Japan’s anime voice actresses are more popular than ever, but does that style of speaking have the same appeal in actual conversation?
One of the things that makes anime so popular is how heavily stylized the medium is. Many of the most characteristic elements of anime’s visual design, such as unusual hair colors and oversized eyes, would look strange or even disturbing in real life, yet within the realm of animation, they somehow work.
But what about how Japanese animation sounds, specifically its characters’ voices? Would all of that energetic, crisply enunciated dialogue be just as appealing to listen to if it was coming out of an actual person, as opposed to someone who only exists in an anime? To investigate, youth Internet portal My Navi Gakusei no Madoguchi asked 200 male college students if they like it when real-life women speak in anime-style voices.
When the replies were tallied, 36.2 percent of respondents said that they liked women speaking in anime voices just fine. “It’s cute” was one of the most common reasons given by the pro-anime voice camp, with many others explaining that since they like anime, they also like to hear similar voices emanating from actual women.
However, that left 63.8 percent of the survey participants casting their votes against women speaking in anime voices. Some simply didn’t like the sound itself, calling anime voices shrill, too hyper, and just plain annoying. “They don’t work well with a real person,” offered one detractor, and several others expanded on that by calling anime voices unnatural or fake-sounding in a real-world setting. “It’s creepy, because it makes me feel like she’s not living in the real world,” said one of the harsher respondents.
But just like some people enjoy escapist entertainment, so too were there survey participants who don’t mind some escapism in a woman’s voice. In stating why he liked women who speak in anime-style voices, one survey participant said “You don’t get many chances to hear that kind of voice live and unrecorded,” proving that one man’s aural pain is another’s pleasure.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he still regrets not getting voice actress Megumi Hayashibara’s autograph when he had the chance.