Some voice actors have voices so distinctive, all it takes is a word to recognize them. For others, all it takes is a yell. Case in point, Nobuyuki Hiyama. Renowned for his range and his hot-blooded performances, Hiyama is one of the hardest-working seiyuu in anime.
Hear him once, and you’ll recognize him anywhere. Here are three of his most distinctive roles… where else have you heard him?
Viral, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Gainax’s Gurren Lagann is full of compelling characters and epic robot action. It also showcased the talents of director Hiroyuki Imaishi, who went on to found Studio Trigger. Amongst the show’s many well-respected voice actors, Nobuyuki Hiyama took on one of its most complex: the Beastman Viral.
Roles and alignments shift daily in Gurren Lagann, and this sharp-toothed fighter is no exception. Hiyama got to showcase his full range as the baddie-turned-hero, complete with plenty of hot-blooded shouting. (For more of that, check out this clip from a live Gurren Lagann event, where he briefly stepped in as Simon.)
Link, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Link doesn’t say much in any of the Legend of Zelda games, so it takes a solid voice actor to make the most of what’s there. Several have played the non-verbal protagonist over the years. But if you hear Nobuyuki Hiyama shouting and get Ocarina of Time flashbacks, there’s good reason for it.
Hiyama got shouty for the 1998 video game, but that’s not the only place you’ll hear him as link. Soul Calibur II and two Super Smash Bros. games reused his library of battle cries. So if his particular brand of yelling is ingrained permanently in your memory, now you know why.
Guy Shishio, GaoGaiGar
One of Nobyuki Hiyama’s most notable roles, cyborg Guy Shishio in Sunrise’s GaoGaiGar The King of Braves seems tailor-made for him. Guy is a twenty-year-old astronaut turned mecha pilot, ready to lay his life on the line to protect Earth. He’s also ready to dive face-first into attacks that could destroy him and his robot… provided his enemy goes out with them.
With attacks like the Dividing Driver, Hell and Heaven, and Goldion Hammer, Guy wields some of mecha anime’s coolest (and loudest) attacks. Hiyama still knows how to pay low-key emotion, though — as one of the crew members approving Guy’s deadly attacks is his high school crush.
Where else have you heard Nobuyuki Hiyama? Any other roles you love him for?