The Speed Grapher anime series features an extensive cast of characters created by Yuusuke Kozaki and Masashi Ishihama. The series takes place in a fictional universe where the rich and powerful can have their deepest desires filled by a fetish club called the Roppongi Club. The series follows the discovery of the girl at the center of the club and one man's quest to free her.
Speed Grapher's main character is Tatsumi Saiga, a veteran war journalist who now survives on photographing for tabloids. He discovers the Roppongi Club while stalking for the newspaper and meets Kagura Tennōzu. He takes her from the club and tries to escape the influence of Chōji Suitengu with the help of others. Suitengu, wishing to have Kagura back in his control, sends club members, all Euphorics who were granted special powers based on their desires, to stop them.
Tatsumi Saiga is the male protagonist. A veteran war journalist, he somehow took a liking to it. His love for photography develops into sexual fetish; he gets an erection whenever he takes exciting photographs. However, after returning to Japan, his passion seems to have died.
While investigating a secret club where rich and influential people meet to fulfill their most perverted desires, he receives a kiss from Kagura and develops the ability to explode whoever and whatever he photographs - Death by Photo. The effect of this ability depends on what type of camera and lens he is using (e.g., a telescopic lens has a more powerful effect than a regular lens). He can also psychically load film into his camera. He was infected by the virus on the same island that Suitengu was. Saiga uses a Nikon camera and what looks to be Nikor lenses (despite the title of the series, Saiga was never depicted with a Speed Graphic). When using his powers his camera gains a black aura, while his right eye (it can be either, but he aims with his right) turns blood shot and the iris bright green while large veins protrude around it.
Over the course of the series Saiga gets more and more protective of Kagura. First acting as a sort of teacher, he shows her the world that she never saw. When anyone questions whether he is in love with her, he casually brushes it off saying "it's not like that", or just ignoring the question altogether. In the final episode when Kagura says the world would be better if she and Suitengu were dead, Saiga admits to her that he loves her and wants her to live more than anything. Five years after Suitengu's coup d'etat, a blind Saiga is taking pictures of the sunset, when a twenty year old Kagura walks through the laundry drying in the sun. He then says "Welcome back", and the two embrace and the screen moves up toward the sunset.
Kagura Tennōzu is the female protagonist. Raised as the heir to the powerful Tennōzu Group, her bodily fluids contain an enzyme that has the ability to transform people infected with a mysterious virus into Euphorias (people with supernatural powers related to their innermost desires). She also has inoperable brain tumor, causing her to only have six months left to live. Associates of Suitengu have given her injections to keep her from reaching puberty as this will apparently cause her to stop producing the enzyme, not to mention Shinsen starves her to almost death.
Even though Saiga doesn't acknowledge his feelings about Kagura, she has no problem expressing the fact that she wants to be at his side no matter what. When Saiga comes to terms with his feelings and Kagura sees how much he changes she often jokes about how "uncool" he's become, but nevertheless she still loves him. Before Saiga's fight with Suitengu he tells Kagura his feelings, which makes her very happy. Then tells Ginza to take Kagura to the island where Ryōgoku is, so he can treat her right away. After five years she returns to Japan to be at Saiga's side.
Hibari Ginza is a vicious policewoman in love with Saiga. She is very jealous of him and does anything she can to protect him from harm. She has a joking habit of saying or threatening "self-defense" whenever she shoots or kills someone (usually while they're attacking her). She blackmails Saiga into having sex with her by stealing his camera and promising to give it back after. She is very envious of Kagura and makes a deal with Shinsen to recapture Kagura if she can "keep" Saiga. After returning Kagura, she takes an unconscious Saiga back to her apartment. Ginza begins to become depressed when people tell her things about Saiga she didn't know. She really goes off the handle when Suitengu tells her that she severely underestimated the worth of Saiga and Kagura to the Tennōzu Group, after she tried to bargain for his life in exchange for a petty conman. Ginza eventually realizes that she cannot stop Saiga from loving Kagura and helps him to stay alive. Even though she is angry when Saiga tells Kagura he loves her she agrees to take her to the island where Ryōgoku is to get treatment. When Kagura resists saying that she wants to stay with Saiga, Ginza states that she was heartbroken when Saiga confessed his love to Kagura. Though she can't let her die as a matter of pride, then swiftly knocks Kagura unconscious. It is revealed at the end of the series that Ginza does eventually find happiness with Dr. Ryōgoku. She is voiced by Takako Honda in the original Japanese version and by Clarine Harp in the English version.
