Drama class is tougher than you think

There’s a lot which goes into making anime, and one thing arguably more important than many are the voices of its characters. Good or evil, stunning or ugly, a voice can often make or break a production, and we here at Random Curiosity certainly have those we consider the best of the bunch. And now thanks to our Patreon subscriber Nicc we have a reason to finally lay them out for all to see. These are Random Curiosity’s writers’ favourite voice actors (and actresses)!

Quick note on the writeups below. Our picks are not ordered and should not be construed as our only favourites – in some cases we had a very hard time narrowing them down. And as a reminder, if you’d like to get us writing about something like this, consider becoming a Random Curiosity Patreon supporter!

Guardian Enzo

Ohtsuka Akio

Ohtsuka played an actor loosely based on Marlon Brando in Pompo: The Cinephile. And at that time writer-director Hirao Takayuki called him “The Marlon Brando of seiyuu”. That can be taken in a number of ways, but Ohtsuka for me lived up to the mantle because of his overpowering presence. He owns every role he plays – and pretty much every scene he plays it in. He’s a persona, like Brando was – instantly recognizable yet always different.

Inoue Kazuhiko

By contrast, Inoue is a chameleon who totally disappears into any role he inhabits. I mean, this is Nyanko-sensei and Matsuno Matsuzou we’re talking about here. Inoue has a reputation as a larger-than-life figure off-screen (something of a bad boy) but as an actor he’s subtle and incredibly versatile.

Hayashibara Megumi

Another seiyuu of wondrous dexterity (and a great singer to boot). Hayashibara is possibly best-known for Ayanami Rei, and that’s certainly one of the most iconic roles in anime. But I also think of the likes of Hakumen no Mono in Ushio to Tora (one of the scariest seiyuu performances ever).

Miyu Irino

Always a personal favorite, broke onto the scene as a child actor in the likes of Spirited Away and DN Angel and never looked back. Simply put, a great actor – a seiyuu of tremendous depth and emotional subtlety. Cross Game, AnoHana, Tsuritama, the list goes on and on – probably a higher batting average for series I truly love than any other seiyuu.

Sakamoto Maaya

Another who’s as famous for their singing as acting (and for very good reason). Sakamoto is as at home playing males (as in Fruits Basket and Kuroshitsuji) as females. Plain and simply a great voice, velvety and full of intensity, which Sakamoto expertly modulates to fit the role.

Miki Shinichirou

Just a great all-rounder who I love in just about anything. There’s not a series he can’t improve by joining, and I’d be hard pressed to single out individual performances with a resume this extensive and brilliant. The fact that he’s worked steadily for 30-plus years with no regard to the current trends is testament to how deservedly respected he is in the industry.

Princess Usagi

Ogata Megumi

When I think of my favorite seiyuu, Ogata Megumi is one of the first who springs to mind. The first time I encountered Ogata’s talent was in Sailor Moon. I was drawn in by how perfectly they brought to life the tough, aloof Tenou Haruka as a cool character you’d want to be friends with. Though a character of the opposite disposition, Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Ikari Shinji was defined (for me) by how Ogata captured his adolescent fears and insecurities. Not to mention Ogata’s roles as Yukito in Cardcaptor Sakura and Hanako-kun in Jibaku Shonen Hanako-kun, conveying the hidden presence beneath their exteriors with a balance of levity and gravity.

Ishida Akira

Another instantly recognizable and beloved seiyuu for me is Ishida Akira. The genteel restraint of his performances heightens the detached aura of his roles, conveying a masked sense of tragic longing that for me, colors the world-weary characters he portrays. My favorite performance of his was as Yuurakutei Yakumo in Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Not only did he capture the tortured, lonely man hidden beneath a veneer of bitterness, he was spot on with his rakugo performances- an impressive feat since rakugo delivery is vastly different from anime voice-acting and delivering a rakugo performance like lines from an anime fall flat (as was the unfortunate downfall with Uchi no Shishou wa Shippo ga Nai). And of course, who can forget his performance as Nagisa Kaoru in Neon Genesis Evangelion or Xerxes Break in Pandora Hearts.


Kobayashi Yuu

Kobayashi Yuu is easily my favorite seiyuu of all time for being such a multi-faceted creative who values making a memorable experience out of every role she pulls off. She depicts chaotic, aggressive, flamboyant, cheeky, gentle, and stern characters with such astounding ease that you can’t help but marvel at the amount of energy she brings to her roles. Her hilariously grotesque artistic endeavors hint at how much of a cerebral experience it is to hear her breathe life into any of her characters.

