Seiyuu Spotlight: JUN Fukuyama

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It’s time for our next Seiyuu Spotlight, and today’s post is all about Jun Fukuyama. Jun was born on November 11th, 1978, and first started working in the voice industry at the tender young age of twenty. Since then, his career has simply exploded. His voice is suitable for a variety of characters, as you will see in a second, and there is a good chance you will recognise at least one of them below. Jun’s tremendous effort and incredible ability has not gone unnoticed, and he has been winning voice acting awards consistently since 2006. Let’s dive in to the characters that Jun has bought to life.

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(Clockwise, from top left) Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass), Koro-sensei (Assassination Classroom), Lawrence (Spice and Wolf),  Yukio Okumura (Blue Exorcist)

We’ll start with the four big roles that Jun is most famous for voicing. The most obvious one, of course, is the calculating, intelligent, and complicated Lelouch Lamperouge from the Code Geass Series. I really love Lelouch’s character; the way he acts as a stoic but kind school boy in front of his friends, but the ruthless and cold Zero when trying to change the world. He’s certainly a difficult character to play, but Jun pulls it off without a problem! The next well-known character would probably be Koro-sensei from Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom). Although I’m yet to see this series, I have been able to tell from others’ reviews that Koro-sensei is another difficult character to voice; although he’s very smart, he can switch from being crazy and jovial to serious in a second. Next, and moving onto characters that are more stable in their characterisations, is Ao No Exorcist’s (Blue Exorcist’s) Yukio Okumura. Resident worry-wart, Yukio is also one of the series’ more intelligent and calm characters, although he is shown at times to be on the manipulative side as well. Finally, and keeping with the serious and mature tone set by Yukio, is Kraft Lawrence from Spice and Wolf. Just like Yukio, Lawrence is calm and mature.

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(Clockwise, from top left): Liberta (Arcana Famiglia), Keeichi Shimizu (La Corda d’Oro), Hakuren Oak (07 Ghost), Hanabusa Aido (Vampire Knight).

With his most famous roles out of the way, let’s take a look at some of Jun’s other roles. We can see from his castings as Lelouch and Yukio that Jun isn’t a stranger to voicing good-looking young men, and many of his other roles reflect this. In Arcana Famiglia, he lends his voice to the energetic, caring, and childish Liberta. In La Corda d’Oro, it’s the quiet, sweet, drowsy Keiichi Shimizu. In 07 Ghost Jun voices Hakuren Oak, who’s proud, thoughtful, and diplomatic, but also a little bit arrogant. Finally, in Vampire Knight, it’s the charismatic, flirty Hanabusa Aido that Jun voices. That’s a bunch of good-looking guys, a whole lot of blondes, and some very different personalities!

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(TOP L-R)): Kimihiro Watanuki (xxxHOLIC), Alber de Morcerf (Gankutsuou). (BOTTOM L-R): Misaki Yata (K), Grell Sutcliff (Black Butler), Panda (Shirokuma Cafe)

Jun also seems to have a knack for covering loud and less-mature characters. For example, xxxHOLIC’s Kimihiro Watanuki starts off in the series as childish and loud, although he does show later character development. Albert de Morcerf, from Gankutsuou, is another character who is more on the rash side, naive side. However, these two are really nothing compared to Misaki Yata from the K series, and Grell Sutcliff from the Black Butler series. Both are quite loud and blunt, but Yata tends to be more brash and rude, while Grell is over-the-top and flamboyant. Jun also lends his voice to Panda from the Shirokuma (Polar Bear’s) Cafe series. In true teenager fashion, Panda is lazy and obnoxious.

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(TOP L-R): Souta Takanashi (Working!!), Ichimatsu (Osomatsu-kun). (BOTTOM L-R): Shinra Kishitani (Durarara!!), Zheng Ying (Kingdom), Cassim (Magi).

So far, Jun’s characters have been relatively kind and warm, but he also lends his voice to some more cold and aloof characters. These include characters such as Souta Takanashi from Working!!, Shinra Kishitani from Durarara!!, Ichimatsu from Osomatsu-kun, Zheng Ying from Kingdom, and Cassim from Magi. Although some of these characters may show warmth towards their friends, their initial impressions suggest that they are cold, serious, and often quite calculating.

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(L-R) Makoto Hanamiya (Kuroko No Basket), Rokuro Bundo (Deadman Wonderland).

