Category Archives: Female Seiyuus

It’s a month column. For now it’ll be about female seiyuu, but later it can be about anything we feel like doing once a month!

Stephanie Sheh on the anime industry


Stephanie Sheh is a voice actress whose works include the English versions of Lucky Star, Gundam Unicorn, Naruto, Bleach, Gurren Lagann, and Eureka Seven. She describes herself as an “actress, director, photographer, shortie.”

Following a dispute Sheh had with fansubber deviryuu over the motives, means, and impact of fansubbing, I contacted her to discuss the state of the American animation industry. The conversation was eye-opening, both in terms of what industry insiders think and in terms of the sociological factors that predispose them to think in certain ways.

For example, a commonly-touted argument now is that the industry depends on purchases, so by purchasing, a consumer is contributing to future anime, and by not purchasing, a consumer makes it less likely that anime will be produced in years to come. Implicit in that argument is the idea that a downloader cares about anime production in the future. While the idea that one cares enough to spend money holds true for serious anime fans, it is an assumption that probably should not be made when it comes to the broader audience of downloaders. It is, in short, the sort of argument an emotionally invested fan would think up, and Sheh’s assertion that American industry insiders were fans first serves to drive that home. (Being emotionally invested in what you produce is good – but inability to see past that one perspective when formulating policy could be disastrous.)
Continue reading Stephanie Sheh on the anime industry

Aya Hirano – leave her alone and just let it be

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Zone Otaku for some of the information provided, which they found on, uh, Sankaku Complex)

I will ask someone to translate this into Japanese because I suspect this is article will be targeting Japanese fanboy behaviors. Yes, this is going to be a rant against creepy people (I’m going to avoid the “O” word) who are just too stupid to get the hell over it.

This strange “Aya-bashing” has been going on for a long time but I think it’s really time for people for move on from being obsessive with this woman. In my not so humble opinion, she was great as Haruhi and Konata. She sang with passion and enough skill for “God Knows”, but really, what else was all that impressive?

I followed this one mainly because she was cute. Yes, that was pretty much it. But when I really measured her talent against Mizuki Nana, Kugimiya Rie, Tanaka Rie, Kuwashima Houko, and some other older voice actresses that I really like, I realized that her talents were really, just her cute face and child-like act in front of the camera. I mean really, did anyone like her as Garnet in Dragonaut? Or whatshercharactersname in Hykko? How about the Daughter of 20 Faces?

At least she acts well enough as the lead one of the Zettai Karen Children. So seriously, for those obsessive fans anywhere, what the fuck exactly do you see in this one? Do you notice that I keep on saying, “this one”. Because honestly, people like female seiyuu are easily forgotten. Which of you young’uns remember Mistuishi Kotono? How about Hisakawa Aya? Whom? Whaddya mean, whom? Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury, that’s whom. Oddly enough, I don’t forget them because I value their voice acting skills in making my favorite characters alive. Sure, as the Japanese anime voice acting industry started to look for cuter voice actresses with better looking faces, I found myself attracted to some of them. But see, looks aren’t absolute and people change. As a matter of fact, the voices of old timers like Inoue Kikuko grew more powerful and more solid as they aged. As for looks, have you see Yuu Asakawa (har har pun) AKA Julia-san lately? Looks can be changed but voice acting skills grow maturer. I’m not just takling about pitch, either.

You think now I’m Aya-bashing, too, saying that she’s not all that great. Wrong! I indeed have pointed out her limited skill range but you know what? I liked her a lot, precisely because of her limited range. I liked the fact I could identify her voice immediately like a signature and the fact she was cute. She’s cute now but I’ve gotten over her. But really, she’s a just another person and just another girl. Recently she talked about her love interest. What’s it to ya? Are you in her perspective dating range as in, you could get in contact with her without being a stalker from Malaysia or Akiba? WTF?

