This time we dedicate our digest to one of the living legends in the seiyuu world that has turned 48 this month. It’s none other than our cool prince, the incredibly sexy and heart melting Hikaru Midorikawa. With a career that spawns over two decades, Midorikawa is one of the most prolific (over 200 roles) and unique actors in Japan.
The man, the legend, the sensei, we take a look at Mr. Perfect’s vast career in animation, music, games, radio and much more.
|NICKNAMES||Midorin, Mr. Perfect, Guririba, Sensei|
|BORN||May 2nd, 1968 in Ohtawara, Tochigi, Japan|
|OCCUPATION||seiyuu (voice actor), singer, radio host|
Before Midorikawa reached the legend status he now has, he was taking his first steps in something completely aside from the seiyuu business. He was part of a theatre troupe that made more than 2 shows a day throughout Japan. Using that experience Midorikawa decided to enroll at Aoni’s seiyuu school in Tokyo since he knew some of his favorite voice actors from the Gundam series were from this company. Luckly he passed the audition and joined the school, from which he graduated later. He finally kicked off his seiyuu career in 1988, when he was only twenty years old. Coming from Tochigi, Midorikawa easily earned a spot in Aoni‘s roster and is still to this day, one of their most esteemed and talented members.
80’s & early 90’s
Debuting with a small role in 1988’s anime Kiteretsu Daihyakka, that year was little eventful. Unlike many seiyuu in the business, Midorikawa‘s lack of roles on his debut was soon covered by several roles in Dragon Ball Z in 1989 as well as participating in the classical shoujo Ranma 1/2. These two different poles in the spectrum were important for Midorikawa to showcase his range – he could be your typical bad guy as well as the guy next door in a blink of an eye. The following years were filled of cool type of characters in classical shoujo masterpieces such as the original Sailor Moon series, Marmalade Boy and Fushigi Yuugi – still a major hit in mainland China.
1993 – Breakthrough
This was Midorikawa‘s breakthrough year. Being casted in basketball anime Slam Dunk as Kaede Rukawa, the cool ace of the team, left a lot of people swooning over both the character and himself. As people might know Rukawa is a boy of few words but whenever he talks he’s funny without trying to be. Midorikawa‘s portrayal was enough to make the character one of the most loved in the series as well as putting him on the map. His work with the Slam Dunk franchise extended until 1996.
1993 was also the year when he started to work in the Gundam franchise with a minor role in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, a dream come true for him since it had been his prime reason to join Aoni as well as to be a seiyuu.
1995 – The golden year
He rose to stardom thanks to his main roles in Fushigi Yuugi as Tamahome and in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing as Heero Yuy – the lead character in a Gundam series that Midorikawa had been craving since his enrollment in voice acting school.
Once again he played contrastant characters that really didn’t have anything in common in terms of execution and personality. A shoujo romance and a mecha action anime. In one of them being cold and calculist while fighting against everyone – the typical one-man-army that Midorikawa has portrayed time and time again – where emotions were bottled up to the maximum and the other – Tamahome – that was more of a bright character caught up in the middle of an fantastic world in ancient China with a girl from future Japan and a sense of justice to go along with it.
Sounds like a weird combo but it was more than enough for people to notice the incredible range and talent Midorikawa has. His angsty roles where emotions tend to overflow – in Heero‘s case, rage, anger and coldness – are a trademark. On the other side we find Tamahome, a character that although a little bit skeptic at first about the main character and what was really going on throughout the story, proved to grow in emotions.
That growth provided us with Midorikawa‘s top skills to deliver funny lines and make them hilarious. It also showed us a character struggling with the realization of being in love and finally giving in to it. The anime was an instant success in Japan and has remained up until today as the top favorite among his Chinese fans.
This year also brought Midorikawa another main role in the anime series Slayers, series that spawned a total of three seasons between 1995 and 1997.
We can say that this year is the one that will be remembered the best among his fans. The quality of the anime and stellar portrayals of both characters were memorable.
1996 until 2000
The following years although full of work saw Midorikawa with few main roles. Still he was basically everywhere landing roles in a wide array of anime, making himself noticed in an era where voice acting was getting increasingly more famous. During this span of time he was on top of his game living a soaring popularity among Japanese and Chinese fans. After the Slam Dunk, Fushigi Yuugi fever, Midorikawa was ready for new flights.
