There’s Something “Different” About These Voice Actors…

Back when the Soul Eater anime began airing, one of the big topics going around was Maka Albarn’s voice actor. Maka was Omigawa Chiaki’s first role in anime and it showed. Some called her voice work terrible or amateurish, I referred to it as a very natural-sounding voice. For those who haven’t heard it, when Maka speaks it sounds more like a young, soft-spoken narrator than it does a character in a show. However you judge it though, no one can deny that Maka’s voice was different from the usual.

At some point I decided to listen to the Soul Eater Web Radio Show (Maka Side), half curious, half wanting to practice listening comprehension for the JLPT2, and I was surprised to find out that Chiaki’s Maka voice is quite different from her everyday speaking voice. This meant that as natural and realistic-sounding as Maka’s voice is, it’s not just Chiaki speaking normally. I was impressed, but then I thought about how I wasn’t the best judge of Japanese voice acting, and a lot of the Maka voice’s detractors were Japanese people posting on 2ch and what-not. I’ve made progress over the years, but to really tell who’s good and who’s bad, I can’t do so with complete confidence still.

It was a few weeks after that when Anime World Order posted its review of Bubblegum Crisis. I had seen the show long ago, back when I barely knew anything about anime and my older brother knew guys in his high school who were willing to copy tapes for him, but it had been so long I barely remembered anything. I decided to re-watch the original Bubblegum Crisis, all of it, knowing that there was some bias for BGC among the AWO crew and not wanting to be too influenced by it.

Throughout the OVA series one voice really stood out among the rest: that of main character and most prominent Knight Saber Priss Asagiri. There was something about the way she intoned words, it almost reminded me of Jack King from Shin Getter Robo vs Neo Getter Robo. It sounded, felt different from the other voices which were all clearly talented but sort of blended together in the area known as “good,” like how Henri Cartier-Bresson may be one of the most talented photographers ever but his photographs were all good in the same exact way. It could be awkward at times, but Priss’s voice would always jump out. Then I looked up her voice actor, Oomori Kinuko and listened to the AWO episode (Part A) and found out that it was her one and only voice role, Kinuko being primarily a singer. “Oh,” I thought. And then I remembered Maka.

Maka and Priss’s voices are similar in many ways. Both are very noticeable when placed among their fellow cast members, and both have this style that really takes over a scene, for better or worse. When they talk, you notice. As such, both have this strange voiceover feel to them, where it sounds like they’re speaking directly to the audience rather than to other characters in their shows. Is this merely a product of lack of experience in voice acting? Did anime fans in 80s Japan have a field day with Kinuko’s voice work the way they do with Chiaki’s now? If more seiyuu sounded like Priss or Maka, would their lack of experience and/or talent stand out even more?

Honestly, I Decided to Watch It Because of Nazuka Kaori: Soul Eater

Famous for her role as one Miss Eureka of the State of Gekko.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something seems a little off about the Soul Eater anime. I haven’t read the manga, so I can’t really compare, but it’s like all the pieces don’t fit quite right together. I can see where they wanted to go with the visual style and the overall light-heartedness of it all, but it’s just not jiving at this point.

But let’s cast that aside as we talk about Tsubaki the Girl Who Turns into a Chain Scythe.

I’ve only seen one episode with her so far, and though I can’t really call her my favorite character at this point, her gentle nature and excellent design make her a definite one to watch out for (not to mention the voice). I can back this up of course with visual evidence.

Inazuma Initial Impressions, Spring 2008

Soul Eater:

Seems decent enough. I like the art style though some of the continuity between scenes seems a little off. The thing that stands out most to me is that the main heroine’s voice actor is very inexperienced, and according to Anime News Network she has no other roles. If I do continue to watch, it might just be to see how she progresses as a voice actor throughout the series.

Macross Frontier:

Looks like they’re trying to make this anniversary count. It’s said that every Macross show is purposely designed with a different theme and feel in mind, and though the first episodes draw some parallels to earlier Macross anime, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Kyouran Kazoku Nikki:

Brash, arrogant loli catgirl for a primary heroine. Yeah… I’m not sure if I’ll be sticking with this one.