Ueshama Elevates Dumb Characters

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I had a hard time coming up with something short and concise to describe the kind of characters Ueda Reina is particularly good at. Well, maybe not even; it’s more like how do I describe the lead of Bakuon without making slurs regarding people with disabilities. This is more a quick quip about Harmony and Bakuon, so let’s not tread those dangerous waters.

The thought came to me when I watched Harmony the other day. Harmony is Project Itoh’s best novel (and also the most critically regarded one), and because he was one of those writers who’s really taken into the “Tom Clancy style” of storytelling, Itou’s fleshed-out books probably will all work well for the silver screen. Well, it certainly did not disappoint.

Going into the movie I had no particular takes on the seiyuu for the movie, realizing only the lead role played by Sawashiro. Her husky voice probably bleeds into a certain other gun-touting SF anime heroine in the news recently. It’s probably an unavoidable comparison especially for a western audience, but Tuan is a more nuanced character and I think Miyukichi tried to bring that out best she could. She’s gotta be emo enough to ramp up to the climax, after all.

Like Empire of Corpses, there are these somewhat obtuse same-sex ships in Harmony, but it doesn’t really detract from the story in that it helped to slot in the plot device behind Kirie’s obsession for Miach, at least. What really sold the story was Miach. Kirie was a blunt instrument in some sense, perhaps better suited as a dude, now that I think back to her role is in this situation. Still, by being a girl there’s this some tension you can diffuse with their relationship, so the focus could be made more so on the conflicting feelings she has for Miach without having cisgendered romance clouding everything. However, internally constructed, I don’t know if Kirie sold it; the character was conflicted but it wasn’t clear how much the audience had to go on to infer to her inner desires. Miach sort of had to play the onion peeler to get us all the way home, largely through her final scene.

And I really just want to talk about how Ueshama was great as a psychotic world-ender in this role. Short of spoiling the movie let’s just say that this is why I had a hard time coming up a way to group Miach with Bakuon’s Hane (who could be described as a glorified bike sponge). And as a semi-frequent viewer of Hacka Channel it just made sense that Ueda is perfect for these kinds of high tone and low brow roles. If you had a scroll at her anime CV it might give you some insights. If youngin voice actresses of Japan get typecasted at all, Ueshama would be slotted as an oujosama type. In reality she escapes that sort of a thing in general and has already played a wide variety of character types in her short career. Arguably, her role in Harmonie is almost the opposite as her role in Harmony, right?

In this season she voices Hane and Kuromukuro’s Sophie, and those also make a good opposite-pair. The power of this woman who can be cool-cute one moment and old-adorable the other is pretty much already amusing enough on its own. And I don’t really have taken any interests in her via the usual route; purely through her acting and her on-screen charm, I guess.


2 Responses to “Ueshama Elevates Dumb Characters”

  • DarkFireBlade25

    Quite unfortunate that I could only watch the dub version. Personally, the movie was fairly lackluster and lazy. Too many simple shots with cliche mood setting. Some of it was like last decade’s children’s CG TV show level of panning. I’m sure the book is much better, but the pacing was just awful and the ending did not convey enough of the meandering themes explored in the duration of the movie. It was more of a mood fitting ending more than anything. At least Empire of Corpses had the ridiculous lolz factor to enjoy.

  • TheBigN

    I started thinking about how the movie could have presented some concepts better in regards to both world-building and in the several conflicts (intrapersonal and extrapersonal?) in the story… while watching the movie. Which always takes away from my enjoyment in watching it.

    Knew about Miyukichi, but did not pay attention to Ueshama until later on, and enjoyed her turn as Miach. I’ve watched a fair amount of works she’s participated in, and always a different type of role in a way, which is nice.

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