Pretty & Cute, Seiyuu Edition

I took a look at that Biglobe article about the prettiest seiyuu (and why am I linking to it I don’t know but) here and I’m like, wait, what is this then?

What is the difference between cute and pretty? I guess I understand it innatively, but maybe we can use the poll results as a way to describe things. For this post I’m just going to use the list as a qualifier, not so much talk about how random Biglobe polls are random and gamed and are not a representative sample based on momentary popularity and memes. Or actually, I’m just going to ramble down the two lists and talk about random things.

I guess this is kind of an unwritten rule, but supposedly Marina Inoue is a hottie. I think the Pretty Poll (PP) reflects this notion. In a way I guess you can say the same about Yoko Hikasa (at least until she opens her mouth, which invariably it happens), but I haven’t really seen her described as hot with any consistency. She is definitely kind of a looker with the right make-up and if she puts on the right shoes (to show off her legs, of course).

Tomatsu Haruka is more tricky. I mean she can actually pull off a swimsuit gravure book, which is more than what we can say for most seiyuu on either list. I think the problem is more like once you read that book, you kind of feel sorry for her. I mean, is that the right kind of emotion that should be solicited by a swimsuit gravure book? But I think out of Sphere’s members, she has probably (as mentioned before) the best complete package.

Kana Ueda is a wholly different sort of thing. She’s more like your showa idol sort of personality. Much more mature, to me, at any rate. Maybe she is pretty; I can’t really tell from just her magazine shots alone. Maybe this helps to explain? And for that matter, why is Nakahara not even on this list?

Out of the top five on the PP I have actually seen Rie Tanaka in person, and she is probably one of the rare cases where she seems much more normal in person than in her photos. By normal I don’t mean she comes across drastically different from her photos, but it’s more like she’s just this upstanding looking girl trying to do her job, but she knows how to get herself to look the way her clients want her to look? In that way she has her own charms, much of it is a product of the way viewers project their fantasies on her.

I always wondered about the gap between seeing someone in real life versus seeing someone in film and photographs. I mean I understand the impact of post-processing and for seiyuu there’s a varying amount of that happening at any given time. I mean I don’t think they do anything special on those Nico or Ustream broadcasts but 99% of the time they’re in some kind of frumpy getup anyway. Or if you are Itou Kanae, you’re just too small to tell.

As for another girl I saw in the flesh, I can see and I agree with Minori Chihara on that list. What is only surprising is that why she’s so low on that poll–she’s probably the only one in that list who I can genuinely call pretty.

I’m not sure how Maaya Sakamoto makes it, but I suppose she isn’t exactly someone hit by the ugly stick. The couple times I’ve seen her in person she goes between normal looking to slightly over the hill. But wait, she’s younger than Rie Tanaka right?

Having seen Horie, be assured that she is definitely more cute than pretty. In fact she’s basically all cute, if you can imagine “cute” and “pretty” being axes on a 2D graph and Horie’s appearance being a vector, the result is all one way. At least she is pretty good at that 17yo schtik.

I have no opinion on Itou Shizuka besides that beer and late-nighters don’t do much for your face.

Kana Hanazawa is still at her prime, but I have a hard time thinking she could be anything other than cute and sweet. Dawwww.

Out of the rest that I’ve seen IRL, Noto is truely something to behold; pictures don’t quite do her justice. Kikuko Inoue founded the 17yo club for a reason. Nana Mizuki looks also much younger than she is; probably because she’s got not much to lose? Chiwa Saito is definitely someone who used to be way cuter, and is no longer carrying herself like a 17yo.

With all that said, I’m not sure how many pretties are in the PP list. maybe Yukana? Maybe Haruna Ikezawa? Kotobuki Minako? Atsuko Tanaka?


I guess I should be happy at all that Nonaka Ai made the list. Amusingly right by Sakura Nogawa. Both are probably way more cute than pretty.

People like Kaori Fukuhara and Ryoko Shiraishi are actually kind of pretty, though, or so I thought. Mikako Komatsu might have a shot after a makeover. I think Fujimura might be Ueda’s spiritual successor?

For the Cute Poll (CP…wait what) it is not really surprising to see Kana Hanazawa at #1 (LOL Okamoto aside; and I’m going to ignore the rest of the guys). I think Yukarin has to get a round of applause for passing off as cute; I don’t think she is at all. Pretty much a full smokes and mirror sort of deal to go with her performer persona, and it is an entertaining one to say the least. Well, it’s just my opinion. I think over the years I’ve developed a particular fondness for her large ears, especially when it’s pointed at the camera at the right angle. It reminds me of the Ferengi. Which, for Yukarin, is a match.

I have a hard time taking Ai Kayano too seriously. She actually looks like someone I know IRL, but with a wider face. I guess she can pass off as cute, but this high up?

Haruka Tomatsu can be cute too, in fact I think she can be a lot of things; part of it is what works against her. On the other hand I think she has the potential to be a great actress simply because she can pass herself off as both cute and pretty, but also as uncute and ugly too, if she wants to.

Yuka Iguchi could be cute I suppose, but she is kind of just a normal looking person. Best complement I can give to this individual!

I think Aoi Yuki can be cute. She’s got the tools. But will she turn out to be like Nana Mizuki cute or someone even more wonderful, only time will tell.

