Time for another Seiyuu Spotlight post! Today it’s on Hiroaki Hirata, who is famous for voicing one very, very well known character. It’s also because of this character that I know Hiroaki’s voice. That character? None other than One Piece’s Sanji!
I’ve always liked Sanji as a character. He’s got such a cool, intelligent persona around him. I like his fighting style and I like his loyalty and chivalry. I also love how he looses all of this in an instance, especially around a beautiful woman! Since I’m also a massive Zoro fan, I also like the way he and Zoro butt heads and argue constantly. Hiroaki does such a good job of covering all of the different aspects of Sanji’s personality, and it’s something you can really appreciate in watching One Piece!
Hiroaki doesn’t have too many other main characters to his name, but I have noticed that he seems to be often selected to voice easy-going, calm characters. Other such characters, who play more of a significant role in their series, include Benny from Black Lagoon and Mutta Nanba from Space Brothers. Benny is easy going and non-violent, but still hardened to the realities of his line of work. Mutta is generally calm and collective, but interestingly, shares Sanji’s fierce competitiveness.
In his more minor roles, Hiroaki shows a great talent in voicing characters with incredibly different personalities. Although his role as Genma Shiranui in Naruto reflects his calm, collected character pattern, he also lends his voice to antagonists such as Professor Kakuzawa in Elfen Lied and Suikotsu in Inuyasha. The latter is a character with a dual personality, so Hiroaki voices both a kind doctor and a blood thirsty killer! Just to further prove his ability to take on a variety of roles, Hiroaki voices the friendly, loyal, and largely the comic relief character of Sword Art Online; Ryoutarou Tsuboi, better known by his screen name Klein. But, he also lends his voice to the serious, cold, and mysterious Tatsuji Chibiki, the librarian from the anime series Another. That’s an impressive range of different personalities!
If you’re a fan of the Digimon Adventures series, you may also recognise Hiroaki’s voice. He’s the narrator throughout the series, although he does also voice a few minor characters. He also voices Leomon!
It’s clear to me that Hiroaki is incredibly talented, and can adjust his voice perfectly for the very varied characters he’s bought to life. To further reflect this, Hiroaki is actually the official Japanese dubber for all of Johnny Depp’s roles! If that’s not the meeting point of talent, I don’t know what else is! Hiroaki is actually quite active in the dubbing world, and another big name star that he’s often responsible for is Matt Damon. He also dubs Matt LeBlanc, who plays Joey, in Friends, which is actually quite funny to listen to.
With the ability to master so many different roles, and with One Piece never seeming to come to an end, it looks like we can look forward to hearing Hiroaki’s voice for many years to come. He’s still quite young, born in 1963 (the same as my dad!), and I wish him all the best for the future!