When it comes to well-versed seiyuu one can mention a plethora of names, however one can not fail to mention those who, aside from their innate talent, have many years of experience under their belts. One prime example is Kouki Uchiyama.
|BORN||Aug 16, 1990|
|OCCUPATION||seiyuu, radio host, narrator, actor.|
Born in Saitama, Uchiyama began his career earlier than the majority of seiyuu. At the tender age of 3, he had already debuted in the entertainment industry as a child actor. It was only when Uchiyama became a middle school student that he debuted as a seiyuu marking the start of a career many and younger fellow seiyuu envy. At that time, Uchiyama had already 11 years of experience under his belt which made him all the more imposing to others.
Uchiyama is a Himawari‘s talent since his debut, and mind you that fellow seiyuu Mamoru Miyano, Ryohei Kimura, just to name a few, were also members of the theater company at some point in the beginning of their careers.
Contrary to what the numbers say, Uchiyama‘s first steps in the seiyuu industry were not all sunshine and roses, in fact one of his first jobs dates back to 2003 in the movie Momono, you can hear a frog singing as Riki Kuramoto. Despite his first role being a main character, we have to say that the pressure must have been tremendous as although Uchiyama had always been involved in the entertainment business, thruth is that this was his first job as a seiyuu, so aside from him being a newbie he had to make sure that he did his job well, in order to insure other roles in the industry seeing as before that the seiyuu had only made an appearance in the OVA Animatrix Beyond (2000) as Yaji, a minor character.
On the right track
Just as quickly as Uchiyama built up his momentum he fell off the radar, leaving a gap of 5 years in which the seiyuu made no appearances in anime, focusing his attention elsewhere. Uchiyama’s first role after this “break” was one of the main characters in the Soul Eater franchise, Soul Evans.
Soul is certainly a character with the perfect balance between a competent and goofy personality as his attempts to act differently from his true self are more than just a few. The source of this behavior lays in him wanting to be cool and hence why his aim is to act accordingly at all times. Needless to say, that more times than he should, Evans simply embaresses himself in the process, so all in all this character is somehow the catalyst to a few comic relief scenes in the anime. Aside from Uchiyama‘s performance as Soul, the anime itself was praised by many for its visuals, compelling plot and the animation overall. All these factors played a huge role in drawing attention to the anime and consequently to the seiyuu playing one of the main characters of the story.
And with that in mind, it did not take long for the effects to be noticed. In this industry, more often than not seiyuu become typecasted. Uchiyama, however, appears to have been quick on the uptake and after his praise worthy performance as Soul in the shounen anime Soul Eater, the seiyuu allowed us yet another glimpse into his talent. In 2010, the horror/thriller anime Shiki aired. Taking place in a small village where, the anime focuses on the macabre events that have been befalling the villagers. As all the favorable conditions to give place to a horror story are in place, Natsuno Yuuki (Uchiyama’s character) is one of the few who struggles to stay afloat. Thruthfully, often as not vampire stories romanticize the tragic events that take place, yet Shiki does not go through that trouble, so you can expect ruthless, coldhearted and instintic driven creatures roaming around among the villagers, hence why the response to the anime was so positive.
With the popular shounen anime Fairy Tail (2010-2015) airing, Uchiyama did not loose his chance to come aboard. Aside from his flamboyant appearance and excentric personality, Midnight is another character that certainly served as an example so as to why Uchiyama is so often casted in shounen anime. The seiyuu knows how to portray characters in a way that they don’t become boring, no matter how similar they may be, and that is the case with Midnight. This character could’ve simply be just another role, however Uchiyama worked his magic and brought the best performance possible.
Still in 2011, the seiyuu was casted as Ichika Orimura, the main character in Infinite Stratos. Much like other characters Uchiyama had played until that moment, Orimura comes off as being to slow on the uptake, not being able to read the atmosphere, giving away his plans, so all in all he is dense yet somehow famous. Similar to his role in IS, Yuuta Asaba, one of the twins in Kimi to boku, comes off as an aloof yet Asaba is merely watching carefully his surroundings. While the twins are both popular, Uchiyama’s character tends to keep to himself, so him expressing what he trully feels is either a rare occurence or not even considered as an option. On the other side, Uchiyama was casted in C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control as the main character Kimimaro Yoga with a mundane life marked by his efforts to make ends meet.