Finally, although not too often, Jun occasionally lends his voice to the more unlikeable characters in the anime universe. These include the sadistic Makoto Hanamiya from the Kuroko No Basket series, and the sly Rokuro Bundo, from Deadman Wonderland. These two are a far cry from the kind and attractive men we were looking at not too long ago!

As you can see, Jun is clearly an important voice artist in the anime world, responsible for so many characters! I’m amazed at how well he changes his voice to suit each character, giving him the ability to voice a huge variety of personalities. Somehow, in what I’m sure is a very hectic schedule, Jun also does dubbing work, voices characters in video games, and is even a singer! He often sings OPs or EDs for the anime he’s working on, but he also has a solo career. I hope that Jun continues strong for many years to come, as his voice is one of the best in anime!

-S

Seiyuu Spotlight: SHIRATORI Tetsu

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I’ve already looked at one seiyuu who is known for his distinct voice (see here), and for this post I decided to focus on another one; Shiratori Tetsu. No doubt if you recognise any of the character names listed below, you will immediately think of Shiratori’s nasally, often whiny voice.

Unfortunately I can’t find too much on Shiratori, unlike other seiyuu I’ve covered so far. He was born in Tokyo on March 21st, 1972, and started his voice acting career in 1998. Since then he’s done about 20 roles, although the profile on his website also states that he’s worked as an actor, director, and producer.

Shiratori hasn’t yet been cast in any major roles. He has voiced the main character in a couple of small series, none of which I’ve heard of, and hasn’t made an appearance in the Big 3, or really any other well-known anime… except for the few I’m about to mention.

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(L-R) Lloyd Asplun (Code Geass series); Zancrow (Fairy Tail); Kain Fuery (FMA);Gluttony (FMAB)

I know Shiratori from his very distinct voice in the following roles; Lloyd Asplund from Code Geass, Zancrow from Fairy Tail, Kain Fuery from Fullmetal Alchemist, and Gluttony from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I think this makes him one of the few seiyuu to appear in both versions of FMA, although I find it pretty interesting that he doesn’t reprise the same role. What these couple of roles have taught me is that Shiratori must be pretty talented, as the characters are quite different! Lloyd, although very intelligent, is childish, whiny, and cowardly. Zancrow is short-tempered and viciously sadistic. He is also very cocky and likes to mock his opponents. Kain, although a small role, is shown to be very intelligent, but far more capable than Lloyd. He is also brave and level-headed. Finally, we have Gluttony, who I’m still convinced only really posses a shell of a personality. He’s docile and simple, largely driven by his hunger for humans or the commands of Lust. He is childlike with only a very basic level of intelligence.

The fact that Shiratori can voice such starkly different characters very well suggests to me that he is underappreciated and underutilised in the seiyuu world. Even if he doesn’t catch a break as a main character in a major production, I still hope Shiratori thrives in voice acting. I will constantly be on a look out (listen out?) for his nasal tones!

-S

 

 

Seiyuu Spotlight: MIKI Shinichiro

It’s been a looooooooong since my first Seiyuu Spotlight post. This was originally going to be a series of posts that I wanted to keep up semi-regularly, but, as they involved a lot of research, got constantly put on the back-burner. Although I’m not watching as much anime as I used to, I still want to have a look at the people behind some of my favourite voices, and Miki Shinichiro was next on my list!

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I know Miki for voicing two awesome characters from two completely different series. Interestingly, both of these characters are strong, sophisticated, attractive males, with a head for leadership, who exude calmness and coolness. Miki’s smooth voice gives both of these characters extra charm, leaving poor individuals like myself left to fan-girl/boy over them! I am of course talking about Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Toshizuo Hijikata from the Hakuouki series.

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(L-R) Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) and Toshizuo HIjikiata (Hakuouki series)

However, these aren’t Miki’s only roles, as he boasts a very long career, first recording voices in 1995. Ten years ago, he had over 230 voice credits to his name… I wonder what the number is today! Miki doesn’t just lend his voice to anime, he is also prevalent in video games and dubbing (notably as Magneto in the X-Men series). Of the anime he’s done, I noticed that Miki voices main characters in a lot of long series. Unfortunately I’m not familiar with a lot of them, but they include roles such as Takumi Fujiwara from Initial D and Tieria Erde in Mobile Suite Gundam 00. He is stars as significant side characters in series I’ve at least heard of, but never checked out, such as Crim in .hack// and Hitomi in Code:Breaker.

