Battles Without Honor and Humanity Actor Bunta Sugawara Passes Away
posted on by Egan Loo
Bunta Sugawara, the former actor who starred in such movies as the Battles Without Honor and Humanity and Truck Yarō series, passed away. He was 81. The cause of death has not been announced.
Sugawara was born in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture. He stayed in Sendai until he moved to Tokyo after high school. After quitting Waseda University, he took advantage of his 180-centimeter (about 71-inch) height and worked as a fashion model. He was then scouted by Shintoho and made his film acting debut in 1958.
In 1973, Sugawara gained a wave of fans both in Japan and overseas with the first Battles Without Honor and Humanity film, which depicted yakuza battles in Hiroshima. He garnered more attention by starring in the first Truck Yarō comedy action movie in 1975.
Outside his live-action work, Sugawara played the title character Ged in Studio Ghibli's Tales from Earthsea (known as Ged Senki in Japanese). He also played Kamaji in Spirited Away and Nirasaki in Wolf Children, and sang the theme song in the Naniwa Yūkyōden anime. Eiichiro Oda famously based the One Piece manga and anime's Marine admiral Akainu on Sugawara's role in Battles Without Honor and Humanity.
In his private life, Sugawara had one son — actor Kaoru Sugawara — and two daughters. He co-starred for the first time with his son in the 1992 video Big Boss, and he also produced his son's first work in a starring role. The younger Sugawara died in a railroad crossing accident in October 2001.
Sugawara became ill with bladder cancer in 2007, and he announced in November 2012 that he was retiring from acting, after which he farmed in Yamanashi Prefecture.
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