If there was a Mt. Rushmore of Seiyuus somewhere in Japan, Akira Kamiya’s face would certainly have that honor. He’s done so many roles to the point that making this list was almost next to impossible! In 1970, he made his debut playing numerous roles in Inakappe Taishou, a Judo series. But three years later, he had his true break out playing Koichi Furumi in Babel II. After that, his career took off. For the last 40 years, he’s played some of the most iconic roles in anime. So, what do we think are his 5 best roles? Read out list to find out!
5. Prince Sincline from Hyakujuu-ou GoLion (Beast King GoLion)
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: March 4, 1981 – February 24, 1982
We’d like to start this list by using one of Kamiya’s villain roles, Prince Sincline, or who some of you older fans may know as Prince Lotor from Voltron, the Westernized version to Beast King GoLion. As Sincline, Kamiya brings out his impatience and brutal qualities. He’s not afraid to kill minions over the slightest failure and enjoys slaughter. He retains his trademark deep voice, but speaks in a brash, confident, and authoritative manner that makes audiences fear and obey him. As Sincline, he makes Mondo from Now and Then, Here and There look like Barney the Purple Dinosaur.
4. Shutaro Mendou from Urusei Yatsura
- Episodes: 195
- Aired: October 14, 1981 – March 19, 1986
Next, we’d like to introduce one of Kamiya’s second most famous role in comedy, Mendou from Urusei Yatsura. As Mendou, he is very impulsive and spoiled. Yes, he was in his forties when he played this role and doesn’t come across convincingly as a teenager, but the fact that he plays the character’s stupidity so seriously is what makes it enjoyable (try to imagine a Japanese teenage version to Donald Trump but can access anything Elon Musk can do). He has a unique chemistry with Ataru’s seiyuu, Toshio Furukawa, and they would once again play rivals in another anime, Hokuto no Ken with Kamiya playing Ken, and Furukawa being Shin. Thanks to his role as Mendou, Rumiko Takahashi, Urusei Yatsura’s original creator, became a fan of him.
3. Roy Focker from Choujikuu Yousai Macross (Super Dimensional Fortress Macross)
- Episodes: 36
- Aired: October 3, 1982 – June 26, 1983
If you’ve watched Top Gun, Roy as a pilot is one of those characters that knows how to party and get down to business when the time calls. He’s someone you want as your wingman in the skies and when hitting a night out on the town. When it comes to portraying Roy as a pilot/soldier, Kamiya masterfully brings out the character’s experience, skills, and confidence. When he’s not in the cockpit of a Valkyrie, he’s like any other single serviceman out on R&R by enjoying a few drinks and trying to hook up with the local ladies, and that voice of his can attract them beyond his good looks and achievements as a pilot. Despite being a playboy, whenever he’s around Hikaru, he knows when to keep his behavior under control and be a proper role model to a teenager, and when he meets Claudia, he shows he’s willing to commit to a true relationship. Thanks to Kamiya, we get a very well rounded character with Roy.
2. Ryo Saeba from City Hunter
- Episodes: 51 63 26
- Aired: April 6, 1987 – October 10, 1991
From all of Shounen action/comedy, his portrayal of Ryo is certainly one of his most famous roles. Kamiya is largely known for his low pitch and manly voice and he does get to demonstrate that as Ryo, but at the same time, he does an excellent job of raising the pitch of his voice to portray Ryo’s juvenilely perverted tendencies (such as screaming “mokkori,” meaning he’s got a boner) like he’s Beavis and Butt-Head at the site of an attractive woman. However, when necessary, Kamiya also convincingly portrays Ryo’s mature qualities in being a professional detective, sharpshooter, and martial artist. When it comes to dealing with children and teenagers, he can show a paternal side, and Kamiya’s deep voice does a great job of captivating that quality.
1. Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star)
- Episodes: 109
- Aired: October 4, 1984 – March 5, 1987
Without a doubt, Kenshiro is forever going to be the number one role of Akira Kamiya’s career. While other actors have inherited the role in recent installments, true fans will always acknowledge Kamiya as the true voice of Kenshiro. With his super deep voice, he captures Ken’s masculinity, his kindness to the innocent, his undying love for beloved Yuria, and his intolerance for the wicked all at once. Plus, nobody can do the ATATATATATATATATATATATA battle cry better than him every time Kenshiro does his Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken. Last, it’s just how he says Omae wa mou shinde iru (You’re already dead) with apathy and ownage every time he bests a scoundrel to solidify his victories that brings the character to life.
Throughout his career, Kamiya has played a variety of characters. He has been the hero, the villain, a killer, a skirt chaser, a spoiled brat, just about everything a performer whether in front of a camera or behind a microphone would ever want to do. He can sound funny, sexy, scary, heroic, childish, cowardly, and manly. He’s probably one of the most talented seiyuus in the history of Japanese anime, and we feel through these 5 selected roles, we can best express that. We understand that some of you fans may not be satisfied with this list and if you’re not, that’s cool. Just leave what you think are his best roles in the comments!