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TOP (L-R): Takumi Fujiwara (Inital D) and Tieria Erde (Mobile Suite Gundam 00) BOTTOM (L-R): Crim (.hack//) and Hitomi (Code:Breaker).

Miki sure seems to voice a lot of younger characters, which is pretty funny since he’s knocking on the door of the big five-oh, being born on the 18th of March in 1968. What can we say, though, he can teach those young ones a thing or two! In fact, Miki often plays flirty, confident “ladies man” characters, such as Kurz Weber from Full Metal Panic, Aikurou Mikisugi from Kill La Kill, and Kudou Youji from Weiss Kreuz. This last role is particularly interesting, because Miki formed a band called Weiss with the other three male voice actors from the anime. I’m sure it was a fairly unexpected turn of events for everyone involved!

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(L-R) Kudou Youji (Weiss Kreuz), Kurz Weber (Full Metal Panic), and Aikurou Mikisugi (Kill la Kill)

Of course, Miki wouldn’t get far in the seiyuu industry without showing the ability to play varied roles. A lot of the characters he plays tend to be either calm or more jovial, but they are all fairly intelligent, and, a good deal of them sarcastic. I’ve already mentioned Roy Mustang, of course, but Kisuke Urahara from Bleach and Assassin from Fate/Stay Night are too other characters that fit this bill!

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(L-R) Kisuke Urahara (Bleach) and Assassin (Fate/Stay Night)

So far I haven’t revealed one of Miki’s biggest roles, but the time is nigh as we move into characters with a more sadistic or villainous streak. Of course one could argue that this character in particular isn’t as bad as he tries to be, but we can safely say that Team Rocket’s James isn’t always on the same side as our protagonist. Yes, our seiyuu providing voices for the sophisticated and, dare I say, sexy characters above also voices this rather incompetent character! Other villainous roles include Mizuki Touji from Naruto and Zamasu from Dragon Ball Super.

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(L-R) James (Pokemon), Mizuki Touji (Naruto), and Zamasu (Dragon Ball Super)

There is certainly more to Miki Shinichiro than what meets the eye, or rather, the ear. He can handle a lot more than just his sophisticated and calm characters, and there’s even room for a band in his life! I wish Miki Shinichiro great success in his future endeavours, so that we can rely on his voice being around for a long time yet. Thank you for all of your hard work so far!

-S

 

R.O.D.: The TV [Anime]: Awesome concepts tangled up in a hard-to-watch mess

I wasn’t too sure how exactly I wanted to review the Read or Die (R.O.D.) series, considering it’s made up of a two different manga (Read or Dream and Read or Die), three OVA episodes (also called Read or Die), and then finally a 26-episode anime (Read or Die: The TV) (PLUS the light novels that they’re all originally based on!). I watched the anime series first (which occurs chronologically last), and since it has the most substance compared to the other series, I decided it should be my main focus for this review, although I will briefly mention the others.

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What’s it about?

In an alternative future, the British Empire remains a world power due to influence the British Library, its external intelligence agency, has on the rest of the world. At the beginning of the series, famous Japanese author Nenene Sumiregawa is suffering from writer’s block after her friend Yomiko Readman goes missing. When she is bought to Hong Kong for a book-signing event, the three sisters Michelle, Maggie, and Anita are assigned as her bodyguards. When Nenene is threatened, the sisters reveal their powers; they are Paper Masters, having a unique ability to manipulate and control paper. Nenene is hopeful the three know Yomiko, also a Paper Master, and she brings them back to Japan with her. In Japan, the three sisters start doing odd-jobs for Dokusensha, a Chinese organisation that rivals the British Library, but the group soon find themselves in conflict with latter.

The Positives

Something that holds for all mediums of R.O.D. is the fact is that there are some super interesting concepts in this series. To begin with, Paper Masters are just so freaking cool. I never thought I would want a super-power that involves manipulating paper, but after watching the anime, it’s right up there at the top of my list! The Paper Masters of the series literally stop bullets with just a piece of paper! I like that within the are of paper-manipulation, there are different variations; Maggie makes familiars out of paper, Michelle uses ranged weapons, Anita is basically a ninja who uses paper as her weapons, and Yomiko does everything plus more. If you want to see some of this paper-manipulation in action watch this video (from the first episode of the anime)… It’s so cool!