Fire emblem brought yet another memorable character for his fans. Marth is known the core fanbase since the OVA’s based on the videogame were a hit at the time of release.
Slayers had two new installments between 1996 and 1997, and Midorikawa returned to portray the iconic Zelgadis Greywords, a quiet and asocial character that is full of mystery.
Other memorable roles in the late 90’s include: Tokiya Mikagami in “Rekka no Honoo“, Rick in “Hamos: The Green Chariot“, Lyn and Shin in Cowboy Bebop, Schuldig in Weiß Kreuz and Yoshito Kikuchi in the classic Great Teacher Onizuka.
2000 – The turn of the millenium
2000 was a year of change for Midorikawa, with his unit activities alongside E.M.U and his solo endeavors in the music business finally coming to an end, he was more than ever focused on his seiyuu job.
From 2000 to 2002, Midorikawa stayed away from the big leading roles, only adding more secondary roles on his repertoire. Starting from 2002 and his participation on Samurai Deeper Kyo (that although not that well received among fans) as Migeira, Midorikawa started to ride on the second hyped wave on his career up until 2012. The amount of top tier anime he was featured in during that 10 year span is massive and it really solidified his stance in the seiyuu business, easily earning him the title of living legend.
Some of his best performances belong to this era as he showcased all types of emotions in the most varied array of characters available. Some of the anime he worked on include:
Naruto, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Saint Beast, Weiß Kreuz Glühen, Kyo Kara Maoh!, Clannad, The Story of Saiunkoku, Gintama, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2, Persona: Trinity Soul, Slayers Revolution, Fairy Tail, Bleach, Starry Sky, Togainu no Chi, Nurarihyon No Mago: Sennen Makyou, Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, Fate/Zero, Brave 10, Saint Seiya Omega, Little Busters!. We could continue this list and his characters wouldn’t stop appearing.
Some of the anime we pointed out only featured Midorikawa playing minor characters but his performance in the shoujo “The Story of Saiunkoku” as the sweet, protective Seiran earned a lot of praise since it had been a long time since he’d done a historical shoujo – last time had been the major hit series Fushigi Yuugi – and fans were ecstatic about it. Part of the lead cast but without much say to the main romantic pairing, Seiran is still a pivotal character throughout the two seasons this anime spawned.
Other performances that really impressed were Xingke in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2, the one-man-army character that winked at Midorikawa’s past mecha character Heero Yuy.
With a high sense of justice and responsibility but also with the weight of world on his shoulders, the conflicted Xingke played a pivotal role in the second season of Code Geass, adding an extra layer of depth to the series.
Shockingly contrastant were his roles in Nurarihyon No Mago: Sennen Makyou and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi that had a more comedic side to them than all the “heavy” stuff he’d been doing non-stop. Both characters left a positive mark on his fans. On both series Midorikawa played secondary characters.
In Nurarihyon No Mago his character Hidemoto Keikain was used not only as a wise plot device but also as a comic relief for a series that was growing gradually more serious as time passed. His carefree personality led to lots of hilarious scenes during his short term presence in the anime. But don’t be fooled by those funny skits, Midorikawa‘s performance has also a lot of cleverness and wit that makes this character standout even among the secondary cast.
In Sekaiichi Hatsukoi he portrayed Kanade Mino, the cheeky Emerald employee. Always with a remark ready at the tip of his tongue and with a smile plastered on his face 24/7, Kanade Mino’s iconic one liners made the whole series even more fun to watch. How to deal with mangakas that fail their deadlines? Mino has the answer and Midorikawa’s delivery made it even funnier.
“It’s very simple. You barge into her house at around 3 am and while playing around with a box cutter right there at her bedside, you say: It’s going to be okay. You’ll definitely get this done. There is no reason you shouldn’t. You just slipped a bit in your schedule. I’ve got high hopes for you because you always come through. No reason you couldn’t this time, right? You’re one of my authors after all.
After you have repeated this litany a few times, she’ll definitely come around”
Togainu no Chi needs no introduction. His portrayal of Shiki although a bit toned down for the series to be “viewer-friendly”, was still of top quality. Midorikawa made a sexy entrance with a character that for starters should have been hated. The fact that his portrayal made fans confused between his sexy and douchebag personality, is a victory on its own.
