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

 

 

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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My favourite compilation AMVs: Part two

Here are the last three of my favourite compilation AMVs! I still can’t get over how awesome these are… enjoy!

NOTE. As before, there may be spoilers in these AMVs. Also, some of these AMVs may induce motion sickness or epileptic seizures. Watch at your own risk.

Vivifx’s “Ship Happens”

Is there another name for AMVs that include customised music? If you know, please let me know in the comments! This AMV has its own music created by the maker and it is that kind of annoyingly catchy song that you know you’ll have in your head for the rest of the day. I love how this AMV focuses on that massive aspect of the anime culture… shipping! Although I don’t ship any of these characters, I still think it’s a fun AMV (and second one from Vivifx to feature!).
For the uninformed: Here is some terminology to help you along in this AMV; shipping = the act of romantically pairing two characters together (from relationship)- note that a particular pairing is referred to as a “ship”; OTP = one true pairing- the couple that are the ideal/best ship; cannon = the actual storyline (i.e. a ship that is cannon is one that occurs in the storyline); crack ship = a ship that is so impossible/unlikely that you must be on crack to ship it (usually refers to shipping between characters from different anime/universes).

Chinnapat Ponharash’s “Not Alone”

First up- this AMV is only four minutes long, not eight. The video repeats itself without the sound in the second half (probably to avoid copyright infringement on the song). Secondly, it’s FREAKING AMAZING. The scenes in this AMV flow so well. There’s such a big build up at the start and you know it’s going to be awesome. I love the range of anime in it and it evokes so many different emotions including excitement, sadness, and hope… even though I’ve only seen some of these series! That’s a testimony to how well it’s been put together.

Suction’s “Ai no Kakera ~Fragments of Love~”

This mixed-media AMV is one MONSTER of a video. I love how it features such a large number and variety of anime, as well as a visual novel and game thrown in. The build up and explosion of action in the AMV is awesome, as is the fade-out towards the end. Sure, it looses pace slightly in a couple of sections, but considering the video is twelve minutes long (!) I think that it’s remarkable that it can hold my attention for so long. The music also as a number of different cool melodies going on in it. Overall, it’s a pretty awesome experience.

Well those are my favourite compilation AMVs, I hope you’ve enjoyed them. Do you have your own favourite compilation AMVs, or perhaps one you’ve made yourself? I’d love to read about it in the comments 🙂

-S

My favourite compilation AMVs: Part one

I decided to do another post about AMVs (anime music videos), and this time it’s not Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Well, not just FMAB, because it does feature it some videos. Instead, I thought I’d focus on compilation AMVs. That is, AMVs which feature multiple anime (and sometimes multiple media). I can’t even begin to imagine how much time and effort it takes to make these videos… picking the right scenes from the right anime, finding a uniting song or theme; it’s amazing! Some of these AMVs have also had some serious editing into them to make them as awesome as they are. If you’re into anime, you simply MUST check these out. They make me so excited about anime!

I’ve split this into two posts simply because it’s easier to navigate the seven AMVs, and because one of them is super long. Also, these are in no particular order 🙂

NOTE: Firstly, there may be possible spoilers ahead. I haven’t watched all of these series so I’m not 100% sure. Watch at your own risk. Secondly, some of these videos may induce motion sickness or epileptic seizures. Again, watch at your own risk.

 

Vivifx’s “Anime 101”

I’ve seen this AMV make its rounds on the internet a couple of times now. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out! It covers several things about anime including genre, common anime jokes, as well as many of the most popular series, all in a school setting! Be sure to re-watch it and pause to read all of the writing in the background… it shows how much thought has been put into this AMV! (Note: there are definitely spoilers about deaths in FMA/FMAB and Attack on Titan in this AMV).

 

sloken18amv’s “Fighting”

Two guesses as to what this AMV is about. There’s a nice collection of different fight scenes in this AMV. Although the song is not as intense as you’d expect it to be, I still like how everything fits together. A nice look at the whole “fighting for what you believe in” that you see in almost every anime. (Note: the first 26s is an introduction to the AMV, feel free to skip).

 

TsukuyomosAMV’s “Across the Line”

This is a relatively simpler AMV, but is a great example of “less is more”. It gets me so excited about anime when I watch it! I love how the scenes and lyrics match up so well, and how  I haven’t seen most of these anime, but it doesn’t matter, because the AMV is this good. All around it’s very clever!

 

Baka Oppai’s “Face Your Fears”

I thought I would finish up with something a little bit different. This incredibly clever AMV may not directly focus on as many different anime as some of the other AMVs, but it certainly produces one hell of an atmosphere. I love how the video shifts partway through from creating the horror feel of the AMV to showing off a couple of fight scenes. Videos like this get me really excited about what people out there can do with AMVs!

 

Stay tuned for part two next week… delaying it so I will hopefully having something written for the week after!

-S

 

[30 Day Anime Challenge] Day Twenty-Five: Saddest anime death

Spoiler TagWARNING! This post has some SERIOUS spoilers for Code Geass/Code Geass R2. Please do not read this post if you intend to watch these anime as you will be very disappointed.