Some of his others works include: Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal (2011) as Kaito Tenju and Guilty Crown (2011) as Daryl Yan.
Established in the industry
With the coming of a new year, Uchiyama was casted is several roles, a happening that comes as something natural to the seiyuu. Throughout a seiyuu’s career one is bound to have one or two roles that become extremely popular and consequently reach the status of recognition so high that almost everbody knows about that particular role and therefore knows the seiyuu behind the character’s voice.
In Uchiyama‘s case, one of those is his character Yoshino Takigawa in the anime Zetsuen no Tempest whose influences from the Shakespeare plays such as The Tempest and Hamlet are easily felt even for the most distracted viewer. Takigawa gives off the image of the good looking teenage boy who lacks competence, yet that has never been more wrong. Amidst all the chaos and flash backs, one comes to terms that Takigawa is far more that just a pretty face, in fact there are more than just a couple of moments where we can understand that despite him apparently being a nice guy at all times, that’s not all there is to his personality. As aforementioned, this anime has some hints of the tragedy in Shakespeare’s plays, so it was expected for there to be quite some tempestuous scenes with characters expressing opposite and strong emotions, therefore it was anticipated a performance from the seiyuu that corresponded to the expectations. Needless to say, that both Uchiyama and Toyonaga (voicing Mahiro Fuwa) did an exceptional job in portraying the character’s intense feelings.
The year of 2012 was prolific for Uchiyama, not only did he get a major role in Zetsuen no Tempest, but he also was casted in several other anime. Among them, there’s Tsuritama, in which the seiyuu plays Natsuki Usami, one of the main characters in this sports and comedy anime. Although, at first, one might’ve be taken aback by the plot of Tsuritama, the response of the viewers was unexpectedly positive, as the anime was praised for its story line being exceedingly striking.
Following these noteworthy characters, Uchiyama set his eyes on the fantasy and mystery anime Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi whose plot has a lot of ressonance with a post-apocalyptic dystopian world. His character, Alice Color, is nothing like he seems to be. At first, Color acts like a delinquent but he is calm and colected for the most part, though this mask comes off when he becomes frustrated by the fact that he seems to not be able to save the one’s he cares for. Despite this being a supporting role, Color indeed served as the medium to solve one of the irregularities in that world and in process also got himself to be saved by another character of the main characters.
In a more or less the same wavelenght, RDG: Red Data Girl offers a plot with a lot of magic and fantasy to the mix. Although the story line follows almost the same guidelines as others in the same genre, it ended up getting mixed reviews as some mention the fact that the plot is lackluster, while others make mention of the design of the anime or the characters as the strong points. What is certain is that Uchiyama’s character Miyuki Sagara, the main character’s childhood friend and perhaps someone who also holds a certain task to perform, is worth mentioning. Sagara’s personality comes off as gentle and calm, the typical good looking teenage boy, yet, in this case, appearances do fool.
If there is a type of character Uchiyama portrays exceptionally well is the ones that end up being a gag by themselves or with the help of others. Hiroshi Kido in Barakamon is indeed a prime example of that. Uchiyama’s performance as Kido made people burst out laughing with either normal situations that became distorted or misunderstood by other characters. In fact, often as much Kido gets caught up in the mess and rarely leaves it unscathed.
Kei Tsukishima from Haikyuu!! is more or less the same type, although in Tsukishima’s case, we have a different personality in the equation, so things change a bit. This teenage boy has what one would call confidence in his abilities, which often as not comes off as him either cocky or that he is bragging about it. Tsukki is blunt and enjoys rilling up other team members, though he has expressed his dislike towards people with too much excitment, since he gets tired from interacting with them. Amidst several moments of banter between the team members, Tsukishima reveals a more competitive side to himself instead of the typical aura he gives off of being able to do everything without much effort, and consequently not putting much effort into it. Much like Tsukishima, Uchiyama’s character in Death Parade (2015), Clavis equally takes us by surprise when the elevator operator has no qualms in saying harsh words all the while smilling.