Other interesting concepts in this series stem from the focus on books and literature. The fact that the British Library is an important organisation for worldwide politics is a good indication that this is a series in which books play an important role. In fact, a lot of the Paper Sisters’ early missions involve the retrieval of important books from the hands of others. As an avid reader myself, I really like the emphasis on the importance of books and the way certain books are central to the plot of the story. In this world, books are key for survival, dominance, and manipulation. We see throughout the series books (or at least texts) being “forced” into others, used to resurrect the dead, and even controlling the flow of information and power.

So many books!

Books, glorious books!

Finally, I really liked that this series is pretty much dominated by female leads. I also like that we get different types of female leads; while Michelle is incredibly feminine and confident in herself, Maggie is almost androgynous and quiet and reserved. Anita is stubborn and bratty, while Nenene is outspoken and proud. And that’s only the female characters you are initially introduced to, there’s more that follows! This series also features a lot of strong female-female friendships and bonds, almost to the point where one could argue that this title can be classified as yuri. There’s no overt romantic actions (or words for that matter), but, in particular, Nenene and Yomiko’s bond can be interpreted that way. However, I’m not a yuri expert, so I’m not too sure. Regardless of the classification, the positive portrayal of the strong friendships and bonds is done very well in the anime, and throughout R.O.D as a whole.

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Girl power!

 

The Negatives

The main issue I had with this anime is that the series just doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself. You have all of these awesome ideas and interesting conflicts floating around, but the series just doesn’t pull them into a steady story-line. The story fluctuates between three strains; a sort of detective-agency set up, an almost slice-of-life story, and then, for the latter half, saving the world from a big, bad secret organisation. To help with the inconsistency, there aren’t enough explanations as to what’s going on. I get that the anime is just one of many parts of the R.O.D series, but the writers’ assumption that the audience already knows the background to a lot of the events doesn’t help the audience in anyway. The mess of all of this makes the audience feel that there is too much complication packed in to the 26 episodes. At the same time, however, the inconsistent pacing also makes certain episodes drag on forever, with the well-executed action scenes too few and too far between. For a large part, R.O.D: The TV is a lot of ominous talking about world affairs and a lot of confusion. That’s about it.

 

Anything else I should consider?

Probably the correct order of consuming this series would be R.O.D. manga, Read or Dream manga, R.O.D. OVA, and then R.O.D: The TV. However, if you only want a taste of it, I’d recommend watching the R.O.D OVA first, followed by R.O.D: The TV if you liked what you saw. The manga is only worth checking out if you’re really dedicated. Here’s a quick summary of all of these bits and pieces;
R.O.D (OVA): Three episodes, set before the TV series, and following the meeting of Yomiko and Nancy, and their work together for the British Library.
Read or Dream (manga): Four volumes, following side-stories of Michelle, Maggie, and Anita. Very cutesy with not much substance, but enjoyable if you like the characters.
Read or Die (manga): Four volumes, focuses on Yomiko and her work for the British Library. Also contains her first meeting and early friendship with Nenene. Very, very confusing.

Conclusion

Art:  6.5/10: This series was created in 2003, and the older art style reflects this. However, I still found the art to be neat and quite fluid, which becomes very obvious in the action scenes.

Story: 5.5/10: I really admire all of the unique concepts in this anime (and R.O.D as a whole). But you can’t enjoy these ideas to their full potential because they’re wasted in a messy, hard to follow plot.

Characters: 7/10: I really liked the diversity of the female leads and the strength of the friendships between them. However, I feel that the series falls short on meaningful character development.

There’s a lot to like in the R.O.D series. It boasts some of the most interesting ideas I’ve seen in an anime yet, and the strong female leads are a nice change.  However, the chaotic mess of the (sometimes incredibly slow) story ruins a lot of the good things about this anime. If you’re willing to wade through the confusion, you will probably come out enjoying a lot of the aspects of this series, but lamenting the wasted potential. Not everyone has the patience or care to do this, and so, overall, I give R.O.D: The TV a 5.5/10.

-S

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Paper Masters ARE SO COOL! 

Stigma of the Wind [Anime]: Not terrible, and that’s about it…

Stigma of the Wind (Kaze no Stigma) (2007) is an anime with a pretty interesting synopsis. When I started watching it and didn’t like the older styled art, I told myself not to judge it, so I kept watching it. When I recoiled from the stereotypical characters, I kept watching it. When they started (not-subtly) hinting at the cousin x cousin romance, I kept watching it. I’ve finished it now, and I’ve learnt I should really pay more attention to those early misgivings.