I got so much joy from listening to compilations of some of her more memorable roles because of how much of a blast it is to hear how much variety and range she has as an actress. I was first introduced to her as Kaere Kimura, the Western transfer student from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei who’d alternate between shrill fury and kind elegance at the drop of a dime. Her prominence in SHAFT anime introduced me to the versatility she provides behind the booth, alternating between the spunky malice of Mariya Shidou of Maria Holic to the deep-throated aggression and childish babbling of the Amazoness from Arakawa Under the Bridge’s second season.

It was shockingly impressive to see how she’d follow up playing a shamefully lecherous teacher in Seitokai Yakuindomo with the heartfelt, sensitive, and compassionate voice that Urushibara Ruka had in Steins;Gate or the relatively well-adjusted bomb enthusiast Nice Holystone of Baccano. Chaos winds up being a prowess of hers with roles such as the gluttonous oddball Sasha Braus of Shingeki no Kyojin, the violently furious Yanagi of Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, and the shrill yet lovestruck Ayame Sarutobi of Gintama showing us just how much energy she can channel into a given performance.

She hasn’t slowed down a single bit over the years as she’s knocked it out of the park recently as Testament from Guilty Gear Strive. My bias as a Testament main can’t help but admire the elegant inflection she gives to their kind yet cold disposition. I’ve also got a kick out of hearing her as the narrator of the reality show Run For the Money where she revels in the misery of the fearful celebrities who are being chased down in a frantic manhunt. Needless to say that I can always expect a passionate intensity from what Kobayashi brings to the table. As a creative, I hope to carry the same kind of expressive energy I put into anything that Kobayashi Yuu does as a seiyuu.

Tsuda Kenjiro

Tsuda is a master of his craft as a seiyuu whose uniquely gruff voice has brought life to a number of legendary characters. There’s something that’s calming yet unnerving about how his characters speak in a lingering whisper as if they’re deliberately drawing you away from knowing who they are and how they operate. It makes for an awesome villainous voice, but also provides depth to his more subdued or supportive roles.

His most iconic voice is easily his over-the-top performance as Seto Kaiba from the Yu-Gi-Oh series. But even though he does Kaiba’s aggressive, maniacal flamboyance so well, many of his memorable characters have leaned on pulling off a calmer, more intimidating aura. Whether it be Nanami’s professionalism and outright resentment of authority in Jujutsu Kaisen or Overhaul’s bitter, lingering rage in Hero Academia, Tsuda’s bread and butter is often pure defiance of the established order. His menacing aura is also played around with in comedic roles with Tatsu in Gokushufudou accidentally leaning into his scary inflection to coast through a life of domestic bliss.

I’d say the past couple of years caused me to draw more attention to his performances as he landed quite a few roles that stood out for me, starting with Sabikui Bisco where Kurokawa’s sleazy, vindictive streak is captured as brilliantly as his stubborn, bitter inflection with Koshimizu in Shin Megami Tensei V. He also carried that same level of indignant rage as Jack in Stranger in Paradise and as the resentful, withdrawn Kishibe in Chainsaw Man.

The energy he brings to villainous roles can easily be said for his heroic performance as well, offering a number of characters who are either well-meaning or laidback. Hannes from Shingeki no Kyojin is the most dramatic shift of the bunch as his casual, laid-back vibe makes Hannes a genuinely tragic character, plagued by the lingering guilt of his failures. Similarly, the rambunctious boorishness of Zaveid from the Tales series and the feminine charm of Fire Emblem in Tiger & Bunny provide a layer of depth beneath the surface that brings out their true personalities as passionate, empathetic people who want to protect and motivate others while being their genuine selves.

I think at the end of the day, that’s what I really dig about Tsuda as an actor. He can easily play a character who whispers filthy jokes or disrespectful jabs under their breaths, and yet also pulls off characters who try to navigate through difficult circumstances the best they can, whether it be through coping in silence or wearing their emotions on their sleeves.

Ogata Megumi

Nothing comes close to the muted sorrow and tormented agony that they depict in their role as Ikari Shinji in the Evangelion series, nor could their confident swagger and passion as Sailor Uranus be easily replicated. But I wanted to write on Ogata because much of my experience with their voice was by the time I was venturing out and exploring seasonal anime. It felt like their voice helped introduce me to the depth and gravitas that anime can have.

I remember hearing them as Shinji on my sub-only rip of the first Rebuild movie, but the first time I was hyper-aware of their voice wound up being Yumeshima from Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate. The humor behind the character aged like milk, but Yumeshima was also strangely revolutionary to me because he was painfully adorable to me, and Ogata captured his gentle, yearning affection in such a tooth-achingly sweet manner. I’d also wind up watching Angel Beats and got deeply invested in Ayato Naoi, whose smarmy craftiness and insecurities were perfectly captured by Ogata.