The anime failed to engage as many people as the game had done before, in fact making a lot of fans of the game angry at how bad it had been adapted, not to forget the common animation issues that made it a bit dreadful to watch.
Midorikawa‘s passion for the role made him not only attend the event (that actors avoid since the game is in the BL universe) alongside Kousuke Toriumi and Kisho Taniyama, but also to somehow show a more “Shiki-esque” look on himself, going for the smokey eyeliner, leather gloves and military boots surprising everyone at the venue.
Probably the performances that left a deeper mark on the audiences were his roles as Lancer in Fate/Zero and as Kyosuke in Little Busters!. For two completely reasons these two roles rank high on Midorikawa’s repertoire.
Lancer is your typical cool type with a strong sense of justice, dazzling looks and a honeyed cold voice to die for. His internal struggles due to some events in the past, his lack of trust, his gentlemanly duels against other servants aiming for the Holy Grail take this character over the edge, showcasing a wide array of emotions in what is a stellar performance. Sadly this series is penned by Gen Urobuchi so you can guess what happens to his character.
On the other side we have Kyosuke, part of the Little Busters universe and one of the main characters in the middle of an anime that had everything to be a simple slice of life with a little bit of comedy. It turns out that, although the first season is actually entertaining to watch as each member of the club gets recruited, things get odd by the second season. We won’t say much regarding this series as we don’t spoil what is one of the master pieces of these past sixteen years.
2013 – An emotional rollercoaster
This year brought a lot of surprises to the table. He was once again back at full force in shoujo anime. The two names: Uta no Prince Sama and Diabolik Lovers. Interestingly enough, both characters he portrayed had sadistic sides to themselves. Uta no Prince Sama takes Midorikawa back to the music scene, sort of. Leader of rival boygroup “Heavens”, Midorikawa brings to life the cocky Ootori Eiichi , a character that has a lot of sadism and confidence to spare.
On the other side we find Midorikawa reprising his role from the original Rejet otome games in Diabolik Lovers. Ayato Sakamaki is brought to life in what seems to be a slightly different and mixed up version of the game’s plot. Nevertheless, Midorikawa‘s portrayal of the oldest triplet, the troublemaker of the series and also the control and attention seeker vampire is on point. Despite the fact that this series has been highly criticised in the West due to the themes subjacent, it is a major hit in Japan.
Little Busters returned for a second season and Midorikawa managed to dazzle everyone with his performance. For reasons we’ll not spoil, Kyosuke breaks down in a scene. As stated by some of the actors inside the studio recording with him on that day (Nobutoshi Canna), the crying on that scene wasn’t staged. He was actually crying since he got so attached to the character and had finally got the final scripts. Being a fan of the light novels even before he’d been chosen to portray Kyosuke, Midorikawa broke down in tears at this specific scene. It’s considered one of the most powerful scenes in anime due to the authenticity of his emotions. It really hit home for Midorikawa and it was impossible to keep himself emotionally unattached to what was happening. Spoilers ahead but check this scene out to see why Midorikawa is a top seiyuu.
2014 – The scandal
In what was a simple seiyuu event back in 2014, Midorikawa didn’t even expect something this big to blow up. Apparently Midorikawa had a piece of jewelery on him that had an exact pair in the crowd and fans noticed it. What happened after this?
A hellish year for Midorikawa that choose to go radio silent after denying the rumors that he was cheating on his wife – known to be a female seiyuu with love for cosplaying (the name wasn’t unveiled and people don’t really know who she is). It wasn’t expected at all that things would escalate the way they did, that even Midorikawa himself had to come forward and deny everything that was being said. And that led to 9 months of silence provided by the legend himself that needed time to rethink how he’d interact with the fans from now on.
In result, that year was stale in terms of job offers for Midorikawa that was slowly being erased from the seiyuu world if not for Rejet and their cd drama + games offers and a few anime studios that despite all that, wanted him featured. A total of 5 secondary anime roles summed up this year for Midorikawa that was struggling more than ever to keep himself relevant in the anime scene.
