In my opinion, voice acting in anime is something that’s taken too lightly by a lot of anime fans. On one end of the spectrum, we have the extreme elitists, who claim to only care about story, animation, character development and other “highly relevant” aspects of an anime. The other end seems to care more about voice acting – but from what I’ve seen, their focus is mostly about the actors/actresses themselves and their voice quality and not their acting skills. So here I am to try and give the voice acting scene its rightful due.
Anime is all about voice. And by voice, I mean the overall feel of the anime and how much one can enjoy it – how well the anime “speaks” to you. Voice can come from a lot of things – including direction, animation style, content and voice acting, as long as those things contribute to the feel and entertainment value of the show.
Without a doubt, voice acting contributes A LOT to one’s enjoyment of a show, whether you want to admit it or not. How the voice actor/actress manages to get into his/her character in a show is particularly important. To give a very recent example, Nyarlko: Another Creeping Chaos wouldn’t be half as good as it is now if the one voicing Nyarlko (Kana Asumi) did a sloppy job. Anyone can see that Miss Asumi is enjoying her role as Nyarlko, and she’s really getting into her wacky character.
Other examples of great voice acting in anime include (big spoilers ahoy!) Okarin from Steins;Gate, JACK from Nichibros, Lelouch from Code Geass, Chiyo-chichi from Azumanga Daioh, and Homura from Madoka Magica. I praise these characters not because I’m partial to the people voicing them. The effort and dedication that these voice actors/actresses put into their characters is no less than amazing.
Anime needs good voice acting, no exceptions. Anime in general doesn’t really have the animation prowess of those American or French cartoons, except maybe KyoAni, ufotable, PA Works or Madhouse. As such, they have to make up with this handicap with other things, like interesting plots, good direction, cute drawings and high quality voice acting.
So voice acting really shouldn’t be looked down upon. It’s every bit as important as story, direction and animation. If anything, I think I enjoy voice acting in anime the most out of every other element the medium has.