Fans across Japan voted in the Anime Grand Prix 2019 to vindicate their very favorite voice actors. Let’s see who they picked!

Voice acting is serious business in Japan – literally. With numerous studios dedicated specifically to procuring top-of-the-line voice talent, an especially talented and ubiquitous voice actor can look forward to a luxurious salary and even getting to meet fans on the train. Much of the news about anime voice performers skews towards voice actresses from series which are primarily marketed to guys, though, so which voice actors’ dulcet tones get Japan’s sizable female fan demographic worked up?

Prepare yourself! These are the ten greatest current voice actors, as judged in the Anime Grand Prix 2019 by the readers of anime magazine Animage.

10. Hiroshi Kamiya

Hiroshi Kamiya’s deep, soulful voice has been emanating from our screens since the early ’90s, with bit parts in the Chibi Maruko-chan anime and Captain Tsubasa. Now since become a full-fledged star in his own right, with leading roles in such smash hits as Sayonara Zetsubo-sensei, Natsume’s Book of Friends (see above) and Mr. Osomatsu. Nowadays his go-to role is probably Attack on Titan‘s surly senior character Levi, who continues to generate Titan-sized piles of merch to this day.

9. Takahiro Sakurai

Speaking of Mr. Osomatsu, a show with six main characters, one of the titular Osomatsus is voiced by the soothing bishonen mid-tones of Takahiro Sakurai. Known for his range, he’s played it shrill as Code Geass‘ Suzaku, kept it chill as Shirokuma from Shirokuma’s Cafe and paid the bills as Reigen Arataka from Mob Psycho 100. He’s also the official voice actor for video game legend Cloud Strife! This man definitely seems to have cornered the market in sexy fictional men, and not only Japanese ones – he’s the official dub voice for Twilight‘s Edward Cullen.

8. Mamoru Miyano

A classic! It’s likely you’ll have heard this man’s deliciously over-the-top vocal stylings as Death Note protagonist Light Yagami in the original anime. If you need a guy with a voice that swoops like a roller-coaster, snarls like a pit-bull and occasionally bursts into song, Miyano should be your first stop. And while his line-up includes blockbuster franchises like Free!, Kingdom Hearts, Ouran High School Host Club and Pokémon, he also steals the show in more niche hits like Gatchaman Crowds, Tokyo Ghoul, Ni no Kuni (pictured) and Persona 5.

7. Yuma Uchida

The younger brother of established voice actress Maaya Uchida, Yuma Uchida has built up a respectable repertoire since his debut in 2013. He plays a range of wildly different pretty idol boys, from Eiji Ohtori in Uta no Prince-sama to Jun Sazanami in Ensemble Stars, and he’s even snagged a couple of leading roles too: most famously Ash Lynx from BL drama Banana Fish.

6. Yuki Kaji

Yuki Kaji made news recently for getting married to fellow voice actor Ayana Taketatsu. Particularly notable about these two getting wed is that they’re possibly the only high-profile celebrity couple who have both voiced the same anime character.

▼ That character is Pop Team Epic‘s Pipimi, drawn marrying herself by original creater Bkub Okawa

But Kaji himself is quite the catch! His range can cover everything from the squalling teenage angst of Attack on Titan‘s Eren Yeager to the peeping adorable mews of Bananya. He’s stealing a whole new generation of hearts as icy-hot teen superhero Todoroki in My Hero Academia, and his voice is so soft and sensual it was selected to give women compliments from an AI-enhanced mirror.

5. Chiharu Sawashiro

Chiharu is the younger brother of famous husky-voiced HUNTER X HUNTER voice actor Miyuki Sawashiro (who ranked number 12 in this very poll). Still a budding voice actor in his own right, he has a number of high-profile roles in idol series like Show by Rock!, Love Rice, A3 and TsukiPro. He also keeps up an active Twitter presence with over 87,000 followers!

4. Yukihiro Nozuyama

I admit, I’d been coasting by on this list feeling fairly comforted in my knowledge of all the names. Any otaku of my generation recognizes Mamoru Miyano and Yuki Kaji! But who is Yukihiro Nozuyama…? According to most websites he only had a scattering of tiny animation roles. So how…?

Well, the answer is that Yukihiro Nozuyama plays Dice Arisugawa, one of the most popular characters in the explosively popular multimedia franchise Hypnosis Mic: Division Rap Battle. His voice is best used in the series’ frenetic rap battles, where his gently nasal voice and quick wordplay shine to great effect.

And here’s the top three!

3. Shintaro Asanuki

Another Hypnosis Mic voice actor, albeit with a more illustrated career. Asanuki has lent his voice to numerous idol properties including mobile game Ensemble Stars and frequently turns up in fangirl favorites like Black Butler and Tokyo Ghoul. His gravelly, intense vocals as Hypnosis Mic‘s Samatoki are a world away from his guarded, softer voice as Ensemble Stars‘ Leo Tsukinaga, so it’s no wonder he managed to win so many hearts across Japan. He also plays Xenoblade lead Shulk!

2. Yusuke Shirai

Shirai has performed as everybody from world-saving magical boy Sulfur Gaia to the self-styled “leader” of the main unit in IDOLiSH7. Flitting with ease from collected cool characters to hyped-up kids, it’s no shock he won over even more hearts with his role as the mysterious ingenue Ramuda Amemura, again from Hypnosis Mic. This voice actor has an especially endearing love of cola that his thousands of social media followers are only too happy to encourage!

And now, it’s time…

Who is the number one voice actor of this year? Cream of the crop? Top of the tops?

1. Soma Saito

“Is he also from Hypnosis Mic?” Yes! He plays Gentaro, the mischievous Phantom of the series’ Fling Posse.

Saito is also present in idol fan favorite Ensemble Stars as both twin members of the game’s punnily named 2wink unit, and the spunky martial artist Feather from Granblue Fantasy. Despite only making his voice actor debut in 2011, his credit roles are stuffed with high credit names: Haikyuu!!, Touken Ranbu, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. As you might tell from the adorable embedded video, he even plays one of the vaunted Sanrio Boys: Yu Mizuno, a die-hard My Melody fan.

With all these varied characters under his belt and a flair for cute gestures in the real world, Soma Saito was the indisputed king of this year’s Anime Grand Prix! Congratulations!

Still thirsty for more anime voices? We don’t blame you. Marvel at the capacity of a single human voicebox as we match wildly different characters to the same voice actor, and take some time out to show some respect to the seniors in the industry: we’d never have made it to an Anime Grand Prix 2019 without them!

Source: Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
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