For nearly 30 years, Kikuko Inoue has gained fame for playing (or at times, typecasted) a balanced mix of either domestic oriented maternal figures, or the perfect waifu. After reviewing her roles and compiling what we think are her top 5 roles, we would like to share that that’s not always the case. Some of these selections will come across as shocking.
5. Lust from Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
- Episodes: 64
- Air Dates: April 5, 2009 – July 4, 2009
To show why that’s not always the case, we thought it would be great to start this list off with Lust, one of the homunculi that represents the seven deadly sins to prove that. As opposed to the soft and soothing voice that welcomes you into her home, as Lust, she’s ready to tear you apart slowly and painfully. She appropriately plays a seductive sounding and playful villain with a dark voice. In conjunction, she conveys a strong sense of charisma in conjunction to her ranking in that group, while her other characters feel more like they’re in the background. After you watch her performance as Lust, you’ll never be able to view Inoue the same way again.
4. Aina Sahalin from Kidou Senshi Gundam: 08 MS Shotai (Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Dates: January 25, 1996 – July 25, 1999
So, who would have thought that Inoue also played a mech pilot in a Gundam series? As a soldier, she speaks with the right conviction, and captures a pitch that is appropriate to the age of Aina Sahalin. Although that she’s an elite pilot with a wild hairstyle and color, Inoue still manages to convey Aina’s true femininity. As opposed to being a maternal figure, you see her as a daughter-like figure to Norris, so you feel a sense of innocence with Aina. When Shiro, a Federation pilot, opens his heart to her, you see that underneath being an elite soldier, she is also capable of falling in love and being a strong female lead.
3. Kasumi Tendou from Ranma ½
- Episodes: 161
- Air Dates: April 15, 1989 – September 25, 1992
If any character was Inoue’s breakout role, it would certainly have to be that of Kasumi Tendou from Ranma ½. Kasumi is the character that started to typecast her as the maternal/domestic type. Despite Kasumi being 19, she shows a great sense of maturity and an unorthodox sense of discipline in taking care of the Tendou household. When she sees Ranma and his father turn into a girl and panda at the splash of cold water, she doesn’t think much of it.
In extension to that quality, whenever disaster occurs, she comes across as oblivious as if destruction and fighting are normal instances of everyday life . Some could also argue that she’s just an optimist that knows that everything will turn out for the best (which tends to happen), or she’s just dense in that kind of way. Considering that she had to assume a maternal role at a very young age, we can assume that those experiences made her wise beyond her years and lets things slide.
2. Belldandy from Ah! Megami-sama (Ah! My Goddess)
- Episodes: 24
- Air Dates: January 7, 2005 – July 8, 2005
In addition to playing Kasumi, Belldandy is another role of Inoue that cemented her international fame as being the perfect waifu. Thanks to her performance, the characters and the audience can easily feel her kindness and honesty. She shows that being a goddess may be all fine and dandy, but they have feelings, too. Like some people, she does her best to keep her emotions in check, and at times, she can be a little unstable. Then again, humans can be that way at times, right? We feel even if she was genuinely human, if she was raised with the same values, she’d still have turned out the same. Thanks to Inoue’s performance, although Belldandy is from Heaven, she’s truly down to Earth.
1. The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
- Platform: PS2
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Kojima Studios
- Release Dates: November 17, 2004 (US), December 16, 2004 (Japan)
Prior to playing The Boss, she played Rose in the Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid 2. However, if there is any role of Kikuko Inoue that truly defies her more domestic image including the roles of Belldandy and Kasumi, it would certainly have to be voicing The Boss in the Japanese version of Snake Eater. When you compare this with her other roles, even if you’re a lifelong fan of Inoue, we guarantee you’re going to have a difficult time recognizing her voice. As opposed to her easily recognizable soft voice, she appropriately brings out a much rougher performance.
However, The Boss does have exhibit a maternal kind of care for Big Boss, and that she cares about the Cobra Unit, who she considers as her family. As The Boss, Inoue surprisingly captures her ferocity, her personal sense of loyalty only few could ever understand, her world weariness after a lifetime of fighting, and that deep down inside, she’ll always care about Big Boss and her mission.
In case you didn’t know, Honoka, her daughter, has recently followed in her footsteps in becoming a seiyuu and singer. It’s nice to see that beyond Keiko Han and her daughter Megumi, the industry is paving way for the next generation. Putting aside the fact Kikuko is 17 + and she’s old enough to have a daughter who is barely 20, behind the mic, she can convince us that she is 17 when necessary. While we didn’t include some of her risqué roles on this list, we are positive that with our selections, we found roles that demonstrate her truly multi-talented she is.