Now, she’s probably giving up the anime stuff or will be giving it up because of all the unnecessary flames that she receive daily. What the fuck is the point? Now people like these fanboys are possibly driving a good talent (again, limited but good) away from some of our favorite shows. Her new agent doesn’t give a shit about anime. So you fanboys are pushing her even further away from voice-acting. Is that what you really want?

By the way, destroying your Aya goods and showing it to the world only GREATLY MAGNIFIES your stupidity in wasting money. Guys, you’re being idiots. Big, fucking idiots. I’ll be even harsher here; idiot fanboys like you are a waste of human life and valuable resources on this planet, so just die and save others some valuable resources. Just die. Nobody really cares about you, so just die. Take the jump. Just jump. Hang yourself. Just do it. Whatever. But leave this poor woman alone. She’s required by her agency to read the shit that you post and she’s had enough. If she quits then it’s your fault and we need to start a witchhunt, not for her, but for hunting you down. You got that? Because you will be at fault.

At the end of the day, if you found yourself being yelled at here, then know this: you’re fucking it up for the rest of us by driving her away. You think she made all the career decisions on her own? Are you fuckin’ stupid? Young Japanese talents do what they’re told to do or risk being shafted and wiped off the entertainment industry all together! It’s only when they get older and occupy senior positions that they get their say. If you’re Japanese, you’re especially guilty of this sin – you know and I know that the average Japanese worker does whatever he or she is told, period, or lose his or her job. The so-called “request” from the boss can often be unreasonable and tedious. What, you didn’t know that and you call yourself a Japanese worker? What a lame joke you’re!

I remember there was one episode in Sailor Moon where Sailor Venus helped to tackle a problem with creepy stalkering fans. She said that to be a true fan, you should support the person and not making her uncomfortable by stalking. In my words, to love your talented people is to help cheer them on and don’t make them feel creeped out, oh and buy a couple of CD’s and whatnot when you have some money. How hard is that? If you hate this person, which would be weird since she doesn’t know you and you don’t really know her, then move on! That’s what the average Japanese fans for anything do! Something/someone new comes, they move on! So get the hell over her already! There are newer and younger faces in the crowded seiyuu field now! Go like them or something.

I’m going to risk losing some of my biggest fans by saying: yeah, I’m over Aya-chan. I’ve been over her. True, I’m still sad that she’ll probably move further and further away from the voice-acting gig, but for that, I blame you creeps.

Now get the fuck out of the global fan community – yes, it is global and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you live a hundred thousand million times as painfully as possible with it – You’re making everyone, including kind and gentle Japanese fans, looking like shit.

Get the fuck out.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed her at Anime Diet reflects the diversity of ideas and thoughts of different contributors and do not present Anime Diet’s official position. Please stay tuned for other convention coverage and anime reviews.

This month’s featured Female Seiyuu (1) – Hayashibara Megumi (Megumi Hayashibara)

[Editor’s Note: This month we’ll feature 2 seiyuus, Hayashibara Megumi and Yukana. I (Ray) didn’t go to PMX and so I’m covering the former. Mike (who got a private interview with Yukana) is swamped with school work for the rest of the month and he’ll cover Yukana in detail later this month or the beginning of next month.]

342832102_960458e3f5.jpg
(From http://quentzii.wordpress.com/2007/01/03/megumi-hayashibara/ )

Strangely, even though she became more well-known even than Mitsuishi Kotono, I didn’t learn about her until later. For 90’s anime, I first watched Sailor Moon, then Nadesico, and then Slayers.

Hayashibara Megumi, often known to many as simply “MEGUMI,” or even”Megumi-sama,” is probably still the most popular seiyuu of all time (I have no official sources to confirm this). The reason I said “probably still” is because in recent years, especially after the year 2000, her number of roles seemed to have dropped significantly, especially as leading characters. However, according to Wikipedia, she is still the most prolific seiyuu, with 236 roles credited to her name.

Continue reading This month’s featured Female Seiyuu (1) – Hayashibara Megumi (Megumi Hayashibara)

This month’s featured Female Seiyuu – Kuwashima Houko

One interesting seiyuu that’s often known to be sarcastic and harsh in real life, much like the characters “Kyun(from Haruhi)” or “Kagame (from Lucky Star)” is Kuwashima Houko.

