No CommentsEditorials, Ye Olde Days / By Scamp /

Why I don't care for Seiyuu

If you have read my season preview, you might have noticed that I haven’t made one reference to any voice actors in any of the anime. I talk about studios, directors, original authors and even timeslots but not one mention of the very thing that entire blogs are devoted to: Seiyuu. Why have I ignored such a vital part of the previewing process you ask? Well, that’s exactly what the point of this post is.

Let’s take one of my favourite characters in Yakumo Tsukamoto, voiced by Mamiko Noto. One reason I’m picking her is because it was her voice as Nogizaka Haruka that was the first instance of me thinking ‘ZOMG I’TS THAT VOICE!’. Once this feeling of excitement at hearing one of my favourite voices had passed (lasted an entire 10 seconds), I went back to watching what was an entirely lackluster anime. Her voice acting talents cannot turn average writing into an amazing anime. Her voice won’t make me watch any more Kanokon. Her voice won’t make me watch Queen’s Blade, and neither will the multitude of talent lying behind those Queen’s Blade voices ever make me watch that anime. For a male example, let’s take Jun Fukuyama, the fantastic voice behind Lelouch. What where his next two anime after R2 finished? Sora Kake Girl and Akikan. It doesn’t matter that he used the exact same Lelouch voice, those anime would suck no matter who was voicing the characters.

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If I was to make a 'Mai Waifu' post, it would simply include a picture of her and nothing else

Seiyuu have very little say on the eventual quality of the anime. They get whatever their agents assign them to them. Think realistically about how much say they have in the production of the show. The voice behind Haruhi Suzumiya, Aya Hirano, came out recently and told the press how she was as confused by Endless Eight as the viewers. She had no say on what the script would look like. I was reading an interview by the two main voices in Eden of the East about the upcoming movie and they revealed that neither of them knew what was going to happen until the received their lines. It’s not like Live-Action where the actor can define what he thinks the character could act like, Seiyuu have practically no say whatsoever.

Hey guess what? Taiga was a tsundere long befoe Rie ever got involved. Imagine that!

It’s not that Seiyuu aren’t talented, far from it. In fact, that’s part of the reason I rarely look at Seiyuu names when researching an upcoming anime. The are all fantastic. It’s not like English dubs where there’s a few good ones in amongst mountains of crap. Think about how truly difficult it is to become a successful Seiyuu in Japan. Their voice actors are revered as celebrities. While you will see people who proclaim they will watch random new anime due to a certain Seiyuu, you will never hear anyone say they won’t watch an anime because of a certain Seiyuu (well, apart from Kugimiya Rie, but that’s just a backlash from her popular tsundere Shana character archetype she’s been typecast into. Ever wonder why whenever a new Shana-esque character appears, she’s voicing them? Because she’s fucking good at it that’s why). It’s like a reviewer who never give out bad reviews. You can’t take any of his reviews seriously because he won’t differentiate from the good and the awful.

L is amazing so do I learn the name of his VA? No, I learn the name Tetsuro Araki, the director, and then go watch Black Lagoon and Gungrave.

L is amazing so do I learn the name of his VA? No, I learn the name Tetsuro Araki, the director, and then go watch Black Lagoon and Gungrave.

I know some people might get a bit annoyed at my dismissal of Seiyuu but the fact remains that I just couldn’t care less about who voices who. Don’t go looking to see what Seiyuu are lending their talents to the upcoming Fall Anime Season. They mean nothing to the eventual quality of the anime. Learn about studios, authors and directors. That’s where you’ll find the true quality.

(Or so I say. I must admit I quite enjoyed looking through the characters Mamiko Noto has played. Anna Liebert from Monster? Neiro from Kaiba? Both of them make sense when you think about it. And now for the most hypocritical part of all; as soon as I saw that she voices Enma Ai from Hell Girl, I suddenly got much more interested in that anime.)

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6 Comments

  1. Posted September 1, 2009 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    I usually look at animation studio and story when deciding what anime to watch, but I do pay attention to the seiyuu. I know a few people who watch series more or less based on seiyuu; I guess it just depends on personal preference. I can’t help but grow attached to some seiyuu I hear over and over, and who come off as very talented. That’s interesting that the seiyuu don’t have much info about the show or movie beforehand. With that, it’s like they get to know the story and characters at the same pace as the audience, and they have to grow into their roles over time.

  2. Posted September 1, 2009 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    It’s shameful, but I didn’t really ever even think if seyuu seriously. I like some voices more than others, but it really is series-specific for me.

    P.S. EvoLution is epic win.

  3. Posted September 1, 2009 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Well, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a series for its voice actors, but I still like taking note of them because keeping tabs on a few favorites generally makes good series more enjoyable. It’s most a post-discovery process after I’ve decided to watch a series: “Oh, hey! So and so is in this! Neat.”

  4. Posted September 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    @Yumeka

    I remember reading reviews of Akira and they made a big deal that the voices were recorded first so they could match the lip flaps. That then means that in a normal anime the oppisite must be true. That means that not only do the VA’s not know the script beforehand, they don’t have any say in what the character says because the lip flaps have already been animated.

    @Gargron

    I’ve had that L picture for ages and I’ve been looking for an oppertunity to use it.

    @Kiri

    that’s certainly closer to what I do. As I said in the post, I quite liked looking through the people whatsherface voiced. Just don’t pick your anime based on Seiyuu.

  5. Posted September 2, 2009 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    I love seiyuu and follow a number of them quite closely. And I will definitely watch ep1 of a series I know I won’t like, just to hear the seiyuu. But that’s it. The best guide to a series’ quality is the director and the writer, even for me.

    But seiyuu are another level of enjoyment that really does repay close listening and attention. If you or anyone else wants to deny themselves that pleasure, it’s up to you.

    I agree about the general high quality of Japanese voice-acting, but there are drastic differences among seiyuu, even successful ones, in my opinion. Some give you unusual or characteristic voices (KugiRie, for example), some give you good acting (Paku Romi, Kobayashi Sanae, Takahashi Rieko, Koshimizu Ami, et al.), some give you appropriate and realistic voices (Kitamura Eri, etc., etc.). And some voices are just a joy to listen to, like music. For me, Hayami Saori is number one in that regard.

  6. racoonx
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Seiyuus give the touching element to a character ,I think they have to be abler than many actors,because ,seiyuss must adapt her voice to her character and develop it with the story. really, only very talented people could get the voice level required to show emotional states in a scene by reading only scripts and without knowing much about the show beforehand.

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