Needless to say though that Megumi Ogata is astoundingly talented, and many of the roles they’ve done over the years could easily have this level of praise granted to them. Their roles in the Danganronpa series are a testament to that as they had such a fun counterbalance between the upright, reluctant heroics of Makoto Naegi and the twisted, deranged arrogance of Nagito Komaeda. Shades of their past roles also help to elevate some of their other performances as the sadistic cockiness they brought to Komaeda comes out wondrously with Misogi Kumagawa from Medaka Box. Similarly, shades of Shinji’s solemn mindset permeate through Ken Amada from Persona 3, who throws the boiling resentment of powerlessness into the mix as the young boy struggles with his vengeful rage.

I’ve also been more than impressed with the times I’ve heard them recently as they’ve taken part in a number of shows and games I really enjoyed thanks to their presence. They were the life of the party in Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun as the titular ghost who’d shroud his inner turmoil with a lackadaisical, nonsensical sense of humor. They were also a blast in Akudama Drive, where they played a seductive doctor, whose lethal talents and lustful tendencies made for the perfect combination of sex and violence for the character. The remake of the Famicom Detective Club series was also a great read partly because of their concerned, yet inquisitive take on the protagonist’s voice.

Nonetheless, I believe that the many roles they’ve played over the years are more than enough proof of what they bring to the table as a highly talented and incredibly unique seiyuu. Even to this day, Ogata pulls off such fun, quirky roles that not only draw attention to their strengths, but also provide the challenge of being as bombastic, memorable, and engaging as they can be.

FJ Freeman

Ogata Megumi

It goes without saying that Ogata-san has been an incredible influence on a whole generation of people, from their work on Evangelion, being able to capture the distress and loneliness of a 14-something teenager whose only problem is not knowing how to get closer to other people to their work as Yue and Yukito in Card Captor Sakura, being able to bring a soft tenderness while also having that angelic presence is only something Ogata-san can manage. Their range is incredible and something that should be celebrated. Looking at their work you would see characters that impacted a generation and then some. It seems Ogata is attracted to high-budget action shounen shows as they are also the voice of both Yuggi and Yami in the long-standing card game Yu-Gi-Oh. However, that doesn’t mean Ogata-san shies away from more unknown projects, most recently bringing voice to Hanako-kun and Isil of Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi. Also might not I forget Isha from the very underrated show Akudama Drive. Ogata-san brings a sort of deep treble raunchiness to male and female characters that are unlike anything anyone is able to achieve. Oh and did you notice, they were also the voice of Yuuta in the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 film? If anything Ogata brings a triumph to everyone!

Matsumoto Rika

I’m not one to really dive deep into who’s voice is who for what character, but boy does Matsumoto-san take it out of the park. It might not be the repertoire of Ogata-san, but isn’t it also really impressive to have one role for a very long period of time? That is the role of Satoshi, our favorite never-aging Pokemon lead. Matsumoto-san also brought tears and joy to countless children across the globe. Even though as a child most likely you watched the anime with dub, not knowing the wonderful world of the original voices. I much rather now watch the Pocket Monsters anime with the original voices. Matsumoto-san brings a sort of deep cathartic childlike tone to Satoshi that is indeed something unique. It’s such incredible work that she was able to maintain Satoshi consistently throughout all of these years. Who would I be without her my weekly dive into nostalgia lane?

Takeuchi Junko

I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself, from Shinji to Satoshi to Naruto, that’s right I’m choosing my third favorite Takeuchi-san because she’s the voice of Naruto. She has some other roles like uh, Gomamon… From Digimon Adventure and Popuko – I swear Popuko has all of the best voice actors. And hey even had an appearance as Hapu’u in the Pocket Monsters Sun and Moon anime. Love him or hate him, Naruto was part of a growing generation of Millennials who grew up on anime not really knowing the whole extent of it. Not really knowing how weird it can get, we were safe with Naruto and his adventures, and the little bit of gore the series loved to spill out from time to time was something that the west would deem worthy of late night TV. Takeuchi-san marked a generation of people as well. Her incredible work in making Naruto one of the most iconic Shounen Jump characters to date is something that isn’t easily replicated. Years and years of hard work have brought her to near-god(dess) status and now we can only look back on those series with nostalgia goggles. I’m including her in this list as well because Naruto is one of my comfort characters and thousand times over I saw myself becoming a ninja as a child, however cringe-inducing that might be now. The point is Takeuchi-san brought me to that world and I have my life to thank her as Naruto was one of the first series I saw in the original Japanese.