The scandal affected little his game dubbing activities but it was a really weak year in terms exposure to the masses. Despite the scandal Midorikawa still attended Rejet‘s Rejet Fest and was in high spirits even calling it “Midorijeto“.
Trying to put away the fact it was still being badly received among fans, the scandal didn’t stop Midorikawa to be featured in his first ever tv commercial, this time not lending his voice as usual, but he was featured as one of the seiyuu alongside Kana Hanazawa for Chain Chronicle, game where Midorikawa voices Licht.
2015 Back to business
2015 was an eventful year. After recovering from the scandal Midorikawa was back at full force with a multitude of activites scheduled to do.
He started to give voice acting classes, attended special events at technical schools, was part of the jury for that year’s auditions to enter Aoni‘s voice acting school, kicked off a new radio show and promoted himself overseas with major focus in China. 2015 brought also back Midorikawa to the spotlight.
Blood Blockade Battlefront, Charlotte, Uta no Prince-sama Maji LOVE Revolutions, Rinne and Diabolik Lovers More blood put Midorikawa once again teamed up with great projects as well as with familiar and famous faces.
It was a year that gave him once again a way to showcase that being a veteran is not only a status you get when you reach a certain age, but trully a way of acting that few have these days.
Blood Blockade Battlefront and Rinne have Midorikawa once again portraying funny characters, Charlotte has a kind of character that made it a little bit hard to understand on the spot that it was Midorikawa effectively lending his voice to it. It was interesting side character that gave some funny moments to the story despite the weird context in which it appears.
Uta no Prince sama Maji Love Revolutions brought back the cocky, cold and talented Ootori Eiichi, leader of top boy group Heavens ready to crush their rivals, the already famous Starish. Although still unsuccessful, Ootori‘s will to show who’s best as well as the superior quality in terms of music composition for this group give away that Midorikawa‘s character will play a major role this fall when the anime is back for their fourth season.
Diabolik Lovers More blood marks the comeback of the Sakamaki household in a fight against an unknown danger. With that it obviously came back the possessive, disfunctional, sexy and cool Ayato Sakamaki ready to fight whoever stands in front of him and takes the things he owns away from him. This franchise already has two anime seasons out and shows no signs of stopping at that. The games are still spawing new plot avenues to explore and Midorikawa‘s portrayal of sadist Ayato is what puts all together in this franchise.
All in all, 2015 brought back some old characters where it was impressive to see how much more can Midorikawa improve his performances. Without spoiling more the anime mentioned above, some of these characters are more expressive and emotional than on their first encounters, not only a sign that the stories progressed but also that his acting has matured in the process. It had also been a long time since Midorikawa had portrayed a funny character as Zed O’Brien that is always around Zapp Renfro (played by Kazuya Nakai) with witty banter and other hilarious shenanigans.
2016 brought him a massive leading role. Portraying Sakamoto from slice of life / comedy manga “Sakamoto desu ga?” has put Midorikawa once again on the spotlight, even impressing some of his fans with how spot on his portrayal of the cool Sakamoto is.
He’s also set to make his return to Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love Legend Star (the 4th installment) as Ootori Eiichi, leader of the revamped Heavens.
Midorikawa joined the cast of Hatsukoi Monster (First Love Monster) as Daikoku Nikaido, a secondary character. This will his first shoujo anime role of the year in what we hope will be a prolific year for him.
Not only Midorikawa is known forbeing an avid gamer that gives lines for free in exchange of beta testing them, but he also has a vast repertoire when it comes to being casted in games – whatever genre they may be. Midorikawa is a household name in three game companies in Japan: Koei, Nitro+ and Rejet. His versatility has proved to be a major door opener for Midorikawa has he’s already played a wide range of characters, all of them showcasing his tremendous skills and unique twists to the already “mainstream” types of characters.
His most iconic roles include the sadist vampire Ayato Sakamaki in the Diabolik lovers franchise, role that has been keeping Midorikawa in the spotlight for over 4 years.
Others include Shiki from Togainu no Chi (Nitro+) still a dark character with a uninterested personality and a lot of sadism as a greeting card, his intimidating performance still gives us chills after all these years. Killing for no apparent reason, showcasing his “top dog” status and his icy cold glares gets him around the game, although with a whole lot of background story to explore that we’ll refrain from spoiling it.
