Saturday, April 04, 2009

K-On -- Who Are Those Great Voices?

I thought the first episode of K-On was brilliantly funny. And, of course, deeply moe. And the voices were wonderful. They were hilarious, with some great timing and expressiveness.

Kyoto Animation seems to have the knack of picking out lesser-known voice actresses who can really do the job for them: Hirano Aya, Gotou Yuuko, and Chihara Minori in 2006 in Suzumiya Haruhi; Katou Emiri, Endou Aya, and Fukuhara Kaori in 2007 in Lucky Star.

In K-On, except for Toyosaki Aki (Yui), the three other main voices are relative unknowns. (Click images to enlarge.)

Satou Satomi 佐藤聡美 (Ritsu) is 22, and works for a major agency, Aoni Pro. But she has had few roles before this, notably characters called Yaya in Labyrinth and Wakana in Shugo Chara. Here is her blog.

She has clearly studied Orikasa Fumiko playing Miu in Ichigo Mashimaro. You could say parts of the performance are derivative, but if you're going to imitate anything, OriFumi's great comic performance is a good thing to choose. Satou-san is so far making the outlandish character work. Maybe making the character outlandish is one reason it does work.

Hikasa Youko 日笠陽子 (Mio) is also with a big agency, I"m Enterprise, and is 23. Her only previous role of any note was a character called Minamo in Shetchbook.

She doesn't have as wild a character to do as Ritsu's, but the naturalness and energy in her voice give life to the quiet character. Her is her blog.

Kotobuki Minako 寿美菜子 (Tsumugi), like Toyosaki Aki (and Tomatsu Haruka and Takagaki Ayahi, as well) is with Sony's Music Ray'n agency. She has done a character called Hijiri in Kyouran Kazoku and not much more. It's understandable that she has done so few roles, however, since she is only 17.

I like the little break that comes into her voice when it rises from passive ojousama to sudden enthusiasm. And there's a dry "oh, good" toward the end of the episode that makes you think she has talent. Her blog.

Toyosaki Aki 豊崎愛生 (Yui) is 22 and has already had some good roles: she burst onto the scene as the irrepressible nude swimmer Amuro in Umisho, and has been Su in Shugo Chara, Yoshino in Minami-ke, and Najimi in Akikan.

She and Kotobuki-san, with Tomatsu and Takagaki -- the four have been developed together over several years as seiyuus and singers by Sony's Music Ray'n -- will release their first single as Sphere on April 22, the OP to Hatsukoi Limited.

I think Toyosaki-san is just excellent in episode one. Her sa ("not sure") when asked what the Light Music Club did, was brilliant. Her performance repeatedly gets your attention. Her blog.

I also think some credit must be due to the sound director, Tsuruoka Yota, who was the sound director of Lucky Star and Suzumiya Haruhi, as well as of such other well-voiced shows as Turn A Gundam, Blue Drop, and Rozen Maiden. Especially with the director being an animator doing her first directorial job, I suspect the sound director had a lot to do with how the lines were delivered.

It's amazing that the voice-acting seems to be working out so well, since they selected the seiyuus in part on the basis of what instruments they could play. The ED is played and sung by the four seiyuus. EDIT: I now realize this isn't true. The seiyuus are just learning their instruments. Maybe they will have learned well enough by the end of the series to perform.

EDIT 2: More characters

Nodoka: Fujitou Chika
Yui's friend Nodoka is played by Fujitou Chika, in her debut role. She is from the seiyuu/talent advanced class at the Avex Artist Academy. She has her own blog. Here is her Japanese Wikipedia page. And here is her ANN page (name currently misspelled).

Ui: Yonezawa Madoka 米澤円
Yui's sister is played by Yonezawa Madoka, who is with the big 81 Produce agency, but has had only three roles over the years since 2006 -- until this year, when she is playing this role, Lashara Aasu XXVIII in Isekai, and Kaho in Gokujō!! Mecha Mote Iinchō. Her agency page says she sings, dances, and paints. ja.Wikipedia. ANN. personal blog.

