Before Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was a seasoned anime voice actor

Bryan Cranston got his first big break on an episode of Seinfeld, but I grew up knowing him as the flawed but lovable Hal on the classic sitcom Malcolm In The Middle. He was funny, honest, and possessed comedic timing that few other cast members could match. So many people know him for this role, but it wasn’t until Breaking Bad that he exploded into the mainstream.

Walter White – or Heisenberg as he is often called – is one of the most beloved anti-heroes in television history. The cancer patient-turned-meth wizard built a criminal empire to support his family, but slowly became consumed by the authority and fear that came with that infamous reputation. He became a dastardly monster, such a powerful end destination because he started out as just a high school chemistry teacher.


Breaking Bad is one of the few shows to live up to its unrivaled reputation. I haven’t seen The Sopranos or The Wire though, so maybe I’m not the best person to make such a statement. Or the X-Files. Please don’t judge me, I will contact them one day.

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But did you know that before Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was a prolific voice actor in the anime world? That was before the Japanese medium exploded in the West, with fans having to smuggle in video tapes or tune into late-night shows if they had any hope of watching the latest shows. Those that were made international were often equipped with English dubs, as the choice of original audio with subtitles was a bit sparse. But with actors like Cranston giving performances, iconic properties were given the seriousness they deserved across the pond.

Her voice isn’t always recognizable in some roles, with her trademark depth and sharp delivery often twisted to fit certain characters or reflect the universe the shows are set in. You can look at a handful of different examples above. I don’t know why that’s so appealing, but knowing that Walter White once cut his teeth on Street Fighter 2 and Macross Plus is amazing. It also goes to show that voice acting as a craft should never be ignored, as it often requires a different skill set that doesn’t always apply to live action. Who knew Walter White was a giant.

He goes from light-hearted pretty boy to filthy criminal between roles, showing a level of range not always possible to gauge in his other work. His turn as Fei Long in Street Fighter 2: The Movie is my favorite. The delivery is so silly, and you can really tell Cranston is having fun going that far. Many of those roles came before he became a household name, he probably landed them to make ends meet as he messed around with the characters while giving them a spin alongside the given direction.

Cranston’s past in the world of anime has been gaining attention online recently, and I find it strange that modern celebrities involved in animation are considered a weird thing. We turn our noses up or act surprised as if the medium isn’t one of the most popular on the planet. Hailee Steinfeld kills it in Arcane, Karen Fukuhara reigns in She-Ra, and Bryan Cranston showed off his skills in a bunch of anime classics that many of us fondly remember. If I ever get the chance to interview the guy, there will be so many talk about anime.

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