Like Tooru Furuya and Shuuichi Ikeda, Ryo Horikawa started his career as a child. What’s really strange is that his real name isn’t Ryo but Makoto. It just happens that 亮, the kanji to his name can be both read as Ryo and as Makoto, so he took Ryo a a stage name. The early part of his career was in theater and was once a member of the Gekidan Shiki, one of Japan’s biggest theatre troupes. His breakout in the world of anime wouldn’t be until 1984 as Kenta, the main character of Wingman, based on the manga by Masakazu Katsura. Since his debut, his career has been going non-stop. So, what are some of the best 5 roles of his career? Read our top 5 to find out!
5. Tadao Yokoshima from Ghost Sweeper Mikami
- Episodes: 45
- Aired: April 11, 1993 – March 6, 1994
Kicking off this list, is Horikawa’s portrayal of Tadao Yokoshima in Ghost Sweeper Mikami. To make things more interesting, he happens to co-star with the late great Hiromi Tsuru, who you probably know as the voice of Bulma. As opposed to playing the Prince of Saiyans, Horikawa is the Prince of Perverts. As a teenager, Horikawa appropriately raises his voice to not only play the age, but to also capture his perverted tendencies and establish him as comic relief. This role demonstrates that Horikawa is capable of playing characters that aren’t definitively heroes and villains, and that he’s capable of doing comedy.
4. Kou Uraki from Kidou Senshi Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: May 23, 1991 – September 23, 1992
In case you didn’t know, Horikawa actually played the main character to a Gundam series, and that happens to be Kou Uraki from Stardust Memory. The voice may not be as rough and cracky as Vegeta’s, but the pitch is there for hardcore fans to recognize. With a higher pitch, not only can Horikawa convince audiences that Kou is 19, but that he’s also inexperienced and over-eager, which are his most notable qualities. Like Vegeta, Kou constantly demonstrates a stubborn arrogance due to his pride but Horikawa manages to differentiate the characters by appropriately tapping into not only Kou’s age and inexperience, but by his own distinguishing competitive drive in wanting to beat Gato and winning Nina’s heart.
3. Shun from Saint Seiya
- Episodes: 114
- Aired: October 11, 1986 – April 1, 1989
It is natural for many viewers who have no prior exposure to Saint Seiya to assume that Shun is a girl, but he’s a boy. If you’re not familiar with Saint Seiya, then you’re in for a ride when you hear Horikawa’s performance. When you compare Shun and Vegeta, you’re going to have trouble believing they’re played by the same actor. As Shun, not only does he capture a voice as someone who looks comparatively feminine and convincingly 13, he captures the essence of his character to a T. He may look vulnerable, but he is very caring and hates violence. He somehow manages to soften and raise the pitch of his voice to capture those qualities both internally and externally. If any role proves that Horikawa is a multi-talented actor, it is without a doubt, the role of Shun. Try watching an episode of DBZ and then watch Saint Seiya, and it’s going to blow you away that they’re played by the same person.
2. Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 291
- Aired: April 26, 1989 – January 31, 1996
There is no denying that his portrayal of Vegeta has made him a household name in both Japan and internationally. Due to his inferiority complex with Gokuu (and as the Prince of Saiyans), he always has this chip on his shoulder and the way Horikawa speaks in this deep and scratchy voice effectively conveys that. Not only does he capture his constant frustrations, but how it is also a result of his pride and his competitive drive. His chemistry with Masako Nozawa, the voice of Gokuu, also helps bring out those qualities so audiences can contrast them. With Nozawa’s performance, you have someone who is equally as competitive, but sees it more as a thrill while Vegeta’s motivation is to maintain his position as the Alpha Male of the Saiyan pride, and Horikawa’s performance does a great job of demonstrating that.
1. Reinhard von Lohengramm from Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)
- Episodes: 110
- Aired: January 8, 1988 – March 17, 1997
Everyone knows Horikawa’s portrayal of Vegeta immortalized his name, but if we’re going based on pure performance and not on popularity, then his role as Reinhard in Legend of the Galactic Heroes has to be number one! His voice can instantly be recognized to familiar ears, but he plays a composed and charismatic individual for someone in his mid-twenties. As Reinhard, he is not afraid to show his more vulnerable side to those close to him. His performance is soft, but not as high pitched or as feminine as Shun. As Reinhard, Horikawa epically captures the character’s youth, commanding presence, his unorthodox charisma, he’s genius, his pure motivations, and that he’s a fair and firm leader.
Last, we’d like to make some honorable mentions to Heiji Hattori from Detective Conan, Hermit from Kenichi, and Charmy Yamada from Dr. Slump. Horikawa is one of those rare talents in the world of voice acting no matter what language(s) you speak. He can be a proud and arrogant prince of warriors, a teenage hormone driven pervert, a benevolent general, or a pure hearted pacifist. We feel with our top 5, those roles best demonstrate the talents of Ryo Horikawa.