Hayao Miyazaki Says Cutesy Anime Voices Are “Unbearable”

Hayao Miyazaki Says Cutesy Anime Voices Are “Unbearable”

Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki is known for iconic anime like My neighbour Totoro. He’s also known for telling it like it is. If he thinks using the iPad looks like masturbation, then he’s gonna damn well say that. But this time, he’s talking about voice acting — cutesy voice acting that he finds “unbearable”.

Recently, Miyazaki divulged his thoughts on voice actors. According to the director, the animators must rely on the skill of voice actors. They’re necessary! “But, of course, at times it can be frustrating in some respects,” Miyazaki added (via Excite). In particular, Miyazaki explained, it can be frustrating when the voice actors want their presence to be felt by others.

(It sounds like Miyazaki is frustrated when the voice actors don’t try to sell the character, but try to sell themselves instead.)

“Especially the young women’s voices,” Miyazaki continued. “It seems like they’re all speaking with an ‘Aren’t-I-so-cute?’ voice. That’s unbearable. I always want to do something about that.”

And for much of his career, Miyazaki has, sometimes choosing non-voice actors to star in his films. And when he does use voice actors, whether they are male or female, Miyazaki is able to get natural sounding performances from them. His upcoming picture, Kaze Tachinu, looks — and sounds — to be no exception.

宮崎駿は、声優のスキルについてどう考えているのか [Excite]

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.


  • I must admit, from the limited amount of anime I’ve seen I agree completely…

    • I wonder what it is. I was at a Japanese restaurant the other day and one of the ladies working there had that stereotypical ‘cutesy’ voice and it was starting to get a little annoying. Maybe because it sounds so prissy and a bit of ‘omg look at me, I’m so cute, don’t you think?’.

        • They’re sirens I tell ye! Don’t be sailing inta thar rocky depths!

      • There’s a cultural standard that says the deeper the voice you speak in, the more authoritative you are being. Being cute doesn’t mesh well with being the boss, so Japanese women especially go higher and higher, particularly in service jobs. Waitresses talk in falsetto all the damn time.

        • Ah, well that would explain it perhaps. It didn’t bother me, but it just felt necessary and like it was put on instead of being natural. @mrwaffle – Yep, it felt put on this time.

      • Agree with it completely, it’s a really stereotypical put-on voice. I’m in Japan so I hear this sort of thing often; all train announcers put on an identical voice, all news presenters speak “proper” Japanese (old fashioned pronunciation, akin to how they used to speak proper queens English on Australian news back in the day), etc. following the expected way to do things is just the way they roll here.

        (American voice actors for little girls put on a different but much more horrid voice)

        • The other very interesting seemingly ‘put-on’ voice seems to be the ‘gay lisp’.
          I’ve known a couple guys since high school who sure as hell weren’t raised into damn near adulthood with the voice they’ve adopted since coming out. And my own brother and his partner despite being gay speak the way they’ve always spoken. NORMALLY. Just like everyone else. They don’t understand the lisp, either.

          From discussing it together, near as we can figure, it’s either a signalling behaviour (mating call) or a coping mechanism – like embracing all the outward signs of some kind of cultural identity when the only inbuilt, natural difference is finding dudes to be hot.

          None of us have yet approached our more extravagantly flaming friends and asked them, “In all seriousness, why did you decide to make the very dramatic shift to talking like a stereotype?”

      • where was it? was it actually a real Japanese restaurant or a Chinese immitation? Because typically Girls with that kind of voice are mainly from Otaku culture and they don’t generally travel outside Japan.

        • I can’t say for certain if it was an authentic Japanese restaurant (the name and food suggests so) as it had a mix of people working there. Still, to be completely honest it was something different and that in itself I didn’t mind.

          • thats cool man. well, most normal and “cool” people from Japan can not stand to hear that voice, the word we use to describe it would be “disgusting”. A little is okay, but some girls really push it too far!

          • Japan’s service industry is pretty much entirely staffed by people putting on that awful high pitched voice. It’s not just otaku.

          • That is true, but it is far worse when people do it outside of their workplace

          • Like I said, it’s a cultural standard. Male or female, using a high pitched voice (or at least higher than the person you are talking to) is a show of politeness. It’s as built in to people’s everyday speech as saying thanks to someone Who gives you something.

            Watch any kind of Japanese TV, the characters in a show will soak to the boss ina higher pitch and the boys is always booming.

          • for some reason can’t reply to your last comment, so I’ll try here.
            You are right again, But I mainly refer to Otaku girls or girls trying to be overally cute. At least in my family and friend circle we don’t appreciate that kind of character – apart from service industry people. My girlfriend and I both work for Ajinomoto and even when she serves tea during meetings she does not and refuses to speak in such a manner and it hasn’t caused her any trouble at least.

          • Oh I agree that it’s awful and thankfully it seems to be slowly (very slowly)dying out. I guess I just started tuning it out because it was so normalised.

          • A number of the sushi places in the Valley (in Brisbane) seem to have a really high percentage of (usually proudly) Korean staff.

            Sitting in a booth near the sushi bar in Wagaya, I overheard/watched a couple of patrons come over to compliment the chef for some of the most authentic Japanese food they’d enjoyed in Australia so far. The guy was very clearly super-pleased to be praised by natives, and he related his story of having gone to a Japanese-cooking school in Korea, hoping to take his skills overseas, and here he was.

            I’m terrible at spotting ethnic differences, so I couldn’t tell from sight who’s who, only from what they tell me during conversation. I get pegged for a foreigner (German, Swedish, Scottish – the truth is actually a mongrel mix of all the above and then some, 3rd-4th-gen Aussie) when they bring it up, so I guess it swings both ways.

  • I find the other end of the spectrum annoying – i.e. the adult women voices in anime all sound the same. I’m Japanese and speak Japanese, so I watch anime in Japanese and I find that adult women voices in anime indistinguishable from each other across different movies. They all have this peculiar type of voice and mannerisms.

  • Man Could not agree more with the article, absolutely hate it.
    I do enjoy anime quite a bit. I just cringe whenever the cutesey chit happens i imagine some weeaboo guy just thinking “OMGAW SO KAWII DESU TEE HEE 😀 <3 “

  • Ermmm… title out of context much?

    He wasn’t annoyed w/ the cute voice per se… but the way some Seiyuu overplay “being cute” so that their marketable as an actress on other roles as opposed to just “playing the role” xD

  • I find the hatred of dubs in anime to be weird, if it sounds alright then why not? The excuse that they are ‘always’ worse is poor to me because since most of us sub-watchers don’t speak Japanese and thus have no idea how good the voice-acting is in Japanese.

  • I agree that the cutesy voices can get a bit carried away and annoying at times but I think there’s definitely a place for it with certain characters. I’ve gotta admit I love Melty’s voice in Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (great series!), it was really appropriate and cute as hell. Plus her name is Melty, so anime.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!