If there's one type of girl that has garnered an incredible amount of fandom in the anime audience nowadays, its the short, flat-chested tsundere girl. (Tsundere is an article on wikipedia, for those of you who want to know more) Somehow this type of girl has become so popular, it has become a must-have ingredient in the comedy anime genre that a significant number of anime have become runaway successes simply by exploiting the very antics of an insecure, short-tempered, egoistic girl with a childish voice, in short, tsundere. Of all the voice actors giving life to these girls, Kugimiya Rie is arguably one of the most famous seiyuu to ever play the part of these girls' souls. This is for all of you who still aren't seiyuu aware either because (1) you skip the OPs and EDs (2) you can't read Japanese, and just don't bother.
Kugimiya Rie (釘宮理恵), who is born in Osaka, doesn't display much of the legendary kansai accent in her voice acting roles. Like most Japanese people, when it comes to speaking proper Japanese, she sounds just like any other Tokyoite. She has a knack for making herself sound really bratty and childish, lending her voice to a role that is extremely suitable girls who are too immature to understand the boys that they are interested in. She does such a good job at it that sometimes you'd wonder if she'd ever gone totally tsundere on someone in her love life in real life.
In the Shakugan no Shana series, Rie Kugimiya plays the part of a small-bodied mystical hunter that has the power of fire called Shana. Shana is easily annoyed and sometimes displays her irritation with a familiar URUSAI URUSAI URUSAI! (shut up shut up shut up). A typical tsundere, she is constantly afraid and annoyed at having to show her feelings towards her interest, Sakai Yuji, who eventually becomes her comrade after learning how to use his own powers, and constantly hurts him in a vain attempt to hide her feelings. Later in the series however, she becomes more comfortable being with him and displays less tsundere character traits. Her voice by Rie however, continues to suit her small body size and just makes her so huggable.
In Hayate no Gotoku, Rie plays the only daughter of the obscenely rich Sanzenin family. Her parents, who are constantly away to maintain their vast fortune, is surrounded only by her servants and maids in a sprawling mansion. As a result, she becomes a seclusive introvert, and has very little interest in the world outside. She one day meets a boy who helps her and saves her from a kidnapping, whom she grows fond of and hires as her butler. The boy, called Hayate does not know that however, simply because she is about 3 years younger, a minor and is very loud. Being fond of a guy however conflicts with her pride and self-respect. As a result, she constantly tries to deny her feelings even when she does not need to. Being a 12-year old and a prodigy, Rie gives her the voice of childish arrogance in a superb manner. Not only does she sound like what she should sound like, but her arrogance and ego is matched by her tsundere antics that actually make her, strangely, cute.
In the Zero no Tsukaima series, Rie voices a noble girl Louise de la Valierre who currently studies in the Tristain Academy of Magic. Another unendowed, short and insecure girl, Louise, from fantasy_world who in a freak summoning ceremony happened to summon Saito from real_world as her familiar starts off treating him like a dog, and not being ashamed even when undressing in front of him. However, as time passes Louise starts to grow fond of Saito, causing her to start treating him like a human being, and of course, dealing out punishment for her embarrassment. Louise, being tsundere and all, is also an extremely jealous girl, and when she isn't being fond of Saito and/or kissing him, she constantly scrutinizes him and punishes him whenever he starts ogling at other, well-endowed girls.
In a recent production even, Rie continues to show that her skill at giving girls an insecure, hot-tempered character has not waned over the years. In Toradora, Rie voices Aisaka Taiga, who is a rich, but ungrateful girl who goes to the same school as a boy named Ryuuji. Together with Ryuuji, Aisaka attempts to hook herself up with her love interest, Kitamura. Perhaps together does not do justice to how Aisaka works with Ryuuji. Being a rich and spoilt girl, she uses Ryuuji to do all her work, such as cooking her food, and arranging 'accidents' for her to be with Kitamura. All at the same time indiscriminately hitting him and punishing him ungratefully for all the things Ryuuji does for her out of sheer kindness. Notable moments when Aisaka speaks are when she is irritated. It really brings out the true voice of tsundere that Rie is so good at.
Rie's other roles also include Seki Tomari in the hilarious Potemayo. Seki Tomari is a tomboyish girl who has a crush on an older boy Natsu Yasumi. Being a tomboy and all, she constantly displays tsundere traits, but in a more GAR fashion similar to the likes of angsty pilots from Gundam and Macross. Rie once again displays her amazingly cute voice at moments when Seki Tomari gets irritated. SHITSUREI NA!
In the sci-fi series Mnemosyne, Rie voices Mimi, an immortal girl with lesbian tendencies. Mimi is a competent hacker and displays a gentle character. She consistently gives 'services' to her informants in the form of lesbian sex in exchange for priceless information. Her partner, Rin, voiced by Noto Mamiko, is also immortal and works with her in an investigation firm through most of the series. Mimi does not display much tsundereness, but her voice when she acts irritated is unmistakably Rie's.
Further adding to Rie's profile outside the normal tsundere stereotype is also her role in the critically acclaimed Full Metal Alchemist. In FMA, she plays Alphonse Elric the younger brother of Edward Elric, the Full Metal Alchemist. Alphonse, being trapped in a suit of armor during most of the series as a result of a transmutation gone wrong, accompanies Edward in their quest to restore their bodies to normal again, after sacrificing their limbs, and in Al's case, his whole body during the failed transmutation. Rie has skillfully executed her role as the voice of a young boy's soul trapped in a suit of armor, and has successfully convinced people that she is indeed, a boy in some cases. Al often says 'Onii-san' in a voice that is full of brotherly love, that one might think that the guy behind Al was really a boy.
Truly a great voice actor, Rie has always (as far as I know) managed to execute her roles very well, displaying prodigial skill in taking up the soul of her characters and bringing life to them. With such a good voice actor behind anime, I am confident that the tsundere stereotype, and many more characters voiced by Rie would be very convincing and provide us with much entertainment for many years to come.