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.