Voice acting is a profession which is slowly growing over the world. Having a voice which suits a character is a gift, and being able to match your voice to a given character is a marketable talent. Voice actors may be commissioned for many reasons; voicing a character, narrating a story, dubbing over movies to even TV advertisements! Although many are known for their charisma, beauty and the sheer number of roles they get, their bread and butter are usually their voices. Without further ado, here are our top 10 female anime voice actresses, based on popularity, but in no particular order.
1. Kana Hanazawa
Hanazawa is top-tier among female anime voice actresses, if not the best of them all, and her track record is proof of that. As a matter of fact, she began her acting career in kindergarten, frequently appearing on Yappari Sanma Daisensei. She started her seiyuu career, however, as Holly from the anime Last Exile. She went to university all while making waves in the Seiyuu world. After graduating from university, coupled with becoming a full-time voice actress, she embarked on a musical career, dropping four singles within her first year, some of which were used as anime theme songs. (Everybody has heard Renai Circulation!)
In her career to date, she has voiced a number of (iconic) characters, from Angel Beat’s Tachibana Kaede to Akame ga Kill’s Seryu Ubiquitous and even Nisekoi’s Kosaki Onodera! She has a number of awards to her name, like the 9th Seiyuu Awards which she won once, and the Newtype Anime Awards which she won twice, and once in second place.
2. Saori Hayami
Much like the first top female voice actress on the list, Saori Hayami gained an interest in voice acting early; in elementary school. In 2006, she passed an audition into I’m Enterprise and has remained with them till the present. Her first job as a voice actor was in Indian Summer (a drama CD), but her first job in the world of anime was with Momoka Kawakabe from Touka Gettan. Since then, she has been the voice behind many characters we know and love; Shinobu Kocho (Demon Slayer), and Yor Forger (Spy x Family) among others.
Aside from voice acting, Saori Hayami has lots to offer. She is into the world of music, as she sings both J-pop and anime songs. Alongside that, she has been hosting her own radio show, Hayami Saori no Free Style, since 2011. She has amassed a couple of awards too, like Best Comfort Radio at the 3rd Aniradi Awards (2017). She placed #2 in the 2015 Newtype x Machi Asobi Anime Awards for Best Voice Actress while her character Yukino Yukinoshita won the Best Female Character Award too.
Romi Park is of Japanese and Korean descent, compared to the many renowned pure Japanese voice actresses. Much like the others, she is both a singer and a voice actress. At the age of 26, she made her voice acting debut as Kanan Gimms in the anime series Brain Powerd. She is most popular for voicing young boys who are tough, calm and mature, and on the other hand, tough ladies/punk females. Some of her roles are Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist), Zoe Hange (Attack on Titan), Temari (Naruto) and Toshiro Hitsugaya (Bleach). She also established her own voice actor office, namely LAL.
In terms of accolades, she has bagged herself quite a few, and deservingly so. In 2003, she won the Voice Actor award at the 26th Anime Grand Prix and in 2004 with Tokyo International Anime Fair 2004. 2006 gifted her the Best Actress Award for Nana as Nana Osaki at the 1st Seiyu Awards. In 2013 she starred in a live-action film Akaboshi, which was nominated for a viewpoint at the 25th Tokyo International Film Festival.
4. Inori Minase
Inori Minase, the fourth contender of our top female anime voice actresses, had begun watching anime right from kindergarten. She wanted to become a seiyuu from the age of six, and in elementary school, she listed voice acting as her desired career. In middle school, Minase joined both tennis and theatre clubs but ended up quitting due to stage-fright. Around that time, her mum found a voice-acting audition in a magazine, which Inori signed up for and the rest is history.
Definitely the youngest among our top female anime voice actresses, she debuted in 2010, voicing Akari Okamoto in the anime series Occult Academy. Since then, she has moved upwards, with notable roles like Hestia (Danmachi), Rem (Re:Zero), Itsuki (The Quintessential Quintuplets) and Shoko (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai). She doesn’t lack any accolades either, as in 2015, her roles as Jun Naruse (The Anthem of The Heart) and Yuki Takeya (School-Live!) scored her the Best Lead Actress Award at the 10th Seiyu Awards. Along with voice acting, she is into singing, both J-Pop and anime songs. She is currently signed with King Records and has a number of hit songs.
Still on the younger end of our top female anime voice actresses, we have Ayane Sakura. Contrary to most voice actresses on the list, she aspired to be a full-on actress, not for voices. She enrolled in theatre school during her high-school days, while studying Japanese dancing, sword-fighting, voice training and acting. After experiencing real acting on stage, she realised she was “different” and quickly found her footing in voice acting.
Sakura made her voice acting debut in 2010, starring in Keroro Gunso the Super Movie: Creation! Ultimate Keroro, Wonder Space-Time Island. She continued getting roles, right up to the notable (and somewhat controversial) ones we know today. A couple are Ochaco Uraraka (My Hero Academia), Gabi Braun (Attack on Titan) and Secre Swallowtail/Nero (Black Clover). Despite her not having a career in singing/music, she does sing here and there occasionally. She is presently an agent of Aoni Production Agency.
