Counter-casting of seiyuus in anime
January 14, 2009
“In commercial films, you tend to see a lot of type-casting. In my last violent instalment of revenge trilogy, I wanted to try what Hitchcock called ‘counter-casting’. Lee Young Ae grabbed my attention because Koreans have such a narrow pre-conception of her image as being nice, gentle and forgiving. One of my ongoing artistic challenges as a director is exploiting images of these well-known actors…”
– Park Chan Wook, director of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
And yet, there is much more to counter-casting than simply portraying a character that goes against your type-cast actor’s image. Hitchcock in his Psycho for example, used ‘gentle pretty boy’ image of Anthony Perkins to deceive audience into believing that he was innocent, consequently evoking greater shock when people later found out that he was the murderer. On the other hand, Park Chan Wook deliberately kept juxtaposing Lee Young Ae‘s past character (gentle, loving woman) to her present character who is a manipulative and relentless goddess of vengeance; a female incarnation of Edmond Dantes. So,
-Counter-casting is not simply a matter of choosing which type-cast actor to play a different character. How to use that said actor’s pre-conceived image, is the question that is just as, if not more, important.
-Usually greater the type-cast actor’s pre-conceived image, greater the impact. I could predict the murderer in Psycho possibly because I didn’t see Perkins the same way as the people of 1960s era did. And maybe, my fascination with such a powerful character transformation of Lee Young Ae could be due to all the gentle characters she was type-cast in previous films/dramas.
So where have we seen counter-casting in anime?
After the shistorm that was Geass, it’s fair to say that many were inevitably reminded of Lelouch when Jun Fukuyama voiced Daichi (from Akikan!) with that same air of confidence and asshole attitude. I don’t know why but it was funny. Maybe it’s because of how hilariously low his character was compared to Lelouch. Or maybe it had nothing to do with the casting. In any case, if this was meant to be counter-casting, then I certainly didn’t find such one-dimensional gimmick as intriguing as Park Chan Wook‘s meticulous weaving of type-cast and a counter-cast in a juxtaposing narrative. Interesting for what seems to be yet another guilty pleasure though. Other than that, I unfortunately don’t know much of, if there’s any, successful counter-castings in anime. Perhaps hashihime might know.
Personally I’d love to see a well-executed counter-casting of Kugimie Rie. No seiyuu is as royally type-cast as her short-tempered, flat-chested and ear-rapingly high-pitch voiced loli, who bounces back and forth from tsun-tsun to dere-dere so much, you will roll your eyes more than is needed to follow every single volley played at Australian Tennis Open (which is btw, on 19th January GO SHARAPOVA ^_^). There are just so many opportunities to exploit this type-cast image of her. Maybe she can first start acting as yet another loli tsundere, then gradually transform into a more mature woman and…well actually, developing as anything besides tsundere would be good, that’s how ridiculously type-cast she is.
So, do you remember any memorable counter-casting of seiyuus in anime? Or is there a seiyuu you’d like to see counter-cast in any particular way?