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Captain Tsubasa, Boruto voice actress discusses anime’s success in the Arab world

Yūko Sanpei visited UAE for the first time to host a meet and greet for Boruto fans. (ANJ)
Yūko Sanpei visited UAE for the first time to host a meet and greet for Boruto fans. (ANJ)
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10 Dec 2023 02:12:32 GMT9
10 Dec 2023 02:12:32 GMT9

Manar Elbaz

DUBAI: For the last 23 years, Japanese voice actress Yūko Sanpei has been the voice behind some of the most beloved anime characters in the Middle East.

Sanpei voiced Tsubasa Ozora, the protagonist of Captain Tsubasa, which is one of the most popular anime shows in the Arab world. 75% of Arab anime fans rank the show, better known as Captain Majid in the Middle East, as their favorite anime of all time, according to a YouGov study conducted by Arab News.

She voiced the iconic character in the 2018 remake. “I feel some pressure as I’m working on a project with so much history,” she told Arab News Japan. “We are remaking the anime to make it up to date with the current generation. We even discussed the decision to remake it with the author of the original manga.”

The voice actress shared that she is extremely happy with the national and international success of the show and hopes that it continues to inspire kids from all over the world. “We want the younger generation to watch the show and discover the appeal of soccer.”

Additionally, she also voiced Boruto, the son of Naruto, a character she deeply resonates with. “He is trying to suppress his father and follow his dreams,” she said.

She believes that the two characters resonate with Arab audiences because they are inspirational. “Being a ninja and a soccer player are completely different, but they are both chasing their dreams,” she told Arab News Japan. “I think that people see their single-mindedness and want to support them.”

“When you see how hard they’re trying, you just want them to succeed. In both shows, they are trying very hard to chase their dreams,” she added. 

Her advice for Arab people who want to get into voice acting is to believe in yourself and learn a variety of skills. “The world of voice acting is interesting. You need to get a lot of experience in life to reflect it in your characters. You also need to know what your skills are,” she shared with Arab News Japan.

For Sanpei, the skills that set her apart from other voice actors are her deep voice and her voice range, which allow her to show emotions through characters. She mainly voiced male actors throughout her career of 23 years, with the most recent ones being Ui Ui from the second season of Jujutsu Kaisen and Mike from the video game Genshin Impact.

“My first voice-acting role was a boy. My voice is very low for a woman, which I think is a gift,” she shared. “I quickly realized it doesn’t matter if someone voices a boy or girl, as long as they can convey the correct emotions and show the audience these feelings.”

Yūko Sanpei during her meet and greet in Dubai. (ANJ)

The voice actress visited the United Arab Emirates for the first time this December, where she held a meet and greet for Boruto fans at Speedy Comics in Times Square Center. “I’m really enjoying my time here,” she told Arab News Japan. “Everyone I’ve met here has been so warm and friendly.”

Dozens of fans signed up to get their merchandise signed by her, which she is extremely thankful for. “Thank you so much for supporting Japanese anime. I want to keep working on lots of different productions for you to enjoy. Please keep watching Japanese anime, and I hope you will keep looking out for the characters I play.”

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