Seiyuu, or voice actors, are one of the more recognized workers in the creation of anime, giving our beloved 2D characters the most obvious link to humanity – their voices.
The names of many famous seiyuu are well known among the ranks of otaku, even more so in this decade than past years, but the number of well known professionals involved in the industry is surprisingly small (though unknowns are legion), and even relatively new seiyuu are likely to have worked on a significant number of roles on many varied anime shows.
That the two characters shown above were played by the same seiyuu will be no surprise to many, but there are many other roles from wildly differing characters and series that might prove to be a surprise when one realizes they were played by the same seiyuu…
Aya Endou / 遠藤 綾
Aya Endou’s having played both Macross F’s Sheryl Nome (speaking voice, not her singing one) and Lucky Star’s Miyuki Takara is a very poorly hidden nugget of trivia – a Lucky Star album cover and a line by Konata in the OVA even made jest of Miyuki’s sidelining as the Galactic Nymph.
Minori Chihara / 茅原実里
Minori Chihara, also a singer, is undoubtedly best known for her role as the taciturn bookworm-android Nagato, but has also had other starring roles such as the youngest Minami sister, Chiaki, as well as the lead character Kagura in Ga-rei Zero (the short-haired protagonist, not to be confused with her longer-haired elder sister figure of Yomi).
Although the emotionless monotone she employed for Nagato and Lucky Star’s equally soft-spoken Minami Iwasaki is what would most likely come to mind if asked to describe her voice, her regular and singing voices are actually quite chipper and upbeat, qualities that will prove most useful in certain upcoming episodes of the new Haruhi season…
Yui Horie / 堀江 由衣
Yui Horie has had a longer career as a seiyuu than most others here, with a long list of roles stretching back into the 1990’s. A decade ago, when the number of international otaku was much fewer in number (with even less of them online), her name was one of the scant few seiyuu foreign otakus would be likely to recognize.
Some of her other roles include Eri Sawachika (School Rumble), and the older casting of Naru Narusegawa (Love Hina). Incidentally, Love Hina was the first anime to be widely distributed through the now prolific format of the digital fansub, which accounted for her well known status.
Yuuko Gotou / 後藤 邑子
Yuuko Gotou’s sweet, moe voice made her a shoe-in for the role of Mikuru, and it’s not much of a stretch to envision her as the slightly spacey (yet quite moe) Abiru, but her casting as the cold, quiet Anya was a bit of a surprise.
Gotou is also starring as Riannon in Tears to Tiara this season, a role that seems more in line with her usual casting than some of her other past characters, which include Susanna Hopkins of Genshiken – the blonde, short, wild-eyed gaijin fujoshi, and Kaede Fuyou of Shuffle! – the blonde yandere from the famous knife scene…
Eri Kitamura / 喜多村 英梨
Eri Kitamura, also a singer, does not have exhaustive a list of past roles as some others here, but most should be familiar with at least one of her roles: one of the busty members of Toradora!’s female trio, Chaos;Head’s pink-haired female lead or the cute, promiscuous 4th grade schoolgirl Rin.
Certainly, those three seem to be wildly different characters at first glance…
Rie Tanaka / 田中 理恵
Rie Tanaka is one of the most prolific of the newer seiyuu-idol breed to have emerged this decade; some of her more well known older roles includes the kind and soft spoken Chii and Lacus, but she also performed the substantially more vociferous character of the Strike Witches’ ranking officer, Minna.
Incidentally, she is the only seiyuu listed here that I’ve spoken with in person – she has a lovely moe speaking voice in real life too!
Kaori Nazuka / 名塚 佳織
Nunnally Lamperouge (Code Geass)
Lynette Bishop (Strike Witches)
Tsubaki (Soul Eater)
Kaori Nazuka played another of the Strike Witches – the shy, large busted Lynette, as well as the somewhat similar character of Tsubaki, but did you know those two share the same voice as Lelouch’s younger sister Nunnally?
Another role that utilizes her skill for youthful yet regal characters that you might be familiar with would be the young princess Lydia from Tytania.
Megumi Hayashibara / 林原 めぐみ
Megumi Hayashibara’s name is one of the best known seiyuu names of all, and likely one of the first names many of us ever learned. Her roles as the iconic Rei Ayanami, Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop, and female Ranma-chan are among the unending list of hundreds of characters she has played.
Her role as Bulbasaur was a well known gag years ago, but even as big a Megumi and Eva fan as myself had no clue she also did the Unit 01’s wild grunting noises when it went berserk in an episode of Eva…
Sumi Shimamoto / 島本 須美
Nausicaa (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind)
Clarisse d’Cagliostro (The Castle of Cagliostro)
Kanata Izumi (Lucky Star)
Sumi Shimamoto, a seiyuu with a work history preceding that of even Hayashibara, played the lead female roles in two of Miyazaki’s most legendary films from the 1980’s – the peace loving Nausicaa, the noble princess Clarisse, but the fact that those two classic characters share the same voice with Konata Izumi’s kind (and perpetually youthful) mother Kanata is something that even otaku of incredible power levels are likely to be unaware of.
Kikuko Inoue / 井上 喜久子
Kikuko Inoue is also among one of the best known seiyuu names, having a work history including such roles as Belldandy (Oh my Goddess!) stretching back into the 1980’s – most perplexing, considering that she is only seventeen years old.
Best known for kind, maternal characters such as Kasumi Tendou (Ranma ½), her role as Nagisa’s mother is most appropriate (as was her turn as the schoolgirl housewife Ookusa from Zetsubou-sensei), but her casting as the sultry Lust in the new Hagaren series strays a bit from her norm, as did her voicing the scary-looking Miria in Claymore.
Akiko Yajima / 矢島 晶子
Shin-chan (Crayon Shin-chan)
Rin Itoshiki (Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei)
Garbage Doll (Clannad)
Akiko Yajima (real name: Akiko Ogasawara) is another long-time seiyuu, starting her career in earnest in the 1990’s with an emphasis on supporting and tertiary characters.
However, one role of hers is definitely a starring part – the mischievous little boy Shinnosuke Nohara (perhaps better known as Shin-chan) who is well known for thrusting his shota buttocks out at the audience. If you ever wondered why Rin Itoshiki frequently appears on screen with her backside graciously aimed in our direction, there you have it – a seiyuu in-joke!
In another Clannad role, Yajima also played the part of the Garbage Doll reincarnation of Tomoya, certainly a role as far from the sultry Rin as they are from the shameless Shin-chan.
Some readers may also recognize two older roles she has played: Dorothy from The Big O, and Relena from Gundam Wing…
Yukana / ゆかな
Yukana (her full name is Yukana Nogami) is best known for her role as the mysterious pizza-loving C.C. from Code Geass, but she has also played the parts of Tear Grants and teenage ship captain Tessa Testarossa from Full Metal Panic!
Tessa might be a surprise role to some, but the real surprise is more likely that Yukana also did the voice of Cyber Maid Aris, the pseudo-holographic desktop 3D maid that users can “interact” with using a web camera and a stick!
More Surprising Seiyuu Roles on Nico…
The original impetus for this idea came from watching a huge video compilation on Nico several months ago. That video appears to have since been removed (or is very good at becoming invisible to Nico’s search function), but a more recent version of it is still available and is shown below.
Be warned: the video is nearly a hour long, will likely be confusing to non Japanese readers and contains many characters from anime that are mostly unknown to foreign audiences.
With that said, feel free to enjoy some more surprising, or at least amusing, seiyuu match-ups:
同じ声優と知って驚いたキャラ まとめ編 / I was surprised when I realized they were the same seiyuu! – Summary Version