Fellow Voice Actors Respond to Unshō Ishizuka's Passing
posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Voice actor Unshō Ishizuka passed away due to esophageal cancer at the age of 67 on Monday. The veteran voice actor earned the respect of his colleagues through the decades, and some of them took to Twitter on Friday to offer their thoughts and condolences in light of his passing.
Macross mechanical designer and artist Hidetaka Tenjin posted a tribute illustration of Ishizuka's Macross Plus character Guld Goa Bowman.
Many voice actors also tweeted about Ishizuka's passing. Kensho Ono said he "wanted to be together again at the scene [of a production]." Takuya Satō reminisced about having his first ever regular role and working with Ishizuka on the Japanese dub of The West Wing. He said he was grateful for Ishizuka talking to him during production even though he was a "total newbie."
Shigeru Chiba, who voiced characters alongside Ishizuka in dozens of anime, wished Ishizuka well in the afterlife. Chiba described him as a "fantastic person with a professional appearance and kind face."
Shoko Nakagawa said, "Everyone grew up with the voice of Professor Oak. I love his kind voice in 'Hyakugojūichi.' Joseph is the coolest. I'm sad. I pray for his happiness in the next world." One of Ishizuka's most famous roles is Professor Oak in the various Pokémon television anime and films that have debuted since 1997. Nakagawa has also had various roles in the franchise's anime. "Hyakugojūichi" (One Hundred Fifty-One) is the first ending theme song that Ishizuka performed for the original Pokémon television anime. Nakagawa's mention of "Joseph" refers to Ishizuka's role of Joseph Joestar in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable.
Ryotaro Okiayu recalled working and spending time together with Ishizuka over the years. For example, Okiayu said they would eat curry together for lunch almost every week while they worked on Flame of Recca. Aoi Yūki, who voices Iris in Pokémon, described Ishizuka as a kind person and remembered celebrating his 60th birthday when they recorded Pokémon together. Kazuhiko Inoue said he met Ishizuka for the first time while working on Yoroshiku Mechadock, and he was very saddened by the news of his death. Noting Ishizuka's trademark soft voice, Sayaka Ohara tweeted that she was always happy when she heard him address her with her first name without the "san" honorific.
Other voice actors who posted memorial messages for Ishizuka include Mitsuaki Madono, Naoko Matsui, Masakazu Morita, Akira Kamiya, Toshio Furukawa, Jouji Nakata, Shunsuke Takeuchi, Hiroki Yasumoto, Kenji Akabane, Tsubasa Yonaga, Showtaro Morikubo, Kappei Yamaguchi, Yuuki Ono, Daisuke Hirakawa, and Mayumi Iizuka.
TV Tokyo revealed on Friday that Ishizuka had already recorded Pokémon episodes for through the first week of October before his death. A successor for his role of Professor Oak and narrator on the show has not been decided.
Since his 1984 debut in voice acting as the narrator in Giant Gorg, Ishizuka played a large number of starring roles in anime. He is perhaps best known for his roles as Jet Black in Cowboy Bebop; Professor Oak, Narrator, and various Pokémon in the Pokémon franchise; Mr. Satan in Dragon Ball Super; and Joseph Joestar in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable. Most recently he has voiced the characters Willibard Joachim von Merkatz in The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These, Dino Golzine in Banana Fish, Cain Ibrahim Hassan in Last Hope, and the narrator in Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. Ishizuka was also active in Japanese dubs of Western films, most notably dubbing roles played by Liam Neeson and Laurence Fishburne.