Gone are the days where young male characters or “shota” are voiced by female seiyuu.
As the new otokonoko wave is sweeping across the anime (and other) industries, not only are the male seiyuus claiming back shota roles, some have also proven themselves capable of cuteness that redefines moe. Do you think they are up for it?
Otokonoko (男の娘) is a play of words on the word for “boy” – otokonoko (男の子), and it is loosely defined as a male who appears and acts undeniably feminine, or as more commonly known, “trap” characters. In the male seiyuu industry, “trap” voices are becoming more common.
While female seiyuus voicing male characters are commonplace, having a male seiyuu voice a female character may not be such a pipe dream anymore. And we are not talking about that time when Takahiro Sakurai voiced the grandma Uki in And Yet the Town Moves (それでも町は廻っている), or when Toshiyuki Morikawa voiced Panda Mama in Polar Bear Cafe, but a legitimately “off-the-squeak-meter” type of female character.
Share in our dream as we showcase some of the rising men at the forefront of redefining moe!
1. Tsubasa Yonaga
Yonaga, or “Wing” as he is known by fans, is truly one of the first male seiyuu known for causing gender confusion based on his voice. Having debuted as Ren Mihashi in baseball anime Ookiku Furikabutte in 2007, we were among the many fans who were truly confused if Mihashi was voiced by a man or woman. His ambiguous voice gave rise to the term “Seibetsu: Yonaga” (Gender: Yonaga), an inside joke within the industry and fandom which had arisen as people are unable to classify his voice as male or female. With this ambiguity, they are left with little choice but to classify his voice within a category by itself.
Even with his baseline mid to high tone voice, Wing is capable of turning up the moe meter so high that he sound little different from female seiyuu at their best. Don’t believe us? Check out this voice compilation.
Yonaga Tsubasa uses Cute Voice!/性別：代永翼
*[0.00 – 1.08] Features Yonaga as a guest on the radio show “Yume Radio . Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa NIGHT” where he was asked by the female seiyuu hosts to showcase his cute voice. The true challenge here is actually telling him apart from the guests, as much as the ladies also try to up their cute factor, they were truly impressed and claimed him to be “the real thing”. If you needed any help picking him out, his voice can be heard at 0.30-0.36, 0.44-0.50 and 1.00-1.03.
*[1.09-2.10] On the radio show “Kira Kira BEAT” hosted by Tsubasa Yonaga, Ryohei Kimura and Takuya Eguchi as part of music company Kiramune, he uses his cute voice at 1:16-1:24 and 1:44-1:54 during the introduction, met promptly by the cheers and squeals of many fans.
In more recent works, he is better known for his role in swimming boys anime Free!, where he plays the carefree, cherubic Nagisa Hazuki, also the male equivalent of the moe girl character of all your favourite Kyoto Animation works. He also lends his voice to Aichi Sendou (Cardfight!! Vanguard) as well as Izumi Sena (LOVE STAGE!!)
TVアニメ『Free!』PV第2弾 －葉月 渚 ver.－
2. Ayumu Murase
Surely not a stranger to most, Murase is probably most well known for his role as Shouyou Hinata in Haikyuu!!, where he plays the rambunctious volleyball-loving teen with small stature and big dreams. With his major anime debut as Shun Aonuma in Shinsekai Yori, he has also recently won one of the Best Newcomer awards at this year’s Seiyuu Awards. While his repertoire of characters mainly includes younger to teenage boys, the Haikyuu!! cast often jokes about how he is asked to voice background female crowd characters in episodes of Haikyuu!! when there are too few female seiyuus present. The next time you watch Haikyuu!!, don’t forget to peel your ears for a special female voice in the background!
On episodes of the Haikyuu!! radio, Daisuke Namikawa (voices Tooru Oikawa) has admitted to mistaking Murase for a lady at early recordings for the anime series. In other episodes, Murase sometimes showcases his cute female voice. Check out the video below between 0.23-1.00, where he tries to read an fan email submitted to the radio in a cute voice before giving up midway, much to the amusement of fellow radio host Kaito Ishikawa (voices Tobio Kageyama) and guest Kouki Uchiyama (voices Kei Tsukishima).
Anime voices aside, he has also appeared in mobile 2D idol game Aichuu (アイ☆チュウ) as the main vocal Kokoro Hanabusa in their 3-member Otoko-no-“ko” group POP’N STAR. Check out the official in-game song below. Listening is believing!
POP’N STAR『Joker Dream』
Catch more of Murase this season in the much awaited return of D.Gray-man HALLOW as leading character Allen Walker.
3. Yamamoto Kazutomi
With his vocal range, Yamamoto often plays younger boys, in a fashion remarkably reminiscent of the younger male characters voiced by female seiyuus. His first major anime role was Yuudai Chiba in Mitsudomoe, and in the subsequent season, even lent his voice to his character’s mother, Kazumi Chiba, officially taking on a female role. While this casting may just be an extension of his original character, there is no doubt that Yamamoto’s voice certainly is capable of voicing mature female characters. He has also shed light on how his androgynous voice and looks have led to some real life ambiguity. Once, in a Mitsudomoe video special, he dressed up as a cute Santa girl, leading many viewers to proclaim “Otoko-no-“ko”!”. Life is tough when you are this cute as a girl.
More recently, he has voiced the lead Yumoto Hakone in gag magical boys anime Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, as well as star as Kio Asuno in Mobile Suit Gundam AGE.
Under his own name, he has also released multiple cd singles, having sung the theme songs of anime series including LOVE STAGE!! and Triage X.
ソレーユ・モア / 山本和臣
He is also part of the Aichuu’s Otoko-no-”ko” group POP’N STAR, where he voices and sings as Momosuke Oikawa. Check out POP’N STAR’s first single release trailer to catch both him and Murase at their cutesy best.
7.20発売Single『アイ★チュウ creation 02.POP’N STAR』トレイラー映像
Of course, no list would be complete without the one and only Akira Ishida. While his voice acting prowess is well known, the world needs to know about the legendary video in which he voices a complete family drama by himself, taking on all 7 character roles, including all the female characters of a sister, mother and grandmother. We kid you not, they are all voiced by a single man.
While he is known for his famous role as Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass, Fukuyama was more often casted for his mid-range to higher tone voice. Having voiced a great variety of roles in his illustrious career, he has proven nothing is beyond him with the shocking role of transsexual maid Mariandale in gag anime IXION SAGA DT. Catch the first 20 seconds of the video below to check out Mariandale singing in both male and female voices.
どっちつかずの～バツイチ by DT & ED 陣営
While we have been talking about voice traps, Shouta Aoi comes close as an actual seiyuu trap. Having started his career first as a singer under the name SHOWTA and later as a seiyuu following his rocket to fame as android pretty-boy Ai Mikaze in Uta no Prince-Sama, Shouta astounds with his high tone singing voice on top of his androgynous features. Check out his live singing in the video below.
【NAOMIの部屋】 蒼井翔太 絶世スターゲイト
Shouta also appears as Otoko-no-“ko” idol character Renren in this season’s Hatsukoi Monster, for which he sings both the opening theme song (as himself) and the ending theme song (as Renren).
With this rounding up our male seiyuu “trap” voice feature, we hope this has left you at least a little more confused and hopeful that the seiyuu industry will never stop astounding us with more pleasant surprises!