If you watched much anime in the 1990s, you’ve likely watched something with the vocal talent of Megumi Hayashibara. She’s well known for her roles in Ranma 1/2 (Ranma), Neon Genesis Evangelion (Rei Ayanami), Pokemon (Musashi/Jesse), and Cowboy Bebop (Faye Valentine) - and that’s barely scratching the surface of all of the characters she has brought to life! More recently she has been the voice behind Flora in Carole & Tuesday, and will be voicing Anna Kyoyama in the upcoming anime Shaman King.
While you may know Hayashibara for her voice acting roles, did you know she is also a talented singer? That’s right! In addition to voicing a huge number of anime characters over the years, Megumi Hayashibara has also created many anime opening and ending themes. We can barely begin to cover everything she has done in this easy-to-read article, but we will at least give you a taste of all the great things we have Megumi Hayashibara to thank for.
A Voice Actor, a Radio Star, an Author...
Megumi Hayashibara on Her Recent Book “The Characters Taught Me Everything”
Megumi Hayashibara is originally from Tokyo. She originally planned to pursue a career in nursing, but the same day that she submitted her application for nursing school she also saw an ad in a bookshop for free anime voice acting auditions. She had a background in acting from doing stage shows in school, so she sent in her demo reel. While she waited for a result, Hayashibara still continued with nursing school, not knowing that success was going to be just around the corner for her.
After a year of voice acting lessons, when she heard a positive response on her demo, Megumi Hayashibara landed her first role in an anime called Maison Ikkoku. Her big break came next, though, when she auditioned for a role in Ranma ½. While she did not get the part she originally expected, Hayashibara was cast as the female half of Ranma Saotome. In the meantime, she also was running a radio show about anime called Heartful Station. As she became more popular, Hayashibara was even travelling to anime conventions abroad as a guest in the early 1990s. When she landed the role of Rei Ayanami in Neon Genesis Evangelion, well. Her place in the anime world was solidified forever!
We mentioned above that Megumi Hayashibara is also an author. She wrote a series of cartoons about her own life that were published in the magazine Anime V, and eventually, they were all published in a book called Ashita ga aru sa (There's always tomorrow). More recently (as in, February 2021!!), Hayashibara released a new book called The Characters Taught Me Everything: Living Life One Episode at a Time about her career and how all of the characters she voiced over the years have impacted her life. You can read more about her book HERE). The digital edition is already available, and a print version will be released in August 2021.
...and a Singer!
Megumi Hayashibara “Over Soul” from Shaman King
But what about the music?! We promised some Megumi Hayashibara anisongs! She has actually been releasing music since 1991. It took her some time to climb up the Oricorn Music Chart in Japan, but finally, in 1996, her album "Bertemu" made it to number 3. She has since released 14 albums and over 30 singles.
Often, Megumi Hayashibara does the opening or ending song for the anime that she is also a voice actor in. She did nearly all the music for Slayers, including the openings “Give a Reason,” and “Get Along” and the ending “Kujikenai Kara!” just to name a few of them. Some of her other popular songs include “Sakura Saku” from Love Hina, “Kyou no Hi wa Sayounara” from the film Evangelion 2.2, and “Over Soul” from the first Shaman King anime.
One of Hayashibara’s newest roles is in 2021's Shaman King, which will be airing this spring. Megumi Hayashibara will be reprising the role of Anna Kyouyama, and also will be singing the opening song “Soul Salvation” AND the ending song “#Boku no Yubisaki.” We are really excited to see her involved in Shaman King again, both as her original character and making new music for it!
SHAMAN KING (2021) | Official Trailer | Netflix Anime
There’s no denying that Megumi Hayashibara is incredibly talented, and has contributed so much to the otaku world over the past thirty years. She may be in her fifties now, but that is not stopping her from still going strong and creating more and more things for all of us to enjoy. She is one of the biggest names in anime and probably will continue to be for many years to come. Thanks for everything, Megumi Hayashibara! The anime world would not be the same without you.
What is your favourite role from Megumi Hayashibara? Did you know that she was such a prominent figure in the otaku world? Do you have a favourite song? Let’s talk in the comments!