I have immense respect for voice actors. They must do all the work of a live action actor, but with much less. How a line is delivered is the difference between a scene becoming laughable or heartfelt. Often times they’re in a booth, alone, trying to capture the raw emotion needed to convey the gravitas of the moment. Sometimes they’re lucky, and most of the other actors are present, allowing them to play off each other. In either case, it’s still difficult work. This is my list of people that I actively follow, able to instantly pick out their voice.
5. Kevin Conroy
He’s Batman. Defining the character for over 20 years, he’s voiced the legendary superhero in television, animated movies, and video games. There’s a reason he’s been brought back time and again to don the cowl. Many have played Bruce Wayne/Batman in various incarnations, but Conroy has always been picked as the fan-favorite. He perfectly nails the balance between the lighthearted billion and gravelly (though very clear) tones of the Bat. Conroy has mostly only voiced Batman, with his most notable appearance outside of that being Captain Sunshine on Venture Bros. With Batman under your cape, do you need to do much more?
4. Mae Whitman
While having a few live action credits to her name with Scott Pilgrim (Roxy Ricther) and Arrested Development (her?/egg/Ann Veal), Whitman has been doing much better work with voice acting. First she defined the head strong, independent Katara on Avatar: The Last Airbender. Now she’s the teenage kunoichi-in-training April O’Neil on the new Nick Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Again, voice acting is difficult, and for someone so young to nail it (she was only 17 when she started as Katara) is profound. I’m excited to see what she’ll do next.
3. Troy Baker
Lately, Baker’s been everywhere, but that’s not a bad thing. Voicing Loki and Hawkeye in the new, subpar Marvel cartoons (Ultimate Spider-man and Avengers), he’s had a variety of rolls from anime to video games. This year saw the release of two games, both leading the pack for game of the year; The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite. Baker was cast in the lead in both as Joel and Booker DeWitt, respectively. Considering the deep, emotional stories both games told, they needed a strong lead to tell them. Baker sold me completely, nearly bringing me to tears in both. He’s become a little over-saturated as late, but he’s still delivering quality work. At least he hasn’t had a conversation with himself, yet.
2. Jennifer Hale
What hasn’t she done? This veteran of the industry has become the quintessential female voice lead. Her list of credits is extensive as she’s been active since the early 90’s. The role that I’ll always remember her for is Femshep (Female Commander Shepard) in Mass Effect. While only around 30% of players chose a female lead, those who did were treated to Hale’s amazing performance. A game primarily about choices, make the right one and play as Femshep. That’s not to knock Mark Meer’s performance as male Shepard, Hale’s was simply better.
1. Vic Mignogna
Though I’m still not sure how to pronounce his last name, Mignogna is easily my favorite voice act. An in house voice over actor for Funimation, he’s done plenty of work on various animes. His defining roll comes from Edward Elric on Fullmetal Alchemist. My favorite anime, if not my favorite show, Fullmetal is something I watch once a year. While there are so many elements in play between the story, animation, score, and more, the American voice over is the icing on the cake. Mignogna made the role for me. Like a few others on this list, he’s also a singer, performing the opening for Dragon Ball Z Kai. His best performance came from Brothers, singing about the relationship between Edward and Alphonse.
And thus ends my inaugural top 5 list which is completely definitive, set in stone, and worth arguing about. Who’s your favorite? Disagree with one of my picks? Comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter! You can now see my Saturday Morning Cartoon posts at The Two-Headed Nerd!
Number 6, Yuri Lowenthal.