Here’s a little Bio of her (from Wiki):

(桑島 法子, Kuwashima Hōko?) is a seiyū and singer born December 12, 1975 in Kanegasaki, Isawa, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Her blood type is A. She is 158 cm tall and weighs 45 kg. Her three sizes are ??-??-??. Her shoe size is 23.5 cm.She is capable of playing a variety of roles, ranging from young boys to feminine women. Kuwashima is currently affiliated with Aoni Production. Her given name, Houko (法子, Hōko?), is sometimes misread as Noriko, even in Japan. This may be due to the fact that Noriko is another way of pronouncing 法子, as seen in the name of Noriko Sakai, a famous Japanese actress.

Her debut was Martian Successor Nadeshico, where she played the lead female character. Misumaru Yurka. That’s where I first heard of her voice. I remember marveling at the slightly bitchy but really cute and clueless voice she used. The show was funny as hell, and I really liked it when Yurika kept following Akito the male lead, and Houko-chan kept on going, “Ne, Akito…Ne Akito…Ne Akito…” But I was surprised at her smarts in dealing with enemy groups. Her funny English was one of the classic Japenglish moments in anime history.

I don’t remember her roles immediately after that. But after sometime, I heard of her voice in Noir, and I fell in love again. She was quiet, not completely certain with a hint of innocence and a hint of fearlessness of death.

Her most used voice (not in Noir but in a lot of her other works) is kind of high, kind of spoiled, not exactly kind, but cute and and adorable to me.

I don’t like her singing works, however. I feel like her bitchiness was too obvious in her first work, in which she tried to act as if seiyuu singing works are high art – they’re not. Like it or not, the job of seiyuus are to make the fans happy.

I think her meaty roles are when she played Fllay Alster and First Officer and later Captain Natarle Badgiruel. In the latter role, she was crafty, a little slimy in character. She often butt her head with the commanding officer, played by Mistuishi Kotono-sama. Her methods are most often just to get things done, without regarding consequences. To her, the end completely justified the means, no matter how disgusting the means were.

As Flley Alster, Houko-chan was playing one of her best roles – as a spoiled brat. Ever since Nadeshico, I’ve been feeling that Houko-chan’s best roles are when she play brats or ojo-samas. Male or female. But of course, I like her female roles better.

She played a perfect ojo-sama in Black Lagoon when voice acted Washimine Yukio, who suddenly had her world ruined right in front of her, and she had to deal with the consequences thrusted upon her.

I think her voice has a tinge of whinnies but not annoy enough to piss me off. A litle bitchy, quite beautiful and knowing it, and just doesn’t hold back enough venom – is the essence of what her voice is all about.

However, she can also play a variety of other roles. From Kirika the amnesia killer in Noir, to the innocent and other worldly Kisaragi Quon in Rahxephon, she’s lovely in a lot of her roles, and her little clueless bitchiness is just so cute.

I’ve been using the word “bitchiness” too much simply because I feel that the best way to describe her voice. But as an Otaku, I love it and I don’t mind it.

As for her male or masculine voice, I seldom cared for these. She played Kagura in Azumanga Daioh. I don’t think she shined all that much, but she was competent. The exception would her voice in Claymore. Playing as the world-weary Clare, She did very well as someone who had loss a great deal but still fought and marched forward not giving in to the urges to slaughter, destroy, and self-destruct.

In real life, she has a reputation of not holding back when she’s got something to say. In Taiwanese terms, it’s called having a “poisoned tongue.” I personally think brutal honesty is the best policy, though I don’t do it much.

Lastly, I want to talk about her looks a little bit. I used to have the pictures from her photobook that I got off the net, in which I got a glimpse of the different sides of her, such as her soft and femine side, her stuck up side, her unrestrained, free, and relaxed sides. My favorite picture of her was when she sat on the red couch with her knees close to her chest, and barefoot with her hair tied back. She looked relaxed, not too flashy, and not stuck up at all.

