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.

10 thoughts on “This month’s featured Female Seiyuu – Kuwashima Houko”

  1. I’m not so sure I agree with the bitchiness description. I think it’s probably something in her voice that people tend to refer to as such but she is a pretty versatile actress and she can turn it on and off.

    I think my fav role for her is Yurika and Shoukei from 12 Kingdoms. Her role in Black Lagoon is one of the finer roles she’s done lately. And it’s always hard to forget Fllay…

    I usually like her male roles–like Bocca from Melody of Oblivion. I don’t really care for her acting in Claymore though…

    And LOL at your description of voice acting and high art. Totally disagree but lolol.

  2. > She is 158 cm tall and weighs 45 kg. Her three sizes are ??-??-??. Her shoe size is 23.5 cm.

    As an American man, I can understand why men (and maybe women also) are interested in knowing a girl’s height, weight and the three-measurements, but why do Japanese men seem to care about the shoe sizes too?

  3. omo – I have never studied human voices and I don’t know how to describe any voices, let along hers. I just like her way of doing her voice acting.
    bakaneko – I really have no idea why they list these things. The Japanese on average don’t care about women’s feet and shoes and such. But they care a lot about blood types and these days, constellations. I personally like the whole package (including the lower extremities), but overall, it’s the voice acting that matters for voice actresses. For a complete stat they would even list the person’s favorite food, colors, places to travel to, and other small stuff that most folks back home (me included) simply don’t care as much.

  4. Oh yes, the famous Houko Kuwashima. I thought that name looked familiar. She also plays Sai Jounouchi from the Anime, “Angelic Layer” hehehe. I think shes got a cute voice. And I agree rayyhum777, I also like the whole package when it comes to Japanese women. I can care less about blood type. If they, meaning (cute Japanese women) don’t have the WOW Factor, then get lost. hehehe

  5. Thanks for the piece. I think she’s just about the top female seiyuu, along with Paku Romi. I don’t hear any bitchiness or whininess myself, but the role I know her best in is Shuurei in Saiunkoku. Your top photo is the most glamorous of her I’ve ever seen. I like her looks, but not for prettiness, more for looking like a real person. I read that her agency tried to make her into an idol seiyuu but eventually gave up. She’s a real voice actor.

  6. To answer to ray and bakaneko, I’m pretty sure for the bloodtype and zodiac sign that it’s to give you a very rough idea of their personality. Beaing an Astrofreak myself I can’t help but ask people when I meet them when is their birthdate (the day and week and year being just as important as the month since there’s a large difference between an Aquarius II and an Aquarius III, trust me). I don’t know much about bloodtypes but I think in Japan if not in China and Korea as well (I don’t know for the two last ones) they associate bloodtypes with personality (a good example of this stereotype is in Ouran High School Host Club) but also feeding habits, health etc. A for their height, measurments and footsize (But footsize is really o_o;) give you an idea how proportioinate the person is. I mean someone who is for example 1m54 and has a foot measurement of 9 (39 european I think), they’d probably look like they’re wearing clown shoes 24-7. And you ahve to think about those people with a foot fettish XD!
    For the rest once again as in their favorite colors, places to travel, food etc., it’s to have an idea on the personality, it’s good for trivia and for those obsessive fans that just GOTTA know EVERY GOD DAMN THING!

  7. I’m with hashihime, I also know her best as Shuurei from Saiunkoku Monogatari where she plays a wonderful character in a wonderful series. She’s a good seiyuu. I like her work.

    From what I’ve heard, it seems like she has a lot of roles this fall. I think she’s in CLANNAD and she’s gonna be singing an OP to another series…? Either way, looks like she’s on a roll.

  8. Well, rayyhum777, a nice review of Houko Kuwashima’s work and the details concerning her voice acting. Personally I liked her in Claymore very much.
    What reminds me of my purpose to write here. Do you or someone other have her autograph address? Is it common that seyuus do have one?

  9. Houko Kuwashima is my fav seiyuu-i fell in love with her calm and cold voice in claymore!
    I also watched noir but she sounded really different in her roles. In Blue Gender she sounds fine :) She can sing well, too.
    my other fav seiyuus are kikuko inoue, sanae kobayashi, minami takayama, mamiko noto, aya hisakawa, ayako kawasumi.

  10. @ SL – I love your fav seiyuu list – all classy people with real talents. Houko has a wide range of voices, from young boys to atheletic teenage girls, to smart air-heads, to strong heroine with a wonderful feminine side, and to calm and silent warriors like Clare. Here’s more of her in 2010!

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