Seiyu is the Japanese term for voice actors, but this word used to have a dismissive connotation since the older generation of voice actors resent the idea that they are categorized differently and are deemed less capable than onscreen actors. Such thoughts have changed thanks to the anime boom.The usage of seiyu became widespread and now, they are held in high regard as more and more people aspire to take this career path.
Japan is home to the most talented seiyus. Since 2007, the country has been holding The Seiyu Awards, a ceremony that recognizes the most outstanding voice acting performances of the year. This 2017, the recipient of the Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 11th Seiyu Awards is none other than Ryunosuke Kamiki, the talented actor behind Taki Tachibana in Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name).
Many viewers outside Japan became more familiar with him after he played Soujiro Seta in the famous Rurouni Kenshin live-action films but some may not be aware that he’s an accomplished voice actor as well. He’s been in the industry even before he hit puberty so it might not be easy to recognize his voice in his previous works. Aside from the worldwide hit Your Name, here's a list of Kamiki’s voice acting performances and it's an impressive record of critically acclaimed and financially successful Japanese animated films.
1. Boh- Spirited Away
Not everyone gets the chance to immortalize their cute childhood voice but the then seven-year-old Kamiki did when he played Yubaba’s giant baby Boh in the legendary Studio Ghibli movie Spirited Away, no less. This Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece, which centers on Chihiro’s adventures on the other side of a mysterious tunnel, broke box-office records and stayed as the highest-grossing Japanese anime film of all time before Your Name came out and toppled it from the top spot. A consistent hit among critics and viewers, Spirited Away received numerous awards and recognition, most notably the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003. It is still ranked among the greatest animated films to this day.
2. Markl- Howl’s Moving Castle
They say good things come in threes. Indeed, Kamiki is also a part of the cast for the third highest-grossing Japanese anime film of all time. He was around 10 or 11 years old when he voiced Markl, the young apprentice in another Studio Ghibli movie, Howl’s Moving Castle. This magical story of love and self-worth features the dutiful hat-maker Sophie and charming but enigmatic wizard Howl in their quest to break free from the curse that’s been cast upon them and their friends. The movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2004. It won Animation of the Year at the Tokyo International Fair and was nominated for the Best Animated Feature at the 78th Academy Awards.
3. Amamiya Shuhei- Piano Forest
Ryunosuke Kamiki is Amamiya Shuhei, the son of a renowned pianist who transfers to Moriwaki elementary school where he meets Kai, a poor boy from the red light district who is capable of producing glorious music from an old broken piano in the middle of the forest. Shuhei continues to improve his technique while encouraging Kai to hone his raw talent but friendship turns into rivalry as they go up against each other at a classical concours.
Piano Forest is based on the award-winning manga Piano no Mori: The Perfect World of Kai by Makoto Isshiki and produced by Madhouse INC., the company that brought us well-known anime shows including Death Note, Wolf Children, and the first season of One Punch Man. Featuring the performances of renowned Russian pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, the film premiered at rank 9 in the Top 10 of the Japanese box-office and was nominated for Animation of the Year at the 2008 Japan Academy Prize.
4. Kenji Koiso - Summer Wars
After Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, screenwriter Satoku Okudera and director Mamoru Hosoda collaborate once again for this science fiction slice of life animated film called Summer Wars.
Kamiki is the voice behind its Math genius high school protagonist Kenji Koiso. He gets invited by his senior, Shinohara Natsuki, for a part-time job at her grandma’s 90th birthday party. While pretending to be Natsuki’s fiance in front of her entire clan, Kenji cracks a numeric code that turns him into a criminal hacker overnight. Kenji must clear his name and together with Natsuki’s family members, they fight online to save the world from a dangerous artificial intelligence program that brings chaos and real-life doom.
The movie had a strong domestic box-office premiere and won Animation of the Year at the 2010 Japan Academy Prize. It also attracted international attention which includes the Best Animated Feature at the Anaheim International Film Festival's Audience Award and a nomination for the 2009 Golden Leopard Award at the prestigious Locarno Festival.
5. Sho - The Borrower Arrietty
Based on Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, Hayao Miyazaki co-writes the screenplay with Keiko Niwa for this Ghibli-produced movie that marks the directorial debut of Hiromasu Yonebashi.
Kamiki plays Sho, the kind but frail boy in this heartwarming tale of friendship between a diminutive teenage “borrower” and a gentle "human bean". Also known as The Secret World of Arrietty in North America, the film received critical acclaim and is currently at rank 8 of the 10 highest-grossing Japanese anime films of all time. It won Animation of the Year at 34th Japan Academy Prize and the 10th Tokyo Anime Awards.
Ryunosuke Kamiki also voiced a character in Kirikou and the Sorceress, Doraemon: Nobita’s Dinosaur, The Princess and the Pilot, and another Hayao Miyazaki movie The Day I Bought A Star. This year, he reunites with Arrietty director Hiromasa Yonebasha for a new anime film produced by Studio Ponoc. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is based on the 1971 children’s novel, The Little Broomstick, by British novelist Mary Stewart. It features the voice of Hana Sugisaki as Mary and Ryunosuke Kamiki as Peter. The film garnered positive reviews, premiered in second place at Japan’s box-office, and is scheduled for a theatrical release in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and North America.