Being an avid follower of the whole Japanese voice actor culture, I’m always interested in who’s in the voice cast whenever I start a new anime. Frequently playing the game of trying to guess the seiyuu the millisecond a character speaks or speculating about who could be featured in an upcoming anime/game; I’ve always had an appreciation for voice actors and actresses, both as actors and entertainment personalities, and they certainly have become a staple in my experiences as a fan of Japanese media. I mean, even if a particular show looks and/or is terrible, I’ll still be inclined to check it out and endure its mediocrity if my favorite voice actress is in it. THAT’S how big of an influence it has on me, and many others.
And an interesting thing I’ve been noticing for a couple years now is that some of the fictional characters I’ve gotten to know or have been popular within the anime community, once had a completely different seiyuu from the one that’s voicing them now. There have been many times where a seiyuu was hired to voice act in, for example, the teaser commericial/PV for an upcoming anime or a video game adaptation, but later appearances of said character ended up being portrayed by someone else.
I’m sure there are the obvious reasons, being that the previous/original seiyuu is not able to voice that character anymore due to them being retired, having scheduling conflicts, health concerns or that they’re no longer alive. There’s also the possibility of the studio and/or original creator wanting to cast a different person who may be more fit to depict that character.
Whatever the case may be, I’ve seen some interesting voice actor changes for certain, notable characters within the otaku entertainment world and I just wanted to discuss some of them in this post. You may already know about a few of these, or you may have never heard of these recast choices. But regardless, I find it fun to learn more about stuff like this.
With that being said, let’s jump right in!
*NOTE 1: I do realize that all of these voice actors/characters are female; I definitely know a lot more about female seiyuu rather than male ones, but I may do another post that features some male character recasts in the future.
**NOTE 2: Being a seiyuu fan, I tend to refer to a lot of voice actors by their common nicknames so just letting you know beforehand. I think it’s easy to tell who I’m talking about whenever I use said aliases so no need to worry there.
Kurosawa Tomoyo as Hayase Nagatoro (Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san)
Current Voice Actor: Uesaka Sumire
Two years before we got to hear Uesaka Sumire voice the main character in the anime adaptation of Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san, another well-known and lovable seiyuu actually got to portray Nagatoro. To celebrate the manga selling over 500,000 copies, a special promotional video was released and Kurosawa Tomoyo, who is most notably known for her roles as Oomae Kumiko (Hibike! Euphonium), Phos (Houseki no Kuni) and Akagi Miria (The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls), was casted as the voice of Nagatoro.
And I think Moyochi’s take on Nagatoro’s personality and voice was pretty intriguing, especially when we compare it to the one everyone’s familiar with nowadays from Sumipe. With Moyochi’s energy and high pitched voice, her Nagatoro sounds a lot more child-like, goofy and hyper. I personally did not read this manga but I heard from some fans that Kurosawa Tomoyo wasn’t the first seiyuu they thought of when it comes to the character of Nagatoro, but seemed to be fine with the voice actor choice. And in my opinion, being someone who didn’t know anything prior to watching the anime adaptation, I felt like Uesaka Sumire’s interpretation was a lot more fitting in the grand scheme of things but Moyochi’s initial portrayal of this character was still fun to learn about.
Inami Anju as Tokai Teio (Uma Musume: Pretty Derby)
Current Voice Actor: Machico
The Uma Musume multimedia project has become a massive hit these past couple years, with it having a well-received anime TV series and a mobile game that continues to top the app store charts alongside games like Fate/Grand Order and Genshin Impact. Even though I’m not following the franchise as closely as before, I’m still an Uma Musume fan and I check in from time to time with what’s happening. And how can you not be? It’s a world full of horse girls who compete in legitimately thrilling races; not only can you probably find a character that suits your personal tastes, but the anime and how they show the actual competition sequences can immediately make you interested in horse racing.
And there’s one prominent character within the Uma Musume universe that has gotten a ton of love and popularity: Tokai Teio, who is currently voiced by musical artist/voice actress Machico. A lot of people, myself included, probably knew Machico more as a singer since she performed the iconic opening themes for the Konosuba anime series, but it seems like her voice acting career has recently started to really take off, with Teio arguably being her breakout role. And she has definitely done a fantastic job conveying Teio’s passion and energy, resulting in her becoming a real fan favorite.
However interestingly enough, Machico wasn’t the first choice for Tokai Teio’s seiyuu. In 2016, when the Uma Musume project was first announced, Inami Anju of Love Live fame was originally casted as the voice of Teio. And being someone who is very familiar with Anchan and her portrayal of Takami Chika in the Love Live! Sunshine series, it was a shock to hear that she was initially the seiyuu of Teio, especially now being so used to Machico’s version. It seems that there was a bit of a recast between the project debut and the airing of the anime’s first season, plus I couldn’t find any footage or posted recording of Anchan voicing Teio, so it certainly makes you think about how she would’ve portrayed the energetic and upbeat horse girl.