Nakata Jouji

When it comes to voice acting it’s always the unique voices which stick with me most and Nakata Jouji definitely has one of my favourites. Besides effectively making the Fate Universe’s Kotomine Kirei as (in)famous as he was, Jouji’s voice acting in everything from the quirky and upbeat Nyanata in Log Horizon to the gloriously psychotic Alucard of Helsing and fine-tuned destructive scheming of Golden Kamuy’s Hijikata Toshizou make him a true powerhouse and show that acting talent is as much in maximizing what you have as expanding its capabilities. Jouji deserves all the kudos he’s received over the years and it’s always a happy day for me when I find out he’s starring in new upcoming show.

Outsuka Houchuu

Because it almost follows from the above, probably no surprise Outsuka Houchuu also happens to sit in my best of voice acting list. If Nakata Jouji is great for his varied roles and near-sultry voice, Houchuu is equally fantastic for his playing of grizzled, experienced men who’ve been around the block – or are out to make a name. Ajin’s Satou stands out as a good example of how Houchuu can vocally transform such guys into dangerous enemies, but his work as elder oni Hakurou in Tensura and Spock-aspirant Sanada Shirou in Space Battleship Yamato really highlight just how well Houchuu brings the gritty reality of certain stories – and characters – to life. No matter the production, if Outsuka Houchuu is involved, I know we’re in for a good time.

Yuuki Aoi

Admit it, you knew she was going to pop up somewhere :P. While probably a generic pick, I cannot help but like Yuuki Aoi’s work simply because of how strong she is in multiple roles across numerous genres. This is the girl who can effortlessly jump between the absolute craziness of Youji Senki’s Tanya and playful fun of Oregairu’s Hikigaya Komachi, who in one moment portrays the melancholy and ignorance of Shiki’s Kirishiki Sunako and the next goes full comedy with One Punch Man’s Tatsumaki. Her range and abilities are amazing, the skill and enjoyment of her craft she demonstrates even more so, and the more I find out about roles she’s acted in the more I respect and like the work she’s done. Without a doubt this is one voice actress who will never fall off my best of list.


  1. Thanks for this really great post!

    Whilst I can be very acute when it comes to animation style or music composition, I often find seiyuu more difficult to spot. Which is I suppose because they are sometimes chameleons able to voice many different types of character. But there are also others who are often cast in the same sort of role and whose voices there are instantly recognisable (Tsuda Kenjiro is one who particularly comes to mind).

    Sometimes it feels like they just turn up for the recording sessions and effortlessly perform their art, but other times you can really hear what a difficult job it really is, especially in long-running franchises. One instance that particularly comes to mind is Sakamoto Maaya in the final Monogatari series trying but not quite perfectly managing to recreate Shinobu’s former voice.

    Anyway, my own personal favourites? Several have already been mentioned above, but Hayami Sho is another one. He first came to my notice as Ferdinand in Ascendance of a Bookworm, but after playing Myne’s ostensibly upright protector and guardian there, it was quite a jolt to hear him recently as the twisted Doan lusting after the ambiguously-gendered Nio in Revenger. Iwami Manaka is another, currently doing double duty as both Mashiro in Otonari no Tenshi-sama and Euphie in Tensei Oujo, although in recent years she’s probably best know for Tooru in the Fruits Basket remake.

    1. Now this is what comes of posting when you’re not fully awake yet and then there’s no edit button! That should of course have been “Mahiru” from Otonari no Tenshi-sama , not “Mashiro”.

    2. You’re not the only one, outside of a few signature voices I have a tough time telling at a glance if a particular seiyuu is part of a show or not. Usually isn’t until I see the credits or casting info that I find out, which in a way makes for pleasant surprises. Plus it’s arguable any seiyuu who can blend into the background is a true master of their trade because switching voices like that is definitely not easy to do, particularly if starring in several shows in one season.

  2. I am surprised no one mentioned Tamura, Yukari or Mizuki, Nana from Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha or Kugimiya, Rie, Tanaka, Rie, and Itou, Shizuka, Matsuki, Miyu…I miss Matsuki Miyu. (TT. TT )

    The last time I heard Matsuki Miyu act was for Anna, Nishikinomiya in himoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai

    …GOD what a long title, SHIMONETA for short.

    1. Did mention it was hard for some of us to narrow down our choices XD

      If we wanted we could’ve listed 20+ per person, but IMO that would dilute what should be defined favourites so the lists were deliberately kept small.

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