If I know anything from 25+ years of anime blogging, it’s that May is when a ton of anime seiyu have their birthdays. We just celebrated the birthdays of Saori Hayami and Rie Kugimiya on May 29 and 30, and today, May 31st, is the birthday of one of my personal favorite voice actresses, Noriko Hidaka. Let’s take a look at her most iconic voice roles!
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Happy 61st Birthday to Noriko Hidaka!
Noriko Hidaka was born Noriko Ito on May 31st, 1962. As a child, she was interested in acting and appeared on TV from the age of 15. She was invited to debut as an idol, although she was more interested in proper acting. When she was doing a weekly radio show, a listener wrote in suggesting that she consider anime voice acting as a career path because of her distinctive voice. Her debut role was Musica from Choujikuu Kidan Southern Cross, which we all watched in English as the second segment of Robotech, and she’s had a stellar career ever since!
While most fans of the era encountered Noriko Hidaka as Noriko from Gunbuster or Akane from Ranma 1/2, she’ll always be Minami Asakura from the ’80s baseball anime Touch to me.
This anime was literally “destiny” for me. I learned Japanese mostly from reading the Touch manga in university, and when I came to Japan by amazing coincidence I ended up living in Isesaki, the birthplace of the artist, Mitsuru Adachi. I married my own version of Minami-chan, although instead of running a coffee shop, Mrs. J-List’s parents run a liquor store. Finally, one day I decided to google the artist’s birthday, and it was February 9, the same day as my wife’s.
What Are Noriko Hidaka’s Most Important Roles?
Noriko Takaya from Gunbuster
One of the best sci-fi anime series you could ask for, the directorial debut of Hideaki Anno is pretty much the only six episodes of anime you need. From melding themes from Western science fiction novels to providing us with the first anime full-frontal nudity, Gunbuster really aimed for the top!
Jean from Nadia
Another successful role for Noriko Hidaka was as the inventor Jean from Gainax’s Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. We loved every minute of it…well, except the “island episodes.”
Minami from Touch
The story of two twins, Tatsuya and Kazuya, who are both in love with their childhood friend Minami. When Kazuki is killed in a car accident, it’s up to Tatsuya to take his brother’s place on the pitching mound and “take Minami-chan to the Koushien national baseball championship.”
Akane Tendou from Ranma 1/2
Since Ranma 1/2 was one of the first anime that became popular in the age of fansubbing, it’s the first anime a lot of fans will have watched in Japanese with subtitles. I’ve argued before that Akane is the first true tsundere character in anime, with the proper balance of 85% tsun and 15% dere that let fans get really interested in the progression of her romantic relationship with Ranma.
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Satsuki Kusakabe from My Neighbor Totoro
Another super important role from another anime that’s been a part of my life for decades.
Kikuyou from Inuyasha
Noriko Hidaka also voiced the character Kikuyou from Inuyasha, whose gorgeous character design probably broke more than a few fans’ hearts back in the day.
Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter
Another popular character voiced by Noriko was Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter. Such a great performance!
Musica from Choujikuu Kidan Southern Cross
The debut role of Noriko Hidaka, this was sadly back in the days when anime was always watched in dubbed form (as Robotech in this case), so most fans won’t know this performance.
Ursula from Little Witch Academia
Finally, her most recent role was the teacher Ursula from Little Witch Academia, who had a surprising character history by the end of the show.
Thanks for reading this blog post celebrating the life and career of Noriko Hidaka. Do you have a favorite role by her? Tell us below!
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