You can have “that Will Smith movie,” but can you have “that Yui Horie anime”?

November 6, 2006 at 9:14 am (Anime, Movies, Theory)

I could not quite come up with an appropriate title for this post. This is a post about viewing foreign language film, viewing animated film, and identifying actors, directors, and other creative influences behind those works.

By identification I almost mean recognition, but not quite. If you watch a movie starring Harrison Ford or Will Smith, you might refer to it as a “Harrison Ford,” or “Will Smith” movie. This is true for a lot of Hollywood Stars. Their names alone will sell movies, and people will tend to identify them as the major sort of creative feature of the movie. That’s why it’s a “Will Smith movie,” not a “movie with Will Smith in it,” even if he’s just an actor, not a writer or director or whatever.

I was thinking though that this realllllly doesn’t happen with anime. Except I might be wrong (so hopefully I will get feedback on this).

One big reason I might be wrong is that I’m not fluent (or even competent, really) in Japanese. Since all there really is of the seiyuu in anime is their voices, I’m obviously not going to think of anime this way when there are only maybe one or two seiyuu whose voices I can even readily identify. So it’s hard for me to even be a fan of specific seiyuu, because I don’t often think things like “that seiyuu specifically really made that role awesome.” Actually about the only time I’ve had that experience was with Mai Otome where Tomoe should so obviously have been a trite and stupid villain, but Rie Tanaka somehow made her so ridiculous she was awesome.

One big reason I might be right is that I’m not sure the actors are as focal in anime as they are in live film, simply because they’re less visible. The focus, from my perspective, seems to be either on the production house or, in the case of adaptations, on the original author. Since directors (is this really true? I think it’s true, but I haven’t looked extensively) tend to work exclusively for a single production house, the studio gets as much identification as the director. Particularly when a production house uses the same animation team a lot and establishes a visual style (GAINAX, KyoAni) it becomes easy to identify production houses with anime, because the animation itself, rather than a particular actor, is then in the forefront. It may also be that the seiyuu just aren’t used as the center-of-attention to market anime in the same way Hollywood Stars are for their movies, but I don’t have the proper perspective to really say.

I think I have more to say about this, but that’s all for now.



  1. Danny said,

    I’d say the production studios are more readily recognized than seiyuus or directors.

  2. Skane said,

    Agree with Danny.

    When you say it is a GONZO anime, several stereotypes immediately come to mind. Likewise for Sunrise and KyoAni. Some good, some bad.


  3. sethjohnson said,

    Yeah. I mean, there are plenty of movie directors whose films are identified by them. Kubrick comes to mind. But I think by and large actors are the biggers identifiers for movies. And for anime it seems like it is the studios.

  4. ituloy angsulong said,

    I agree with you guys!

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