One of the joys of watching anime is, of course, the incredible high quality of the seiyu, the voice actors that bring the characters to life for us. Often an anime series will succeed or fail based on the quality of its voice actors, and smart production studios will put a lot of effort into choosing the voice cast carefully. In the currently running love comedy Sakura-so no Pet na Kanojo, my favorite character is Nanami Aoyama, voiced by up-and-coming seiyu Nakatsu Mariko. Nanami has come to Tokyo from Osaka to follow her dream of becoming a voice actress — woah, that’s kind of meta — and there she falls in love with the male lead Sorata and comes to live in the Sakura-so boarding house to be near him. Nanami’s voice really communicates emotions — or “feels,” to use the modern term — to viewers, and the way she falls into Osaka-ben when she gets excited is so charming. Voice actors lucky enough to get famous roles become household names in Japan, and almost everyone is familiar with names like Akira Kamiya (voice of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star and Saeba Ryo from City Hunter) and Norio Wakamoto (who shows up in everything from Code Geass to Mirai Nikki to our own excellent Family Project visual novel). When Lupin III voice Yasuo Yamada died in 1995, it was a national tragedy that everyone felt. Last week Goro Naya, who voiced the undaunted Inspector Zenigata as well as Captain Okita from the original Space Battleship Yamato, passed away, causing an outpouring of sadness and fanart tributes.
Anime voice actors bring the characters to life.