Ten favorite female seiyuu? I have too many favorites, but here are ten whose presence alone will make me eager to watch a series. They are not necessarily the best seiyuus, although most of them are among the best. Nor are they the most famous seiyuus, although some of them are that. There are even a couple of newcomers here whom no-one else would rank this high; but I just love the sound of their voices. In fact, what draws me to a seiyuu can be either just pure sound or acting. Or both, as with the first two names:
1. Kuwashima Houko -- Her voice is so flexible and expressive, and communicates something I can only call "goodness." As a comparative newcomer to anime, I discovered her as Shuurei in Saiunkoku Monogatari. Most people know her as Rose Tomas in Fullmetal Alchemist, but she was also Kagura in Azumanga Daioh and is amazing as Claire in the current Claymore, playing opposite the next name on the list...
2. Paku Romi -- She blew me away as rocker Nana in NANA. Just watch it. True acting power. Is this the same person who was Loran Cehak in Turn A Gundam? It is certainly the same person who is Teresa in Claymore. And she is most famous for her role as Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. The fact that her ancestry is Korean -- although her family has lived in Japan for a couple of generations -- just makes the package more interesting.
3. Kawasumi Ayako -- There is nothing she can't do. Her most recent role, as Nono in Hitohira, shows how finely she can pitch her performances. But the role that made me fall in love with her was Lafiel in Crest of Stars. Or was it Kurau in Kurau Phantom Memory. Or was it Aoi in Ai yori Aoshi? Or was it...? Lol.
4. Hirano Aya -- She wasn't anything special until Haruhi in Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, and she would never have made this list until her amazing, deeply emotional performance as Layla in NANA. Even now, I am putting her here as much from anticipation as past performance. But her work as Sanae in Sumo mo Momo mo and Mei in Manabi Straight, and her totally unexpected comic excess in Lucky Star, confirm her great ability. And she is only 19. She is not a smooth pro, but she brings something special to each role. And the fact that you can follow events in her life daily in her blog makes her even more interesting.
5. Yahagi Sayuri -- Her liquid, mobile voice was a revelation as soon as I heard it in her debut as Karin in Karin, when she was 19. She then went through a kind of seiyuu internship, playing Gretel in Otogijushi Akazukin, alongside the likes of Tamura Yukari, Sawashiro Miyuki, and Kugimiya Rie, learning the finer points of her trade and moderating her uniquenes. Then she was given a chance to let herself go again and showed just how moe she could go, as Kuu in Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora. And now she has settled in as one of the voices that show up again and again in secondary roles: as a classmate in sola, as the ten-year-old genius engineer in Gigantic Formula. She has the skill to become the next Kawasumi Ayako.
6. Koshimizu Ami -- Tenko in Kamisama Kazoku made me sit up and take notice. And she makes the minor role of Sae in sola so strong that some people hate her, lol. She won a best supporting voice award last year for Karen in Code Geass. Her range is marvellous. Amisuke and Hirano Aya are the next big things. Not coincidentally, they both have great photo blogs.
7. Orikasa Fumiko -- From the moving role of Chise in Saikano to the hilarious one of Miu in Ichigo Mashimaro. Add Rukia in Bleach and Shirley in Code Geass? 'Nuff said.
8. Sasaki Nozomi -- She has only had two roles, but I love her unique voice so much I yearn to hear it again. She debuted as Nana-chan in Bokura ga Ita, and her voice there may have been the most moe I have ever heard. It is even more exciting that she was an office worker in her early twenties who got her break by attending a seiyuu workshop in Kobe and just wowing the director of BgI, who was conducting the workshop. Now she has quit her day job and thrown herself into the maelstrom of seiyuu life. She was almost completely untrained when she made her debut, but she had been an amateur actress and was able to project emotion. Now I eagerly await her appearance as Patty Martin in Lucky Star.
9. Yukana -- I first heard her as the forceful Dominura whom Noto Mamiko gradually softened in Simoun, but a lot of people discovered her as Mashiro in Mai Otome or as the mysterious alien C.C. in Code Geass. She has the most sensual voice of any seiyuu I know, and people say she gives off a lot of pheromones in real life, as well.
10. Takahashi Rieko -- She has done so few roles that it is a little crazy to put here here. In fact, you could say she has done the same role twice: it was called Neviril in Simoun, and Deanna Soriel in Turn A Gundam. But I simply adore the combination of grandeur and humanity she can convey. She is more a stage actress than a seiyuu, but it is so good to have her grace us with her presence from time to time.
There are so many great voice actresses who could be ranked higher than some of the names on my list, but who just don't entrance me like the ten above, at least on this particular day: Toyoguchi Megumi (Honoka in The Third, for example), Tanaka Rie (who was triumphant as Hiro in Hataraki Man), Chiba Saeko (Dokuro-chan, Chika in Ichigo Mashimaro), Nabatame Hitomi (Nobue-oneesan in Ichigo Mashimaro, for example), Kawakami Tomoko (Utena in Revolutionary Girl Utena, Misuzu in AIR), Itou Shizuka (Shouko in Asatte no Houkou, Rei in Maria-sama ga Miteru), Tamura Yukari (I don't get Nanoha, but I loved her as Tomari in Kashimashi), Kobayashi Sanae (Maya in Glass Mask, Eleanor Campbell in Emma), Sawashiro Miyuki (Shinku in Rozen Maiden), Yukino Satsuki (Ai in Planetes), Sakamoto Maaya (Haruhi in Ouran HS Host Club).
Here are some more favorites of mine, but whom I can't rank with those top talents in the industry: Saitou Chiwa (Hazuki in Tsukuyomi Moon Phase), Asano Masumi (Manatsu in Uta~Kata), Noto Mamiko (how about Matsuri in sola?), Takahashi Mikako (Ayu in Honey & Clover), Gotou Yuuko (Nanami in Lamune), Nazuka Kaori (Yun in Simoun), Makino Yui (Misaki in Welcome the the NHK), Mitsuhashi Kanako (Miki in Zettai Shounen). Itou Miki (Sachiko in Maria-sama ga Miteru), Matsuki Miyu (Yoshinoya-sensei in Hidamari Sketch), Matsuoka Yuki (Setsuna in Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora).
Horie Yui is extremely professional and has a lovely voice, but she has never really reached me. As someone who doesn't get tsundere, perhaps I judge Kugimiya Rie unfairly, but her voice just doesn't move me, either.
Thanks to Kurogane and Riuva for giving me the idea to do this post, and to Kaioshin for starting a similar thread on AnimeSuki.