I can agree with Horie up at #9.

Ayana Taketatsu can be both cute and pretty I think, but she’s got this down-to-earth feel to it that probably makes her more cute. I suppose I’m biased in that I have just watched her gravure video the other day.

Out of the top 10, Ogura Yui really should be higher, if just on the merit of being still kind of a little girl?

Same can be said of Itou Kanae, LOL, albeit in a very different way.

I have a hard time pinning Toyosaki’s charms as cute, but I guess it will do for now.

I always found Kugyuu in line for that old-school charm than cute or anything; there’s just something different about the way she looks and present herself. But I also have a hard time thinking she has the looks. Maybe I just need to check it out in person sometime?

I have seen Aya Hirano in person, and she is definitely pretty. I’m not sure if it overlaps with cute, but I suppose it can. Houko, Mamiko and Rina Satou are kind of similar in the same way that they probably can double for pretty more so than cute, as well.

It seems from #39 Kana Ueda up to #16 there’s a fairly even spread, and it drops off at #40 Uesuka Sumire. Uesuka is actually kind of cute, but I think most everyone from that point up are kind of cute. I mean, I don’t know how I feel about Nakahara or Kobayashi (they are more pretty than cute I think), but I can see it for the most part. Mariya Ise is cute? I suppose. In that “Stockings is cute” kind of way maybe.

I guess at least Mayako Nigo is represented. Or I should say, iM@S? Or rather, she actually performs lives. It’s the underlying understanding that if you put yourself out there to a lot of people, getting exposure with fans, you will have better representation in a popularity poll.

It seems like for these polls, the only real distinction is that for “pretty” there is a more strict tag and it seems to still overlap with “cute.” It’s like almost a sub-category, except it isn’t quite? Give and take some liberalness in the mapping between 可愛 and cute/綺麗 and pretty, I suppose this make enough sense.

The takeaway, I suppose, is to not take a Biglobe poll too seriously.

11 Responses to “Pretty & Cute, Seiyuu Edition”

  • Fencedude

    My reaction to both of those lists was “eeeehhh?” I don’t really see much point in ranking seiyuu by appearance. I guess its nice that most of them are at least pretty ok looking, but that brings up whether there are aspects of becoming a popular seiyuu that don’t directly involve the voice, which sorta irritates me.

    Yukarin wouldn’t be Yukarin without the ears. Just sayin’

  • omo

    I think it’s precisely because of that, I think ranking them by appearance is something now worth doing!

    I’m fine with frumpy looking seiyuu too, but the way I see it is that “more power to them” if people can get ahead on looks. Truth is in the end unless you are Sphere-level popular, you’re not going to get too many roles in anime unless you are good at voice acting anyway.

    To be more critical and honest about it, as much as people say about looks, there are still not too many great looking seiyuu. Just a lot of passably okay ones.

  • j1m0ne

    I’d say Kotobuki Minako is 100% the prettiest member of Sphere in the flesh. For some reason photos do their best to make her look awkward & ugly lol.

  • Taka

    Kobayashi Yuu – Pretty and crazy never formed so perfect a package.
    Aki is definitely cute cause of dat fang. She’s actually got one of my favorite smiles of the seiyuu world.
    A lot of the crooked teeth stuff is considered charm points for each seiyuu. (sometimes)

    • omo

      What’s amusing about Aki’s teeth is that it’s mostly straight except her left fang.

      I’m not a fan of crooked teeth otherwise though.

    • Basroil

      Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but I find suspect any list of attractive VA’s that does not have Yu Kobayashi near the top much less not there at all. Are they blind men over there?

    • omo

      Well, it’s otaku. I don’t think they take too kindly to Crazy, so Kobayashi is not going to top any lists. But yeah, I think people agree she does have the looks, there’s no doubt.

  • Stef

    As nonsensical as caring for a voice actor appearance may be, it probably comes from the popular nature of anime itself and the “personality cults” that arise from this. I mean, you’d want the seiyuu voicing your favorite moe character to be moe too, right? It’s okay for the rest of the staff to look like Woody Allen though(actually, that would be reassuring).

    This state of mind seems to be condoned and even supported by said seiyuu though. I wonder how much it plays behind the scenes. Would a director let a good voice actor go because of appearance(and ipso facto a smaller fanbase)? On a more general but not unrelated subject, are there rewards similar to the Oscars in the anime industry that would give the rewarded more authority in their job?

    • omo

      I’m not sure if prettiness is really that important in the end. I think you’re kind of on in saying that in the end otaku likes pretty girls to voice their pretty girls. But when it comes to voicing characters it’s still the most important to be good at voicing characters.

      Here’s a story sort of related to this. Yamakan was asked about the voicing choices in Kannagi once and he said originally Tomatsu was going to be Zange, Sawashiro was going to be Nagi, and Hanazawa was going to be Tsugumi. After hiring them, Yamakan decided to switch their roles because when he looked at them, he thought Tomatsu looked like Nagi, Sawashiro looked like Tsugumi, and Hanazawa looked like Zange. Of course during the audition the three of them probably voiced all three of the roles too, but there you have it.
      [edited because i mixed up the matching ugh]

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