 

I don’t want to get into the technicalities of whether this death is a death or not (a lot of the fan-base argue that this person is actually immortal), but even if it isn’t his actual death, it is still his death in the eyes of everyone who knew him. I’m talking, of course, about Code Geass’ Lelouch Lamperouge. Even now when I watch this scene I still tear up. It’s just such an emotional scene and such a dramatic end to the fast-paced, action-packed series. It is unexpected after everything that Lelouch fought for. Personally, the part that gets me the most is when Hitomi Kuroishi’s “Continued Story” starts playing and Nunnally starts yelling out to her brother. Although Lelouch constantly uses Nunally as both an excuse and a motivator, he never once actually asks her what she wants, and here she states it very clearly “I would’ve been happy just being with you, brother”. So sad.

-S

P.S. Happy Australia Day out there to any other Aussies. Hope your day was bogan-free 🙂

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 [Anime]: Its many flaws are close to being completely redeemed by the ending

I hope everyone had an awesome Easter! Mine involved beaches, fishing, four-wheel-driving and making paper flowers. Without further ado, here is my review of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 (2008), which concludes the story-line from the first Code Geass anime. This series, like the one before it, is 25 episodes long. 

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What’s it about?

Continuing one year after the events of the first series, Lelouch has had his memory replaced and is living life as an ordinary student with his younger brother Rolo. However, being watched closely by both the remnants of the Black Knights and the Empire of Britannia, Lelouch is again forced into a double-life when C.C. restores his memories. Is Lelouch able to recreate the Black Knights whilst keeping the fact he has his memories a secret? Can he overthrow the Empire successfully this time? And where is Nunnally in all of this? Lelouch is launched back into the world of politics and tactics to answer these questions…

The Positives

We’ll first look at the things that continue from the first series. The action and overall epicness is maintained in some of the second series, particularly from about episode 17 onwards. Action scenes are still visually great and a lot of fun to watch. Secondly, the soundtrack is still pretty awesome, but the openings and endings remaining dull (again, I have to hold up Ali Project’s “My Beautifully Elegant Flower of Evil” as an exception) (Although, I do like the style of art in both of the endings).

Now, the aspects where the second series excels compared to the first. There is a deeper look at ideology in the second series, focusing on the importance of the past, present, and future, and their relations with each other. In many ways it reminded me of the ideas that [C] posed. Not only is there more ideology in the second series, there are some more interesting ideas and political manoeuvres that the first series lacked. R2 also builds on the different interests of the political groups from the first series, in particular expanding the Chinese Federation. Finally, the second series continues the complex relationship between Suzaku and Lelouch, and further expands on Lelouch’s character.

However, the second series’ best asset is… its ending. The second series is more emotional overall, but it is nothing compared to the final episode. There’s not too much I can say without spoiling it, but this ending is so far my most favourite ending to an anime ever. Nothing else has been able to compare to it so far. It makes peace with the story to keep you happy, but is also open-ended so that you are left to imagine what happens next. The song that plays in the background of the final scenes, Hitomi Kuroishi’s “Continued Story“, captures this perfectly.

Ending (spoiler free!)

One of the only spoiler-free images I could find involving the ending…

The Negatives

The art… I’ve addressed what I don’t like about this elsewhere, and it hasn’t changed since the first series. One thing to note is the fan service… it was bad enough in the first series, but I was still able to easily ignore it. In the second series, it’s pretty terrible.

Secondly, characters. The criticism of bland characters in the first series only gets worse when taking a look at the second. A whole bunch of new characters are introduced and then… nothing happens with them. A few had the potential to be great characters (particularly Rolo), but there was a severe lack of character development coupled with little meaningful screen time. Whilst a number are easily likeable (for me it was Gino and Anya- first half only), they are still boring. Many of the characters that carried over from the first series retain their blandness, or otherwise manage to create an indescribable amount of hate inside me, wishing they were dead already (yes, that’s you, Nina). The winning duo of Lelouch and Suzaku both suffer as well, although not as badly as the others. Their main problem is consistency; particularly Lelouch with his attitude towards Rolo and Suzaku with his moral values. I also feel that Suzaku’s character fell apart, although this may just be me turning from “I support everything this character stands for” to “why isn’t he dead yet”.

Knights of the Round

Oh hello pointless characters…

Now, where the second series really starts to lose its edge… the plot. R2 loses in terms of tactical aspects (particularly battles- reduced to who has the latest upgrade) and unpredictability. I also found it slow to warm up compared to the explosive beginning of the fist series. It manages to hold up okay for a few episodes, but gets really messy in the middle when it comes to Lelouch’s mother and psychological (?) worlds. The ideas that are thrown around are very interesting, but are too confusing to be any merit to the series. There are a few other times where the plot gets shot to pieces, but from about episode 17 onwards, it gets back into the swing of it, and leads to the awesome ending I have already mentioned.

Conclusion

Art:  6/10: Remains the same as the first series; pointy chins and not enough food, but excellent action scenes.

Story: 7/10: Loses itself half-way through, but has an ending that is beyond amazing.

Characters: 5/10: Meaningless additions and consistency problems.

Although there is a problem with characters and a loss of tactics and explosive unpredictability, R2 is still enjoyable to watch and serves well enough as a second series. If you can get through the mess of the middle episodes, you will be rewarded with what should be considered one of the best endings to an anime. If you’ve watched the first series, I strongly advice continuing onto the second and sticking to it until the very end, no matter how many times you want to turn back. Overall, I give it a 7/10.

-S

Lelouch makes a tough call