Acting and voice acting are the same thing. Performing before a microphone in a padded room is no different from performing on stage or in front of a camera. Voice acting does have one notable difference that’s actually advantageous for actors. In the voice-over world, an actor isn’t limited by their appearance or age. This allows actors to portray characters they wouldn’t be able to play in live-action projects.
This casting flexibility eliminates the need for makeup or CGI effects. So it’s not surprising for voice actors to be cast as characters who are younger, older, or are even of a different gender.
10 Laura Stahl as Ray (The Promised Neverland)
The Promised Neverland introduced the biggest cast in anime since The Lost Village, featuring over 37 characters comprising the lot – and that’s only the orphans! There’s also the adults, demons, and other orphans. Laura Stahl plays one of the three main characters, Ray. The introverted bookworm who oftentimes draws comparisons to Sasuke Uchiha. And it’s not because of the haircut.
Laura gives Ray a slightly gruff voice that aids in the illusion that he’s voiced by a female voice actor. The cast also includes Jeannie Tirado, Cristina Vee, and Philece Sampler who play male characters like Norman, Thoma, and Lannion respectively.
9 Tia Ballard as Happy (Fairy Tail)
Happy from Fairy Tail is Tia Ballard’s most famous and longest-running role, and the one that launched her career in anime. She would later go onto playing other anime characters in popular series like Zero Two (Darling in the Franxx), Ragdoll (My Hero Academia), Chiho Saski (The Devil’s A Part-Timer) and Marron (Dragonball Super).
Ballard infuses Happy with the same cheerful, fun-loving nature that Natsu’s best friend is known for. She performed the hilarious chemistry between Natsu, Carla and Lucy brilliantly. It was always a fun time when these characters shared the screen together.
8 Erica Mendez as Gon Freecss (Hunter X Hunter)
Wait, Gon was voiced by a woman? Surprisingly yes, and she does an awesome job of it! This wasn’t the first time Erica Mendez played a male anime character, with her role as Aladdin from Magi being an obvious example. Her anime career really took off when she played Ryuko Matoi from Kill la Kill. A performance that garnered her such recognition that she got cast as Gon.
Since then Erica has gone onto portray characters such as Diane (The Seven Deadly Sins), Raphtalia (The Rising of The Shield Hero), Yuuki Konno (Sword Art Online) and recently Retsuko (Aggretusko). Erica stars alongside Cristina Vee who plays Gon’s best friend/rival Killua Zoldyck.
7 Brina Palencia as Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler)
Wow, Brina Palencia can portray younger male characters and pull off a convincing English accent? Now that’s some impressive skills right there! Although she’s brought amazing performances to characters like Juvia Loxar (Fairy Tail), Yuno Gasai (Future Diary), and Holo (Spice and Wolf), Ciel Phantomhive will always be her best performance.
Brina Palencia is no stranger to playing younger male characters with her other roles including Tony Tony Chopper from One Piece and Minoru Mineta from My Hero Academia. Additionally, Brina also has a musical background as a singer. It’s no wonder she has such a mastery over her voice!
6 Brittney Karbowski as Black Star (Soul Eater)
Alongside Laura Bailey as Maka Albarn, John Swasey as Death and Todd Haberkorn as Death the Kid, Brittney Karbowski gave one of the most entertaining performances from the Soul Eater dub. She amazingly captured Black Star’s energetic, egotistical personality and made for some of the anime’s funniest moments. Fans will be amazed to learn that Karbowski’s range is so incredible that she also voiced Mikoto Misaka, Camie Utushimi, and Wendy Marvell.
To this day, she continues to bring stellar performances in anime dubs and it’s exciting to think about what other characters she’ll bring to life in the future.
5 Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Here is yet another Soul Eater voice actor. Alphonse Elric was first voiced by Aaron Dismuke in the English dub for the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime. Back when Aaron was just 12 years old. His age worked for him, as he sounded completely natural as Alphonse. Alas, you can’t escape from time and as Aaron got older, his voice got deeper!
Hence why Maxey Whitehead took over the role when Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood got an English dub. Whitehead delivered a naturally youthful performance. She sounded so similar to Aaron that the disparity between the two is indistinguishable.
4 Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)
Luffy was previously voiced by Erica Shroeder in the infamous yet hilariously bad 4kids dub. Once Funimation acquired the rights, Colleen Clinkenbeard earned the immense responsibility as Luffy’s English voice actor. Fortunately, she more than lives up to this vocally challenging role. Seriously playing Luffy would require Goku ascending to Super Saiyan 3 level of endurance.
Colleen has admitted that out of all the characters she’s played before, Luffy is her favorite. It’s evident in her energetic performance that’s she having an absolute blast. Aside from Luffy, Colleen is known for her roles as Erza Scarlet, Riza Hawkeye, and Momo Yaoyorozu.
3 Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto)
Maile Flanagan holds the record for portraying a character for the longest amount of time on this list. For over 15 years, Maile has been the sole English voice actor of Naruto Uzumaki. Her tenure started in the original Naruto anime, then she reprised the role in Naruto Shippuden and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. It’s safe to say she’s not giving up on this character just yet.
Naruto Uzumaki remains Maile Flanagan’s most famous role. It’s similar to Hugh Jackman with Wolverine. Jackman played Wolverine for 17 years and remains the only actor who has portrayed him in live-action. There seems to be a recurring theme of shounen protagonists being voiced by female voice actors. For instance, there’s Colleen Clinkenbeard (Luffy), Erica Mendez (Gon Freecss) and Maile Flanagan (Naruto). It’s interesting, to say the least!
2 Amanda Celine Miller as Boruto Uzumaki (Boruto: Naruto Next Generation)
Like father, like son. Now that Naruto is busy attending to his Hokage duties, it’s up to Boruto to carry on the franchise. Before landing the role of Boruto, Amanda Celine Miller was best known for playing Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter, a dream role of hers. She soon appeared as Boruto in Boruto: Naruto The Movie and would reprise the role in the follow-up series.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generation is a sequel to Naruto Shippuden which follows the lives of the main characters now grown up and with children. Boruto struggles in connecting with his father since he’s always busy as the Hokage. Their strained relationship makes for one of the series’s most engaging story elements.
1 Faye Mata as Astolfo (Fate/Apocrypha)
Really?! Astolfo, the pink-haired, braided, likable, feminine-looking Rider of Black is actually a guy!? Shockingly yes, especially for Ruler. Astolfo was based on the fictional character from the Matter of France literary cycle. The Fate series has a tendency of recreating figures from history and literature vastly differently from the original person.
Astolfo has since become one of Faye Mata’s most notable roles even winning her a People’s Choice award on the website, Behind The Voice Actors.com. It’s the role that launched her voice acting career. Faye Mata would later play characters like Aqua (Konosuba), Myne (The Rising of The Shield Hero), and Yukako Yamagishi (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable).
Female dubbers voicing male anime characters is a fun open secret, but no one expected these characters to have women voicing them