An Incomplete Japanese dream cast for Mass Effect “Shepard vs. Reapers” Trilogy
This is something that took its roots in my mind since early 2017. Then it grew into something closer to what it is now in 2018. It’s just that yours truly kept finding excuses to not write it until now, after two blogs regarding Japanese actors. A shout-out to Em Marko and Jackson Taylor of Great Gundam Project fame. Even though the both of them would loathe the subject matter here, it would not exist if yours truly had not heard them talking Japanese actors in their one buck per month watch-along podcast.
“Legend of the Galactic Voices” is the nick name Japanese fans gave to the space opera novels turned more-than-one-hundred episodes long OVA epic Legend of the Galactic Heroes due to its all-star voice cast. Those books’ recent adaption subtitled New Thesis has a similarly star-studded cast. Guess with “opera” literally in the name of the game, Space Opera does require cast members with skill and fame to support it.
Then it’s quite a shame that Mass Effect 1 to 3 never got a Japanese dub jam packed with anime usual suspects, especially given how much Bioware stole from science fiction action anime to make those games. The chance certainly dropped to one in the billion since EA shut down its Japan division in 2019. But a weeb can still dream and write down their half-remembered vision below.
I guess there is clarification regarding what would be on this incomplete list. I started with the wikipedia list of Mass Effect character and made the following 3 steps. First to keep the player avatar and all the party members would be included of course, with the 2 “guest” appearances excluded. Second, I would try to keep all the love interests in no matter how little a part they played in the game. Call it the visual novel mentality. Finally, there are some important supporting cast members that I would keep by hooker by crook.
Now let’s get ball rolling,
Chapter One Crimson Eyes
1995’s James Bond flick Golden Eye cast a large shadow on video games, including but not limited to the N64 shooter with the same name. Its influence on Mass Effect series is two-fold, on the one hand 2007’s Mass Effect is modeled after the movie. On the other hand, whatever elements cannot fit into a power fantasy RPG were included into the prequel novel Revelation. Still, rogue agent and his super weapon are both present here. Expect for that the super weapon has glowing red eyes thus the title “Crimson Eyes”.
This is where we met the people who could accompany us for 3 whole games, with 2 exceptions. Most of them started strong and got better still.
Verse One The human crew of Normandy SR-1
Space Opera needs good world building and a good lens to look through. That lens is usually a spaceship and odd crew on it. The first 3 Mass Effect games have those in spades. The first part of this currently planned to be seven parts series contains most of the human crew member of Normandy SR-1. I made decision to only include those who could appear in all 3 games, so rest in peace to Jerkins and Presley. Adams is out for sitting Mass Effect 2.
Without further delay, allow me to start with the player avatar.
Mr. And Ms. Video Game
Yuichi Nakamura and Miyuki Sawashiro as Commander Shepard
For the player avatar, yours truly simply went for the pitch perfect dubbing voices. So the short of it is that Yuichi Nakamura and Miyuki Sawashiro can do voices like Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale respectively. The long of it is as follow.
Yuichi Nakmamura appeared in the first two anime yours truly followed weekly: Mobile Suit Double-O and Macross Frontier. Coincidentally, the first Mass Effect came out on Xbox 360 and PC when those 2 shows aired in fall 2007 and spring 2008. Mr. Nakamura is quite a Mr. Video Game.
Besides having gaming on his speciality list, Mr. Nakamura is also the Japanese language voice over narrator of Nintendo Directs. In the one in million chance that Mass Effect Legendary Edition got ported to Nintendo Switch, you can bet your ass that Mr. Nakamura would narrate that announcement. (“I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite game in this Direct” in Japanese, on the other hand, only has the one in billion chance to happen.)
Despite hearing her voice for years in anime, yours truly didn’t become a fan of Miyuki Sawashiro until hearing her playing a video game character, namely Velet in 2016’s Odin’s Sphere Leifthrasir. Despite how much yours truly loathe Bayonetta, when they heard Ms. Sawashiro as little Cerera in that Bayonetta Origins Japanese trailer they knew that Platinum had got them again.
Ms. Sawashiro’s performance as Katarina in Granblue Fantasy sounds so much like Jennifer Hale talking tough in Japanese that yours truly thought up this blog series. Ms. Sawashiro is also known to me through the gun totting characters she played, like Sinon in Sword Art Online (More to say on that front in future installments) or Kanaan in the bonus chapter of visual novel 428: Shibuya Scramble plus its animated continuation.
As for why with those voicing the male and female avatars respectively, we need to discuss about a thing Altus stole shamelessly from.
