Over the past decade, the world of voice acting in anime has experienced a celebrity boom, thanks to the efforts of companies like Studio Ghibli and streaming services like Netflix. Previously, voice acting took a back seat to the artwork and music of a feature, with jobs going to people with exceptional vocal abilities or experience in radio. Now, however, celebrity voice actors have become the rule rather than the exception for big-budget anime.
Some celebrities who have lent their voices to anime characters may surprise fans. Dakota Fanning, known for her acting chops, provided the English voice for Satsuki Kusakabe in Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro.” Her sister, Elle Fanning, voiced Satsuki’s sister Mei in the Disney dub of the film.
Liam Neeson, known for his versatile acting talent, dubbed the character Fujimoto in Miyazaki’s “Ponyo.” Kirsten Dunst, a recognized celebrity in the entertainment industry, won the role of Kiki in the Studio Ghibli anime “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” Tony Hale, known for his humor, played the role of the Joker in the anime “Batman Ninja.”
Minnie Driver, James Marsters, Evan Rachel Wood, John Cho, Alison Brie, and Samuel L. Jackson have also lent their voices to anime characters. Driver played Lady Eboshi in the iconic anime “Princess Mononoke,” while Marsters voiced Zamasu in “Dragon Ball Super.” Wood provided the dub voice for Yi Lin in “Flavors of Youth,” and Cho dubbed the voice of the father in “Mirai.” Brie played Am in the Star Wars anthology series “Visions,” and Jackson took on the title character Afro and Ninja Ninja in “Afro Samurai.”
These celebrities, known and loved for their on-screen presence, have also found success in the world of voice acting in anime. Their voices have brought anime characters to life and have helped bridge the gap between anime and mainstream audiences. As anime continues to gain popularity, more celebrities may join the ranks of voice actors in the industry.