Don’t Confuse the Anime Character With the Seiyuu

I’ve had my fair share of anime crushes, and now that I think about it, I think that  about 90% of the reason why I develop an anime crush is the voice.  I have a fetish thing for voices, after all.  Ahem!

Anyway. . .what I’m trying to say is that I understand when people admit into becoming full-fledged fangirls (or fanboys) of a seiyuu.  I also understand when someone admits to watching an anime just because their favourite seiyuu is on the cast.

Seiyuu are one of the most important aspects of anime.  They bring characters to life, and I think that depending on how well they portray their characters, they contribute greatly to the overall popularity of the anime series, and I argue even to the total sales of the series’ merchandises.  Sometimes you even fall in love with a character because of the excellent portrayal of the seiyuu.

ONE PIECE: Film Z Cast
ONE PIECE: Film Z Cast

Saying all of these, however, I would caution against confusing your favourite seiyuu with the characters he/she plays.  There are many seiyuu who are pigeon-holed into voicing similar types of characters throughout their careers, that they ultimately become redundant.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind this much.  These seiyuu have found their specialties, and they worked hard to become the best and the first choice for portraying certain types of roles.

Nakai Kazuya (中井 和哉), for example, who voices Zoro from my favourite series ONE PIECE,  also voices quite a lot of other swordsmen.  Think about Hijikata of Gintama and Mugen of Samurai Champloo.  He is not the most versatile seiyuu, but he has one of the most easily-recognizable voices in the industry.  Even if you don’t know that he’s on the cast, you’ll immediately say, “Ah, it’s Nakai Kazuya voicing this character.”

Nakai Kazuya (中井 和哉)
Nakai Kazuya (中井 和哉)

Similarly, Kugimiya Rie (釘宮 理恵), is hailed as the 「ツンデレの女王」 (Tsundere no Jo-ou) or “Tsundere Queen” because she has voiced a lot of tsundere characters.  Think about Shana of Shakugan no Shana and Louise of Zero no Tsukaima.  Of course, I’m not saying that she only voices tsundere characters.  She has also voiced quite an array of different character types throughout her career, but she will always be known to her fans as the “Tsundere Queen”.

Kugimiya Rie (釘宮 理恵)
Kugimiya Rie (釘宮 理恵)

There are so many awesomely talented seiyuu out there.  Of course, they don’t only work in the anime industry, but I’ll be focusing on anime seiyuu in this post.  I think that I’m mostly impressed with those seiyuu who possess extremely versatile voices.  They are shapeshifters who can transform into almost any type of character, sometimes even disregarding the gender gap altogether.

Namikawa Daisuke
Namikawa Daisuke (浪川 大輔)

Perhaps some of my favourite versatile seiyuu are Namikawa Daisuke (浪川 大輔) and Okamoto Nobuhiko (岡本 信彦).  I dare you to check out each of their roles and compare them against each other.  I guarantee that you’ll find yourself exclaiming, “These characters are voiced by the same person?!”

Okamoto Nobuhiko (岡本 信彦)
Okamoto Nobuhiko (岡本 信彦)

These versatile seiyuu can avoid being pigeon-holed to voice a single character type.  I’m not saying, though, that versatile seiyuu are better than the “specialist” seiyuu.  Both kinds of seiyuu are special and talented in their own way, and I admire them all.

Returning to my main point of not confusing the anime character with the seiyuu, I want you to remember:

Seiyuu are NOT anime characters.

Sure, they give life to anime characters, but they are not them.  It’s good that you admire a seiyuu and the amazing job he/she does in portraying your favourite character, but I think it’s too narrow-minded to become violently upset if the seiyuu voices a completely different character type.  It’s most unfortunate that I read so many harsh posts about irate fans ranting about how their favourite seiyuu “betrayed” them by voicing a character “inappropriate” and “unfit” for them.  How sad.

Is it so bad to let these amazing seiyuu spread their wings and broaden their creative ranges by voicing a character type that is different from what they’re used to?  It’s not the seiyuu who are “wrong” for voicing different types of characters, it’s you who are wrong for placing them on your own self-imagined pedestal.  You are the one who cages them and limits their “acceptable” types of characters to voice.

Almost all seiyuu are passionate about their work, so let’s focus on the incredible job they’re doing in voicing our favourite characters, instead of criticizing them.  Without them, our favourite anime series would be lifeless.  Would you like your favourite anime to be voiced by complete amateurs?  The ones who sound so obvious that they’re reading from scripts?  I sure don’t want that.  I prefer these amazing professional seiyuu who do their job so perfectly that you forget there’s a real person behind that anime character.

