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.
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.
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.
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.)