Like most of the people reading this blog, I have been knee-deep in some sort of video game for the majority of my life. Born the same year that Sonic first graced the world with his energetic heroism, I have always, and will always, love video games. We all enjoy the stories they tell, the adventures they give us and the characters we meet in them. We all know names such as Corey Barlog, Phil Spencer, Hidetaka Miyazaki etc. But I am willing to bet not a lot of people have heard names such as Bryce Papenbrook or Erica Lindbeck.
Prolific voice actors (VAs) such as Troy Baker (Joel from The Last of Us, Higgs from Death Stranding, Drake from Uncharted etc) or well-known celebrity performers such as Christopher Judge (Kratos from God of War) will not appear here. As much as they do truly amazing work, I aim to shine a light on those I feel deserve a little more recognition.
Disclaimer: The talented people in this article are listed in surname-specific alphabetical order. There will be no countdown to ‘the best’ and this blog is specifically not called the ‘top’ or ‘best’ voice actors. The idea of ranking talent does not sit well with me, which is why I have chosen to do it this way.
Brian Bowles is most likely the name on this list that the least amount of people have heard. And if you have, I would be surprised. This VA has a pretty credible list of games under his belt. Unlike the other people featured here, most of his credits come under the category of ‘additional voices’.
This means that he does not have well-known characters that you might recognise. The most notable would be Pontius from the Trine series, and the narrator from Divinity Original Sin 2. Other than these two roles, everything he has done has been mostly background characters and generic NPCs that are not named. This does not mean that he is less talented than the others here on this list. Without his voice narrating the events of Divinity Original Sin 2 and talking to us -the players- that game would not be nearly as engaging as it is. He is distinctly English and has a greatly soothing voice that could rival that of even beloved national treasure David Attenborough.
I wanted to feature him on this list not only to credit his talent but also as a representative of other voice actors who do primarily background roles. We all remember the voices of the main characters, the enemies we fight and the companions we meet along the way. But video games are filled with hundreds more talents than those of just the main roles, and they deserve shout-outs too!
Liam O’ Brien
Liam O’Brien is my personal favourite VA by far, he always adds such a dramatic flair to the characters he voices. He was a staple voice actor during earlier gaming generations.
The character he is probably most known for is Gaara from the Naruto series. This includes both the anime series and the video games released for it. The last few years have seen him spend less time picking up new voice acting roles as he has been working full-time on a little-known project called Critical Role. You may have heard of it. It only brings in several million views per YouTube episode. It is the D&D show that spawned the hit Prime anime show Vox Machina where he reprises his role as Vax.
In regard to video games, he voices some of my all-time favourite characters. From Grimoire Weiss (Nier Replicant), Asura (Asura’s Wrath), War (Darksiders) etc. The power and tone he manages to convey in his characters, along with the passion he brings to his projects always leaves such an impression on me. His voice sends such ripples down my spine that I even notice him when he is playing side characters and background roles. These lesser-known characters include the A.I in Death Stranding, Gollum from Shadow of War, Orlando in Catherine, Caius from Final Fantasy XIII-2 and so, so many more.
When I hear his voice, I immediately know that I am getting more than my money’s worth from a game, as he always plays unique and interesting characters. I recommend checking out his IMDB page, I bet he voices some characters that you love too.
Erika is a voice actress that manages to deliver pure innocent tones in her performances. The characters she is most notable for bringing to life are all interesting characters that have a calm demeanour that can boil over the edge when pushed too far. I think these kinds of characters are the hardest kind to voice as they require mastery of essentially two different voicing techniques.
In the realm of anime, she has appeared in some of the most well-regarded series of all time. Lending her voice to characters such as Elizabeth Liones (7 Deadly Sins), Videl (Dragon Ball Super) and Shinobu Kocho (Demon Slayer). She is quickly establishing herself as a mainstay in the world of voice acting. These heavy-hitting anime titles speak for themselves but it is evident that Erika is capable of standing out amongst some of the biggest names in the industry.
Moving into the gaming world she voices Ann Takamaki (Persona 5). I have featured several VAs on this list that had roles in the Persona 5 series of games, and that is no oversight. Persona 5 is one of the biggest and most popular games of recent years, which was helped in no small part thanks to the performances of the VAs. Some of her other performances include Raging Bull (Ys IX) and she reprises her respected role in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles.
Erika is one of the VAs that I love to hear in both games and anime. I would love her to get a more substantial role as a main character at some point soon so that we can see just what she is capable of.
The problem with writing a blog like this is, you fall prey to sounding a little repetitive. Each person gets a little intro and is followed by the great work they do in anime and then in gaming. Click away from the article if you want, I dare you (please don’t). Repetition is not something that Cherami has though. I love when I can recognise VAs in my favourite games and anime, but I was really surprised to learn that Cherami voices the characters she does as they are all so different!
Cherami has played some notable characters in anime. From Lucy Heartfilia (Fairy Tail) Yuuki Konno (SAO) and Sarada Uchiha (Boruto). Each of these characters have distinctly unique personalities and it was such a joy for me to discover that it was the same VA behind each of them.
She also boasts an impressive gaming resume. She has lead roles in two of my favourite games of all time: A2 (Nier Automata) and Makoto (Persona 5). You will notice repeating game and anime names on this list, but that only speaks volumes about the products and the talents behind them. Cherami also voiced female V (cyberpunk 2077) and Manon (Street Fighter 6).
It is usually really easy for me to distinguish a voice I have heard elsewhere. Imagine that meme of Leonardo in a sweaty vest pointing to the TV. Cherami always surprises me when I see her name in the credits of products I interact with. I hope she continues to surprise me as she is incredibly talented.