Junko Takeuchi’s voice is definitely one to ring the nostalgia bells among our top female anime voice actresses. Unlike many of the other contenders on this list, she didn’t seem to have voice acting as a main goal early on. As a child, she was into ballet and piano for seven and a half years. She got into Nihon University, College of Art, but dropped out after two years. After that, she worked as a shoe salesperson for a couple of years and gave piano lessons in one of Tokyo’s private schools. Her initial aspiration was to work in a bank office, which was slowly put on the back burner. She started her voice acting career in 1997, which brought her many things, from fame, to success and even love.
Junko Takeuchi is most known for voicing male characters, and she has voiced a number of front-line protagonists. The most recognisable ones are Naruto (Naruto/Boruto series), Gon Freecss (renowned fantasy series Hunter x Hunter 1999) Mark Evans (popular soccer series Inazuma Eleven) and Red (Pokemon Origins). She also voices a couple of anthropomorphs; Gomamon (Digimon) and Lambo (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!). Being quite an old hand in the trade, and having a family to run, we don’t hear her as much these days. Still, her voice is one to be remembered!
7. Sora Amamiya
Sora Amamiya gives us yet another chance to show young talent among our top female anime voice actresses. Her first exposure to voice acting was in her sophomore year of high school. She was shown a video collection of the roles of Miyuki Sawashiro, another seiyuu. Following this, Amamiya set out to become a seiyuu herself. After passing an audition by Music Ray’n in 2011, she made her debut in 2012. However, it was in 2014 that she landed her first lead role, in the anime TV series: One Week Friends.
2014 was an iconic year for her, as she continued to voice star characters like Elisabeth (Seven Deadly Sins) Touka (Tokyo Ghoul) and Akame (Akame ga Kill). Other popular characters of hers include Aqua (Konosuba) and Chizuru Mizuhara (Rent-A-Girlfriend). Amamiya, together with Reina Ueda and Aya Suzaki, received the Best Rookie Actress Award at the 9th Seiyu Awards in March 2015. As an added bonus, she has a flourishing music career, in which she sings both J-pop and anime songs. Both lanes are equally successful and even bounce off of each other.
8. Maaya Uchida
Maaya Uchida, like many of the top female anime voice actresses, found her passion for the art in elementary school, but in a peculiar way. She had a strong interest in games at heart, and always thought of lending her voice to a video game character. Through this, she discovered the art of being a seiyuu, and that making her dream come true was possible. In her third year of high school, she decided to become a proper seiyuu and after looking into it a bit, settled for joining the Japan Narration Acting Institute. She completed her studies here in 2009 and at 20 years of age, after graduating, debuted in the OVA: Boku, Otaryman. Her first video game role, however, was in Gal Gun with the role of Kaoruko Sakurazaki.
With experience came bigger roles, and yes, she got to voice game characters as she’d always wanted. Among the works in which she appeared, she mentions that the work she especially has strong feelings for is Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions (as Rikka Takanashi); and the works that were a big challenge in her voice actress career are Charlotte (as Yusa/Misa Nishimori) and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (as Ayame). Her long-held wish to voice a male character was granted, with her starring as Norman in The Promised Neverland. Like many others, she has a successful music career, and awards for her work. Uchida broke into the music industry in 2014 with her hit-single: Soushou Innocence, under the label Pony Canyon and won the Best Rookie Actress Award at the 8th Seiyu Awards that same year.
9. Ai Kayano
Not much is known about Kayano’s life before she became a seiyuu. Sources say she wished to work in a job that would involve “healing people”, initially taking up a course at a vocational school. She worked in the beauty industry and after watching Aria, her sights were set on acting. While schooling, she worked to pay her own tuition. She made her debut after joining Pro-Fit in 2010 and starred in Princess Resurrection.
Although she is listed only as a voice actress, she does a lot of singing which evenly matches her seiyuu career. She focuses on anime songs, often singing for the anime she voices characters for. Notable works of hers are Menma (Anohana), Inori (Guilty Crown), Darkness (Konosuba), Alice (Sword Art Online) and Shiro (No Game No Life). She sang songs for Anohana, Konosuba and No Game No Life, among other anime. Kayano received awards for her work, for her role as Menma, she received the Best Newcomer Award at the 6th Seiyu Awards in 2012. She used to host her own show called “Kayanomi” on the Animate Times’ YouTube channel in 2016. These days, she’s soaring to higher heights and is presently an agent at Office Osawa.
10. Maaya Sakamoto
Maaya Sakamoto is a Japanese native, born and raised in Tokyo by her brother and parents. She started her career as a seiyuu at a very young age, bagging her first lead role in 1993 on Little Twins, at 12 years of age. The range and quality of her work seem to overshadow her early life, as most sources list her roles and achievements. In her defence though, she is an incredibly versatile individual, earning her spot among the top female anime voice actresses.
Apart from anime, she has been on radio, Japanese localisations of foreign dubs, video games, commercials and so much more. Some of her more recognisable roles are Hitomi Kanzaki (The Vision of Escaflowne), Echidna (Re:Zero), Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler) and Haruki Fujioka (Ouran High School Host Club). As a singer, she has songs both in English and Japanese, many of which sat on the Top 10 charts for a while. She also has a few books published in her name, definitely making her the most versatile seiyuu on our list.