If you want the epitome of psychotic, that character that will make you cower in fear for how creepy it is, we need to talk about his role in Sweet Pool, Nitro+ game (BL) as Zenya, the outworldly, demonic psycho in town. The game doesn’t need an explanation due to its mature and hardcore gory contents [it’s not recommended for those who don’t fancy BL games or even gory stuff. It really gets nasty way too fast]. Besides this Midorikawa‘s acting really shines because he can bring out that sickening personality flawlessly, making you cringe at every word of his.
Yes, he’s good a voicing sadists and cool characters but he also has a fair share of those sweet prince like types on his repertoire. Kei Hazuki in Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side is a solid example of how Midorikawa can do a 360 change and still impress with his range. Another example is Yoh Tomoe in Starry Sky, another sweet character that falls easily in the prince type slot.
One-man-army types of characters are also pretty common in some games that are clearly far from being “otome-friendly“. Heero Yuy in Super Robot Wars is a fair example of this and the best one available. Traitors also fall quite often into Midorikawa‘s repertoire, the most famous being Leon Magnus from Tales of Destiny.
Aside from his various credits in on games he’s had his fair share of foreign movies / series dubs, tsome of them include: The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions as The Kid, Kill Bill as Pretty Riki and series like Medium and Mentalist.
Over the years Midorikawa has hosted quite a few radio shows since 1994 when he made his hosting debut with “Animaga Parade“. Several radio shows followed, the most famous being: 緑川光SOLDIER BREAK (1995-1997), Saiunkoku monogatari 〜 futaken no mai 〜 (2006-2009) and Little Busters!R (2012-2014).
His upbeat and bubbly personality liven up every single one of the radio shows he’s hosted. Proving not only to be a solid host but also with a great sense of opportunity to make things interesting and sometimes, hilarious.
Recently he’s wrapped up his hosting duties for “Midorikawa Hikaru, Imai Asami & Uchida Aya no Chainkuro radio“, radio show related to the mobile game “Chain Chronicle“. Starting from early April he’s hosting a new radio show titled “Sega apu radio“, a revamped version of the later radio show dedicated to “Chain Chronicle“.
E.M.U – The pioneer seiyuu unit
Midorikawa was part of one of what we know is the pioneer seiyuu unit – E.M.U. The group formed was formed from the radio drama Sotsugyou M (Male Graduation) in which all the members were featured. With a stellar lineup, E.M.U sold out arenas in Japan with their shows in the late 90’s. E.M.U (Entertainment music unit) formed in 1995 and later disbanded in 2000 consisting of Hideo Ishikawa (vocals, drums), Hikaru Midorikawa (vocals, bass), Ryotaro Okiayu (vocals, guitar), Nobutoshi Canna (vocals, lead guitar) and Daisuke Sakaguchi (vocals, keys), sold over half a million records and sold out arenas time after time with their addictive pop-rock. A total of 8 albums, 4 singles and more than 30 sold out shows pile up to make them the most successful seiyuu unit in Japan to date. Midorikawa was part of the music composition and lyrics writing alongside the rest of the members.
2013 was the year when HE★VENS, seiyuu unit originally consisted of Hikaru Midorikawa, Daisuke Ono and Yonaga Tsubasa officially debuted. The unit recently suffered changes adding 4 more members but as a leader, things didn’t change that much for Midorikawa. The fact that the unit originated from Uta no Prince Sama, gave Midorikawa one last chance to regain the fame among young people in Japan, thing he been gradually losing as each year more and more new blood join the industry. As the veteran seiyuu and singer Midorikawa has a challenge with this group, a lot will depend on how ELEMENTS GARDEN wants to portray this unit’s sound. “Heavens Gate” was all the rave in 2013, being even more popular than the songs sang by STARISH that year. The powerful sound and consistency in the vocals proved to be a winner combination. In 2015 the group was revamped and four more members joined the group. The sound changed a bit but nothing that drastic, keeping the essence at its core. So far it’s a bit too early to talk more in depth about Midorikawa‘s involvement with this unit since they only released two versions of the same song. Time will tell if the group will also take the stage just like how STARISH and Quartet Night do yearly.
