For a while now, i’ve been wanting to write something about my favourite seiyuu. But there are plenty of ‘top seiyuu’ listicles out there already, and I probably wouldn’t have anything new or unexpected to add.
Instead, I want to look at my favourite performances by my favourite seiyuu, from the shows that first brought them to my attention, to the ones where they completely stole the show, and some where the performance is pleasantly surprising.
I have to start with Suwabe Junichi, simply because of all the times I’ve mentioned him in previous posts. He tends to get cast as gruff manly men, or suave manly men, or menacing manly…well, you get the idea. Grimmjow in ‘Bleach’. Aizawa Shouta in ‘My Hero Academia’. Archer in ‘Fate/Stay Night’. But honestly, those aren’t the performances I like the best (partly because I’m not into those types of shows that are all about gruff manly men doing gruff manly things). Instead, I prefer the roles where he gets to be smooth, or subtle, or even outright bonkers.
These aren’t particularly in any order (because I’m terrible at choosing favourites).
1. Minabe Yukiya, ‘Meganebu’
I really can’t remember how I discovered ‘Meganebu’. Perhaps I was looking up shows about school clubs, and the thought of an after-school club dedicated to glasses seemed like a fun premise. I just know that it’s crazy and I love it.
Here, Suwabe plays Minabe Yukiya, the smart one of the five-strong glasses club and the one most involved in the long-running plan to develop a working pair of X-ray specs. It’s a subtle performance, but rather than Eraserhead’s bored monotone, Minabe has a dry humour and composed focus that makes the character a cool counter-point to Akira’s over-the-top passion and the general zaniness of the club when they get together.
The show as a whole is a lot of fun, with a gorgeous colour palette and a surprisingly touching ending.
2. Victor Nikiforov, ‘Yuri On Ice’
Of course Victor has to be on the list. Not just for the performance, but for the way the character seems to mean so much to Suwabe.
As Victor, he gets dramatic scenes, romance, and playful silliness, making fantastic use of the rich smoothness of his voice and his range as an actor. He’s clearly having a whale of a time with the role – just watch the ‘Yuri On Stage’ drama performance to see how much he enjoys not just playing Victor but being Victor.
3. Konbuichi Shuu, ‘Princess Jellyfish’
This is Suwabe playing against type. No silliness, and no gruff macho growling. Instead, he’s a regular if somewhat sheltered guy trying to extricate himself from a manufactured scandal and dealing with what might just be his first crush.
As a boy, Shuu caught his father having an affair with the woman who would be mother to his half-brother, and the shock left him terrified of women. Now, as an adult, he has a successful if challenging career as personal assistant to his politician father. He balances this with minding his flamboyant half-brother and equally quirky uncle, who happens to be the Prime Minister of Japan.
He also has to adjust to his unexpected attraction to lead character Tsukimi, which is tricky not just because of his phobia but because Tsukimi is never quite herself around him. It’s a subtle but powerful performance, and Suwabe makes Shuu oddly endearing.
4. Shirogane, ‘Monochrome Factor’
Long before Victor Nikiforov, Suwabe played another silver-haired pretty boy in love with the male protagonist. The otherwordly Shirogane appears before teenager Akira (played by Ono Daisuke) to enlist him to fight demons in this fun, if dated, magical boy story.
It’s one of those roles where you can’t imagine anyone else taking on the part. Shirogane needs both silver-tongued smoothness and mature confidence, and Suwabe has both in spades.
5. Inaba Hiroshi, ‘Cuticle Detective Inaba’
I like Suwabe best when he gets free reign to go off and push the limits of silliness, and that’s exactly what he does here. As a human/canine hybrid with powers that kick in when he…eats…hair (hence the ‘cuticle detective’), he goes up against all sorts of wacky enemies, including his self-styled arch-nemesis, who is a goat. Not a human/goat hybrid. Just a goat, who is also a mafia don.
In case you can’t tell, it’s totally a gag anime, so don’t expect anything to make sense or go the way you’d expect. Instead, just hit play, sit back and enjoy Inaba Hiroshi’s wild ride.
There are plenty of other Suwabe roles I’ve enjoyed, but perhaps didn’t enjoy the rest of the show enough to stick with it. These include:
‘Brothers Conflict’ – this show is absolutely bonkers, but every male seiyuu in it gets to show off their suave-voice (except for Kamiya Hiroshi who got ripped off royally).
‘Space Dandy’ – I will never get over my love-hate relationship with this show. Suwabe is clearly having tons of fun with the role, but I can’t get past the show’s poor treatment of its female characters.
‘Black Butler’ – Undertaker doesn’t have a whole lot to do except be creepy and mysterious. Sure, he’s a centuries-old grim reaper, but he’s mostly around for laughs and exposition.
Is there a Suwabe role you think I ought to check out? How about another seiyuu you’d like me to write about? Tell me in the comments!