There’s a new audition poll over at asosbrigade, this time for Yuki. I voted for #4, but frankly, I think all four girls flubbed it. Every one of them inflected their voice to a greater or lesser extent. The defining characteristic of the Japanese seiyuu’s performance was that she modulated her voice without inflecting it in the least. To understand what I mean, say aloud, in an absolute monotone: “I am an alien lifeform.” Then repeat it with a slight empahsis on the first word. “I am an alien life form.” Then say: “Life”, “Am”, “Alien”, “Form”, “I”, “An” without stressing any of the words. If you pronounce it as written, the odds are you did it fairly robotically. Even if you recorded it, then spliced the words together in the correct order, it wouldn’t sound like a sentence spoken by any human; it would seem machine generated.
The reason for that is that we not only stress words and syllables to emphasize our meanings, but we subtly modulate our voices as we slide from one word into the next. I’m not sure it’s a universal human trait that would be shared by a tonal language, such as Chinese, but to my untrained ear, it does sound like the Japanese do the same thing. That’s how Yuki sounds in the original Japanese: absolutely no inflection; her seiyuu never stresses a single syllable–but her voice naturally modulates through the sentence. The net effect is human, yet eeriely alien.
In fact, as I discussed this above, something ocurred to me that I went back and checked out. It’s not true that she never inflects. The barest hint can be discerned when she’s startled by something outside her understanding–such as when Kyon remarks that she looks cuter without glasses. Also when she’s denying that she’s disobeyed Kyon’s orders and talking about the Computer Society’s actions during Day of Sagittarius. It might be my imagination, but she seems to do it more often as the series progresses–which, given the novels, is entirely logical.
Unfortunately, none of the auditioned women seem to be capable of turning in a performance that subtle. I hope they either find a different one, or give Yuki’s VA better direction when the time comes to dub the voices.