Hibari Ginza's partner, he tends to be very scared of Ginza and as such tends to pretty much follow her orders without so much as thinking of telling her no. He is also an amateur photographer and a fan of Saiga's work. At the end of the series he finally becomes a photographer and takes Saiga's old job. In his new job he is degraded because his skills are inferior to Saiga's, even though Saiga is now blind. His Japanese voice actor is Jin Yamanoi and his English voice actor is Anthony Bowling.
Chief Ekoda is the Chief of the Tokyo Police Department. He has an extreme leg fetish, he cuts off the legs of numerous women and proudly displays them in his house. Later he is caught by Ginza as a member of Suitengu's club. While a member he cut off his wife's and daughter's legs. He admits that he has always lusted after Ginza's legs. He tries to cut them off but Ginza breaks his neck with her legs. He is so crazy that even as Ginza was about to kill him he still had a smile on his face because he was so close to her legs and even yells "Tighter! Tighter!" as she proceeds to snap his neck. His seiyū in the original Japanese series is Naoki Makishima and his English voice actor is Mike McFarland.
Chōji Suitengu, the main antagonist, is a Euphoria with the ability to manipulate his own blood and use it at will to attack and defend. Apparently he is only using Kagura and her mother to extend his influence and profits, but there is a hidden vengeance plan in his agenda. He carries around a music box that belonged to his younger sister, Yui. His real name is Ueno Takeshi.
Suitengu once had a normal life with his family. However, his parents were deep in debt with the Tennōzu Group's predecessors (the Ashikaga Group) and were murdered. Yui and Suitengu were separated, the thirteen year old boy given to the mercies of a perverted and lecherous man before being sold as a child soldier while the five year old girl was sold as a prostitute. Suitengo grew up on the battlefield, told that every kill he made reduced his parents' debt and brought him that much closer to freedom. His last mission was infiltrating a research lab, but the facility was destroyed and Suitengu was severely wounded, even dismembered, in the destruction. However, he contracted the Euphoria virus as a result of this and was thus retrieved and repaired by the research lab's remaining scientists so that they could preserve their work who grafted Kazuki Odawara's arm, awakening his powers.
Suitengu despises the fact that his family and his life were ruined for money and as such secretly holds a deep hatred for it. Eventually he was reunited with his sister, but her state of mind had been shattered and he mercifully killed her to end her life as a prostitute. His ultimate goal was to take revenge on the Prime Minister who destroyed his peaceful life and punish people steeped in greed and money by causing the entire country to go bankrupt.[23 ] To flout his wealth, he rolls his cigarettes using 10,000 yen bills.
Shinsen Tennōzu is Kagura's mother and president of Tennōzu Group. Before that though, Shinsen had been an aspiring model who had been scouted by a woman named Gōtokuji. Her body had been 'remodeled' by a doctor named Kazuki Odawara, whom she soon fell in love with. Despite her rise to fame, she chose to leave it behind and marry Kazuki. Shinsen had signed their marriage licenses and waited for several days for him to show up at a hot spring, but he never came. She then returned to Tokyo, left bitter by his betrayal and sees Kagura as the ultimate symbol of it, and punishes the girl by starving her to almost death. Though she seems in love with Suitengu, Shinsen realizes he was just a replacement for Kazuki in her loneliness. While incredibly cruel to Kagura and many others, Shinsen is incredibly kind to Gōtokuji, whose injuries she believes are her fault, showing a different, more compassionate side. Seeing Suitengu's true nature, Shinsen once again intended to leave fame behind to try and live a quiet life. She is then strangled to death by Suitengu, using Kazuki's left arm. Before she is about to be strangled Suitengu reveals to her why his left arm always felt so loving by saying "You were always caressed by your true love's arm." In her final moments, she hears Kagura telling her that Kazuki had indeed come for her and she wasn't abandoned to which she gives a slight chuckle realizing how foolish she had been. Her seiyū in the original Japanese series is Gara Takashima and her English voice actor is Pam Dougherty.
Tsujido is Suitengu's right hand man and accompanies him wherever he goes, often as a personal attendant. His Euphoria power is super enhanced olfaction, allowing to smell his enemies miles away (unlike most Euphoria's, Tsujido does not require a physical transformation to be able to use this). He doesn't reveal himself as a Euphoria until the last episode while fighting Ginza, in which he transforms into a large wolf. Along with Makabe, he was abused by local Yakuza years before and saved by Suitengu. However, he had already had his nose cut off and was near death due to blood loss. He chooses to stay behind with Makabe to protect Suitengu when the building is under attack. Despite serious injuries, he manages to find and carry Suitengu to the generator's control room, where he dies alongside him as the main office of the Tennouzu group self-destructs. Tsujido's seiyū in the Japanese anime is Hiro Yūki and his English voice actor is Greg Ayres.