That said, it would be cool if the Uma Musume staff brought back Anchan to voice a different character and give her another shot at being a part of this series.
Sakura Ayane as the Nakano Sisters (Gotoubun no Hanayome)
Current Voice Actors: Hanazawa Kana (Ichika), Taketatsu Ayana (Nino), Itou Miku (Miku) and Minase Inori (Itsuki)
Speaking of ultra popular series, I think everyone knows about Gotoubun no Hanayome, or in English, The Quintessential Quintuplets. This romance comedy manga and anime has garnered a massive following, both in Japan and worldwide, and its popularity really does speak for itself; example being that the recent feature film raked in over 390 million yen (roughly $3 million USD) within its first three days in the theaters… that’s insane.
And while I’m not that big of a fan of the quints, one of my favorite aspects of this series is the absolutely stacked and perfect voice cast. Every quint is voiced by an, essentially, A-list voice actress like Hanazawa Kana and Minase Inori, and they all do really well in portraying each character’s tendencies and personalities. But… a couple years before the first season of the anime aired, only one person voiced all the Nakano sisters in a special commercial; them being Sakura Ayane (who now only voices Yotsuba).
One single seiyuu voicing multiple characters in an anime/franchise is nothing new, even Ayaneru has done it before in the Kantai Collection series where she portrayed a whopping nine characters, so seeing her take on all the Nakano sisters was a fun thing to see. And what’s cool is that Ayaneru’s interpretation of each quint has pretty much stayed the same, even with completely different seiyuu now voicing them. It’s clear that Hanazawa Kana, Taketatsu Ayana, Itou Miku and Minase Inori took inspiration from Ayaneru, and they all did a great job maintaining the overall personalities and charms of the quints that Sakura expressed beforehand (Inorin did straight up say in an interview that she imitated Ayaneru’s Itsuki during her audition for the part).
Taneda Risa as Mash Kyrielight (Fate/Grand Order)
Current Voice Actor: Takahashi Rie
The Fate series has continuously been one of Japan’s most successful and beloved media franchises for almost the past two decades, with its vast collection of visual novels, anime, manga, video games, as well as the unique and recognizable cast of characters it features. And while certain things have defined the popularity of Fate, there is no doubt that the RPG mobile game Fate/Grand Order is a major staple in the franchise. Ever since its release, both in Japan and worldwide, it has been one of the most downloaded and highest grossing mobile games ever.
Even though I don’t play FGO, I do know someone who plays it regularly so I’ve pretty much gotten the gist of what its about and some of the various Servants within the game. And being a seiyuu fan, I’m always interested in who voices who within this gigantic cast of characters, especially when it comes to the newer releases. One of the more notable characters in FGO is Mash Kyrielight, the Servant who you start out with when you first begin the game. And while most players know and love Takahashi Rie’s performance as Mash, she actually wasn’t Mash’s original voice actress. Taneda Risa, who is known to voice well-known characters such as Kuriyama Mirai (Kyoukai no Kanata), Tedeza Rize (Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?), Himeragi Yukina (Strike the Blood), Mizuno Ai (Zombieland Saga) and even D.Va in the Japanese dub of Overwatch, was chosen to voice Mash when FGO first came out. Many people have noticed (and even preferred) the more mature, serious natured tone of Taneda’s Mash, compared to Takahashi’s where she sounds a bit more energetic/lively.
However in September 2016, Taneda Risa went on a short hiatus from voice acting/singing, in order to focus on treating an illness she was dealing with. This resulted in many recasts of her roles including Mash, which was eventually given to Takahashi Rie. While Taneda’s situation was unfortunate, she was able to bounce back as a seiyuu and later had the opportunities to voice some memorable characters in stuff like Zombieland Saga and Overwatch. She even came back to the FGO scene and got to play a number of Servants, such as Kiyohime and Marie Antoinette.
Sawashiro Miyuki as Jolyne Cujoh (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure)
Current Voice Actor: Fairouz Ai
This one’s an interesting one.
Everyone knows what Jojo is. Even if you’re not into anime, you’ve probably seen the references, jokes and memes that feature any of the Jojo characters, as it really has become a phenomenon and gained an enormous fanbase.
The sixth installment of the series, titled Stone Ocean, continues on with the overall Jojo storyline; this time featuring the daughter of Kujo Jotaro, Jolyne Cujoh. And despite not being featured in any of the anime shows at the time and/or having her narrative be adapted yet, Jolyne was still given a voice when she appeared in the 2013 fighting video game Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle. The one-and-only Sawashiro Miyuki, who is prominently known for her roles as Beelzebub (Beelzebub), Kurapika (Hunter x Hunter), Sturluson Celty (Durarara!!) and Raiden Shogun (Genshin Impact), provided Jolyne’s voice and obviously as a very talented voice actress, she did an excellent job bringing Jolyne and her personality to life.
