Known for his nasal and raspy voice, the talents of Wataru Takagi have mostly been exploited in comedic roles. Even so, he’s done a bit of everything in not just anime, but also in the world of video games and tokusatsu. Plus, he is also the designated dub voice for Jack Black, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Sean William Scott. So what are some iconic roles of Wataru Takagi? After reviewing his work, we came up with what we believe are his top 5 roles.
5. Crimson Rubeus from Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon)
- Episodes: 200
- Air Dates: March 7, 1992 – February 8, 1997
As we shared in our introduction of Wataru Takagi, he is instantly recognizable by his nasal and raspy voice. But think again as we start this list off with his role of Rubeus from Sailor Moon. Listen to his performance as Rubeus and listen to his voice in GTO (spoiler, it’s on the list!), and you’ll probably be blown away that these two were voiced by the same actor. Though his voice is still minimally nasally as Rubeus, in comparison to his other roles we’re going to list, he comes across as rather soft and seductive to compliment the character’s handsome looks, and gives him the appropriate charisma. Even when enraged, his voice doesn’t get scratchy or rough like Onizuka. When you compare this role to the rest of this list, it’ll surprise you how multitalented Wataru Takagi truly is and that he’s not a one trick pony.
4. Okayasu Nijimura from JoJo No Kimyou na Bouken (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Episodes: 116+
- Air Dates: October 6, 2012 - Ongoing
As for some of Takagi’s more recent roles, we have Okayasu from the forth story arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Diamond is Unbreakable. Though he is initially introduced as opponent for Jousuke, after their battle, he becomes a valuable ally. As Okayasu, Takagi’s raspy voice masterfully conveys to the audience that he’s a juvenile delinquent and that he’s not someone you want to mess with. So at times, he will present himself as intimidating whenever he’s in a confrontation. He tends to slur his words in a way that a Japanese gangster would. To non-Japanese speakers, it may be ridiculous but to native speakers, it is intended to be frightening. When necessary, he can and will make you laugh, a traditional staple of Takagi.
3. Masaru Aoki from Hajime no Ippo (Fighting Spirit)
- Episodes: 75
- Air Dates: October 4, 2000 – March 27, 2002
In addition to his role as Okayasu, as Aoki, Takagi once again plays a supporting role who serves as the comic relief. As Aoki, his performance conveys to the audience how ridiculous this character is. Not only is he a sloppy (and yet crafty in a very unorthodox sense) boxer, he has horrible taste in women (which is sort of the fault of his best friend’s advice). Regardless, out of all the members of his gym, he’s the only one getting laid and Takagi does an excellent job of bringing out that enthusiasm and at the same time, makes you feel for the rest of the cast who wonder what he sees in his girlfriend. But putting aside his function as the comic relief, when you see him cornering Kimura, his best friend for the national title, Takagi also shows his dramatic qualities by conveying how much he cares about Kimura and with his chemistry with Kimura’s voice actor, Keiji Fujiwara, they share a very believable chemistry of their lifelong friendship.
2. Garrod Ran from Kidou Shinseiki Gundam X (After War Gundam X)
- Episodes: April 5, 1996 – December 28, 1996
- Air Dates: 39
In this criminally underrated installment to the Gundam franchise, we feel that we should also share Takagi’s most underrated role, and it is that of Garrod, the main character. Though Takagi has played teenagers, such as Okayasu from JoJo on this list, throughout his career, he delivers a rather distinct performance as Garrod that convinces audiences that he is barely going through puberty. As stated before, his raspy and nasal voice is recognizable to long-time anime fans. As Garrod, as opposed to his raspy pitch, you get to hear him with a higher pitch voice where those nasal qualities are minimally present. Through this distinct performance, he can convince the audience he can play characters that are prepubescent. Through this distinguishing performance, he captures Garrod’s street smartness, his upbeat personality, and his innocent crush on Tifa.
1. Eikichi Onizuka from Great Teacher Onizuka
- Episodes: 43
- Air Dates: June 30, 1999 – September 17, 2000
As for the role that made him an international star to anime fans, it would be without a doubt, playing the voice of Onizuka from GTO. Even though he inherited the role from Issei Futamata—Onizuka’s seiyuu in Shounan Junai Gumi, the prequel to GTO—Takagi captures the character in a manner that made Tooru Fujisawa, the creator of the character, proud. In this once in a lifetime comedy, Takagi’s highly nasal voice accurately captures Onizuka as a former delinquent who may have moved on from his ways, but still hasn’t forgotten. He uses his talents that captures the never ending humor of GTO but can come across as wise and caring when required with his reverse psychological methods. He provides Onizuka his unorthodox charisma and when you see past his perverted tendencies, he really cares about helping his students.
Lastly, we would like to make some honorable mentions to his roles as Wataru Takagi in Detective Conan (yes, he plays a character with his name), The Sundance Kid in Drifters, Kenji in Initial D, Alberto Vist from Gundam Unicorn, and as the Joker in Ninja Batman. So, what do you think are some of Wataru Takagi’s best roles? If you have any other recommendations, please share them in the comments!