Lovable Imoutos; a Yukari Tamura complex? – Memorable voices defining seiyuu careers

Coming late to the party… I had this in the works about two days after the 15th episode of CLANNAD. But other blog stuff + work had put this down on my priorities list. Now that Stripey and Koji Oe put up their imouto-related posts, it’s time to revisit this post.

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Ni-Pah!

whitehatazn-48.jpgIn another wild episode of CLANNAD, episode 15 introduced a new character, Mei Sunohara, who is voiced by Yukari Tamura. Mei is just simply awesome (as proven by the amount of imouto love in the anime blogosphere after episode 16), but her screentime was short lived. Yet, the first thing that goes through my mind when she introduces herself at the end of the episode is that she should’ve followed up by saying “And this here is my friend, Yuuno-kun.” The somewhat unfortunate thing is that Yukari Tamura will always be remembered for voicing Nanoha Takamachi from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha no matter what she does with the remainder of her career. She has attempted to vary it up with other notable character roles such as Sakura Yoshino from Da Capo, Mai Kawasumi from Kanon and Rika Furude from Higurashi. However, one can still hear her signature Nanoha voice in almost all her character roles which is probably a very good thing to stake your seiyuu career on.

Despite Yukari Tamura’s various roles, you can always hear plenty of hints in her voice roles that remind you of Nanoha. So why does this occur? Part of it is her voice. You can easily hear the core of her voice in all of her roles and that core voice is what we associate as Nanoha. But a good majority of it is the character of Nanoha. Nanoha Takamachi is one of the most memorable characters in anime. Among the defining features of Nanoha as a character, her childish voice in the first two seasons tends to strike a certain chord within viewers which also seems to reappear in the other characters she voices. It is this association of Nanoha and to her voice which makes it seem that almost all of the Yukari-voiced characters sound like Nanoha.

I tend to pay special attention to the Japanese voice acting and the corresponding seiyuus behind it. Part of it is because I can pick up minor audio things like these. However in my opinion, if you claim to be on the subtitle side of the never-ending sub vs. dub flame war, you should really make the attempt to pay attention to the Japanese voices especially for the shows you like. There is some inherent quality about voice acting which distinguishes the good from the bad and the Japanese have really stressed this with the entire seiyuu industry. Also in my opinion, if you are to completely appreciate or objectively criticize a certain anime series, the show’s overall production values must be taken into effect and solid voice acting adds to that complete viewing experience.

So with all that out of the way, I want to highlight some seiyuus that have this kind of voice-character association. It doesn’t take away from their abilities to voice act, but it is something interesting to note for future reference. Also I will try to list some that are completely on the opposite side of this and some who seem to be in the middle.

Hear Recognizable Voice, Think Character

Yukari Tamura – Nanoha Takamachi or sometimes Rika Furude/White Devil

Yukari’s voice just reeks of the Nanoha. Almost all the small loli girls she voices have that Nanoha core. While her child Rika voice is memorable on its own (Ni-Pah!), Sakura, child Mai and Syuri all sound like Nanoha re-hashes. This doesn’t take anything away from her abilities since she does exceptionally well with highly emotional scenes (Sakura in towards the end of Da Capo, Mai in Kanon 2006 episode 14 and Syuri in Myself; Yourself episode 10). She does have a very memorable secondary voice which comes out either in Rika’s serious voice or Nanoha’s pissed off “White Devil” voice. Yukarin is definitely one of my favorite seiyuu who voice is attached to a few of my favorite characters. (Some Notable Roles: Nanoha Takamachi from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Mai Kawasumi from Kanon, Rika Furude from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Sakura Yoshino from Da Capo)

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Along with her main voice, Yukarin’ serious voice is something special on its own right. It shows her versatility which helps when voicing the dual-personality character like Rika. But I think Nanoha is just too loved and her main voice is just too attached to it for the rest of her career.

Mamoru Miyano – Light Yagami or sometimes Tamaki Suou

Mamoru-san only really comes in two vocal flavors: genius power-hungry mastermind or loud-talking high school idiot. While some will associate Mamoru’s voice with Tamaki and his antics, most will end up remembering Kira. His two highly recognizable voice moments are when his characters scheming and their evil laughs. Mamoru just has that kinda of pimp-sexy bishounen voice which can make the fan-girls go wild (or so I hear). Although Setsuna from Gundam 00 seems to be highly different from his usual sounding roles (then again, Setsuna rarely talks). (Some Notable Roles: Light Yagami from Death Note, Tamaki Suou from Ouran High School Host Club and Setsuna Seiei from Gundam 00)

Jun Fukuyama – Lelouch Lamperouge

It’s the Zero voice. It’s very recognizable and immediately can be associated with Lelouch. He has that scheming mastermind voice similiar to Mamoru’s but memorable in its own right. I haven’t seem much of his other voices but when I heard Lawrence from Spice and Wolf, I just couldn’t help blurting out “Zero!” Although Masayuki voice in Ghost Hound seems to be quite different. With the coming of Code Geass R2, more and more will relate Jun’s voice to Zero. (Some Notable Roles: Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass, Craft Lawrence from Spice and Wolf and Masayuki Nakajima from Ghost Hound)