Fast forward to 2021, the anime adaptation for Stone Ocean was finally announced and fans were excited to see another Jojo anime in production. And one of the biggest changes/announcements to this installment was with Jolyne herself, as it was revealed that she would now be voiced by up-and-coming seiyuu Fairouz Ai. From what I’ve seen, there isn’t a clear cut explanation on why Jolyne’s voice actress was changed (Sawashiro could’ve just been too busy to take on this role, who knows) but in my opinion, this was a good move. As much as I love Sawashiro Miyuki and her incredible performances, giving this kind of opportunity to voice the main character in one of the most popular Japanese franchises to a newer, very promising and already likable seiyuu in Fairouz Ai… I think this was a great example of the industry giving talented newcomer voice actors a chance to shine.
Being someone who frequently follows the activities and voice roles of newer seiyuu, especially those who take part in popular multimedia projects like Love Live, Uma Musume, Idoly Pride, D4DJ, etc, a lot of the ones I’ve gotten to know and have taken a liking to are truly great at what they do. Because of that, I always wish that these rookies eventually get the opportunity to land bigger and better roles. That said, I’m glad that someone like Fairouz Ai, who is still fairly new to the industry, got to voice a character like Jolyne which, she has done an fantastic job with so far. There are some big differences but it seems that Faichan was able to maintain Jolyne’s badass personality while putting her own spin on the role. Plus, Fairouz Ai has been known to be a HUGE Jojo fan, was the main inspiration for pursuing a career in voice acting, and even had a lifelong aspiration to voice Jolyne one day so, to see her live out her ultimate dream is absolutely amazing.
Aaaaand that’s all I got for you today!
I had a lot of fun putting this post together, both with the writing part and the visuals, so I hope you also found it to be interesting/informative. Being a seiyuu fan can really widen a person’s fandom in anime, and learning about these character recasts can most definitely be fascinating.
And please, let me know in the comments if there are any other anime characters that have had their voice actor changed throughout the years. I’d love to know!
Thanks for reading!! 😀
2 replies on “What Could’ve Been — Anime Characters That Had Their Voice Actor Changed Over Time”
I’m not entirely sure this is how it works so I could be wrong, but I wanna say when it comes to voiced promotional material for LNs and manga specifically, they might actually be one-off contractual jobs for the seiyuu by publishing companies (like being hired to do a commercial essentially). The casting for the subsequent anime adaptation and the PVs that come along with it are handled by different entities (the producers involved and likely the show’s director as well), which could explain why the seiyuu doesn’t get carried over.
That being said, I do wonder at times if an anime’s production actually try to reprise someone’s role for an adaptation of the same work if they already did the voice work for it. Likewise, I wonder too if a seiyuu who did a CM spot for an LN/manga has to still audition for a character that they technically already provided the voice for. There’s definitely some intangibles at work behind the curtains so to speak, but yeah, definitely makes for an interesting “What If” scenario considering how popular some of the works mentioned above ended up becoming.
I only know of a handful of role changes off the top of my head (Coach Ukai’s seiyuu from Haikyuu being re-casted midseason following the original VA’s untimely passing; a chara from Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s needing to be re-casted after the original seiyuu got involved in cult activities… lol) but neither of those really give that “what could have been” feel like the ones above. I think the closest I can recall is the graduation of some of Roselia’s members from BanG Dream!.
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That actually makes a lot of sense, yeah. And regarding what you said about reprising roles, in my opinion, I feel like they would, at the very least, consider and/or reach out to that voice actor to see if they’re still interested in voicing said character. But on the other hand, I get that this is a business and they might decide to go a different direction when it comes to the cast, which can be a good thing. Like I said in the post (and I’m kinda speaking generally now), it’s great that newer seiyuu are getting more main roles lately, especially in anime that end up becoming decently popular; I know a member from the DIALOGUE+ group who did a nice job playing the MC in the Akebi anime. I might be a little biased when it comes to newcomer VAs but I think recasting some of the these roles that may have been taken by more popular VAs like Ayaneru or whoever, is a good opportunity to let others shine. Although I also get that they may want to reprise/cast the A-list seiyuu to make their shows more appealing which is understandable.
I’ve heard of some recast reasonings that were on the ‘immoral’ side, but the cult one is new to me lol. That’s wild
The Roselia one is definitely interesting. I myself am not all that familiar with the previous VAs of Rinko and Lisa but I’m sure for the OG fans who had more of a connection with those two, it makes them wonder, for example, how they’d sound in present-day Roselia’s music and stuff like that. But it seems that the newer members, Kanon and Yuki, have become fan favorites so that’s good (Nonchan’s done a few covers of Utada Hikaru and indigo la end songs so that’s a plus in my book lol).
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