Unfortunately, I lost that picture due to a virus attack. I’d appreciate it very much if someone could help me finding it again. Not the cropped version where her feet are cropped, but the whole version where her whole frame is visible. In any case, before studios started picking up people with only looks and not much talent, and Hirano Aya, who’s got talent as well as looks, Houko-chan was one of the prettier seiyuu that broke the mold of traditional views on seiyuu that seiyuus either had great voices but no looks, or had looks but only mediocre voice acting skills. No, she’s not the best looking of them all, but she’s pretty good looking, and no, she doesn’t have special voices like Megumi-sama or Kikuko-sama, but she has a wide range of voice acting skills.

I’ll be looking forward to her new works.

P.S. I apologize for my choppy sentences. For me, it’s simply easier to like Kuwashima Houko-chan then analyze and talk about her. I’m thinking of doing someone like Hayashibara Megumi-sama next time. But we’ll see.

Anime Diet Monthly Column: The Souls to our anime ladies – Female Seiyuu. This Month: Mitsuishi Kotono

11_17_6460_230_79_20061230181631.jpg

Well, I decided to start a new monthly column to show my true otaku/geekiness! So without further ado, here’s the first female seiyuu that I will talk about – Ms. Mitsuishi Kotono 三石琴乃 さん。

Here’s the bio taken from Wikipedia, and with some other data mixed in:

Name: Mitsuishi Kotono

DOB: 1967-12-08

POB: Toda, Saitama, Japan.

Blood Type: A

Company: Arts Vision

Debut year: 1989

Bio: Mitsuishi was a DJ at the Arts and Entertainment station at her high school. She graduated from high school in 1986, and entered the Katsuta Seiyū Academy for voice acting. She often practiced her craft by going to on location shows in Hokkaido and do some interning there. While attending the academy, she began working part time as an elevator girl in the Sunshine 60 building. Afterward, she found a position as an office lady, but because of taking too much time off, she was forced to quit.

In 1989, Mitsuishi made her seiyū debut as Tomoyo in the OVA Ace o Nerae! Final Stage. She became an instant celebrity with her role as Usagi Tsukino when Sailor Moon debuted in 1992*, and her popularity increased again with her role as Misato Katsuragi in the anime TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion. She is considered one of the most influential seiyū in the business; the animated adaptation of Ebichu was largely produced because of her interest in the project.

Mitsuishi is married and has one daughter. In a digression to her OL days, she rides a Yamaha FZ250 Phaser motorcycle. Mitsuishi works at the talent management firm Arts Vision.

In addition to being a voice over, she has written proses and has drawn manga.

de72cf0c.JPG

My thoughts of her as a seiyuu:

My first true anime love was the Sailor Moon series. I’m not ashamed to say that my love for Sailor Moon, specifically the main character Tsukino Usagi 月野うさぎ, was what really planted my feet firmly and deeply inside the kingdom of Anime. Sure, these days I’m pretty sick of these classic transformation sequences and other conventions such as yoma/daemon/lemure/whatever of the week, girls who transforms but looks exactly the same facial/body featur-wise, silly episodic plots and way-too-simple morals, but back then, watching this show, alongside with CBS’s “Touched By an Angel”, was what helped me not to completely self-destruct. These shows had always managed to get my faith back.

In any case, I didn’t know anything about seiyuu back then. When I watched anime as a kid I used to think all Japanese people sounded the same – because people I heard on Doraemon would often appear on another show (well, I watched Doraemon and…something else subtitled, the rest were dubbed). However, no seiyuu made a huge impression on me until I heard Usagi, no, Kotono-さん, acting it out.