Stigma of the Wind

What’s it about?

The Kannagi family is an old family of “Enjutsu” (fire-users), whose duties include protecting the world from evil spirits and demons. Ayano Kannagi is the successor to the family; a short-tempered and arrogant, but genuine, teenager. She’s able to wield the deadly fire-sword Enraiha and is proven to be quite powerful. After a four-year banishment due to his defeat at Ayano’s hand, Kazuma Yagami, Ayano’s cousin, has returned to the city. Very much the black sheep of the family due to his inability to control fire, Kazuma is now a skilled “Fujutsushi” (wind-user). Despite the grudge between the Kannagi family and Kazuma, Ayano finds herself working with him again and again to solve supernatural mysteries and keep the city safe.

The Positives

I’ll always like it when a series has some kind of magic use in it, especially if that magic happens to be elements based. In Stigma of the Wind we see fire, wind, and earth magic, and I assume that water magic also exists. We also have a number of different spirits and demons featuring, so there’s all kinds of interesting things going on. I liked that there was a type of hierarchy in the magic users (i.e. wind users were seen as lower class or servants by the fire users), and I also like that there were different types of users for each element. For example, we have Ren (Kazuma’s younger brother) who seems to just do straight fire manipulation, Ayano who summons a sword, and another Enjutsu who is introduced later to have familiar summoning abilities. I only wished all of these elements were explored more.

Go get 'em, Ayano!

Go get ’em, Ayano!

This series has some fun moments in it. I really liked the way that Ayano and Kazuma bickered the whole way through, and I also really liked Ayano’s best friends Yukari and Nanase because they were a fun addition to the series. Sadly, I didn’t like Ayano as much (see below), but I do recognise that the writers set out to develop her character right from the start, and did a good job of it. By the end, we see an Ayano who is much more confident in herself and less cocky and stubborn. Simple character development, but always appreciated when it’s done well.

The Negatives

The major problem that I had with this series was simply that it’s pretty typical of this type of shounen. The characters, particularly Ayano and Kazuma, are stereotypes, and the plot is very predictable. I also found the story-line pretty slow. Sadly, this didn’t make for a very enjoyable watch. I feel like the last arc could have been expanded out further to serve as the whole series, which would have improved this anime so much.

Now, before I explain about this, I’m going to point out that I know Japan’s culture is different to mine, and I know that this pretty common and acceptable in Japanese culture. Hell, it was even acceptable in my culture until not that long ago. However, I was personally put off by the love story between Ayano and Kazuma because they are cousins. And not “distant relatives of the same family” cousins but “our fathers are brothers” cousins. I know not everyone will have a problem with this, but I found it hard to enjoy the romance aspect of the show because of it. Also Ayano’s father is one of the most hard-core shippers I’ve ever seen in an anime series.

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Y… you don’t ship it?!

The final things I’m going to touch on is the art and music of the series. This is quite an old series, almost ten years old, and it really shows in the art style. It’s very blocky and basic, which is very typical of the time period, although I did like the bright colour palette. It might appeal to some people, but it’s really not my style. The music is also not very catchy, and I detested the opening theme something shocking.

Conclusion

Art:  5/10: The art is pretty basic and typical of an old anime.

Story: 5.5/10: Predictable and slow, making the series not very enjoyable to watch. There were some pretty interesting ideas going into the plot, but sadly they weren’t utilised enough.

Characters: 5/10: Sadly, the characters are pretty boring and typical. There is some nice, simple character development with Ayano, but nothing else beyond that.

Stigma of the Wind is not a terrible series. It has some nice elements to it, and really could have been so much more if there had been better writing in it, expanding on interesting ideas of magic and the final arc, which, in my opinion, could have been the whole series. It’s predictable plot and stereotypical characters ultimately let it down. Not a terrible series, but very mediocre. Overall, I give it a 5/10. Watch it if it sounds like your thing, but don’t expect anything amazing.

-S

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Keep an eye out for fetish fan service if you do decide to watch it, there’s something for everyone apparently…

A Shout Out to Flamboyant Male Characters

Out of the various character stereotypes in anime, one of my most favourite is the overly-flamboyant/eccentric male character. I’m talking ridiculous mannerisms, grand speeches, and larger-than-life personalities, who strut around on-screen doing outrageous things. So, here are my four favourite fabulous male characters.

