When you think of Shindou Naomi, only one phrase need be said – Kyoto-ben. She is the go-to person in the business when you need a Kyoto accent (well, she is a Kyoto native after all) and has specifically been offered roles such as Mai-HiME’s Fujino Shizuru and Astarotte no Omocha’s Enja Niuhali just for her Kyoto-ben. She also recently voiced Shindo Ayaka in Kyokai no Kanata with a Kyoto accent as well.
Her big break however, had nothing to do with Kyoto but it did have something to do with the biggest otaku property around – Gundam. SEED’s Cagalli Yula Athha is/was one of the most popular female characters in the Gundam universe and the role instantly propelled Naomi to fame (even if later events somewhat sullied the character for her).
Before entering the seiyuu business, Naomi was attached to a theatre group that put on productions aimed specifically at children. Winning the the lead role in Gear Senshi Dendoh through auditions set her on the path to becoming a seiyuu, but Naomi has mentioned that she wants to continue being involved in works that are for children, which is the reason why her CV list is largely populated with roles in kid-friendly franchises such as Pokemon.
Older anime watchers will be fairly familiar with Naomi’s voice as she is a supporting member of many casts, from the Saki series to ONE PIECE and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Still, it is her turn as Shizuru in the Mai-HiME/Otome world, half of one of anime’s most popular yuri couples, that most of her fans love.
Lengthy aside on the whole SEED Destiny fiasco:
These are all net rumours and hearsay. I myself am not interested in the Gundam series so I can’t comment too much on the events beyond what I’ve seen making the rounds for almost a decade now. Basically, SEED Destiny is shite (according to most fans) and features all manners of writing train-wrecks. The people blamed for this are producer/director-writer duo Fukuda Mitsuo and Morosawa Chiaki, who also happen to be married to each other. It is a fact that Morosawa had been suffering from an illness (brain cancer) since the days she was writing SEED and throughout the production of SEED Destiny, had been persistently turning in nonsensical scripts late and screwing over staff and cast alike. The story goes that because the animators were screwed over with a late script, they were unable to turn in their work on time and the seiyuu were thus forced to work with non-moving pictures (hint: afureko is suppose to be seiyuu timing their lines to match mouth flaps). Naomi complained about the situation, which apparently resulted in the Fukudas scolding her and developing a personal grudge against her.
In addition to ruining Cagalli’s character in SEED Destiny, Morosawa also stated that ‘Athrun & Cagalli’s love is a misunderstood love’ and Fukuda backed up his wife in a later, train-wreckish interview. Shindou was not amused at all by proceedings, and apparently Suzumura Kenichi (voice of Shinn Asuka) took Naomi’s side as well, which explains why his role in the show was also reduced. SuzuKen has since noted that the Shinn Asuka in Super Robot Wars Z is the ‘true Shinn Asuka in my heart’.
In the end Naomi was so pissed off by the whole SEED Destiny affair that she refused to voice Cagalli ever again. Though she eventually relented on this stance in 2012, you can see from her CV that there’s a 3-year period (’08-11) where she did not voice Cagalli in any Gundam-related media at all.