Hear Recognizable Voice, Think Character Type

Noto Mamiko – shy/quiet girl type

Noto-sama has one of the highly recognizable voices within the Seiyuu industry. She has this signature wispy voice which makes her perfect for voicing the shy/quiet girl type. And with voice roles such as Yakumo, Nodoka and Kotomi (the unofficial mascot of this blog), Noto-sama has a solid career. She does change things up with character types every once in awhile. Interestingly, many would attribute her best voice role as Matsuri, a character on the other side of the quiet girl type. (Some Notable Roles: Yakumo Tsukamoto from School Rumble, Nodoka Miyazaki from Negima, Kotomi Ichinose from CLANNAD and Matsuri Shihou from sola)

Satsuki Yukino – brash girls

Satsuki voices the girls that I consider fun. Between Mi and Shi-chan, Saki and Chidori, that’s gun-toting, paper-fan wielding, punch-ready girls she voices. And while those girls are all inherently different, they share the kind of random explosiveness which makes them memorable. This is further helped by her ability to voice these spontaneous moments. Sprinkle with a little bit of tsundere and we have the traditional memorable Satsuki-voiced character. (Some Notable Roles: Mion and Shion Sonozaki from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Kaname Chidori from Full Metal Panic and Saki Kasukabe from Genshiken)

Rie Kugimiya – loli tsunderes

Many in the anime lolicon community (in which I make an occasional visit) love Rie-sama. If you like your lolis bratty, with an attitude and with the occasional soft side, chances are you have heard a Rie-sama voiced character in the past few years. Considering that she voices Shana, Nagi and Louise, it’s really hard not to notice her signature voice. Even though she does continuously play these bratty lolis, there is still enough variation with the characters she plays that it doesn’t become too repetitive. And considering how well her characters in Saimoe, her voice just continues to be popular with this one character type. (Some Notable Roles: Shana from Shakugan no Shana, Nagi Sanzenin from Hayate no Gotoku and Louise from Zero no Tsukaima)

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The loli triple threat -Personally, I’ll take the one that comes with the hawt maid (Maria is love). Tsunderes with a whip or a sword just isn’t my kind of a good time. Although, the tiger in the bedroom just kills all the privacy…

Hear Recognizable Voice, Think Different Characters

Yui Horie

I can never figure out a Hocc-chan voiced character unless someone tells me. She has somewhat recognizable voice. Her voice is not hampered by her own personal abilities, but is hard to recognize due to her voice versatility and various character roles. (Some Notable Roles: Ayu Tsukimiya from Kanon, Eri Sawachika from School Rumble, Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket and Naru Narusegawa from Love Hina)

Aya Hirano

In the beginning of 2006 is was very easy to relate Aya-chan to only one voice. After Lucky Star, I think it’s quite safe to say that she is quite capable doing many different voices. She has done enough varying roles to say that she is just more than Haruhi. And her versatility as proven by Konata and Misa, is what make her such a solid seiyuu. (Some Notable Roles: Haruhi Suzumiya from Suzumiya Haruhi, Misa Amane from Death Note, Konata Izumi from Lucky Star)

Yuko Gotou

In many ways, Gotouza-sama’s seiyuu career is similar to Aya-chan’s . Most will end up remembering meek-sounding Mikuru. But if you take in her older-sounding Mikuru voice and insane Kaede voice, you’ll realize that Gotouza-sama has a solid versatile voice. Combine that with her fast-talking Ichiko voice and Gotouza-sama has a complete and notable career. (Some Notable Roles: Mikuru Asahina from Suzumiya Haruhi and Fuyou Kaede from Shuffle!)

Miki Itou

In my opinion, Miki Itou has a really hawt voice. Her voice is easily recognizable even though she tends to have no character types attached to the voice. Her signature voice seems to work well with all the character roles she plays. With voice roles such as Asa and Takano, she is personally one of my favorite seiyuus. (Some Notable Roles: Asa Shigure from Shuffle! and Takano Miyo from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni)

There are plenty of other seiyuu that could also somewhere fit in these moulds (Sugita Tomokazu) and there are seiyuu that I haven’t mentioned yet that I absolutely adore (Nana Mizuki). But I’m kinda sick of writing about this topic now as this post sat around unpublished for weeks. I can finally put this to rest and rant about something else. Time for this blog to post another long dissertation in the anime blogger world on Clannad episode 18…

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9 Responses to “Lovable Imoutos; a Yukari Tamura complex? – Memorable voices defining seiyuu careers”

  1. Danny Choo

    I really need to take a day out to catch up on Clannad.