Links:
Kugimiya Rie Profile at I’m Enterprise (Japanese)
Nakai Kazuya Profile at Aoni Production (Japanese)
Namikawa Daisuke Profile at Stay Luck (Japanese)
Okamoto Nobuhiko Profile at Pro-fit (Japanese)


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16 thoughts on “Don’t Confuse the Anime Character With the Seiyuu”

  1. It’s most unfortunate that I read so many harsh posts about irate fans ranting about how their favourite seiyuu “betrayed” them by voicing a character “inappropriate” and “unfit” for them. How sad.

    Huh… Unbelievable. Shouldn’t we rejoice that our beloved seiyuu have variety in their roles throughout their career? Various roles actually help the seiyuu grow a lot and let them showcase what they’ve really got–and even more, what they perhaps didn’t know they had with them. So I am always amused when I find out a seiyuu I thought I know really well has voiced a character that sounded so different from what I would normally expect to hear from the seiyuu. Like, as you mentioned, this just proves how their versatility can fool even the conditioned fans. Another reminder that fans cannot know/predict everything in the industry and in the crafts put together to make anime.

    Re: Okamoto Nobuhiko and Namikawa Daisuke:

    Yeah, totally. They can voice hot anime guys in one, then an effeminate, yet crushable hot guy in another. Whew. All that ability! Just makes me go, “WOW.”

    On the female side, the counterpart I can think of is Paku Romi. She voiced the chibi Edward Elric and the sexy rock band vocalist Oozaki NANA. Either way, I’m totally in love with her androgynous voice. (This probably explains why I find most androgynous vocal artists–seiyuu or singers–attractive. Nano is one, and I still can’t get enough of her.)

    Great post, Arria-chan! XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My thoughts EXACTLY, Miha-chan. You said it right. Unfortunately, it seems that there are fans who treat these seiyuu as their, uhm, “possessions”, I guess. They don’t like that their favourite seiyuu is portraying a character that is completely different from what they expect. Like I said, they are the ones who are putting these seiyuu on self-imagined pedestals. I think it’s very sad, but there you go. And I remember us discussing that many seiyuu nowadays are marketing themselves as idols, so it just makes this kind of treatment worse.

      Oh my gosh. I completely agree with you. I adore Park Romi’s androgynous voice, as well. Anyway, thanks for sharing your views in this matter. I appreciate it. Keep on blogging. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right. I got your intention that this is directed to those seiyuu-obsessed fans who have crossed the line. It’s okay to love seiyuus (Or other artists, for that matter), but it’s another thing to act so possessive of them (fan entitlement is almost always repulsive).

        Hmm. Yeah. The whole anime and anime-related industry thing is geared by capitalism. Makes me think that animators/writers/seiyuu are a “slave” of this industry. The fans (including us, I guess), in turn, are slaves to their consumption habits. Not a very nice way of putting it but it has some truth, so there ya go. What I want to say is moderation and level-headedness is the best way to live and enjoy life without making oneself a fool (to others).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly. It’s sad, but it’s true. But I guess that seiyuu-obsessed fans have their merits because they’re the ones who support their idols the most and buy their products. It’s just that there seems to be always a dark side to everything.

        I agree. But it’s not only in Japan with the animators, seiyuu, etc. Even in other parts of the world, I guess. Fans can generally make or break an artist.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah. That’s pretty much it. Though it is also up to the artist to remain strong in the industry, the fan comments and impressions may hurt their names and can badly damage their image. So far, I have not seen a seiyuu who has a destroyed image because of fans leaving negative comments on his/her performance.

        The worse thing I’ve seen is when those fans just invade the personal lives of these professionals and make a big fuss out of everything that happens in the artists’ private lives. Such was the sad case of Hirano Aya and that explains why she hasn’t taken a lot of roles these recent years. I honestly admire her work 😦 (I was glad she did Migi of Parasyte recently, though :’) )

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I agree. Like what my dad often says, “Bad publicity is good publicity.” But like you said, it depends on what kind of negative actions the fans will take. And I agree with your point regarding Hirano Aya. I don’t particularly like her voice, but I admire the fanbase she built years ago. But that same fanbase is backfiring on her. How sad.

        Like

  2. Great post! Seriously, I think it’s a lot of fun to encounter seiyuu who take all sorts of different roles–it’s interesting to try to hear the same person behind them all. . . . But it’s fun to hear a familiar voice too (as long as the voice doesn’t get so strongly associated in my mind that I can only relate it to one character; then it’s just weird hearing the seiyuu in anything else.).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. Whenever I watch anime, I try to guess who voiced the characters and then find out if I’m correct with my guesses. Most of the time, I’m right because most seiyuu have very distinctive voices. However, it’s a bit difficult to guess if it’s one of those versatile seiyuu who can change their voices based on their roles. You’re right. It’s a bit hard to listen to a seiyuu voicing another character when you’ve already associated him/her with a certain character. Anyway, thanks for dropping by. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

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