Sawako-sensei: Sanada Asami 真田アサミ
Sanada Asami is the biggest name among al the seiyuu in this show. She plays Sawa-chan. Her debut role of Di Gi Charat was her biggest, but she has also been Jun in Rozen Maiden, Tamaki in Kurenai, and most recently Kanako in Maria Holic. home page. ANN.

Azusa: Taketatsu Ayana 竹達彩奈
Twenty-year-old Taketatsu Ayana plays twintail Azusa, the freshman who joins the club in episode 8. She has made a name for herself as Ako, one of the sisters in the raunchy incest comedy kissxsis. She also played a baby in Marimite 4. Those are her only two previous roles. But I don't think they will be her last. She's with I"m Entertainment, and lists her interests as karaoke, reading, shopping, and tennis. home page. ANN.


digitalboy said...

Excellent post, I agree that her 'sa' was absolutely brilliant, even watching it raw that moment made me laugh my ass off.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! I also agree, K-ON really brought out a lot of the good and hidden talent in these lesser known seiyuu's, and to be honest I went in thinking that the show was going to be overrated and bomb, but it turned out to be well-paced, cute, and fun.

animekritik said...

wonderfully informative like always. all 4 did an awesome job!

AllNiteRaver said...

appreciation for u for sharing such golden information. i also strongly think that K-On is going to be another sensational show ever. long live the queens! woo hoo!

schneider said...

Great writeup. So they could play, too? Fantastic!

dingmajiao said...

i thought the voicing was great for the first episode.. despite the relatively unknown seiyuus..

and as u mentioned it could be due to the sound director.. his list of shows are all really well-voiced

peanutbutter003 said...

Informative as always.

Though I'm gonna be the lone voice here and mention that none of the voices strike me as unique/interesting/brilliant thus far.

A few more episodes may help me remember them better.

Kaioshin Sama said...

I would not call it funny, more so whimsical, but that's not a bad thing really.

SapphiredEclipse said...

Fantastic post! I just watched the first episode yesterday and look forward to watching the rest of the series.


hashi said...

@peanutbutter003 -- I'm not going to put them in the first rank just yet, lol. But I thought they did a great job of what they were called on to do. And I thought some of Toyosaki Aki's work was particularly hilarious.

@Kaioshin -- To me this is hilarious, not just "whimsical." We clearly have very different senses of humor. What show would you consider really funny?

r said...

Hmm, I thought only Kotobuki Minako knew how to play the piano and Satou Satomi kind of played the guitar. I'm assuming I've missed some things from not listening to Rajion!

So they actually did learn how to play their respective characters instruments in the end? That's ace.

Kaioshin Sama said...

@Hashihime: Recently? I would probably have to say Detroit Metal City, Sora Kake Girl and Gintama, the former of which K-On paid reference to. And considering that most people refer to Krauser's appearance as the funniest moment in the episode it seems like K-On owes a lot to it in it's first outing.

Besides the one flashback joke and Yui's reaction when waking up which I thought was quirky and amusing (it helps that I can relate to it too), I didn't really find too much to laugh at and I certainly wouldn't call it hilarious unless one is to quite the moe antics and reactions of the characters to A-Level comedy.

If it helps I think that it's doing better than the average show with it's comedy though.

hashi said...

@r -- I'm just going on the basis of the end credits, which credit the three of them for singing and playing. I'll check around for more complete info.

@Kaioshin -- Our tastes in humor are just rather different. I watched one ep of DMC and gave up on it. Maybe I should go back and check it out again. I just watched my second ep ever of Gintama and didn't go back for another, although I did admire the general quality. And I watched only one ep of Sorakake, which had very little entertainment value for me. There were some very funny bits at the beginning of ep1, but when it got into the plot, I just lost interest. But that goes for all the Mai- series shows for me, and I think it was done by some of the same people.

r said...

Did you happen to find anything yet? I know you're a pretty busy guy, but I just saw this the other day:

My reading is fairly weak.... Or maybe the sleeves on the singles will tell us something in a few days.


kamagra said...

I think that this anime is so cool, I think that the people is very happy with the anime, I have been getting anime since I was in the school! 22ddd

DrumsQueen said...

Aki and Youko are the best! Their songs are so cool!
Anyway, great post!

DrumsQueen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.