Shugo Chara, or simply Guardians, is a comic for girls and later an animated series. The titular Guardians are all-too-ready-to-be-merchandised er, angels hanging around young kids. The leading lady Amu Hiramori is someone who has 3 Guardians as opposed to others only have one respectively. So remember how player characters in Person 4 and 5 impress others by having more than one persona? Probably lifted from here. Then there is the villains’ plan to steal people’s enthusiasm in Tokyo Mirage Session, well Guardians has a scene very uncanny to that.
Yuichi Nakamura played a boy named Ikuto Tsukiyomi in Guardians and his Guardians Yoru is voiced by none than Miyuki Sawashiro. Why haven’t Altus taken the idea of those 2 playing player avatars is a mystery…Oh wait, they have not made a game with player avatar in a long time. Let’s see if EA can beat Altus to it, chance being one in billion not withdraw.
Getaway Driver 1.0
Koki Uchiyama as Jeff “Joker” Moreau
Gundam time! Koki Uchiyama would be the first one who had voiced a Gundam boy on this list, though he did so in the direct-to-streaming series Unicorn as opposed to those on tv. Guess Gundam pilot can handle Normandy well and make sure Shepard’s squad get away safely after some commando raid. Though the short of it is that Mr. Uchiyama is actually just the plus-one to someone I want to hear as EDI.
Okay, here is the long of it. Though Mr. Uchiyama has the tendency to play creepy Bond villain type in the recent 5 years, my man here did play rom-com lead in a comic for boys turned animated series titled Nisekoi, or False Love, the Christmas episodes of which yours truly would see every year along side Die Hard. In it Uchiyama put up a fair cocky attitude just like Joker in Mass Effect. In all seriousness though, the lady yours truly want to hear as EDI is in that show as well and plays the main love interest to Mr. Uchiyama’s character. Guess that’s the long and short of it.
Quiet Cop and …
Nobunaga Shimazaki as Kaiden Alenko
Imagine Mass Effect as a JRPG, then Kaiden Alenko would be the sole player character. Commander Shepard would be the one sacrifice him or herself (Depends on how many dead women the developer wanted) while Kaiden have the choice to date either Liara or Ashley before the final dungeon. And Alendo would likely be voiced by Nobunaga Shimazaki. After all Mr. Shimazaki played the male avatar in one of the biggest JRPGs, Fate Grand Order. Also known as Type-Moon golden goose.
Other than that, Mr. Shimazaki is in the wave of soft-spoken men in the early teens. So soft-spoken that he not only plays pretty boys but also be heard as a they rather than he. So he would be a totally serviceable Kaiden Alenko.
In order to flow into the next one, I want to note that Mr. Shimazaki was also in 2019’s Switch exclusive Astral Chain, playing the either vocal or playable male avatar there. I cast his as Kaiden because he played a player character in a cop action game just like I cast the lady below as Ashely because she played another player character in another cop action game.
Asami Seto as Ashley Williams
This is a rare occasion that I am glad that I delayed this endeavor past 2021. Or else I would not have known how to frame those 2 up. Asami Seto voiced the girl cop in 2021’s Scarlet Nexus. That performance is not typically er, bitchy, excuse my French. But I think her bitchy voice is quite a fit for every Mass Effect player’s least favorite human racist.
Seto, Shimazaki, Sawashiro and Nakamura are all voice cast member of 2014’s Shinning Renounce, a SEGA JRPG that got a re-release in 2018. Shimazaki voiced the player character, Nakamura played a commander of sort while the 2 ladies voiced 2 love interest, With Tony doing the character art for that game, it’s the typical harem bs that things like Sword Art Online got loathed for. Yours truly looked at that game and thought I would rather hear this voice cast in a power fantasy I enjoy more. Thus, the idea of doing Japanese voice cast for Mass Effect was born. I just didn’t write that down until today.
Kotone Miishi as Dr. Karin Chakwas
Now someone even those who stopped following recent anime would recognize. Ms. Kotone Miishi has several iconic characters under her belt, including the titular heroine of Sailor Moon and the allowed to be resourceful Misato Katsuragi in Neon Genesis Evangelion. She can steal any show she is in if the sufficient screen time was given.
Mass Effect story is filled with killers or at least soldiers players are supposed to feel related to, so Dr. Karin Chakwas being a healer is quite a refreshing one to talk to. And the elegantly aged lady has her own wisdom to spread. I think an iconic voice like Ms. Miishi’s is in order for that.
(To be continued in Representatives at the Capital)