I feel like even amongst well-known voice actors, there never seems to be much highlight on female voice actresses. Besides when they are being sent death threats such as Laura Bailey from her performance in The Last of Us Part 2. Whilst Laura Bailey is a great voice performer herself, Erica definitely deserves a spot on this list. She is someone who has most likely voiced a character or two that you are familiar with.
Unlike most on this list, Erica is actually more well-known for lending her voice to flesh out the world of games rather than in anime. That said though she is no stranger to the world of anime and voices some iconic characters. Some of her more well-known anime performances are Jericho from 7 Deadly Sins, Cheelai from Dragon Ball Super: Broly and Mordred from Fate/Apocrypha.
In terms of video games, her most popular and well-recognised character by far is Sakura Futaba from the world of Persona 5 games. The character is one of the most recognised characters in all of persona history. But Erica doesn’t stop there, she has a whole host of amazing characters under her belt. From Shionne in Tales of Arise, Jessie Raspberry from Final Fantasy VII Remake and Sophitia from Soulcalibur VI. From those characters alone it is clear that Erica deserves far more recognition in the industry.
Erica has one of the softest, most innocent voices in the business. But the way in which she can apply these aspects to more ‘rough around the edges’ characters makes her an absolute master at the art. I hope we continue to be delighted by her work for many characters to come.
Erica Mendez is likely one of the most prolific VAs on this list. And for good reason. She has a really interesting voice that manages to convey a range of tone and emotion that just sucks you into her performances. If you are as much into your anime and gaming as I am, then you have definitely heard her voice at one point or another. She is easily one of my favourite VAs as the voice that she gives certain characters is just incredible.
If you are a fan of anime at all then you will have heard her somewhere. She plays Diane (The Seven Deadly Sins), Retsuko (Aggretsuko), Denki (Boruto), and I could go on and on. She has an extensive list of recognisable characters behind her that I suggest you check out. I bet you see a character or two there that you know.
Erica is behind one of my all-time favourite voice performances in terms of video games. She voices Kasane (Scarlet Nexus) and is hands down, incredible. Something about the character herself and the way in which Erica manages to bring life to her is such a perfect match. She also voices Doll (Ys IX: Monstrum Nox), Seong Mi-na (Soul Calibur VI), and Throné Anguis in Octopath Traveller 2.
Erica delivers some absolutely stellar performances across her career and always gives us unforgettable characters. I am happy to see she has roles in upcoming games as I am excited to see what other memorable characters she can give us.
Max Mittelman is a bit of a wild card on this list. Possibly one of the voice actors with the least number of characters in his arsenal here, but then he hasn’t been going for as long as some of the others either. The personality he instils into his characters is always top-notch.
In the realm of anime, his biggest role by far is Saitama from One-Punch Man. Saitama is an incredibly monotone character for the most part, but even so, Max manages to convey some really interesting tones to the character. Other recognisable roles of his include Konohamaru Sarutobi from Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, Nacht Faust from Black Clover and Shirou Kotomine from Fate/Apocrypha.
Over on the video game side of performances, he also has some interesting characters. He voices Logy in the Atelier series of games and Troy Calypso in Borderlands 3. One of his most recognised characters is Ryuji Sakamoto from the Persona 5 series. He of course reprises his anime characters in the video game adaptations of One-Punch Man a Hero Nobody Knows and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: Road to Boruto.
Max Mittelman seems to play mostly characters that aren’t the ones that ‘stand out’ in anime and games. Ones that are calm and collected. But ones whose emotions boil over after a period of time. This is a hard character type to portray but Max does a fantastic job at delivering both sides of such characters. I really hope he blesses us with more characters in the future.
Bryce Papenbrook may not be as well known for video games as some of the others featured in this blog, but he is still worthy of recognition. He has made a name for himself mainly in the animation sector like many on this list. He has such an interesting dynamic range with his voice whilst managing to maintain a constant tone with all his characters. This is evident from two of his most recognisable characters: Meliodas from 7 Deadly Sins and Inosuke from Demon Slayer. For me though his best anime role goes to the character of Shirou Emiya from Fate Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks. One of the best anime of all time in my humble opinion.
Meliodas’ voice is synonymous with calm and innocent vibes. Whilst Inosukse’s voice is synonymous with gruff, chaotic, and anger-ridden vibes. Both these characters are far removed from each other and are portrayed very differently. But Bryce’s undeniable tone cuts through regardless and is distinguishable in all his roles.
He doesn’t just have standing in anime, he also celebrates some well-revered roles in video games. He voices some great characters such as Adol Christin from Ys XIII Lacrimosa of Dana, Law from Tales of Arise, and Silver the Hedgehog from the Sonic series. He of course reprises his role of Inosuke Hashibira for the video game Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles.
I really hope we see Bryce in the credit roll of more video games in the future. He has such a distinctive voice that it is hard not to want to hear him more.
We always get hung up on how games look. Video games are first and foremost a visual media. But without an exemplary auditory experience working in tandem, a graphically stellar game will always trip over its own feet at the starting line. Alongside this, we also need to feel invested in the game. That feeling of needing to know what happens next in a story comes from somewhere, from someone. There are many, many facets of the gaming world. This blog features some of my favourite voice actors, and who knows, maybe I will turn this into a series where I highlight people of significance in different avenues of video game work.
Whether you love or hate a character, they are brought to life by voice actors/actresses. There would be no Aloy without Ashly Burch, no Kratos without Christopher Judge and certainly no Ratchet without James Arnold Taylor. Protagonists, antagonists, party members, shopkeepers, narrators and side-line NPCs; every character is born from the performance behind them.
Every voice is important, always let yours be heard! Happy gaming.