Hello my gorgeouses!! I’m here to report to you that insertcredit.com’s absolute favorite voice actor in the whole wide world, Akio Otsuka, whose credits include hero Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series, the cursed tough-guy doctor Blackjack in the movie adaptations of Osamu Tezuka’s Blackjack manga, the cyborg cop Batou in the “Ghost in the Shell” movies and television show, a flamboyant rock-and-roll father in Square-Enix’s game Heavy Metal Thunder, and Steven Segal in the dubbed versions of any Steven Segal movie showing on late night Japanese television, is now immortalized in the Final Fantasy series — yes, he plays the voice of Basch, a grizzled, bearded, fuzzy tough guy knight of the kingdom of Dalmasca. If the game’s utterly, bizarrely, viscerally confusing introduction sequence is any indication, he might be a traitor, though he probably has good reasons for whatever he’s doing. I mean, he has to — he’s voiced by Akio Otsuka.
As always, Otsuka’s inimitable voice brings instant-classic depth to the role. However, unlike his recent many typecasted excursions as either tree-wielding murder-fighter Musashibou Benkei in any game about the Yoshitsune legend or a big angry warrior monk (who, as in the case of Tales of Rebirth isn’t even a human — he’s this big black panther thing), the character of Basch is elaborately layered and complex. It’s very interesting to see Otsuka play this kind of anti-hero. He doesn’t even put on his overly deep tough guy voice — yes, we are able to hear Otsuka acting in his real voice for the first time in, well, since his appearance on Hideo Kojima’s podcast (where he only did it for a few seconds, anyway — the rest of the time he was putting on the radio voice). Here, we can hear Otsuka acting out material of actual depth and personality. Previously, his performances have consisted of what could very well be a “this is a man reading a telephone book” monotone, with occasional shouting. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a lovely monotone, and a gorgeous shout. Though hey, Final Fantasy XII gives him a whole lot more to do, and so gets a big thumbs up.
His performance as Basch might be his best yet, and I think he’s my new favorite Final Fantasy character ever. I mean, look at him? He’s also 36 years old, which makes him the oldest guy in the game. He is, of course, the character who, like Final Fantasy X‘s Auron, is calculated with the real female audience in mind, you know, the kind of audience who is bored by heroes who don’t wear shirts. So let’s celebrate as soon as possible by making fan-shrines to Basch. The first person to construct one with up to five index pages, a fanfic (1,200 words or more; can be based on screenshots alone), and some fanart will get a free Final Fantasy XII Potion sent from Japan, and included in insertcredit.com’s blowout Final Fantasy XII coverage, which will be promptly posted at some point in fall 2008.
At any rate, this update exists to tell you that Akio Otsuka is indeed alive within Final Fantasy XII, which is a lovely and enlightening videogame with or without him. The reason I took the time to write this at all is because Square-Enix does not put Akio Otsuka’s name — or the names of any of the game’s actors — into the game’s instruction manual. They don’t even list the game’s staff in the manual! Why not? As of this writing, Square-Enix and Namco are the only two Japanese videogame companies who, as a rule, never put a game’s staff credits into an instruction manual. They’re sure to have all the proper dates after the copyright symbol in the legal information on the back of the box, though! I guess that tells you what’s most important to them — numbers and copyrights, not the people who actually make the game. At least Namco lists the voice actors. In other words, come on Squeenix: be nice to your talent, and maybe they’ll stop running away from you. It was hell finding out that this is actually Akio Otsuka. Goodnight.