These Filipinos Are the Voices of Modern Cartoon and Anime Characters
By now you’ve probably heard of Bobby Pontillas, the Filipino-American animator whose work is nominated for Best Short Film at this year’s Academy Awards. You might’ve also read about Bobby Rubio, who’ll be releasing a short film this year that will have the first Filipino-American lead characters in a Pixar animation.
These animators aren’t the only Filipinos who are making their marks in the global animation industry. In the last 20 years, several Filipino voice actors have bagged roles in some of the most prominent modern Western cartoons and Japanese anime.
Here, we list seven of these Filipino talents who are lending their voices to modern animated characters. Which ones do you recognize?
Already having extensive acting credits before doing voice-over work—many know him as Rufio from the 1991 Peter Pan adaptation Hook—Filipino-American actor Dante Basco has lent his voice to Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, playing Prince Zuko.
Those who prefer the Disney Channel may recognize him more as the voice of Jake Long, the titular human-slash-dragon character in American Dragon: Jake Long. Basco has also provided his voice to several video games like Final Fantasy XIII, Saints Row, and Mortal Kombat X.
Filipino-Canadian comedian Eric Bauza has bagged several minor voice-over roles in a long list of cartoons. Perhaps his biggest role is taking on the voice of Marvin the Martian in the 2010s reboot of The Looney Tunes Show.
He’s been no slouch in his career, as Bauza’s filmography includes voice-over work for many popular cartoons in the past two decades. These include Spongebob Squarepants, The Fairly Oddparents, Phineas and Ferb, Rick and Morty, Adventure Time, Ben 10, and Gravity Falls.
Christine Marie Cabanos
Christine Marie Cabanos has voiced an extensive list of characters in the official English dubs of various anime. The Filipino-American’s most prominent roles include Madoka Kaname in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Azusa Nakano in K-On!, and Mako Mankanshoku in Kill la Kill.
She has also voiced supporting characters in various other shows, including Love Live!, Sword Art Online, and Pokemon Origins. Cabanos has also lent her voice to several video games such as Persona 5, Danganronpa 2, and Fire Emblem Echoes.
Deedee Magno Hall
While Deedee Magno Hall has an extensive career in theater, having played major roles in U.S. productions of Miss Saigon, Wicked, and Next to Normal, the Filipino-American actor has made her mark in the animation world as the voice behind Pearl, one of the main characters in the Cartoon Network series Steven Universe.
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Hall isn’t the only Filipino with voice acting credits on Steven Universe. Other Filipino voice actors on the show include Shelby Rabara (Peridot), Jennifer Paz (Lapis Lazuli), and Charlyne Yi (Ruby). Eric Bauza, mentioned above, has also done voice-over work for one of its episodes.
Filipino-Japanese voice actor Mark Ishii has voiced main characters in two anime series: Bellri Zenam in Gundam Reconguista in G, which is part of the Gundam franchise, and Chrono Shindou in Cardfight!! Vanguard G, an anime with its own trading card game.
Elsewhere, Ishii voiced a minor role in the original Japanese version of When Marnie Was There, an animated movie by Studio Ghibli. He also reprised his major roles in the video game versions of Gundam Reconguista in G and Cardfight!! Vanguard G.
Born in the U.S. but having both Filipino and Thai lineage, Sumalee Montano has lent her voice to several video games. These include major titles such as Diablo III, For Honor, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect 3, and Fallout 4.
Montano also has credits in various animated shows and movies. Most recently, she was the voice of Admiral Sanda in the Netflix animated show Voltron: Legendary Defender. She also lent her voice for a supporting character in the English dub of Studio Ghibli film Only Yesterday.
Filipino-Japanese singer Megumi Nakajima has landed several voice acting roles in various anime shows. Most notable among these is Ranka Lee, one of the lead characters in Macross Frontier, as well as Ruri Aiba from Sacred Seven.
She has also voiced various supporting roles in the past decade, having credits in several anime such as Fairy Tail and Pokemon. She also sings various theme songs in many of the anime shows she has voice credits in.
Bonus: Lea Salonga
We’d be remiss if we don’t mention Lea Salonga, who apart from her numerous accolades in theater also lent her voice to two Disney princesses. She is the singing voice of Jasmine from Aladdin and of Fa Mulan from Mulan, which Disney recognized by honoring Salonga with the Disney Legend Award in 2011.
Fans of Studio Ghibli can also hear her voice in fan-favorite My Neighbor Totoro. She voiced Yasuko Kusakabe, the main characters’ mother, in the English dub produced by Disney in 2005.