One of the men who works under Tsujido, he is a big, tall, bear of a man, and doesn't talk as much as his partner, Niihari. Makabe tends to be more professional in getting the job done. When tracking Kagura and Saiga with Niihari and Tsujido, he often acts as the driver. He knew the two before Suitengu had met them. After being beaten unconscious by Yakuza, Suitengu appears and slaughters all but one of them. Because of this, he feels great gratitude and stays behind with Tsujido to help Suitengu. During the assault on the main office, the ceiling collapses due to a rocket barrage and he dies protecting Tsujido from being crushed. His Japanese seiyū is Hisao Egawa while Bob Carter serves as his English voice actor.
Niihari is the other henchman working under Tsujido. Unlike his more silent partner, Makabe, Niihari has a habit of talking a lot and speaking with profoundly foul language at times. He's mentioned failed relationships with women in his life; his mother betraying his father and himself and then his wife being overly greedy. Niihari was the first henchman that Suitengu met as he was outside the building Makabe and Tsujido were kept, nervously holding a sword as he was preparing to rescue them both. He is the only one of the Tennouzu Group to survive and in the end of the series, Niihari has become a successful businessman who intends to one day build three colossal towers and name them after Suitengu, Tsujido, and Makabe. Kenjiro Tsuda provides the Japanese voice for Niihari and Robert McCollum is his English voice actor.
Humans that have been infected with a never named retro-virus and then exposed to the catalyst within Kagura, granting them powers based on their deepest desires.
One of the Euphorics sent by Suitengu to retrieve Kagura from Saiga, Katsuya Shirogane possesses the ability to stretch his body into any imaginable form (making it at least seem as if his body is made of rubber). Known as the Rubber Gimp, he was a ballet dancer who was completely obsessed with the flexibility of rubber to the point of breaking a young girl's arm for 'being too stiff'. His head was blown off by Saiga using a piece of mirror to reflect his camera shot. His Japanese voice actor is Takehito Koyasu and his English voice actor is J. Michael Tatum.
Kaoru Koganei, best known as Lady Diamond has the Euphoric power to turn her entire body into diamond, becoming almost indestructible. She can also extend her fingernails to stab or impale targets. She has the bizarre habit of eating diamonds (even biting off the finger of a woman to get her ring). She was the wife of a talented artist who gave her diamonds to make her happy, but hanged himself after taking out an insurance policy. Since then she has become obsessed with making her body into a shining monument of his love for her. She kidnapped Kagura and demanded a ransom of diamonds, but was killed by Suitengu for her betrayal by being shattered into a million pieces and having her body turned into diamonds to be sold. The last shot of her was her shattered face shedding a tear. Her Japanese seiyū is Mari Yokō and her English voice actress is Colleen Clinkenbeard.
Mizunokuchi is sadistic dentist and Euphoric user who has been given extra spider-like limbs with dental devices on them and can even turn other part of his body into drills (such as his tongue). He tortures patients by inserting all of his limbs into their mouths and polishing their teeth slowly. Apparently he removed Kagura's lower molars three years ago, but did it as slow as he could so he could see Kagura writhing in pain. He kept one of them as a crown jewel of sorts and carves it obsessively. He met his end when Saiga blew his head off, with his prized tooth laying beside his lifeless hand. He is voiced by Shiro Gō in the original Japanese version and by R. Bruce Elliott in the English version.
Ran Yurigaoka is an esthetician whose Euphoric power enabled him to make the tattoos on his skin a reality. His most commonly used tattoos are the large spider on his back, used for travel if needed as well as attack, and the skull and dagger on one of his arms which is used for battle. He can also control other people with the small spider tattoo on one of his fingers, by merging with its victim's skin the spider tattoo can manipulate their limbs with its own. This man gets a sick thrill out of merging his spider tattoo into the skin of beautiful women while pleasuring them, then killing them with said tattoo. With help from Ginza, Saiga was able to destroy his body, leaving only his legs and fragments of skin. His seiyū in the original Japanese version is Takeshi Kusao, and he is voiced by Christopher Bevins in the English version.
A corrupt Priest, who was found out to have given all of the Church's donation money to the Roppongi Club to pay his Membership dues, Father Kanda is a Euphoric who had the power to control electricity. He can also transform into wires and control thunder bolts. He believes he is a God, due to his powers. He was to be the minister at Kagura and Suitengu's wedding, but Saiga's interruption made him want to try and kill him after he destroys part of the chapel which Kanda felt was a worthy tribute to himself. In the end he killed himself after using his powers to try and electrocute Saiga after he had been seriously injured, thereby blowing himself up.[46 ] His Japanese voice actor is Ryūzaburō Ōtomo and his English voice actor is Bill Flynn.