4988101095605_a.jpg

Certainly, back in my young and impressionable, not to mention self-righteous and pretentious university days, the Sailor Moon series were just the right diet for my appetite. What impressed me about that show was that, unlike all the anime that I saw before, it taught me courage, bravery, dealing with pressure, especially when you know you’re right but your friends, and the people that you admire the most think that you’re wrong, and in Sailor Moon’s case, they think by your decision, the world is doomed. However, because Sailor Moon rather sacrifice herself then others for the sake of the world, the world is ultimately saved. She grows from a whiny, flaky, bratty girl to a mature (mostly), gentler, and more thoughtful young woman by the end of Sailor Stars. The US dubbed version completely destroyed what Sailor Moon meant to be and made it into a bratty and whiny show but without the growth, the issues, the conflicts, and for whatever was left they watered it/dumbed it down to make it acceptable to the US audience. However, before VKLL subs*, I did watch the US version, so I’m not going to pick on that version any further. But here’s why I like the Japanese seiyuu and not American voice overs – the seiyuu simply make these characters really come alive without sounding odd, pretentious, or unatural.

box02.jpg

Kotono-さん really captures the essence of a character so well that I often feel like the character comes out of the screen and draws me inside the world that she is in. Also, she always manages to play good or great roles that’s suitable to her style of voice acting. She’s capable of playing a completely wacky or aloof hamster or crazy agent in a couple of shows, and yet in other shows she acts completely serious and being a deep, authoritative and grim commander under the pressure of the fate of the world, or she can play both of these in one show. She plays blonds well as one can see in Noir – Mireille, that stylish, a little laid-back but still elegant flair with a hint of deadliness French babe that captured the hearts of many male Otaku (and probably became their endless wet dreams at least until the end of the series). But she’s not just great by herself, she can play off, against, and with others well. She often teams up with another of my favorite seiyuu – Kuwashima Houko, who I’ll be talking about in next month’s female seiyuu column. It’s hard to describe the dynamics of these two but they simply gel. With Kotono-さん’s character being mostly cooler and calmer, and often more thoughtful, and Houko-さん’s character more rash, fierce, defiant and often aggressive and confrontational in many ways.

3309276.jpg

In Eva, Kotono plays Misato, who tries so hard to show her good side, even to the point of pretending to be happy and carefree all the time all the while being highly vulnerable and sensitive inside. She hurts but she can never show that, except to the rather untrust worthy Kaji, who just knows how to get the real Misato out of her happy armor casing.

mr.jpg

As Captain Ramius, Kotono becomes a different kind of captain than the ever-classic Captain Bright from the classic gundam. Captain Bright is extremely authoritative. One either obeys him or get his ass kicked and send to the brig. But Captain Ramius is rather diplomatic and willing to listen, and also she takes on the role of caring for the mental well being of her crew members. She’s more like a caring parent who’s willing to put down some discipline when needed, but often try not to force her authority on anyone.

Kotono can act as a super competent and serious leader, and yet she can act as a ditsy and highly incompetent but comedic jester. She’s great playing as opposite extreme characters as what her roles call for.

I find it hard to talk about Kotono apart from her characters, because she acts them out so well. I find that I really love the deeper, harsher and sometimes deadly voice with a tamed fiery passion that she uses for characters such as the chairwomen for the Witches’ Council in El Cazador. Her performance in Cazador with one of her former cast mate in the Sailor Moon series – Hisakawa Aya, who played Salior Mercury/Mizuno Ami – often lifts the show up quite a few notches above the uncalled-for silliness that it has.

Mitsuishi Kotono is a classic seiyuu. She doesn’t have great looks and isn’t super cutesy or able to sing like one of the latest Japanese idols, but she does what a voice-actress is supposed to do well – voice acting.

Her most recent role that I know of is Jean in Claymore, where she teams up with Kuwashima Houko again. I hope Kotono’s character stays around a few more episodes longer. Also, really looking forward to hearing her voice acting for many years to come!

Notes:

*The beginning of the ’90s was when the idol seiyuu boom began.

*VKLL – thank you so much for your hard work back then. Also, take note, fansubbers, his way of showing his credits concerning his work is correct. You guys are very cool and we can’t appreciate y’all enough but y’all can get very intrusive at times. Still, thank y’all very much for your hard work.)