  2. Koji Oe

    I really don’t like any of the characters Yukarin has voiced. Mei-chan is pretty cute though. You claim that her Nanoha role is her most memorable. I should try rewatching Nanoha then because at the time I really wasn’t in love with her as much as I am now so maybe I would see it differently?

    Personally, I like Yukarin as a woman. The type of persona she plays in her concerts and music with the sweet lolita clothing and cutesy attitude. The roles she plays don’t leave much of an impression on me because the characters she does the voices to are never those that I really end up liking or finding moe. But, the kinds of characters she seems to play do play off that image she has built.

    In conclusion, Yukarin is mai waifu.

  3. Shirukii

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who has Nanoha imprinted in my head every time I hear Yukari.

    And gotta love Kugimiya Rie and her loli tsundere roles (OH GOD, SHANA, HOT, etc), though I’ll never forget she voiced Al of FMA either.

  4. hashihime

    Thanks for an interesting piece. I’m not much of a Nanoha fan, but I am a Yukarin fan. For her role in Kashimashi, for Mai in Kanon, for Akazukin, even for Mei in Clannad, and for herself. Also like Koji Oe, maybe I should watch some Nanoha again.

    As for Hirano Aya, you didn’t happen to mention the role that really turned me on to her: Layla in NANA. Yet another permutation of that voice. Before Haruhi, people thought she could only be a sweet young girl. Then Haruhi, Layla, Misa, and Konata. For the first three, you can still tell it’s her, but Konata is something entirely different.

    My two favorite roles of Itou Miki’s are Sachiko-sama in Marimite, and the amazing Yumiko in Touka Gettan. Now that was hot. She drew on some of her ero-game experience for that one, I’m sure.

    Although it’s brash gaijin Tina in Ai yori Aoshi that made me take notice of Yukino Satsuki, and sweet tomboy Ai in Planetes that is her great role, she was convincingly insecure as Kouzuki in Blue Drop. My favorite role of hers, however, was aggressive but kind Mirei in Hitohira, last summer.

  5. IcyStorm

    I usually don’t pay attention to the seiyuus, but Yukari Tamura seems to be in a lot of the anime I’ve watched =P and I do love Mai (Kanon 2006) and Rika (Higurashi), so I do like her.

    I have not watched Nanoha, so I don’t connect her with Nanoha… I think it mostly depends on what anime a person sees with the seiyuu in a major role. I shall now always think of Rika and Mai first instead of Nanoha, regardless of whether I watch Nanoha or not.

  6. maglor

    You must consider Tanaka Rie. She has a voice that can melt a grown man in 5 seconds, yet her most famous line may be ‘Junk!’. Although Noto Mamiko’s soft voice is lovely, I personally think she is better playing someone playful or energetic. Anna Coppola from Ichigo Marshmellow and Angol Moa from Keroro deserves a mention. What makes Mamiko’s voice special, however, may be in her diction and pacing. She speaks as if she understand the philosophical implication of her word of the moment. This may be due to her being daughter of bookstore owner and also that she had some acting experience. It may be that her voice is noticeable because it is easy to understand what she is saying.

  7. koneko-chan

    Wow. I’m really happy with the responses to this post. This post just lingered unpublished for what seemed like forever.

    Koji Oe: That’s why I say it may be unfortunate that many will remember her for Nanoha and similar characters. I really like her older Nanoha voice in StrikerS and her older Rika voice. And she’s also quite mesmerizing with her singing. Don’t worry though. Yukarin’s yours. Nana Mizuki is my luv.

    hashihime: I haven’t seen NANA so I’ll take your word on that permutation of Aya-chan’s voice. I didn’t really pay attention to Sachiko’s voice when I watched the first half of the first season of Marimite. Yumiko’s voice is quite sexy in the 4 or 5 episodes of Touka Gettan I saw. Something I need to pick up again.

    IcyStorm: Understandable. I just notice things like the voices easily due to my many years of music and singing. It’s a matter of preference and what did one see for many people. Being that Nanoha came first and is still really popular, most are going to associate that way.

    maglor: I’ll take you word on Tanaka Rie. I just haven’t listened to enough of her roles to make a call on that. Noto-sama is certainly something. I forgot about Anna. I also didn’t know her background. Thanks for that info.

  8. Musicalcroc

    The role that introduces Mamoru Miyano to me is neither Light Yagami or Tamaki Suou but Kiba in Wolf’s Rain. He sounded so young and sensitive. So it shocked me a bit when I heard him in Death Note. I think he did a nice job in both roles.
    However, his Setsuna in Gundam 00 voice is a little weird. He sounds much older and harsher than the age of his character (16). But again Setsuna is different from the roles Miyano is associated to so I guess that makes sense

  9. kevinsano

    I seem to be the only one who instantly thinks of Soul Calibur’s Talim whenever he hears Yukarin’s voice… A character she voiced before Nanoha, if I’m not mistaken 😛

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