These days, there seems to be a lack of great male supporting characters in anime. The average series tends to feature far more girls than guys, and the men are usually either the main character or the main character’s sidekick. The only shows that have a significant number of male characters and actors tend to be aimed at women, such as Hetalia or Kuroshitsuji (neither of which I watched, by the way). Still, there was at least one excellent anime of 2010 that brought forward a slew of great male supporting roles.
(There were originally more nominees for this category, but the only ones I ended up writing about were the ones from Durarara!!)
1. Fukuyama Jun as Kishitani Shinra (Durarara!!)
Since this post is already gay enough with all the pictures of pretty boys, I might as well say it: Kishitani Shinra is cute. Not in a physical way (well, ladies may disagree), but in the way he acts—or rather, in the way Fukuyama Jun acts. (See what I did there?) Fukuyama accomplishes something with Shinra that he hasn’t in any other role (and few people have), which is to create a male character who’s bubbly, nice, and terrible with women, yet never comes across as weak, lame, or gay (common adjectives used to describe many of Fukuyama’s roles). In fact, Shinra is totally likable and—as popular opinion supports—adorable.
Most of that’s owed to the way the character is written, being as characters in a Ryougo Narita story are bound to stand out as unique and interesting, but Fukuyama is nonetheless the perfect voice for him. He unreservedly beams with an upbeat attitude, understanding that Shinra is cool precisely because he doesn’t try to be. He portrays the honesty of Shinra’s character quite well, which serves to highlight the occasional underhanded methods that he uses to get his way.
Before Durarara, I’d come to the decision that Fukuyama was only at his best when he got to use his deep voice, which was introduced to the world in
batman Code Geass and quickly became a go-to for comedy leads, as well as landing Fukuyama some more serious dramatic roles. Shinra is proof that his light voice is just as worthwhile, so long as it’s attached to the right character.
2. Kamiya Hiroshi as Orihara Izaya (Durarara!!)
Orihara Izaya would steal the show in Durarara if it wasn’t so cram-packed with excellent characters; but of the bunch, Izaya’s personality relies the most on his seiyuu’s performance. Izaya is such a bastard that it’s hard to watch at times, and Kamiya never fails to put across the sociopathic jackass that he is with complete honesty. What makes Izaya a perfect scumbag is that he always seems to get what he wants, and when he doesn’t, he turns the chessboard around (literally) and makes it so everything is still according to plan.
Izaya doesn’t miss a beat. He doesn’t get upset, he doesn’t crack, and he never, ever seems like he might be kind of a good guy, because he freely admits to the viewer that any good deed he performs is in service of his greater evil plan. Kamiya brings out the consistency of insanity in Izaya. No matter how emotional Izaya can get over a situation, even if he’s really angry, Kamiya manages to display that anger without cracking the trademark Izaya attitude that snaps back a moment later. Watching Durarara, I’m always waiting to see how far Izaya can go and how much it’d take to break him.
Down to the bitter end, when his plans seem to unravel and he gets his one moment of comeuppance, no matter how much Kamiya skates on the edge of anger, desperation, or weakness, he keeps it reeled in and keeps Izaya feeling unstoppable. And nothing is more frightening than a villain that never gives up.
3. Ono Daisuke as Heiwajima Shizuo (Durarara!!)
When I first heard Shizuo’s voice, I assumed that he was played by Nakai Kazuya. Nakai is the only seiyuu I know of who has that unique blend of smoothness and gutteral growl that makes for some of the coolest dudes in anime. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was Ono Daisuke, whom I’ve always associated with the highly flamboyant Itsuki Koizumi and other equally flamboyant characters. Had I seen Umineko and known that he played Battler or known that he played Hosaka in Minami-ke, it would’ve been a little less unexpected, but none of his roles that I know of are anywhere near as manly as Shizuo.
The aforementioned Nakai is my best frame of reference for describing Ono’s performance—it’s a style that exists only between the two of them. The key to Shizuo is that he can go from being completely cool and chill to going absolutely fucking berserk at the drop of a hat without ever feeling like a different person. I don’t usually like “flip a switch” characters that shuffle between two different attitudes/personalities, which isn’t a problem because it didn’t even occur to me to look at Shizuo that way until just now (despite him throwing fairly literal switches in the transition).
The two halves create a perfect whole of a character. I can believe Shizuo when he claims to “hate violence,” even as he destroys an entire city block moments later just out of annoyance. I believe it because the way that he talks with his friends is relaxed and contemplative. It doesn’t take much to figure out that Shizuo’s a really cool guy, and those who won’t feel the need to avoid him will find a reliable friend in him. He becomes so intense in his moments of anger that he’s clearly lost control and gone on a blind rampage. Ono’s performance is what holds the pieces of Shizuo’s whole together and make him as lovable as he is.
And now, to present the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Thoughtcannon!
With all the comparisons to the high bar set by Baccano, Durarara needed a villain that could stand up to the likes of Ladd Russo—thus Izaya was born. However, to bring that villain to life, a seiyuu was needed who could put on just as much of a spectacle as Fujiwara Keiji did with Ladd—and thus Kamiya Hiroshi was called in. Kamiya plays Izaya with the same wild and cruel but fun-loving abandon as Ladd, but reigns in his performance of casual mania to make Izaya appear the smartest kid in class.
Surprisingly enough, Izaya is actually Kamiya’s first strong villain role. He’s played incidental villains and minor villains such as Matou Shinji in Fate/stay Night, but never a villain with such prominence in the story. That is not apparent from his performance. For a guy who’s probably best known for playing the craziest person in a class of lunatics, constantly and loudly proclaiming his despair, his depiction of Izaya is cunningly subtle. His performance is more reminiscent of Natsume Takashi from Natsume Yuujinchou than of his tsukkomi-type characters like Itoshiki-sensei or Recruit. The easy, calm, quiet sound that makes Natsume such an endearing character is twisted to give a sinister edge to Izaya. While Izaya most certainly has his bouts of diabolical mania—(cellphone stomping particularly comes to mind)—it’s the liquid-smooth cadence of his voice and light tone that adds that extra layer of slime to his viscous deviance. He appears imperturbable as the still-as-water inflection of his voice—he makes Izaya sound like a smooth operator instead of a simple madman, and that’s why his performance is so appealing. It’s Kamiya Hiroshi that brings out just the right amount of playfully manipulative malevolence in Izaya, and his loud outbursts that depict the madness lying just below the calm, cunning surface.