Sometimes you just want Hayami Saori to call you “onii-chan.” Is that too much to ask?
I’m not generally one to watch anime simply because of voice actors. I’ve witnessed first-hand the havoc that can cause back in 2011 when I was watching 4-6 shows a season of questionable quality just to get another Hanazawa Kana, Hikasa Yoko or Sawashiro Miyuki character. Still, I do care about voice actors and while they don’t make or break a show for me I will notice when one is exceptionally good. This year, the stand out voice work came from Hayami Saori.
I wasn’t really aware of Hayami Saori (or Hayamin, as I prefer) before this year, but in retrospect I had liked her work for a while. It wasn’t until her work as Jindai Komaki in Saki: Zenkoku-hen then as Shiba Miyuki in Mahouka that I decided to go back and look at who else she had done and it turned out to be a whole slew of characters I really liked. We have Tsurumi Chiriko from AnoHana, Haqua from The World God Only Knows, Yuuno Arashiko from MM! and Okita Sawa from Tari Tari. The more I paid attention to it the more I fell in love with the soft, breathy quality to her voice that sounded a lot like classic Noto Mamiko. She even manages to elevate otherwise mediocre shows like Red Data Girl and Glasslip or otherwise problematic characters like Aragaki Ayase in OreImo.
In a year with plenty of bad shows, Hayamin managed to make any show she was in much more tolerable than it otherwise would have been. I watched five episodes of Kamigami no Asobi, partially because the inversion of harem tropes amused me, but also because of Hayamin voice in the female lead. I finished Mahouka, and while I gave Tatsuya all the credit yesterday, Hayamin’s voice deserves a good chunk as well since she managed to make me enjoy the absurd things Miyuki was saying. I also probably made it through two more episodes of InouBattle than I otherwise would have if not for Hayamin.
The high point of this year of Hayamin actually came in a later episode of InouBattle that I checked out just because I had heard she did something special in it, and boy did she ever. For more than two full minutes she delivered an impassioned diatribe against all of the main character’s chuuni antics. Her ability to convey that level of intensity through her voice and sustain it for that long was amazing. It’s often hard for a voice actress to really steal the show since they aren’t actually delivering the actions that go with their words, but Hayamin managed to take this scene and own it like few other voice actresses can. That day anitwitter was abuzz with talk of how great Hayamin was and I was able to sit back and think “I told you guys this girl was special.”
So hats off to Hayami Saori for an outstanding year of voice acting work. I may not finish or even watch every show she’s in, but whenever she makes an appearance in one I do watch she manages to make it that much better. Here’s hoping there’s a lot more work in her future.