Is Nakata Jouji Taking Wakamoto Norio’s Place?

Wakamoto Norio is one of the best-known and best-liked seiyuu in the Western fandom, renowned for his thunderous and booming voice that lends to unforgettable villains and comic performances, as well as for his smooth, “sober” voice that makes him one of the coolest cats around. According to ANN, he’s the 14th-most prolific Japanese seiyuu, and indeed, his name can be seen on an incredible number of cast lists, often playing joke and cameo roles that’re obviously written with the purpose of having him play the character.

A couple of years ago, it seemed like everywhere I turned, there was another Wakamoto role, but then last year that all but ceased. I can’t remember hearing Wakamoto’s voice in a single 2010 anime, and I watched quite a few of them.

It’s not hard to imagine why Wakamoto would be taking on fewer roles—after all, the man is getting close to 70 years-old—maybe he’s decided to settle down a bit. But in the meantime, someone needs to play all of those deep-voiced badasses in anime, and that job seems to have been passed on to Nakata Jouji.

56 year-old Nakata Jouji is similar to Wakamoto in being a really old guy with a really smooth, deep voice that makes him instantly recognizable. He’s played in some awesome roles throughout the years, such as Alucard from Hellsing, The Count from Gankutsuou, and Araya Souren from Kara no Kyoukai, but he never seemed to have an especially large amount of work. That all changed in 2010 and has remained consistent come 2011.

Nakata Jouji was everywhere I turned in 2010. He played the badass dragon Peterhausen in Ichiban Ushiro no Daimou, Saya’s badass dad in Highschool of the Dead, Akira’s badass dad in Dance in the Vampire Bund, some random badass old dude in the first episode of Index II, and so on. This season, he’s voicing the Spawn-look-alike villain from Yumekui Merry, and probably some other characters in shows I haven’t seen yet. The man is far busier than ever before, and I can’t help but think that he’s taking the roles which would’ve been in Wakamoto’s hands a couple of years ago. (Methinks the transition came in the form of the Taxi Driver from Canaan.)

I couldn’t imagine anyone better to take Wakamoto’s place, since there’s no seiyuu I’ve mentioned more in the same breath. I’ve been drawing parallels between the two ever since they voiced Alucard and Alexander Anderson in Hellsing and had amazing battles together, which was my favorite part of the show. While the idea of not hearing Wakamoto as much anymore is sad, the emergence of Nakata Jouji’s popularity has me very excited.

Bonus: One more for the “love remembered” folder.

13 thoughts on “Is Nakata Jouji Taking Wakamoto Norio’s Place?

  1. I think the biggest role he’s had that might have led to some of this popularity was Ried Diethard from Code Geass. That had the both of them and while Wakamoto probably got more of the attention from that show it was I think the biggest role he’s had in the past few years besides the ongoing Hellsing.

  2. Yeah, the one anime I remember hearing Wakamoto in this year was Dragon Ball Kai. (I believe all the seiyuu who reprised their roles re-recorded their dialogue for Kai.) But, yeah, definitely agree with your enthusiasm for Jouji Nakata. I’ve been a fan of the guy for quite a while now, most especially after watching Gankutsuou. He’s just so damn smooth.

  3. Another guy with an awesome voice who kept showing up out of nowhere is Fumihiko Tachiki (good old Gendo Ikari). He was in Arakawa as Billy and the Narrator, Hyakka Ryouran as the Narrator, Asobi ni Iku yo as Yuuichi Miyagi and Oreimo as Daisuke Kousaka.

  4. Hold your horses, Digiboy. Wakamoto isn’t quite dead yet, is he? It’s hard to replace someone who’s still alive and well.

    And I don’t think the two are directly comparable. I mean, experience as an actor changes the performance. Wakamoto in the eighties doesn’t sound like Wakamoto today, does he? The booming voice isn’t something you’re born with, it must be developed and articulated over time.

    That aside, the two tend to play some fairly different roles. Wakamoto takes on the passionate old man with the booming voice. Nakata does more of a emotionless old guy, with a to the point kind of personality. He’s not a replacement, he’s something new in himself.

  5. I still can’t decide if I prefer Nakata Jouji or Daisuke Ishiwatari as Sol Badguy’s voice in Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus.

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