Shortly after E.M.U disbanded Midorikawa teamed up with fellow member Nobutoshi Canna and formed Zero Phoenix. The group was active between 2000 and 2002, year in which the unit supposedly disbanded. There was never an official disbandment announcement which left a lot of fans thinking that they may still be a thing, despite being innactive for several years. Although this turned out to be a short lived project, Zero Phoenix were still riding on E.M.U‘s nationwide fame and held several shows while only releasing one album titled “Kirameki“.
With a musical vein (he plays the saxophone and bass), Midorikawa took the plunge to a solo career as soon as the oportunity was granted. Still in the 90’s and riding on a lot of momentum from both E.M.U and his seiyuu job, Midorikawa made his solo debut. In the four years he was active he released 6 albums.
His debut was with “Cool” back in 1996. On this album Midorikawa was part of each part of the process. Lyrics, composition and showcasing his skills on the sax with the track “Myself“. “Cool” was followed by “Ai Subeki Otoko-tachi no Love Song Series 2: Ore wa Uchu no Sukekomashi“, “ENDLESS DREAM“, “Kazaranai kokoro no mama“, and “Sore wa Kesshite Raku na Michinori Dewa Naidarou“, all in 1999. His goodbye release was “Time Capsule Vol. 1” in 2000. His albums fared well on the charts for a couple weeks straight proving his immense popularity.
Some interesting facts
Trademark Nasal Voice
For those who don’t know, Tochigi (where Midorikawa was born and raised) is a part of Japan with a very nasal driven dialect. People simply sound nasal when speaking which sounds odd in comparison with standard Japanese. When Midorikawa arrived in Tokyo he found it difficult to get rid of his strong accent – easily noticeable on his earlier work – and practiced countless hours to get rid of it because of the accent requeriments in the dubbing business. He was incredibly self-conscious of his accent at the time and worked his best between jobs to improve it, to the point that he can now speak in perfect standard Japanese.
The change was drastic and in late 1995 Midorikawa started to sound totally different much to his fans’ surprise. In fact, on the first part of Slam Dunk‘s season his accent was still strong but on the last half he was already shiffting his accent. By the time he was voicing Tamahome in Fushigi Yuugi his accent was already at a standard level.
Midorikawa is well known for having motion sickeness hence he doesn’t own a driving license. He prefers going by train to his schedules since he can spare more time for his gaming hobbies. The only time he travelled by car was when his girlfriend at that time (now his wife) asked him to go on a drive with her, he didn’t refuse afraid that if he did it, she’d dump him. Still he kept smiling although he was feeling sick during the drive.
Known to be a passionate gamer, Midorikawa impressed seiyuu Tatsuhisa Suzuki with his mad skills. As commented by Suzuki, Midorikawa can even play games in the middle of the street without even looking where he’s headed and not hitting anything and no one around him. Midorikawa actually taught Suzuki how to do it but it proved to be impossible to him.
Midorikawa is also known for investing an insane amount of hours on his games although he spends most of his time working.
He often does lines to several games for free with the condition of beta testing them – this is well know for the Super Robot Wars series games. Several seiyuu often join him for playing sessions: Ryotaro Okiayu, Daisuke Sakaguchi, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Hiroshi Kamiya, Jun Fukuyama, Tomokazu Sugita, Daisuke Ono, between many others.
Few might not know this but if Midorikawa hadn’t taken the plunge into the seiyuu business he would have taken over his family business. His parents own a pharmacy called “Midori Yakkyoku” (Green Pharmacy). Even though he didn’t take that route, he’s named his personal blog after it.
Midorikawa has earned this nickname from his peers and industry experts (directors, AD’s, sound directors, etc). He’s known for being extremely methodical amd dedicated to his craft when it comes to approaching his characters. With that being said, he studies his scripts carefully which leads to him having a lot of input and things to suggest to the producers on how he’d like to tackle certain emotions and lines. To do that he manages to arrive earlier to the recording in order to discuss those details with the directors.
He’s also known for nailing difficult scenes without the need to do retakes. Proof of that is his emotional scene in Little Busters – one take and genuine emotions.
With this we conclude yet another massive digest. We explored a bit of Hikaru Midorikawa‘s vast and successful career. Hope you had fun! Remember to check next month on the 15th for another Seiyuu Digest of ours!