Yuuki Aoi has won the top lead female seiyuu award for 2011. The results have just been announced on radio in Japan.
In 2011, Ao-chan went from strength to strength, with numerous big roles starting with Madoka in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika, Iris in Pokemon BW, and Victorique in Gosick, and going through Tooru in A-Channel, Alice in Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth, Giselle in Last Exile Fam the Silver Wing, and Hana in Ben-Tou.
This win doesn't surprise me at all. In fact, I've been expecting her to win a Seiyuu Award since I first heard her as Ichigo in Yumeiro Pâtissière in 2009. Among other seiyuus, Ao-chan is regarded as a prodigy, because she makes sounds that no-one else can, and her voice has a peculiar bounce and strength. On radio, other seiyuus have referred to the young (19) Ao-chan as "Ao-sama" and a "seiyuu genius" (tensai seiyuu).
She began her career in entertainment as a child actress on TV, so she has some acting background. But her vocal ability is her main strength, along with her talent for crazy comedy. And here she is among the top performers in the seiyuu profession, along with former winners Paku Romi, Sawashiro Miyuki (Ao-chan's idol), Kugimiya Rie, Toyosaki Aki, and Hirano Aya.
In fact, this year three of my favorite seiyuus won awards: Ao-chan, Katou Emiri, and Kayano Ai. And you can add Miyano Mamoru, who has to be one of everyone's favorites. Here's the list:
lead female -- Yuuki Aoi (top role: Madoka in Madoka Magica, agency: Pro-Fit)
lead male -- Hirata Hiroaki (Tiger in Tiger & Bunny, Theatre Subaru)
supporting female -- Katou Emiri (Kyuubei in MadoMagi, 81 Produce)
supporting male -- Kimura Ryouhei (Shouma in Mawaru Penguin Drum, Theatre Himawari)
supporting male -- Miyano Mamoru (Okabe in Steins;Gate, Theatre Himawari)
new female -- Kayano Ai (Menma in AnoHana, Pro-Fit)
new female -- Mikami Shiori (Akari in YuruYuri, Aoni Pro)
new male -- Eguchi Takuya (Kujou in Gosick, 81 Produce)
new male -- Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (Narumi in Kami-sama no Memo-chou, I"m Enterprise)
The song award went to ST☆RISH, the all-male seiyuu group that did the somgs for Uta no Prince-sama: Terashima Takuya, Suzumura Kenichi, Taniyama Kishou, Miyano Mamoru, Suwabe Junichi, and Shimono Hiro.
The public personality award went to Iguchi Yuka (best known as Index). And there was a special award in memory of Kawakami Tomoko (Utena), who passed away in 2011 at the age of 41.
Kamiya Hiroshi (Araragi in Bakemonogatari, Zetsubou-sensei, etc.) won a special award for receiving the highest number of votes from the public in all categories.
The overseas choice award, voted on exclusively by people outside Japan, went to Sakurai Takahiro (one of my favorites, too).
Both Ao-chan and Kayano Ai are represented by comparatively new agency Pro-Fit, which clearly did itself a lot of good this year. Theatrical agency Theatre Himawari also was a big winner.
The announcements were made on the A&G+ radio show, but the awards "party" will take place Saturday at 5:30 pm Tokyo time (3:30 am New York time).