There’s a lot that goes into the construction of a great anime character - some people might like the nekomimi, the maid costumes, or even the rare glimpses of the 2-5 Split - but if you ask me, the absolutely most crucial part of an anime character is the voice. Don’t get me wrong, all the hair ornaments and knee socks are vitally important, but without the right voice to bring it all together, well, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. After all, you can get all the cute character designs from reading manga - anime is all about the sounds, baby.
The purpose of this “Seiyuu Say Me” column is to introduce some of the more popular voice actors in the anime industry, to give an overview of their work, and if anything, to give me a venue to gush out how freakin’ moe their voices are. Oh yes, Lucky Star was indeed a vocal orgy, Zero no Tsukaima 3 more arousing than… well, Zero no Tsukaima 2, and Clannad got more destructive power than a seed-mode Kira Yamato.
You know all those complaints we hear about how the original Japanese dub of an anime or game is always better than the English dub (guilty) - well, this is exactly the reason. This is serious stuff, guys and girls, so listen closely!
One of the most popular seiyuu… ever. She has one of the most recognizable voices in the industry - do you know any of the characters on this list? There may be some surprises!
Here’s a clip of the master at work:
The Shana madness starts at about 1:05 - truthfully, I probably could’ve just linked this video and called it a day - that’s how crazy it is! That strong yet soft, rebellious yet docile voice is Rie’s trademark - it’s almost the same BAKA BAKA voice she uses with Louise in Zero no Tsukaima, Nagi in Hayate no Gotoku, Ringo in Otogi-Jushi, and Kagura in Gintama. She’s almost always cast as a
loli-type young girl with a mean streak, yet very dependent on her man due to her emotional instabilities… in other words, a tsundere.
While we’re on the subject, it’s worthwhile to explain just what a tsundere is - a full explanation is a college thesis in itself, so to oversimplify, it’s a girl that’s rather aggressive in her demeanor towards guys, but is actually quite clingy and needy, but would never admit it. Typical tsundere line: “I-it’s not like I made this lunch for you, I just made extra okay! A-and you better eat it all or I’ll kill you!” Like with all things regarding moe, there really isn’t a singular definition for it as it’s highly subjective and varies from person to person, but you should get the general idea.
At any rate, Kugimiya Rie has pretty much become synonymous the tsundere character, which is entirely understandable considering she is absolutely amazing at it. I’ve noticed that she’s one of the few seiyuu in the industry where the animation can’t keep up with her voice. It’s tough to describe, so check out this video to see what I mean:
It’s not just that sharp voice with so many dynamics and colors and emotions that it becomes more animated than the animation itself. It’s not just those accents she puts on words for the extra tsundere kick. You know what really gets me about her voice? That unbelievable stutter… omgggg moeeee~
Another thing that totally blows me away about Kugimiya Rie is that her anime voice sounds nothing like her real voice. Some voice actors just naturally have a really cute and crazy voice that they need minimal accentuation for it to go with their characters - but have you HEARD Rie’s normal voice?
To get the voice of Shana, Nagi, and Louise from a squeaker like that is nothing short of some miracle of acoustics, some kind of vocal Olympics that defies physics. It’s no wonder that 2chan voted her as the most moe voice, putting her far ahead of some other A-listers like Horie Yui, Tamura Yukari, and Kawasumi Ayako (more on them later!)
So the next time you start watching that new anime with that neurotic twin-tailed schoolgirl, pay attention to her voice - there’s a good chance it could be Rie!
Up next on Seiyuu Say Me: Speak Dirty To Me, Kawasumi, or I’d Go To Jail For Yukarin.
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