Last year, in our first Top Female Seiyu list, we ranked fifteen female seiyus. This year things are a bit different: the ladies below are listed alphabetically; we decided not to rank them, as there’d inevitably be a couple messy ties here and there, and we’re not getting into the mathematical nitty-gritty required to create ratings for them.
Below is a rundown of everyone we liked and why. There are also five more ladies on the list this year, all of whom appeared in three or fewer shows, but still made strong impressions. Main characters the seiyu voiced are in bold, while our favorite characters the seiyu voiced are starred*.
In the two main roles we caught her in last year, Chinatsu played the restlessly creative comic half of the double act in Kill Me Baby, and a reformed dork in Chu2Koi. This year she plays another manic comic weirdo in Maki Natsuo, and plays it well coming up with ridiculous scheme after another in an effort to understand love better, though like her Chu2Koi character, she initially hides behind a veneer of normalcy/perfection.
We first noticed Kana as voice of the patient, peppy, hardworking Popura in Working!!, but she makes our 2013 list thanks to her role as an unmotivated hikikomori trying to ignore the fact she’s the vessel for Amaterasu. Both Sasami and Chihiro got pretty emotional at times, and Kana was able to connect us with both Sasami and Chihiro as they struggled with their various issues.
Coppelion (Fukasaku Aoi)
Kotoura-san (Mifune, Yuriko)
Nagi no Asukara (Mukaido Manaka)
Oreimo 2 (Gokou Ruri*)
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Yagami Kagami)
Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen (Shiomiya Shiori/Minerva)
Monogatari Series: Second Season (Sengoku Nadeko)
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S (Haruue Erii)
One of our favorite seiyus due to her very earnest, distinctive, almost otherworldly voice, “Hana-Kana”s 2013 was mixed. While she stole, broke, and re-stole our hearts in Oreimo 2, did a decent job with Yuriko-senpai, and really got our attention when Nadeko finally snapped (seriously, that rant was outstanding), her roles as Aoi, Manaka, and Erii often cross the line from charming to cloying/annoying. On the other hand, the uber-shy Shiori worked for us, so go figure.
Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen (Haqua)
Oregairu (Yukinoshita Yukino)
RDG: Red Data Girl (Suzuhara Izumiko*)
Kimi no Iru Machi (Kanzaki Nanami)
Love Lab (Tanahashi Hiroka)
Monogatari Series: Second Season (Ononoki Yotsugi)
Oreimo 2 (Fujisaki Ayaka)
When we listen to them side-by-side, Saori and Hana-Kana’s voices aren’t that different; Saori’s is a little more down-to-earth, less ethereal and typically a bit deeper. She was busy this year playing strong, matter-of-fact characters like Haqua, Yukino, and Ononoki and Ayaka. But our favorite role of hers this year was her turn as Red Data Girl Izumiko.
Aku no Hana (Saeki Nanako*)
Danganronpa (Kirigiri Kyouko)
Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince (Kugimiya Kei)
Hataraku Maou-sama! (Yusa Emi)
Toaru Majutsu no Index: Endymion no Kiseki (Sequenzia Shutaura)
Tamako Market (Kitashirakawa Hinako, Uotani Mari)
Another voice we’ve only recently discovered, Yoko brought a great strength, independence, and assertiveness to some characters (Kirigiri, early Kei, Emi), but was also capable of great grace and delicacy in her role as Kasuga’s angelic muse, Saeki. We’ll definitely be looking for future shows where she contributes her voice.
Unlike Yoko, we’ve known about Yui for a relatively long time, starting with her goofy, frisky yet surprisingly textured performance as Kushieda in Toradora!, one of our favorite rom-coms. She’s back at it in Golden Time—as of now another of our favorite rom-coms—in another awesome and textured performance as Kaga Kouko. She’s been able to make us not only empathize but relate to a clingy character with stalkerish tendencies.
We cannot overstate how much ass Mariya kicked in Aku no Hana as Kasuga’s unbalanced molester/tormentor/anti-muse. Her work in that show was a revelation; so much so that chills ran down our spines when we heard her voice in Oreimo 2, even though we’d heard her as Sena before we ever heard her as Sawa. A lasting impression, to be sure.
Our first encounter with Hisako was when she voiced Squid Girl, a game but lightweight comedy series that accentuated her very high-pitched, cutesy voice. Last year as Yui in Kokoro Connect and this year with Kotoura-san, she got some dramatic meat to chew on, and she doesn’t disappoint. Kotoura-san hinged entirely on whether you cared about Kotoura, and we definitely did right from the start.
We know Emiri best as the voice of that catlike-thing in Puella Magi Madoka Magicka, and give credit where credit is due: she made that little guy thoroughly despicable with its calmly-delivered, cruelly matter-of-fact monologues. We include her on this list not because she’s a main character in a series we dropped (in which she was fine), but for her moving performance at the end of Onimonogatari arc, a fitting sendoff for the Snail Girl.
Golden Time (Hayashida Nana/Linda*)
Nagi no Asukara (Hiradaira Chisaki)
OreShura (Fuyuumi Ai)
Servant x Service (Yamagami Lucy (…))
Stella Jogakuin Kotou-ka C3-bu (Hatsuse Karila)
Tamayura: More Aggressive (Mitani Kanae)
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Sakurai Aina, Pino)
Suisei no Gargantia (Saaya)
Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta (V Lila F)
While down from her thirteen roles last year, nine is nothing to sniff at, and Ai-chan retains her position as busiest seiyu in the business, at least among the shows we’ve watched. She also leads the field with no fewer than six leading roles. She tends to stick with the same voice for most of them, but uses a very different, much tougher tomboy voice for Karila in C3-bu, and kicks up the frazzle with Lucy, our second favorite role of hers this year. Our favorite role of hers by far this year has been Linda from Golden Time, who as a result of indecision, horrible timing and circumstance, finds her self in one of the most unenviable yet engrossing love triangles in recent animemory.
