Ξ June 14th, 2011 | → 8 Comments | ∇ The Anime Annals |
I was greatly saddened this past weekend to read that Tomoko Kawakami, one of my favorite voice actresses, passed away at the young age of 41 from cancer. It’s kind of funny how one can feel such sorrow for someone you haven’t met, but regardless, the tears fell from my eyes even though I wasn’t weeping, even though I never knew her. I thought of all the roles she played and the characters she voiced so well, among them several favorite girls from very different anime. I thought of making a tribute to her career through the images of the characters she played so well…
Of course I have to lead off with AIR-TV ‘s Misuzu Kamio, my favorite anime girl (along with Clannad‘s Nagisa Furukawa). Tomoko totally owned this challenging role, effortlessly going from silly to solemn, from flustered to wise, and grows from a clumsy girl to (ultimately) a graceful swan both dramatic and dignified as her fate becomes ever more apparent. There’s so much to love about Misuzu that it defies explanation; just listen to Tomoko bring this poor, but very brave girl, to life, in the following spoiler-free compilation of scenes from the first half of AIR (and never search YouTube for more unless you want to be completely spoiled or have seen it already). Protip: expand these videos to Full Screen for maximum effect
And yes… I DO own a “Gao Gao Stegosaurus” shirt just like the one Yukito is wearing
My second-favorite role she voiced was Clannad‘s Girl From the Illusory World, a fairly thankless role for which she didn’t get many lines, but so beautifully portrayed the few she did have. This next video contains many of the brief clips stitched together from multiple episodes of Clannad (but no spoilers!), and probably won’t make sense if you haven’t seen it. But you will get the gist of it, and hopefully will pique your interest in this superb anime. Everything is significant Again, I’ll warn you against searching YouTube for more clips, since it is VERY easy to get spoiled, and we definitely don’t want that to happen, right? Seriously, if you’re attracted to the series concept and genre, just buy the darn thing already!
Kanon‘s Sayuri provided Tomoko with another juicy role; she is a kind, sweet, and reflective sort of girl, not too different from Misuzu. Less clumsy, for sure LOL In the series, Sayuri is Mai’s (the sword-wielding demon hunter) best friend and constant companion, and they have several cute scenes showing their devotion to one another. But her shining moment occurrs in revealing her backstory, which is depicted in the next clip. She effortlessly switches between her “current” and “younger” voices with ease, and does a wonderful job of it in this very poignant story:
It’s no coincidence that Tomoko Kawakami appears in central roles in each of the KEY/Kyoto Animation “Triple Crown” shows of Air, Kanon, and Clannad, and no coincidence that these are amongst my favorite stories of all time, as well as these other favorite shows included here.
On a completely different note, and role, is that of sadistic little Mariko, one of Elfen Lied ‘s Diclonius mutations. Believe me, this role is 180 degrees from her previous characters! It took quite awhile to find a video that didn’t have music (after all, I’m looking for Tomoko’s speaking parts), but could only find one that contained a very spoilerish scene. So: SPOILER WARNING!!!: This is Elfen Lied, so be forewarned regarding the violence and heartwrenching emoting, and depiction of key character deaths in this next video. Briefly, Kurama is head of a government-sponsored detention facility for the mutant Diclonius, who are intent on destroying humankind. Mariko is one of the most advanced and dangerous, Number 35. She is Kurama’s daughter… and the story will kind of tell the rest. Fasten your safety belts:
(EDIT: Okay, unfasten them; the control freaks pulled it already *vid snipped* :-( )
I tried without success in finding a video of Tomoko voicing Athena Glory from the serene and beautiful ARIA series, only finding clips of her singing two or three songs that were actually performed by the late Eri Kawaii. Athena speaks very little (she’s a quiet and clumsy girl!) but surprisingly to her friends has pipes of gold. Sad that both of Athena’s seiyuu have passed away… but we are left with such lovely memories such as these, and this:
Since Tomoko didn’t sing on that anime, here’s a final video of her singing a beautiful version of “Natsukage” from AIR-TV, featuring (of course!) a Misuzu slideshow! So relaxing and sublime… we’ll just leave it at that, shall we? Much gratitude to her for her excellent work that shall live on…