Miharu Shirumaku is a former actress who had a traumatic past due to her mother trying to drown her in a suicide/murder attempt. Since her mother's suicide she's become mute. She's also drowned every man who has fallen in love with her. Appropriately she can turn herself into a fish-like being, resembling a mermaid or a fish monster, and manipulate water (or fog by controlling the water droplets it's made of), she can even transform herself into water. Despite her mother's actions, she still loves her and sees water as a substitute for her mother's embrace. She died by using too much power, causing her liquid form to evaporate into the atmosphere. Before her death she managed to speak, saying "At last, I can be with her" referring to her mother. Her seiyū in the original Japanese version is Maya Okamoto, and she is voiced by Laura Bailey in the English version.
A former photographer, Seiji Ochiai is now a cabinet member who leads a group called the White Eagles whose purpose was to bring down the Prime Minister and Suitengu. However, he turned out to be a traitor and Euphoric who could manipulate sound by using the speakers embedded in his body. The sound he emits can cause internal damage to the body and can reduce objects to dust. He loves music and, when using his powers, pretends he is a conductor. He turned to Saiga to help him bring down Suitengu and Kamiya, but in reality he only wanted to get rid of him and anyone else who could expose the truth. During his battle with Saiga he reveals that he believes that the media exists to hide the truth. After a tough battle with Saiga, he was killed when Saiga got close enough to him to use a miniature camera. While he is not seen dead, it is assumed he died. His seiyū in the original Japanese version is Tetsuo Kaneo, and he is voiced by Jerry Russell in the English version.
The Prime Minister of Japan, Kamiya, is also a member of the club and an extreme glutton and secretly plans with his cabinet members to take control of the club and Kagura for themselves. He also has a Euphoric power in which he becomes a huge, deformed spider-like creature with a huge head, spider legs with eating utensils attached, and a stretchable tongue with acidic saliva. He was the man responsible for Suitengu's slavery, he did not realize this until Suitengu told him this. However, he is viciously killed by Suitengu while begging for his life; Suitengu does this after Kamiya tries to control him by using his sisters location, only for Suitengu to reveal he'd already found her. His seiyū in the original Japanese version is Takehiro Koyama, and his English voice actor is John Swasey.
The main source of comic relief in the show, Bob is an out and proud flamboyant homosexual who runs an erotic massage parlour. He lives right next door to Saiga, whom he has a crush on, and seems to be a Westerner. His seiyū in the original Japanese version is Kouji Ishii, and his English voice actor is Antimere Robinson.
Kazuki Odawara is Shinsen's former lover and Kagura's father. He was a scientist who did work developing a bioweapon. However, the government soon tried to eliminate all traces of evidence. He died in a ravine and the remains of his research lay within Kagura, who can awaken the virus within carriers, and Suitengu, who has his left arm. How he died is never revealed as Suitengu had the arm grafted onto him by the scientists who made him a Euphoric, they themselves had the arm in a preservation tank. His seiyū in the original Japanese version is Hidenari Ugaki, and his English voice actor is John Burgmeier.
Professor Nishiya is a university professor who is an acquaintance of Ryougoku's. He tells Saiga about the retrovirus that has been activated within him and introduces Saiga to Ochiai. However, he sold them out so he could do research on Kagura to gain fame. After feeling he had been double-crossed he took Kagura and drank a bottle containing the virus he extracted from Saiga, making himself a carrier. He then attempted to rape Kagura in order to become a euphoric, only to be stopped by Kamiya's men. He is eaten by a mutated Kamiya as his dissolving corpse is seen in his mouth. His seiyū in the original Japanese version is Eiji Yanagisawa, and his English voice actor is Barry Yandell.
Doctor Genba Ryougoku is a doctor who runs a small clinic and also an acquaintance of Saiga's who apparently saved his (Saiga's) life when he was nearly crippled in a rundown hospital. His wife died three months ago to cancer. His seiyū in the original Japanese version is Rikiya Koyama, and his English voice actor is Kent Williams.
Reviewers generally liked the character designs in Speed Grapher. IGN commented that Speed Grapher is largely character-driven and positively noted many characters. Anime News Network liked the minor villains because they were more developed than "the norm for bad guys in their roles," though Suitengu was criticized for being bland. ANN also noted that "Many of its character designs are a little rough" compared to other Gonzo releases and that their animation was "frequently bad." SciFi Weekly pointed out that though many characters' stories were deeply explored, they were thrown together in a baffling manner. In addition, SciFi Weekly disliked how many characters were "almost as throwaways" and how they "tend to make brief appearances and then disappear without comment."