Howl

Howl’s Moving Castle was the first anime movie that I ever watched, and Howl remains one of my favourite characters to date. A fan of grand gestures, loud outfits, and bright, every-changing hair, Howl likes to take centre-stage whenever he can. His first meeting with the protagonist Sophie involves a gentle stroll through the air. That’s one way to (literally) sweep a girl of her feet! He later shows off his feelings by giving her a massive meadow of flowers. Smooth.

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I love Sophie’s appreciation of Howl’s nature, and one scene that really highlights this is where she is figuring out what disguise Howl will take to keep an eye on her;

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However, one of my most favourite scenes in Howl’s Moving Castle, and one that really illustrates Howl’s eccentric mannerism, is after Sophie cleans out Howl’s bathroom, ruining all of his hair products. Howl’s response? He throws a tantrum with more attention-seeking than the most-spoilt toddler, and more angst than any teenager…

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Lelouch Lamperouge

Considering that these flamboyant characters are usually found in shoujo anime and manga, you may be surprised to see a character from a mecha/action anime here. However, anyone who’s watched Code Geass knows that Lelouch can be just a little flamboyant at times. First up, check out the outfit of his alter-ego, Zero… impractically long cape? Check. Royal purple suit? Check. Annoyingly high collar? Check (like c’mon, how can you even see what’s beside you?). Unnecessarily-pointed mask? Check. F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.

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If Lelouch’s outfit doesn’t convince you, nothing can top his oh so pretty arm movements whenever he’s making a speech. That coordination. That precision. That drama. When Lelouch is making a speech, you know you have to pay attention. Fortunately for Lelouch, even if you’re deliberately trying to ignore him, his stage presence is so awesome and powerful, you will ultimately fail. But, hey, who would want to miss his flash choreography?

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Lelouch is also a fan of the occasional bout of maniacal laughter and grand gestures. He can also sulk just as well as any other male on this list (although, admittedly, his sulking is a little more deserving). To top it all off, we can all agree that Lelouch is gorgeous in a dress…

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Ayame Sohma

Getting into the nitty-gritty of shoujo now, we have Fruits Basket’s Ayame Sohma. Right from his first introduction on screen (in human form) he steals the spotlight for himself within seconds. Maybe it’s his pure-white hair, maybe it’s his cocksure confidence, or maybe it’s just his annoyingly-happy personality, but whatever it is, you notice Ayame.

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Like some of the other characters on this list, Ayame likes to catch other characters off guard with his unique preferences and quirks. One of my favourite scenes in Fruits Basket is when he is recounting one of his tales of being student president to the three main characters. His complete confidence in himself, and his delight in sharing an example of his wisdom is just awe-inspiring.

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Ayame loves to over-exaggerate and make up stories to make moments more grand than what they really are. I love how he tried to convince a teacher that the Gods had ordered him to keep his hair long, as well as him frantically telling an injured Yuki (his younger brother) not to die as they “swore to die together on the same day by the setting sun” (to which Yuki snaps “Who the hell swore! I didn’t see any sun!”). Plus, he also looks pretty gorgeous in a dress…

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Tamaki Suoh

Of course, who else is the most flamboyant character but the Host King himself? Ouran High’s Tamaki Suoh takes the cake when it comes to flashiness, eccentricity, and flamboyancy. His bright, childish, and never-stopping personality is apparent right from his first appearance, whether it be manga or anime.

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What I love so much about Tamaki is how he is constantly over-the-top and dramatic, no matter if the emotion he’s experiencing is negative or positive. When he’s happy, there’s jumping, shouting, wild hand waving, and extreme enthusiasm. Flirty? Roses, sparkles, and winks. He’s the kind of character that literally bubbles with excitement, jumps for joy, and cries tears of laughter. All of this energy on screen makes him very fun to watch!

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However, don’t think for even a second that Tamaki doesn’t put the same amount of effort into displaying his negative emotions as he does for his positive emotions. He literally falls down in horror, grows mushrooms in dark corners when he’s feeling rejected, and pulls some of the over-the-top faces ever seen in anime.

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This only scratches the surface of Tamaki’s flamboyancy; I haven’t even touched on his grand acts, (at times misplaced) over-confidence, or fabulous habits. There’s just too much Tamaki to fit into this post, so I’ll leave you with some of my favourite Tamaki gifs!