Perhaps it’s because we first noticed her voice as Holo in Spice & Wolf, but Ami has a knack for channeling a comforting confidence and wisdom beyond her years—as if she’s done this before in a previous life—which she also achieves when voicing the sage badass Maou. Her other three characters listed above are also confident badasses. Ami’s killing it as Ryuuko in Kill la Kill, though in that case Ryuuko is in the dark about a great many things, and she longs to know the truth.
Chihayafuru 2 (Wakamiya Shinobu*)
To date, the eccentric karuta goddess-queen Shinobu is the one and only role Nakamichi-san is listed as voicing, and it was a good one. A great blend of aloofness, cockiness, and, later on, vulnerability. The Yin to Chihaya’s Yang; the water to her fire.
The only main role we saw the veteran Kaori (voice of Eureka) in was as the unnamed heroine in a show that never really wowed us, but that wasn’t her fault. Having not seen the Tenri-han OVA, we were pleasantly surprised to hear her voicing Diana in Megami-hen, and have greatly enjoyed her semi-main role of Akari, for which her calm, smooth, gentle, motherly voice is most appropriate
Another new voice, for us, Manami stood out in all three of her roles this year. Jou was appropriately haughty foil-turned-friend of Sasami’s, Riko was a worthy straight man for Chinatsu’s Maki, and Takao was one of the most consistently human of the cel-shaded AI battleship girls.
Monogatari Series: Second Season (Oshino Shinobu*)
Maaya’s another veteran seiyu who has distinguished herself with only one role we watched this year: that of the centuries-old vampire stuck in a child’s body, who didn’t even speak in Bakemonogatari. We’re not experts on dialects, but lilting manner of speech sounds old-fashioned yet regal, a perfect fit considering Shinobu’s age. Her soliloquy in Onimonogatari, paired with the gorgeous visuals, was a highlight of the season.
Stella Jogakuin Kotou-ka C3-bu (Kashima Sonora)
Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta (Isone Kotoha)
Danganronpa (Fukawa Touko*)
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Onna Kishi)
Monogatari Series: Second Season (Kanbaru Suruga)
Like Hana-Kawa and Ai-chan, Miyuki’s warm, slightly mischievous voice seems to show up in pretty much every other series we watch, for which we’re thankful. She rarely changes up her style—Sonora, Kotoha, Suruga, and Kishi sound pretty much the same—but that’s never bothered us. If we had to choose a favorite among her 2013 roles, it would probably be her turn as Fukawa Touko, since she actually has two voices: one the extremely shy, nervous, and paranoid Touko, and her gloriously-insane (and irreverent) Genocider Syo alter-ego.
Chihayafuru 2 (Ayase Chihaya*)
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Sashinami Shouko)
Stella Jogakuin Kotou-ka C3-bu (Haruna Rin)
Strike the Blood (Aiba Asagi)
Toaru Majutsu no Index: Endymion no Kiseki (Marie Spearhead)
Asami broke onto the scene with Chihayafuru, and in the sequel she proves just as good at playing the lovely, passionate, tomboyish, romantically-dense, fiercely-competitive narcoleptic we’ve come to know and love. She changes gears in C3-bu with the far sterner, fun-hating Haruna Rin (though that character eventually softens a bit), while the increasingly enormous weight of responsibility that rests on young Madame Prime Minister Sashinami’s slender shoulders comes through loud and clear in her voice.
We’d assumed by her short resume that Suzaki was quite young, but she’s actually older than Hana-Kawa. No matter: her youthful, energetic voice brings both Tamako and Mako to vibrant life, as those long-surnamed characters practically leap out of the screen thanks to her enthusiastic performances. When Mako turns aloof and evil for an episode, Suzaki makes the necessary adjustments to her voice, elevating Mako from mere comic relief to dimensional anti-heroine. Her emotional support later on is crucial to Ryuuko’s success.
Naruse Ibara (Coppelion)
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Rukino Saki)
Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen (Lune)
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Maid Ane)
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S (Wannai Kinuho)
Samurai Flamenco (Maya Mari*)
Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta (Kishi Touka)
Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke (Sannomiya Shiho)
While it may look like Haruka-chan had a light 2013 with only two main roles (one of which in a series we dropped), those bolded roles can be deceptive (as they are for many Monogatari characters). Maya Mari is a starring role in everything but name, despite what King Torture might think, while even Maoyu’s Maid Ane has one episode in which she is the main character, and Haruka delivers one of her more moving monologues. Meanwhile, Haruka continues to bring a nice edge to idol-turned-holy spirit pilot Rukino Saki, who has unfortunately not gotten a load of screen time in the second season.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (Sasaki Chiho)
Oregairu (Yuigahama Yui*)
Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke (Yuugiri)
Arpeggio of Blue Steel (Hozumi Shizuka)
Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince (Yamada Peko)
Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen (Nakagawa Kanon/Apollo)
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Maid Imouto)
OreShura (Natsukawa Mana)
Tamayura: More Aggressive (Tomo)
Last but not least we have Nao-chan, who appeared in an impressive nine shows we watched this year, many of them as small, nauseatingly cute characters she paired with a high-pitched voice that can border on shrill and syrupy. The roles that did interest us were the two at the top of the list: Sasaki Chiho and Yuigahama Yui. They may both be cute high schoolers, but both are in the process of maturing into adults in control of their lives and feelings. As such, Nao tones down the sugar for their voices – a welcome adjustment.