For anyone who doesn’t know what this is about, I tried to run a 2010 Acadime Awards series back in February, but because I’m a huge flake, I failed miserably. However, I didn’t want to let all the contributions I’ve received go to waste, so I’m posting up the categories that already had writer contributions.
From this point on, there aren’t any posts that I’d done work on already, so I’ll just be posting the nominations and the winning write-up for each category. First up, one of my favorites, the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
1. Fujimura Ayumi as Kneesocks (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt)
2. Hanazawa Kana as Gokou Ruri/Kuroneko (Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai)
3. Hanazawa Kana as Naruse Kozue (Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin)
4. Hikasa Youko as Hattori Junko (Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou)
5. Hirohashi Ryou as You Marino/Manticore (Star Driver)
6. Iguchi Yuka as Okazaki Norie (Tamayura)
7. Kobayashi Yuu as Kazumiya Rio (So Ra No Wo To)
8. Saiga Mitsuki as Koibuchi Kuranosuke (Kuragehime)
9. Toyosaki Aki as Soga Keena (Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou)
10. Yuuki Aoi as Korone (Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou)
And now, to present the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Thouhgtcannon!
Korone and Rio are atypical roles for their respective seiyuu. While Kobayashi Yuu has voiced a handful of colorful and less colorful characters, I don’t think we’ve ever heard her play her characters as straight as she has Rio. Likewise, Yuuki Aoi has been known to voice a cute girl on occasion, but she’s never voiced a character as… stimulating as Korone. Despite the relative newness of these character types to Kobayashi and Yuuki’s vocal repertoires, they each manage to give their character a special quality that endears them to audience.
Up until Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, Yuuki Aoi’s most well-known roles were usually young and/or cute characters like Kuhouin Murasaki from Kurenai and Mikogami Riko from Anyamal Tantei Kiruminzoo. In early 2010 she had begun to break out of that mold as Mina Tepes, the strong matriarchal female lead in Dance in the Vampire Bund, and as Kannagi Noel, the quiet, deadpan mechanical genius of Sora no Woto. Korone was another step into the maturation of her seiyuu career. For the first time she was being asked to play a sexy character. She remarked about the difficulties of playing a new sexy character and particularly about the problems with the noise she had to make when her characters tail was pulled. To put this in perspective, Yuuki was in the process of completing High School when she was voicing the raunchy Korone. It is understandable the difficulties she had given her age, but nevertheless she certainly makes her titillating scenes in all the more so.
However it is not just the sexy aspects that make Korone so appealing. Yuuki does a fabulous job portraying Korone’s deadpan humor. Some of her most memorable moments are when she messes with Akuto and the famous “Yaya” (“a little”) she uttered whenever Akuto called her out on her jokes. Her humor she comes off as much less of the emotionless robot she’s technically supposed to be, and much more as a nearly human character. I think Hashihime described Korone’s appeal best when he said:
Korone starts with the mechanical voice of a robot, but even with the first of her outrageously raunchy and/or jesting lines, she seems to slip toward something much more human. And Yuuki brings out a subtle layer of very human longing in the supposed android.
It’s important that Korone’s appeal stems not from her robotic side, like the protypical emotionless Ayanami Rei-type character, but from how Yuuki shows how sympathetic Korone can be to the audience with a touch of humor and touch of almost sadness that she will not be seen as anything but a robot. Yuuki truly has a great ability to get in touch with the inner essence of the characters she plays, and can bring those drives and motivations to the forefront so that the audience can see the characters as multi-dimensional and real.
Kobayashi Yuu has rarely had the opportunity to voice a character as seriously as she does Rio. Oftentimes she ends up voicing loud, comedic characters like Kimura Kaere from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei or Lala Gonzalez from School Rumble—characters that are either restricted to one voice, or wildly vacillate between extreme high or low voices. Rio is down to earth and soothing. There’s nothing exaggerated about her. The realistic nature of her character has considerable weight.
Rio is a character torn between living a somewhat normal life and accepting the reigns of the entire country. Kobayashi brings out this dichotomy brilliantly in Rio’s interactions with her subordinate Kanata. Her tone toward Kanata is that of a concerned older sister, warmly dispensing advice to a bright-eyed sibling. Her protective nature especially comes out in the third episode when Kanata is stricken with a fever. Kobayashi reveals a strange panic to Rio not present before. The rushed, breathless quality that Kobayashi gives Rio’s lines throughout the episode as she desperately searches for help makes it apparent that Rio has dealt with a tragedy from sickness before. Along with that the powerlessness Rio feels while looking over Kanata is a mirror for her feelings regarding her ability to rule properly. It is a credit to Kobayashi that she is able to express how Rio’s distress is extending from multiple sources.
In the final minutes of the episode, Rio explains to Kanata the proper role that a subordinate should have toward their superior. Perfectly accompanied by the sounds of Amazing Grace, she uses the resonant words of her predecessor and asserts the importance of every member of the tank crew. Through this speech Kobayashi portrays Rio’s opinion on the nature of being a ruler as she accepts a little bit of her own role as rightful ruler. In her role as Kanata’s superior she accepts her own ability to lead the people.
As Rio, I believe, is the first time with Kobayashi that I’ve had difficulty separating her from the character she plays. Usually I’ve thought of her characters not as Sa-chan but as Kobayashi Yuu playing Sa-chan. Even with Clain in Fractale, there are times when I’ve seen little bits and pieces of her standard fare coming out in his awkward actions. With Rio though, she dives deep into the character and plays her with a down-to-earth realism unlike any she’s played before. Other seiyuu can manage this feat fairly easily. Miyuki Sawashiro comes to mind for her distinct voice but her ability to vanish into her character. Aoi Yuuki above also has this ability more often than not; but it’s a rarity with Kobayashi Yuu. This is exactly why she’s exemplary as Rio. She brings out a character plagued with her purpose in life and living in the shadow of great figures, whom can also be funny and sisterly and powerful, and she does it all without once going over the top. Truly a subtle and brilliant portrayal.