Known for his deep yet chummy sounding voice that can make his characters come across as unassuming, Shuichi Ikeda has used that to perfection for the last 40 years. Even before he became a seiyuu, has been acting since he was a child. At the encouragement of a classmate, he joined an acting troupe for children. When he was 8, he was already appearing in TV dramas such as Jirou Monogatari towards the ends of the 1950s. Throughout the younger half of his career, he continued to do TV dramas. Towards the sixties, he entered the world of anime. It’s interesting to note he initially didn’t enjoy anime recordings due to finding the process difficult since he has to synchronize to the animation. However, as things turned out, it became his calling for the next 50 years. So throughout his long career in anime, what are some of Shuichi Ikeda’s top 5 roles?
5. Hilmes from Arslan Senki (Heroic Legend of Arslan)
- Episodes: 6
- Air Dates: August 17, 1991 – September 21, 1995
In case some of you didn’t know, there was actually an Arslan Senki anime back in the early 90’s, and Shuichi Ikeda played Hilmes, the main villain. Considering that the character wears a mask akin to Char from Gundam, the character that made Ikeda famous, fans can easily conclude he was the man for the role. Hilmes may come across as evil due to the lows he goes to win, but when you learn more about him, his motivations are understandable. As Hilmes, Ikeda brings some of the same qualities to Char of being ambitious, cunning, vindictive, and charismatic, but takes it to a much darker place to the suit the atmosphere of this series.
4. Ulrich Kesler from Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)
- Episodes: 110
- Air Dates: January 8, 1988 – March 17, 1997
Also like Char, Kesler is another high ranking military officer Ikeda plays, but doesn’t have the same role as Char. Compared to other characters he plays and even within this anime, Kesler has a unique sense of justice within the Galactic Empire. Though imperial systems have been negatively portrayed by history and pop culture, Legend of Galactic Heroes challenges these perceptions, and Kesler is an excellent representation of that. With Ikeda’s voice, you get a feel that Kesler is both fair and firm to both his subordinates and citizens. For example, a young lady once mistakenly assumed his rank as Captain. While some officers would get triggered over such a thing, Kesler kindly corrected her and you can feel that Ikeda is capable of playing kind characters.
3. Hiko Seijuro from Rurouni Kenshin
- Episodes: 94
- Air Dates: January 10, 1996 – September 8, 1998
As Hiko, Ikeda presents himself as an unassuming hermit potter when in fact, he’s the true master to the Hiten Mitsurugi Style. As Hiko, Ikeda’s portrayal balances his sarcastic nature with a sense of confidence as the master to the ultimate assassination art. The way he interacts with Kenshin, he still sees him as that boy he first picked up on the side of the road by always referring to him as “baka deshi,” or stupid pupil. When he fights Fuji, Ikeda masterfully brings out Hiko’s nature as a warrior by appealing to Fuji as both as a warrior and as a man. When you see him plead with Fuji to fight with honor, you feel Ikeda bring out an authentic sense of traditional samurai conviction.
2. Shanks from One Piece
- Episodes: 866+
- Air Dates: October 20, 1999 - ongoing
With that deep and yet soft voice, Ikeda as Shanks brings an appropriate paternal quality in his interactions with Luffy. Despite being a pirate, he’s really a nice guy who cares about his crew members and the people he encounters. Compared to some of this other villainous roles or those with hidden agendas, Ikeda shows he is capable of being funny (in addition to his role as Hiko). In comparison to other roles, Shanks is of the very few roles where he actually has a unique laugh (to be in tune with the tone with the series), and we can’t deny that it’s nice to see a more laid back performance in comparison to his more notable serious ones to see how uniquely talented he is.
1. Char Aznable from Kidou Senshi Gundam (Mobile Suit Gundam)
- Episodes: 42
- Air Dates: April 7, 1979 – January 26, 1980
If any role made Ikeda an anime legend, it is without a doubt, the role of Char Aznable. It’s kind of funny to mention he initially auditioned for the role of Amuro and thought he got the part. However, Yoshikazu Anzai, the character designer, thought he was better fit for Char, and he was right. As Char, he captures a very unique charisma that he requires as a commander, and later as a political figure. He’s a man driven by vengeance, and later develops a sense of moral obligation to carry out his father’s legacy. Char has multi-dimensional complexities as a human being, and Ikeda’s performance brings it all out. He can be calm, and there are instances he can be irrational, and Ikeda just knows how to balance that. For the past 40 years, he has voiced the character in all incarnations, games, etc., and still manages to capture it like the first recording was yesterday.
As crazy as it sounds, he happens to be the official dub voice for Jet Li and Charlie Sheen, so it shows how uniquely talented and seasoned he is as an actor. In addition to voicing Char, he also voiced Gilbert in Gundam Seed Destiny and Full Frontal for the Unicorn series showing how loyal he is to Gundam. It’s hard to believe at one point, he almost gave up on anime, but here he is now 50 years later and contributed to some of the most memorable characters in anime history.