May 15, 2009 at 11:58 am (otaku word, slang)

 There is the most insulting word that most actors or actresses are afraid of. At the same time, it could be the worst label…that is 棒読み[bouyomi]. [bou] means a bar, and 読み[yomi] is a noun form of 読む[yomu] or read. 棒読み[bouyomi] is an emotionless speech. There is no acting, no emotion…such a boring speech. Once an actor gets labelled as 棒読み, it would take much time to improve his reputation.

 Still, actors or actresses could get through if they have a good-looking. However for seiyus(voice actors or actresses), there is only one thing they can use. It’s voice. Lately this is also changing, I will explain later.

 I am sure you have your favorite seiyus even if you don’t understand Japanese. And I am also sure you can even evaluate the quality. So if you hear a character whose voice doesn’t go well (or merely poor acting), you would like to label the seiyu as 棒読み.

 I have two friends who want to be a seiyu, and both of them belong to a certain agency(already finished training school) although they haven’t made a debut. They told me that it basically takes a lot of time for male seiyus until they make a debut. So it is not unusual that they make a debut after 30. Meanwhile, it is much faster for female seiyus to make a debut because they are mostly recruited as an idol. Because of this, it doesn’t also take that much to fade out…True, because they have less experience as a seiyu. Please read my previous post as well.

 Come to think of it, what has happened to this occupation, seiyu[声優]? Lately it is not unusual that young idols voice a character(especially in a brand-new anime film). Not only young idols, but comedians(お笑い芸人) or other celebrities(タレント). Has this occupation declined to such a quick job?

 Having said that, there are even fans who dare to love such a 棒読みseiyu. Such an emotionless speech could turn them on, that is 棒萌え[bou-moe]. Also, they might see how such a 棒読みseiyu becomes more professional. Even though a seiyu is such a 棒読み, he/she could be a 成長系声優[seichou-kei seiyu] or a developed seiyu after having some experience.   

 There is no accounting for tastes, so I hate to say some examples. Please be patient for what I am going to say. These examples strictly depend on those fans, so…no complaints, please.

 This video is from Code Geass R2, and it focuses on how bouyomi V.V. is. He says, 教えてあげようか?はじめまして、枢木スザク。ぼくの名前はV.V.[Shall I tell you? Nice to meet you, Kururugi Suzaku. My name is V.V.] I don’t know if the seiyu is acting like this on purpose, but it sounds boring to me.

 This video shows the two scenes from Supernatural, and comapres the original and the dubbed. It is not really important that which scenes they are, but how horrible the dubbing is. Before Supernatural DVD was released, the news that the actor and the comedian featured the two brothers spread out. Neither had any experience of seiyu, so the result was a nightmare. In the first scene, the brothers are interrupting the ritual, shouting 火事だー、逃げろー、燃えてるぞー、火事だー早く逃げろー![It’s fire, get out, it’s burning, get out now!]. And in the second one, the brothers are trying to get attention of a monster, shouting 「出て来い人喰い鬼ー、腹減ってんだろー早く来いー俺うまいぜー。おーいここだーつかまえてみろ[Come on, aren’t you hungry? I am tasty. I am here. You catch me.]」 「よし行くぞ、急げ[Good, let’s go. Quickly.]」「よう、俺の肉は食いたくないってかー上等だー[Yo, don’t you wanna eat me? Great.]」

 こ れ は ひ ど い。よくこんなのでDVD出せたね。I am not that picky, but I can’t stop wondering why it had to be them. I am not gonna demand Koyama Rikiya or Horiuchi Ken’yu, but there MUST HAVE BEEN much better and appropriate seiyus even if they are not that famous.

 I know things change as fans change their needs, but I feel something is missing as the industry doesn’t seem to value the sheer quality of seiyu.



  1. wa-chan said,

    nice blog post lawl but i can’t read japanese XD

  2. bangin said,

    Hi, thank you for coming. Is this icon you? Looks Japanese. ^^
    Please feel free to ask if you don’t understand!

    • wa-chan said,

      lawl yeah i’m the one in the icon,
      do i look like japanese? XD
      lawl sure i’ll ask you if i do not understand anything XD anyway i’ll subscribe to your blog if you have some updates XD

      • bangin said,

        Yes you look like Japanese.
        I don’t know how you knew about my blog, but I will update at least once a week. Visit anytime!

  3. w said,

    Bleah! I can’t stand bou-yomi seiyuu either. But some of them do go on to mature and become good seiyuu… it’s just a real shame for those who have actual talent but don’t want to go through the pointless process of media publicity and “selling” themselves.

    So I guess 大根役者 be the live-action equivalent, then?

    • bangin said,

      Sometimes I can’t stand such a bouyomi in Miyazaki anime. 命をそまつにするやつは大嫌いだー.
      Something is fishy in this industry. Putting aside a sheer talent, just a reputation gets a job no matter how horrible the acting is.

