Let’s take a moment to talk about voice actors. I usually mention them when talking about the quality of the acting in a specific work, but I don’t really dedicate too much time to talking about them in general. So, I thought I’d try something a bit different and write up a short piece on a major anime voice actor. I thought that Hayashibara Megumi would be too obvious a choice for me to start with, so instead, let’s talk about Paku Romi.
Paku Romi is an interesting actress. A lot of people know her best from her roles as teenage boys and young men: Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, Tao Ren in Shaman King, Ueki in The Law of Ueki, Syrup in Yes Precure 5 GoGo, Switzerland in Hetalia, Hitsugaya in Bleach & Turtle in Rainbow to name a few. It’s a role type she’s good at and she’s given us a lot of good performances, but some people forget that she’s also good at playing women too. Zoë in Shingeki no Kyojin, Angelina in Kuroshitsuji, Naoto in Persona, Falis in Murder Princess, Pharah in Overwatch & Teresa in Claymore to name some prominent examples. Her roles as teenage boys just tend to be in more well known anime.
Whatever type of role she’s in, she usually does a really good job. So, I’m going to list her top five performances in anime I’ve reviewed. But it’s me and I have to be a bit critical, so I’ll also list her weakest three performances in anime I’ve reviewed. This is subject to change since she’s been in a lot of series I haven’t seen and some I’ve seen but haven’t done proper reviews of. Let’s start with the negativity with the three weakest roles. Just to be clear, these are ranked by the performance and not the writing for the characters.
3. Kanan Gimmes: Brain Powerd
Don’t you just love anime where the actors only need to demonstrate a few emotions? That’s the trouble with Brain Powerd. They got good actors, like Paku Romi, and gave them nothing to work with. She doesn’t sound bad in this, you’d be hard pressed to find something where the direction is that bad. She just sounds like she doesn’t care.
2. Tsubasa Yuuki: Mawaru Penguindrum
The trouble with the acting here is that the series has extreme tonal issues and shifts from extremely over exaggerated lines to really downplayed ones. Paku Romi voices a minor character, a really hammy actress. So, her lines tend to be among the more exaggerated in the series. Which isn’t exactly conducive to a tolerable performance.
1. Ragyou Kiryuuin: Kill La Kill
Speaking of characters who suffer from exaggerated lines, we have the big bad of Kill La Kill, an anime that’s all bout the characters being absurdly over the top at all times. Which definitely makes for the worst acted role I’ve heard her in.
Now that we’ve been a bit negative, let’s look at her good roles. This one was tougher to decide, because I’ve reviewed very few anime where she had roles that were weak but I’ve looked at a lot where she was fantastic. So, let’s quickly go through my picks for her strongest roles from anime I’ve reviewed. To be clear again, these are ranked by the strength of the performance and not the character writing.
5. Tamayo Kataoka: Rideback
Rideback was one of my early reviews In that series, Paku Romi voices a Rideback champion who starts out as a relatively friendly rival to the protagonist and becomes a sort of mentor to her. A lot of what makes Rideback work as a series is that the characters have verisimilitude, and that’s certainly aided by the acting.
4. Hange Zoë: Shingeki no Kyojin
Zoë is a scientist in an apocalyptic landscape. Her most memorable facet is her love of studying the titans, but there’s more to the character than that. She gets strongly emotional when it comes to her work, but she’s also clever and can present ideas in a very calm, collected way.
3. Edward Elric: Fullmetal Alchemist/ Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Edward is a really well acted character. Our auto-mail wielding protagonist has his serious moments, his comedic moments, traumatic moments, triumphant moments. Basically, he runs the full gamut of human emotion and it’s all portrayed really strongly by our lead actress.
2. Falis: Murder Princess
You wouldn’t expect much in terms of subtlety from a series called Murder Princess. However, it’s a series where you do get it. Paku Romi essentially voices two different characters in this. The princess who flees an invasion and the bounty hunter who switches bodies with her. She also has to convey the emerging romantic feelings between the two as they get to know one another without it coming across as narcissistic.
1. Noboru Maeda “Turtle”: Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
There’s a lot of good acting in Rainbow. Paku Romi’s role is no different. This is a role where her character gets kicked around by life but still manages to maintain a lot of positivity. It’s a role that requires a lot of subtlety and a lot of care when breaching certain sensitive topics and she delivers brilliantly.
There’s my quick discussion of Paku Romi and some of her best and worst roles. I’ll do this again at some point with a different voice actor who I’ve encountered a lot. If you have some favourite roles of Paku Romi’s, feel free to leave a post about it.