Known for his smooth and deep voice, Kouichi Yamadera is another big name in the world of Japanese voice acting. In addition to his contributions to anime, he has been the official voice for Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, and Donald Duck for their Japanese releases for the last 25 years. He’s been active in numerous iconic roles to the point that pinpointing his top 5 roles was a next to impossible task. In addition to his deep and soothing voice, what are the definitive roles that define his talents? Read our top 5 to find out!
5. Beerus from Dragon Ball Super
- Episodes: 131
- Air Dates: July 5, 2015 – March 25, 2018
We would like to introduce Yamadera’s most recent role, Beerus from Dragon Ball Super. In comparison to his softer performances, he brings a rougher personality as the God of Destruction. Due to his feline inspired design, what makes his delivery distinct is how he brings a “purr” effect to the character’s voice for some comedic tone. While other villains such as Frieza can be very casual to his destruction, Beerus takes it to another level. Yamadera’s portrayal of Beerus shows that, to someone like him, destroying planets is like waking up to go the bathroom. Through Yamadera’s performance, his comedic nature will be hard to take the character’s function seriously, but when he demonstrates his threatening side, it’s comedic value thanks to Vegeta’s reactions, brings a different kind of charm in contrast to other roles listed here.
4. Shun Akiyama from Ryu Ga Gotoku 4: Densetsu wo Tsugu Mono (Yakuza 4)
- Platform: PlayStation 3
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Ryu ga Gotoku Studios
- Release Date: March 18, 2010, March 15, 2011
Beyond his contributions to anime, we feel it is also important to share his most famous role in video games, and it is that of Shun Akiyama in Ryu Ga Gotoku 4, or Yakuza 4 outside of Japan. In this hit Sega franchise, if you need a loan that could go up to seven figures, Akiyama is your man, but not without completing a test of character. Thanks to Yamadera’s charming performance, he can get a woman to work at a hostess club he personally runs. Yamadera captures a man who may seem like a man with a whole lot of money, but he also hides that at one point he was homeless. Through his portrayal and backstory, you have a man who has conquered a lot of diversity and genuinely wants to help people make their dreams come true.
3. Togusa from Koukaku Kidoutai: Stand Alone Complex (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)
- Episodes: 26
- Air Dates: October 1, 2002 – October 1, 2003
Compared to most of his peers in Section 9, Togusa is still human other than his brain. Due to his status, he tends to show a lot of emotion. Through Yamadera’s portrayal, viewers genuinely feel that in contrast to his peers who are single, Togusa is a family man and we see how the job can take a toll on him. Yamadera delivers that Togusa may be exhausted, but he is driven to seek justice. Due to his lack of enhancements and having a family to go to, Yamadera does a great job of bringing the viewer into Togusa’s world in his respective episodes and since he has the most to lose, we get an idea of how vulnerable he truly is.
2. Aberdt Desler from Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 (Space Battleship Yamato 2199)
- Episodes: 26
- Air Dates: May 25, 2012 – October 25, 2013
If you readers don’t find Yamadera’s portrayal of Beerus to be befitting of a villain, then we promise you’ll get what you’re looking for with his performance of Desler, which lives up to the legacy of Masatou Ibu from the original 1973 series. His deep and soft voice is instantly recognizable to fans who are familiar with him, but he appropriately offers the villainy that Desler represents. As the leader of the Gamillas Empire, he is rightfully charismatic in both public and private settings, and can get his soldiers and subjects to do anything he wants. As Desler, Yamadera also brings to life his apathy towards human life and how he has an inflated ego. So if you want to see Yamadera’s best role as a villain, then his deliver as Desler is exactly what you’re looking for.
1. Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Air Dates: April 3, 1998 – April 24, 1999
To put Spike in a nutshell, he is a walking contradiction and Yamadera’s distinct voice captures those unique complexities. He doesn’t want to deal with people, but he can’t help but care for them. He wants to put his past behind him, but he has to confront it even if it means his own life. He talks about life, but he doesn’t share his life with anyone. In addition, his chemistry with the rest of the cast (most notably with Megumi Hayashibara and Unshou Ishizuka as Faye and Jet) also what contributes to why he pulls off the role. His voice perfectly captures his depth and his distance. He knows when he needs to be emotional, confrontational, and apathetic at the right moments. Spike’s life throughout the series is an adventure, and he’s just trying to make a woolong, but when things get crazy, Yamadera brings life to how he can organically react to what’s going on around him.
Last, we would like to make some honorable mentions to his roles as Kaji from Evangelion, Ryouga from Ranma ½, Zenigata from Lupin III, Kenshiro in Souten no Ken, and Mew in the first Pokemon movie. Whether it’s romance, action, comedy, mystery, horror, or anything there is an anime for, Yamadera can most certainly pull it off. In addition to our listed roles and honorable mentions, what other roles of Kouichi Yamadera do you think deserve acknowledgement? Give your thoughts in the comments!