Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Evolution of Nana's casting

Happy 34th birthday, Mizuki Nana! Last year I wrote about . Recently, a new archetype has become more commonplace in Nana's resume.

For the first few years of her seiyuu career (1998-2002), Nana played almost nothing but little/teenage girl roles. By 2001, she was already consistently being cast in various video games and drama CDs. It was a very small range that started its expansion once she played the antagonist in Princess Tutu, Princess Kraehe/Rue. Her real potential was finally tapped into when she was cast as the little boy homunculus Wrath in the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime in 2003.

Nana popularity grew when she played popular character Hyuuga Hinata (Naruto) in 2002, but her true breakthrough was her role as Fate (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha) in 2004. Not only did Nanoha's popularity give Nana more recognition as a seiyuu, but as a singer. Her music career skyrocketed- Her opening single for Nanoha's first season was her first song to reach the Top 10 in the Oricon charts, and her opening song for Nanoha's second season reached #2 on the charts. Since then, all of her singles and albums have been no lower than #6.

Nana's character range continued to grow when she played Oboro (Basilisk) which was her first real role as a more mature female. Though she was still primarily being cast as younger/teenage girls, the mature character began to become a little more frequent in her resume (Morinas (Simoun) in 2006).

2007 was a huge year for Nana in both range expansion and amount of roles. Her ability to do a boyish voice resurfaced for the first time since the aforementioned Wrath and she played Minami Touma in the Minami-ke comedy series. She finally played her first adult character Kirihara Misaki (Darker Than Black) and her well-established reputation as a popular idol was finally utilized and she played the idol Hoshina Utau (Shugo Chara! series).

Her resume grew significantly in both 2008 and 2009 and she was cast as the protagonist and significant supporting characters in a bunch of very popular shows: Aihara Kotoko (Itazura na Kiss), Akashiya Moka (Rosario + Vampire), Sylvette Suede (Letter Bee), and Lan Fan (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood). Nana's character range didn't grow very much, but her role as Akiko in Aoi Bungaku was her debut as an insane character. (And it's magnificent.) Her singing talents were further used in Aoi Bungaku, White Album, subsequent Shugo Chara! seasons, and the Professor Layton film.

Nana's career as a seiyuu took a notable step back in 2010; She had a decent amount of video game roles, but only had three new anime roles. In compensation, these three characters were all radically different from each other (Alois Trancy (Kuroshitsuji II), Cure Blossom (Heartcatch! Precure), Kotobuki Nanase (Book Girl) and her performances were absolutely fabulous. This was also the year that she became the first seiyuu to have a single and an album at #1 on the Oricon charts.

Since then, Nana's seiyuu career has plateaued a bit. But in 2012, she hit another career milestone and landed her first main role as a dubber for a Hollywood film. (Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.) Like most other seiyuu, Nana has done some Japanese dubbing (Glee, iCarly), but her work in that area is nowhere near as extensive compared to some other seiyuu. In addition, she also has done a respectable amount of narration for various TV programs (Animal Planet's Too Cute! and for the TV-drama Switch Girl). Since 2011, her amount of supporting roles in anime have definitely outweighed her main ones. Not only that, those roles are primarily older and more mature women: Evangeline Yamamoto (Zetsuen no Tempest), Itezuru (Fuse: Memoirs of a Hunter Girl), Hakuei Ren (Magi), Kriemhild (Valvrave the Liberator). This rising frequencyis continuing with her recent role as the 'exotic' villainess Kasha Graham in the new Tiger & Bunny film.

Considering she's been portraying almost nothing but adolescent girls for the majority of her career, I find this recent casting trend for her very pleasant, and it seems to becoming her new norm. But I do hope that she starts to gain more roles again. 2013 was also an uneventful year for her anime-wise, and I miss hearing her acting talents every season. (This may have to do with how much she's been doing with her music and all of her television appearances.) Regardless, I look forward to see how Nana's seiyuu career will continue to evolve and to hear her as more sexy anime ladies.
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