Have you ever played a game or watch anime or cartoon and thought, “Hey, that voice sounds familiar…”? Odds are, you’re not going crazy. Many of the voice actors in the industry are quite ubiquitous and their voices can be heard in dozens of series, from bit parts to leading roles. Sometimes, you’ll realize that two characters in totally unrelated works have the same voice, and that can be a mind-blowing experience. So let’s take a look at one of the busier voice actors out there, John DiMaggio.
Marcus Fenix – Gears of War
When Gears of War was released, it gave Microsoft another huge exclusive to add to its list of killer apps. This was a big deal for the young Xbox 360 because Gears was released right when Sony and Nintendo were releasing their new consoles to the public. Right at the forefront of Gears of War was Marcus Fenix, the gruff and grizzly COD soldier brandishing an assault rifle with a chainsaw bayonet.
Normally I would say it can’t get any manlier than that, but when you hear Fenix’s voice it’s like being pummeled by a rock-slide of gravel. Marcus’s yell literally sounds like someone threw a pack of wolverines into a cement mixer, and then the strongest wolverine fought his way back out and built a football arena with the cement. Is that too manly? Perhaps, but we’ll just balance that out with all the homo-erotic fan fiction about Marcus and his ever present partner Dom.
Wakka and Kimahri – Final Fantasy X
Now if you were to imagine the opposite of Marcus Fenix, it would probably somewhat resemble Final Fantasy X’s Wakka. This tan islander with a passion for underwater soccer (football?) essentially wears a pair of waders with suspenders, is forever shirtless, and must use appromixately 1.5 cans of hairspray to get that kind of hold. Believe or not, Wakka and Marcus Fenix are both given life by John DiMaggio, fake Caribbean accent and all.
Of course, it was probably somewhere in DiMaggio’s contract that he couldn’t take the job unless he got to voice at least one tough guy, so Square (pre-Enix days) also gave him the role of Kimahri. Kimahri is a Ronso, a race of anthropomorphic unicorn cats who live at the icy peak of Mount Gagazet. Although completely mute early on in the game, Kimahri eventually warms up to the protagonist and is fiercely protective of the group. This Ronso’s characteristic trait is the broken horn on his forehead, and at over 2 meter talls Kimahri is considered “small” by the rest of his clan. Yeah, I’d say that makes up for Wakka.
Bender – Futurama
This next voice is the one that I instinctively hear whenever John DiMaggio voices a character. No matter what game I’m playing or what show I’m watching, every character of DiMaggio’s sounds to me like Bender. Wakka is Bender with a Jamaican accent. Marcus Fenix is Bender after the cigars catch up to him. It’s inevitable for me to hear this foul-mouthed, cigar smoking, larcenous robot everywhere.
As one of the stars on Matt Groening’s Futurama, Bender is a robot with a habit (well, a lot of habits) for crime. Crime and just being a jerk. A loveable jerk. Part con man, part pickpocket, and part folk singer, this mischievous automaton has even adopted a dozen orphans just to neglect them and collect the welfare checks. This guy has found a way to turn orphans into a business, people! I think that deserves some applause.
Jake the Dog – Adventure Time
Jake the Dog is a character that might be unknown to some of the older readers here, but that should change right now. Jake is one half of the adventuring duo from Adventure Time, a Cartoon Network show created by Pendleton Ward. The cartoon follows Jake the Dog and Finn the Human through their life of adventuring, which has included slaying candy zombies, dustomancy (which allows one to read the thoughts of dust particles), and Mannish Man the Manly Minotaur, who is oddly not voice by DiMaggio despite the apparent manly clause in his contract.
Jake, who is voiced by John DiMaggio, is a dog with magic powers that allow him to change his size and shape at will, and is the best friend of Finn the Human. Although Jake is 28 (in magic dog years, of course), he often acts less mature than his 13 year old companion. A personal favorite moment from Adventure Time has Finn and Jake melting washed up icebergs with flamethrowers in order to salvage the treasure within. After Finn finds a particularly awesome haul, a frustrated Jake complains, “I keep finding baby shoes. What the HECK man, and they’re all LEFTIES!”
Scotsman – Samurai Jack
And for our last entry in this look at the voices of John DiMaggio we have somewhat of a return to form. The Scotsman from Samurai Jack, voiced by the very not Scottish DiMaggio, is exactly what his name implies. He is a brawny, kilt-wearing Scot whom Jack first encounters while crossing a rope bridge. As the bridge is rather narrow, one of the men will need to go back in order to allow the other to pass. Neither man gives in, however, and in a display of sheer manliness (i.e. stubbornness) the two partake in an epic battle before plummeting into the river below.
The Scotsman, unlike Jack, is loud and boisterous and is more than a little bit like Gimli from the Lord of the Rings. I wonder why it is that Scots always get painted as brawny men who love to fight and drink. Must be a coincidence. Anyway, this guy is so freaking tough that he literally has a chain gun for a leg which he uses to pump enemies full of lead when he isn’t too busy playing his bagpipes. I don’t know how you can top that.
There are tons of other characters, in both video games and animation, that John DiMaggio has lent his voice to, but there are just a few of the more prominent ones. While some might say that he is somewhat typecast as the tough guy, seeing a picture of the guy makes it pretty clear that he isn’t just faking it. So that’s it for now, and as John DiMaggio’s character Shnitzel would say on Chowder, “Rada rada”.