if Tomatsu is a chameleon, what's to be said about Kayano Ai, who played (among others) Inori, Chihayafuru's Kana, Mayaka AND Menma and nailed them all? Well, maybe Inori isn't the best character to prove a VA's skill, but still she amazes me for her versatility.
    That, and I actually think Kuroneko is one of HanaKana's least impressive performances...

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  23. Good call on Adachi Naoto as Chagum, adding to kids playing kids,
    Ayu Matsuura as Rin in Usagi Drop really stood out to me as being a really natural performance. Akemi Okamura has two amazing performances that are as far away from each other as possible but really stick out in my mind: Risa in Lovely Complex and Shu in Now and Then, Here and There.

    Yutaka Koizumi hasn't done much anime, but his role as Satou in Welcome to the NHK is stunning, episode 13 bringing me to tears with his performance alone!

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  24. Miyano Mamoru is phenomenal. I remember the first time his name really entered my Seiyuu Rolodex was when I was simultaneously watching "Death Note" and "Ouran High," and I found out he was playing the leads in both of them. Mind. Blown. (If I had to pick his 'best,' though, Okarin would almost certainly be it.)

    And I know we're only halfway through the series, but I'm really leaning towards adding Mai Nakahara as Watashi in "Jinrui." Her blend of sweetness, cynicism, and deadpan is comic gold and strangely humanizing. She carries the show marvelously.

    As for the rest of my favs, I'm going to pull some '90s old-school off the top of my head here, since that's the generation that pulled me into anime in the first place...

    Seki Tomokazu as Chichiri in "Fushigi Yuugi" is, to this day, probably my favorite voice work. I'm continually impressed by Tomokazu's versatility, but here he managed to play essentially two characters in one, switching between them sometimes at the drop of a hat, and he carried them with humor and humanity and pathos. (My God, that OVA episode.) He was a minor character in a (quite frankly) mediocre anime, but damn, did he leave his mark.

    Akira Ishida as Xellos in "Slayers" - No one plays disarmingly creepy like Ishida, and this was the first time I heard the master at work. Again, the versatility of the actor impressed me to no end, here. How he managed to get me to love him and hate him at the same time remains a mystery, but his charm and brutality are one of the main reasons that "NEXT" still stands (IMHO) as the best of the Slayers seasons.

    I wanted to get Kotono Mitsuishi in here somewhere, but I couldn't decide between Misato in "Eva," Juri in "Utena," or Excel in "Excel Saga." I'm actually leaning towards Excel, because it could have been really easy for her to slip into 'obnoxious' (like the dub did), but somehow she made Excel hilarious and sympathetic, despite being a complete nutter. (She also gets bonus points for being able to say her lines so freaking fast.) Comedic roles don't get a lot of love because people tend to assume it's "easier" than drama, but that's really not the case, and standout comic performances deserve just as much love as the serious ones.

    And since I mentioned "Utena," I should almost certainly throw Tomoko Kawakami's role as the leading lady onto my list as well. Really, most of the cast of "Utena" could get a nod somewhere on here. Any time you're working with such abstract, dark material, you run the risk of dehumanizing the cast, turning them into symbols instead of people, but Utena's character arc (and the arcs of all the side characters) were where the show shone brightest. I've got to give the voice actors loads of credit for that.

    ...And I know this isn't strictly "old-school" like I promised, but I just can't leave without giving a nod to Takehito Koyasu as Excalibur in "Soul Eater." Tiny role, I know, but one of the standout performances of the series. I will never be able to hear the word "baka" (BWAKA!) without thinking of him.

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    1. Yikes, that turned out way longer than I'd intended. Sorry for the tl;dr territory there, guys. ^^;

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    2. It was a good read :)

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  25. Sorry Enzo...I keep dragging on this post, but I like it a lot.

    I do like Namikawa Daisuke, but there are three other seiyuus -- in my opinion -- have consistently delivered outstanding performance throughout the years, and whenever I hear their voices, I simply can't resist... They are Koyasu Takehito, Suwabe Junichi, and Miki Shin-ichiro. I haven't seen them playing notable roles recently though -- well, perhaps in Uta Koi that I can catch glimpses of the two of them. I have started paying more attention to Nakamura Yuichi probably because of Natsuyuki Rendezvous and Hyouka.

    ~Ronbb

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    1. I would love to hear more of Shinichiro Miki especially - he's fantastic, and the only appearance in the last two seasons I remember is as whats-her-name's father in Kuroko no Basuke, where he had about 2 lines.

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    2. Yes, Shinichiro is awesome and so versatile. I heard that a new season of the Initial D will be out in the next season, and I am wondering if he will play Takumi again. :)

      ~Ronbb

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  26. So,completely subjective list of my own off the top of my head in no particular order

    Female:

    Riisa Naka as Makoto in "the girl who leapt through time":Sadly it seems we've lost her to live action but I really hope to see her dub something again,her laugh was contagious and she really brought out all the emotion in Makoto and she's one of the reason I enjoyed the movie so much.

    Yoshitani Ayako as Urabe in "Nazo no Kanojo X": another live action veteran that I hope we'll see more of in anime,quite a lot of Urabe's charm came from her performance.

    Yajima Akiko as Pino in "Ergo Proxy": Her career was set way back when she landed the role of the MC of Crayon shin chan so she doesn't do much of anything else,but she's generally gold when she does,she's extremely versatile with a few different standout performances but I chose this one because she got the cute loli down to perfection like few others ever have (and lord knows how many seiyuus try) which means that while her character was just a supporting character she ended up stealing the show for quite a few people.I'm guessing she's too old to be popular with Otakus so she wouldn't land many roles but we could definatly do with more of her in anime.

    Tomatsu Hakura as Anaru in "Ano Hana" , now Aoba is definatly my favorite Tomatsu character but in terms of pure performance I just felt she outdid herself here,felt she hit her emotional scenes the best out of the seiyuus in the show.

    Takagaki Ayahi as Ein in "Phantom:Requiem for the Phantom": Really loved how as the anime progressed Ayahi would change her tone gradually from cold and emotionless to a much softer and kinder tone at the end,it all happens gradually as the episodes go along in what's a nice subtle performance,it really helped me sympathize for the character.

    Male Characters:

    Irino Miyu as Kou in "Cross Game": there's a whole bunch to choose from but he got the Adachi MC down so good that I'm now imagining his voice when reading MIX.On a more general note I always get the impression he has some kind of ability to bring out the best in female seiyuus he plays with,out of the 5 female performances I mentioned 3 were playing opposite to Irino (Tomatsu Hakura,Yoshitani Ayako and Takagaki Ayahi)

    Miyano Mamoru as Taichi in "Chihayafuru" : now he's great as Okabe but I have a preference for this more down to earth performance,I admit to not being on the Taichi bandwagon right away but I hopped on pretty quickly!

    Okamoto Nobuhiko as Usui in "Maid Sama": He just had a lot of fun with this performance,the character itself is pretty standard but Okamoto brings in a certain "something" that made him really memorable to me.He's one of my favorite seiyuus around,couldn't have asked for a better Eiji in Bakuman too.

    Onosaka Masaya as Vash in "Trigun" , he made the character really lovable at the beginning and then conveyed Vash's inner conflicts perfectly later in the anime,a great all around performance


    Hagiwara Masato as Akagi in "Akagi" : he's of course Kaiji as well but I feel he pulls of the cold blooded mastermind better than the lovable loser,all throughout the show I was going back and forth between fanboying over Akagi's skills to being freaked out by his demonish nature and a lot of that had to do with Hagiwara's performance ("Are you deaf, Washizu Iwao?"...)

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