-S

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Seiyuu Spotlight: Kakihara Tetsuya

With arguably one of the most distinctive voices in the anime business, Kakihara Tetsuya is one seiyuu who is easily identifiable in any role. I decided to check out a little bit more about the man who voices one of my favourite Fairy Tail characters, but who’s popped up in several other well-known anime as well.

Kakihara Tetsuya

Kakihara’s first major role was voicing the main character Simon in the Gurren Lagann series. However, he is more recently well-known for voicing Fairy Tail’s Natsu Dragneel. Whilst Simon shows considerably more emotional development than Natsu does (or has so far), the two characters care about their friends to the degree that they would both place themselves in danger for their sake. Furthermore, they’re both prodigies when it comes to fighting and combat, albeit with very different styles in each anime. Whilst I’ve never seen Gurren Lagann, so I can’t comment on Kakihara’s voicing of Simon, I do know that his voice is perfect for Natsu’s mischievous, carefree, reckless character.

Simon and Natsu

L: Simon (Gurren Lagann) R: Natsu Dragneel (Fairy Tail)

Born on Christmas Eve, 1982, in Dusseldorf, West Germany, Kakihara Tetsuya actually moved to Japan at the age of 18. His dream was to become a seiyuu, and he’s done so exceptionally. You may also recognise him from some of his other notable roles, including Shin (Amnesia) (both the anime and game), Shino Inuzuka (Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East), and Dragon Ryuho (Saint Seiya Omega).

(L-R) RIn (Amnesia)

(L-R) Shin (Amnesia), Shino Inuzuka (Hakkenden), Dragon Ryuho (Saint Seiya Omega)

I also easily recognise Kakihara voicing loud-mouthed characters such as the Earth Demon King Amaimon in Blue Exorcist.  Other characters in a similar vein include Dog Days’ Gaul Galette des Rois, Yowamushi Pedal’s Toudou Jinpachi, and Log Horizon’s Rundelhaus Code. He also shows the ability to voice more sophisticated characters, such as Adolf K. Weismann in K, Kain Fuery in FMAB,  Sasuke Sarutobi in Brave 10, and Kou Sennoza in [C] . This is not a surprise given Kakihara’s real-life intelligence and sophistication. Kakihara attended the very prestigious Gakushuin University in Tokyo. This university was originally designed for, and attended by, members of Japanese upper nobility, particularly royalty. Most of the Imperial family have attending the university, including the current Emperor Akihito. Other alumni include Miyazaki Hayao and even a Chinese princess! Kakihara is also known for being fluent in several languages; apart from German and Japanese, he can speak English, Spanish, and Latin!

(Top, L-R)

(Top, L-R) Amaimon (Blue Exorcist), Gaul Galette des Rois (Dog Days), Toudou Jinpachi (Yowamushi Pedal), and Rundelhaus Code (Log Horizon). (Bottom, L-R) Adolf K. Weismann (K), Kain Fuery (FMAB), Sasuke Sarutobi (Brave 10) and Kou Sennoza ([C]).

Switching up his style again, Kakihara also voices several cold-blooded, psychologically twisted characters such as Jin Kisaragi in BlazBlue (games and anime) , Sakutaro Morishige in Corpse Party (games and anime), Kouha Ren in Magi, and Mercutio Marchege in Romeo x Juliet. That’s a lot of diversity!

(L-R)

(L-R) Jin Kisaragi (BlazBlue), Sakutaro Morishige (Corpse Party), Kouha Ren (Magi), and Mercutio Marchege (Romeo x Juliet).

If you haven’t recognised Kakihara Tetsuya from any of these anime, you may know him from his extensive video game, visual novel, or BL CDs career, as well as a whole host of minor character roles in other anime. Kakihara is also a solo singer, having released a couple of mini-albums. His songs features quite heavily in anime soundtracks; notably, his first single “String of Pain”, which was the ending song for Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East.

For a German-born Japanese boy who dreamed of becoming a seiyuu, I think it’s safe to say Kakihara Tetsuya has achieved above and beyond what he ever expected. A talented voice actor starring in a broad array of media and lending his voice to characters that differ in so many ways, Kakihara is one of my favourite seiyuu, and a voice I always look out for every anime I watch. I can only hope his career continues to prosper. Thank you for your hard work!

-S