A talented seiyuu such as Uchiyama has a myriad of characters he has performed perfectly, despite its different quirks. Granted, gaggy characters or the cool types are just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to drama and tragedy or an overall plot driven by strong emotions, Uchiyama has already made his expertise clear as the day with his character in Zetsuen no Tempest back in 2012. Since then, although not so frequently, the seiyuu has occasionally gotten roles with similar specs. Take the example of Yuu Otosaka in Charlotte (2015). Even though, many didn’t like the plot of the anime claiming it lacked individuality, Uchiyama’s performance as the lead character is surely worth mentioning. Along more or less the same lines, we have Goldov Auora in Rokka no Yuusha (2015) and Dio Weinberg Junyou in Buddy Complex (2014). Both characters have a cold personality and are loyal to their values. Then there’s Makoto Tsukimoto in Ping Pong The Animation (2014), which falls in the quirkier category as he rarely shows any expression even when talking to others, but doesn’t hesitate to hum while playing.
Almost as if pursuing this streak of roles in sports anime, Uchiyama got casted as the main character in Battery (2016) as Takumi Harada. By now, it is no surprise when the seiyuu has to portray sociophobic characters as well as some similar vibes to Tsukishima.
Speaking of sharptongued characters, in 2016 Uchiyama’s role as Yuri Plisetsky, the young russian skater takes that notion to another level and created some waves. Plisetsky not only looks like a deliquent wearing flashy patterned clothes, but his way of talking with others is nothing like what his delicate looks imply, as one can notice earlier on. Yuri!!! on Ice was applauded by many as it goes deeper than the layers of simply being a sports anime. Aside from the luxury cast, the plot is well constructed which enabled the viewers to see the characters grow and improve as both athetles and persons.
Tsuyoshi Naoe in Nijiiro Days (2016) and Momo Sakaki in Fukumenkei Noise (2017) share a similar personality. Naoe is impredictable and mostly cool and collect, Sakaki however, despite apparently being calm and collected one quickly learns that that is nothing but a façade, a guise he uses to hide, or not, his cold and slightly sadist personality, but most of all, to avoid being honest about his feelings, though at times Sakaki appears to be a lost case in that department. For mysterious characters, Shin from Evil or Live (2017) is the way to go.
When it comes to comedy we have Masahiro Adachi from WWW.Working!!. Although Adachi’s personality is calm he is by far one of the sanest characters in their workplace. In fact, his efforts to not pass out when a certain event takes place are constantly for naught and end up becoming a gag.
Most recently, Uchiyama has made his return to the sports genre with his role in track and field anime Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru as Takashi Sugiyama.
Some of his other roles include: Hunter x Hunter (2011) as Meruem, Hotarubi no Mori e (2011) as Gin, Aquarion Evol (2012) as Kagura Demuri, Love Lab (2012) as Yuuya Takanashi, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn (2010-2014) as Banagher Links, Captain Earth (2014) as Zin, Soul Eater Not! (2014) as Soul Eater, Diamond no Ace (2014) as Takahiro Oomae, Nobunaga Concerto (2014) as Nobuyuki Oda and Happiness Charge Precure! (2014) as Yuuya Kaido, Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. (2015) as Takumi Sakagami, One Punch Man (2015) as Melzalgald, SHOW BY ROCK!! (2016) as Aion, Minna Atsumare! Falcom Gakuen SC (2015) as Rean Schwarzer, Boku no Hero Academia (2016) as Tomura Shigaraki, RS Keikaku: Rebirth Storage (2016) as Rin Sagami, Macross Δ (2016) as Messer Ihlefeld, Dive!! (2016) as Reiji Maruyama, Shoukoku no Altair (2017) as Beyazit Ulema, Mahoutsukai no Yome (2017) as Ruth, Fate/Apocrypha (2017) as Shirou Kotomine, Violet Evergarden (2018) as Benedict Blue and Free! -Dive to the Future- (2018) as Ikuya Kirishima.
When it comes to Uchiyama’s presence in the radio shows, one cannot say we have a lack of him, as throughout the years the seiyuu has either hosted or been a guest to several radio shows. Uchiyama’s first contact with this department was in 2008 when he was hosting Soul Eater Radio Shibu Seikai alongside fellow seiyuu Chiaki Omigawa who played the role of Maka Albarn. Following that, the seiyuu hosted Shiki‘s radio (2010). In 2011, Uchiyama and Kimura hosted the radio show of the anime Kimi to Boku. The show lasted one year.