      Let’s say 大根声優 to mean a bouyomi seiyu, then.

  4. wa-chan said,

    sure i’ll visist i love reading other people’s blogposts.
    yours is interesting XD

    • bangin said,

      I visited your blog, and I found you added my blog in your blogroll.
      Thank you. ^^

      • wa-chan said,

        yush yer welcome 😀

  5. Marie said,

    I totally see you points! For Code Geass R2, I’m not so sure either. The seiyu could be acting like that on purpose. But for the Supernatural comparison, some of the scenes actually had a different feel to it whether it’s bad or good. And as we all knows, the original is usually superior to the dubbed. The same reason why I can’t and will not watch English dubbed Anime (>.<)/

    • bangin said,

      This sometimes happens, the company deliberately uses popular celebrities as a seiyu in order to promote. Like Kimutaku voiced Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle. That was still good, but I can’t stand Irino Miyu who voiced Haku-sama in Spirited Away. But he is probably a seichou-kei seiyu because his acting got better now. I don’t feel moe about something like this, anyway.

  6. usagijen said,

    woah, looks like there’s quite a contrast between the usage of ‘棒’ in Japanese and Chinese. In Chinese, it stands for ‘exciting/awesome!’, the exact opposite 😮

    • bangin said,

      棒 stands for flat, straight, no wave of emotion in this context. Even such a 棒読みseiyu can make a debut now. That is awesome, in a way…

  7. Neohybrid_kai said,

    >>there are even fans who dare to love such a 棒読みseiyu.

    After hanging out long enough in this culture, I realize that ANY kind of genre/style/trait will eventually has its own fanbase. There’s no line between good and bad anymore.

    • bangin said,

      There is no accounting for tastes, so I don’t mean to be rude, but even that I can’t stand this style.

  8. 子犬 said,

    Before I learned another language, I learned when playing movies with subtitles you cannot say if the actor was bad or not. A person must know the language. That is the reason why foreign fans are almost always of the opinion that the original is superior, even if the dub is better. ^^;

    I agree with your examples, but I have not seen either show. (. . )

    • bangin said,

      Since I am Japanese, I feel a bit weird whatever anime I watch. But sometimes I hear a nice dub like Kyon or Lelouch.

      Actually I don’t follow Supernatural, either. I stopped watching it after watching first two episodes.

  9. 子犬 said,

    I know what you mean. My English is pretty good and I can understand English shows. So if dubbed episodes of Scrubs are on it is sort of weird. I like Neil Flynn’s voice.

  10. imbeleth said,

    Till you pointed it out, I’ve never heard a 棒読みseiyuu. So that surprised me a little to know that they exist??? And its moe? Mn. Well I guess, each to one’s own.

    • bangin said,

      They do exist. It is not moe to me, but there are some fans who feel this hot.

  11. Ayanta García said,

    Well, as for V.V…. his voice actor was 10 or 11 years old at the time, right? So he couldn’t have been as good as a professional adult x9…

    He sound better in R2, though ^^

    • bangin said,

      Yes, the real kid voiced V.V. Since V.V. is such an innocent and neutral boy, he was chosen, I heard. Of course there are a lot of fans who are pleased whereas others are not.

      His voice reminds me of Bou in Spirited Away.

  12. Jesse said,

    Wow, what a coincidence! Haha, I was reading this post yesterday afternoon, and when I played Clover no Kuni no Alice during the night, they used this word!

    • bangin said,

      Haha, 偶然ですね。
      Clover no Kuni no Alice? That is the otome game, right?
      Who said bouyomi in the game, and how?

      • Jesse said,

        Yes, it’s Quin Rose’s Alice series. I am absolutely CRAZY about it! Do you know much about the game?

        One of the characters, Nightmare, who is a total だめおとこ, asked Alice 私のいいところはどこだと思う?
        and all the choices were bad, one was ‘You have no good points at all’, and one of them, which was the correct answer, was ‘…かっこいいところ(棒読み)’. But Nightmare thought you were serious and goes ‘I KNEW IT!!! 私偉いでしょう!’……=_=;;
        This is why I love this series, because it makes me laugh so much and is very different from other otome games.

  13. bangin said,

    The Alice is very picky and aimless, yes she is not like most heroines from otome games. I like Chesha Cat the most. ^^

  14. Fer said,

    Hi, nice post. Interesting! A question, bouyomi is for actors, is there one for singers?

    • bangin said,

      Thank you for your comment. well, bouyomi works for singers as well. You could say 単調(tanchou) to mean such a boring singing.

      • Fer said,

        Thank you! Tanchou as an adjective, right? Also, thanks for the quick response!

  15. Balada878 (@balada878) said,

    Don’t know if you still reply comments on such an old post, but damn that was helpful! I was curious about what “bouyomi” meant after going through the Cookie☆ wiki, and this post covered it very well. Thanks!

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