Norio Wakamoto is one of Japan’s most legendary voice actors. How legendary? There’s an annual competition every year to see who can do the best impression of him!
But that’s not what we’re here for today — we’re talking about where you can year the real deal. You’ve probably heard him in some of your favorite shows, given his massive CV. But we’re narrowing that list down to three of our favorites — cool, weird, and just plain crazy.
Chiyo’s Dad — Azumanga Daioh
It’s not the biggest role in the world, but Norio Wakamoto plays every role larger than life. In slice-of-life series Azumanga Daioh, the voice actor shows up as wunderkind Chiyo’s father… kind of. More accurately, he’s the voice of classmate Osaka’s daydream of Chiyo’s father. Which is apparently a big orange cat thing who occasionally speaks random English.
This kind of daydream is par for the course for Osaka. Even so, fans have pretty much adopted the image as Chiyo’s official father figure. In a show full of weird cats, it seems appropriate.
Coach Ohta — Gunbuster
Every good sports anime needs its touch coach — even the ones that aren’t technically sports anime. Gainax’s Aim for the Top! Gunbuster takes inspiration from both tennis anime Aim for the Ace! and American film Top Gun, combining them with giant robot action. And just as Aim for the Ace! had the unyielding Coach Munakata, Gunbuster as Coach Ohta.
This is one of Norio Wakamoto’s most legendary roles, between his constant shouts of “Hard work and guts” and the fact that Coach Ohta is just plain cool. Gunbuster is only six episodes long (not counting its 2004 sequel, of course), but it packs a lot of characterization in for everyone. There’s a lot we’ll never learn about Coach, sadly — at least he returned for the quadruple-length PS2 game!
Narrator — Hayate the Combat Butler
Before Tonikawa, Kenjirou Hata charmed audiences with action/romance/parody series Hayate the Combat Butler. The series followed a teenager who found himself in the employ of a nerdy rich girl in order to pay off his parents’ debts. We can’t think of anyone better to oversee Hayate’s bizarre adventures than Norio Wakamoto — who narrates the long-running anime series.
Credited as “Voice from the Heavens,” Wakamoto offers commentary in his unmistakable distinctive style. It’s not his first rodeo, either. He’s served as a narrator for Rainbowman, s-CRY-ed, and individual episodes of Nichijou and Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, to name a few.
This is just a fraction of Norio Wakamoto’s resume. You can hear him everywhere from Cowboy Bebop to Dragon Ball, and he’s still taking on new roles to this day. What are some of your favorite iconic Wakamoto roles?