From 2012 to 2014, Uchiyama hosted a radio show with fellow seiyuu Toyonaga Toshiyuki called Toshiyuki Toyonaga · Kouki Uchiyama’s Weekly Sound Wing ~ Otowa Editorial Department ~. Both seiyuu were no strangers to each other so that ended up being a plus, as we could enjoy the show while laughing. There is one episode in which Uchiyama even showed that he knows how to talk English with a Swedish woman. Between translating to Toyonaga what he was saying to the woman and him excusing himself claiming that his words wouldn’t come out, this episode was by far one of the most memorable. Needless to say, that his co-host laughed his heart out. Currently the seiyuu has been hosting his own radio show called Kouki Uchiyama 1 Cour!, that has been airing since 2015. In this show we have the priviledge to listen to Uchiyama talking about movies that he has recently watched and much more. In 2016, the seiyuu hosted the Yuri!!! on Radio, once again, alongside fellow seiyuu Toyonaga Toshiyuki.
When it comes to dubbing, Uchiyama has been going strong in that department, from movies to tv shows he has done it all. A versatile vocal range is a plus when it comes to doing a seiyuu’s job and Uchiyama has nailed that since a long time, hence why the plethora of roles he has dubbed.
Some of the dramas and movies consist in: A.I (2001), Santa Claus · Returns! Christmas Crisis (2002) as Joey, Harry Potter and the Secret Room (2002), Lord of the Rings (2002), 12 Dads (2003) as Dylan, Shark Boy & Magma Girl 3 – D (2006) as Shark Boy, Doctor Who (2006), Shinjuku Incident (2009), Terminator 4 (2009) as Kyle Lease, Big Mama House 3 as Trent, Three Muskateers (2011) as Dartanian, CSI (2012), Shadow Hunter (2013) as Jayce Wayland, Jurassic Park (2015) as Zach Mitchell, and Mr Robot (2016) as Elliot Orderson.
When it comes to narration, Uchiyama has also done his fair share. The seiyuu has voiced Rinne Roukudou from Kyoukai no Rinne in the CM version, Yugami-kun ni wa Tomodachi ga Inai’s CM as Yuuji Yugami, among others.
Uchiyama‘s known for being prolific in the game industry, be it for his popularity or for some of the characters the seiyuu has played. In 2005, the game Kingdom Hearts II was out and it was none other than Uchiyama voicing Roxas, probably the most popular character the seiyuu has played in his early stages of his career. In his debut year in this department of the entertainment industry, 2005 was relatively fruitful for the seiyuu as he then reprised his role as Roxas two years later in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix.
Another project in which Uchiyama was involved was Sky Crawlers Innocence Teisesu as Hagami (2007). In 2008 and 2009, the seiyuu reprised his role as Soul Evans in the games of the Soul Eater series, as well as his role as Roxas in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days. In the same year, the seiyuu got a role as Banagher Links in the Gundam series and reprised it in the following three years. In 2011, Uchiyama was Lean in Final Fantasy Type 0.
The following years, Uchiyama reprised his roles in Fairy Tail (2012) as Midnight, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix (2012) as Roxas, Infinite Stratos (2014-2017) as Ichika Orimura, Nisekoi Marriage? (2014) as Raku Ichijou, Haikyuu!! (2014) as Kei Tsukishima, Buddy Complex (2014) as Dio Weinberg Junyou and My hero Academia (2016-2018).
Some entries in Uchiyama’s repertoire include names such as: Little King’s Story (2012) as Azur, SOL TRIGGER (2012) as Lars, Dream Drops (2012), Rune Factory 4 (2012) as Rune, Chaos Heros Online (2013) as Alcalas, Cardboard Senki (2013) as Inui Kagetora, Uncharted Pirate King and the Last Hidden Tale (2016) as Samuel Drake, Valkyrie Anatomia – The Origin (2016) as Alfio, Chain Chronicle 3 (2016) as Helios and Draguaria Lost (2018) as the Hero.
Uchiyama began his career first as an actor in 1993, when he had merely 3 years. However one cannot say that the seiyuu has a vast repertoire, in fact it is quite the opposite, though it is understandable, since Uchiyama began to focus on his seiyuu career and naturally his acting gigs stopped being the focal point.
Some of the movies/dramas include: Hojo Tounne (2001), Ultraman Cosmos (2001), Toshiie and Matsu – Kaga Hyakumangoku Story (2002),Seikei Beauty (2002), Chasing a dream (2003), Love Constellation (2009) and Messiah (2011).
In an era where is appears to have been a trend to debut as a singer while being a seiyuu, Uchiyama remains pretty much unfased. Throughout his vast career, the seiyuu had not sung more than character songs, until 2017 when we got the news that the seiyuu and Nobunaga Shimazaki would be part of a unit.
Some of character songs include: Soul Eater Character Song 1 (2008), Kimi to me. Vol. 4 BD · DVD Limited Edition Bonus (2012), Zetsuen no Tempest (2013), Crimson Quartet (2015) and WWW.WORKING !! (2017).
This unit debuted in 2017 with Non Fantasy, a single that had a track featured in the movie Itsudatte Bokura no Koi wa 10 cm Datta. Now, one year later, the unit has announced a second single Yume Fanfare and once again one track will be the promotion song for a movie and another will be the ending theme for a variety show.
This unit has potential, as at first sight both seiyuu have a similar sounding tone when singing which may be the catalyst to some future harmonizations. With the unit’s first single they sounded pretty much like your typical idol group with upbeat instrumental pieces. But with only two releases it is far too early to know for sure which direction the unit will take. One thing we know for sure, this combo is a good match.
Uchiyama‘s presence is felt in all departments of the entertainment business. Although, not as prolific as in anime itself the seiyuu has done a handful of drama CDs. Most of them, however, are but the reprisal of his roles in anime. Uchiyama‘s main focus is by far not this department.
Some of his works include name such as: Infinite Stratos, Boku to Kimi, Guilty Crown, C series, Zetsuen no Tempest, Soul Eater series, Tsuritama series, Nijiiro Days, Haikyuu!! series, Messiah, RDG: Red Data Girl, Fukumenkei Noise, Liar x Liar series, just to name a few.
When it comes to live events, Uchiyama has been to several throughout the years, some were more memorable than others, be it because of the other guests or because of things the seiyuu said.
In 2011, in the Kimi to Boku event, Uchiyama spoke quite a lot, despite the cool and stoic image that he may give off. In fact, one of the funniest moments of the event was when the cast was asked “Which character from the anime is the coolest?”. Needless to say, as soon as the seiyuu said he wanted to give his answer one could notice that nothing good was coming from his mouth. Uchiyama replied to that question saying that he likes Azuma-sensei giving emphasis in the fact that he is a working adult and therefore has money.
Fast forward two years and we have yet another case of Uchiyama making others laugh, this time around because of something his character said. In 2013, at the Zetsuen no Tempest Seiyuu Event ～a WHODUNIT party ～ 前編, Takigawa somehow starts sounding like a sales person trying to sell the DVDs that had come out with the excuse of people re-watching the character’s journey.
At the Haikyuu!! event in 2014, it was another change for Uchiyama to shine. In the quiz corner, Uchiyama alongside fellow seiyuu Souma Saito, gave birth to the what we could call the “Tsukishima Incident”. As the name implies, no matter the question or character they had to choose, these two would always pick Tsukishima, to the point that in the night event it was prohibited the use of that answer. It is in these instances that we get to notice that Uchiyama is in fact sassy, always making comic remarks.
Graduated from distingued college
Oftentimes seiyuu’s college and their major are related to the entertainment industry, but in Uchiyama’s case that is not the reality. As a allumni from Waseda University with a major in Cultural Studies, the seiyuu not only has been working in the industry for a long time now, but he also managed to get into one of the most reputable colleges in Japan.
Fan of movies
For those whose have been listening to his current radio show, this comes as no surprise. Uchiyama has admitted that he is a movie goer, and usually he enjoys going to the cinema alone to check on the current movies available, paying no head to the genre.
Not afraid of his voice aging
In past interviews, Uchiyama, unlike what the vast majority of seiyuu, claims he does not worry about his voice losing its quality, meaning its youngness, as the seiyuu explains that is but the natural course and that he enjoys noticing how his voice has changed throughout the years.
And this was this month’s Seiyuu Digest.